Something strange happens when you uncouple. You worry about providing for yourself and your child. You wonder if it’s something you can handle on your own. You figure out how to co-parent separately, how to be the only parent with your child on nights when he is with you, and how to be alone on nights when he is with his other parent.
None of that is the strange part, though. That is the stuff you anticipate. No, the strange part is that you realize that you must now be complete on your own. That you are now free to be only you—fully, mindfully you. That it is an opportunity but also a requirement.
My first few months of uncoupling were spent setting up my new life—finding a new home, making it ours (my son’s and mine), finding a steady job (so I didn't have to stress out over freelancing), and otherwise settling into this new phase. In the midst of this wake, I had to stop myself from considering what he—my other half—would think. Because I am no longer half of a partnership. I am now a solo-ship with a co-parent.
My home, my daily life, and my nurturing are up to me. What, then, is me? What is part of me in this moment? What is part of the enduring me?
These are the questions that consumed me with everything I touched, with every decision I made. Is this something that I am keeping because it represents me? Or am I keeping it because it is already there?
Who am I now that my focus is myself and my son? What do our days look like? What are our routines?
We have set up bedtime rituals that work for us, rituals that are new since the uncoupling. After the usual bath, brushing teeth, getting in pajamas, and so on, we pray and do yoga. Sometimes he requests Reiki, so we add that in, too. These are our nighttime rituals—his and mine.
His nighttime routine at his dad’s house is undoubtedly different, and that’s okay. Because as I explore what is part of the enduring me, his dad is likely doing the same.
And as we each figure out what our lives look like now, we see things about each other that maybe we didn’t see before. There are moments I am tempted to say (and he probably is, too), “You never did that before.” No, he didn’t, and no, I didn’t. But this is new territory. My bedtime routine with my son is much different now than it has ever been before. Because now is now, and now is different.
Discovering who you are in the wake of uncoupling, you realize that, not only are you not entirely the same person you were during coupling, you also are no longer the same person you were prior to coupling. This is a new way of being, with new experiences written in your heart. Things will never be the same as they once were. But, you know what? That's okay. You get to define the new you. I have spent a year-and-a-half defining the new me, and I think I'm turning out just fine.