This is quite a hard topic for me to talk about publicly and I only feel safe to do so because of the relative anonymity blogging offers.
My ex-husband and I separated in 2012 because I had a major bipolar manic episode and he couldn’t cope with it. He also decided that our daughter should stay with him as he was able to provide a more stable environment for her, especially as he left me to move back in with his parents. At the time I was incredibly unwell and so I agreed to this as I could see she would be in a better environment with them than with my erratic lifestyle.
However, this tore me to even smaller pieces mentally. They moved about 100-miles from where I was at the time and so I only saw her on a monthly basis to begin with and I didn’t cope with this at all so it made my mental illness worse. My daughter is everything to me and the fact I couldn’t see her on a daily or even weekly basis was the worst experience of my entire life. I felt like I had let her down. I also didn’t tell anyone about this and would make excuses as to where she was as I felt full of shame. I mean what mother lets her child go like that.
Eventually, I got myself well enough to move house to live closer to them. I now live a 10-minute car journey from them but I still find the situation hard to talk about. I see her every weekend, she will be arriving at my house soon and she’ll stay here until Sunday evening. I can also pop round during the week to see her and in the school holidays she stays with me the whole time.
I still feel like a failure though and I still make out to a lot of people that she lives with me most of the time. Society judges parents and I think it judges mothers incredibly harshly. Every time I go to school to pick her up I feel the other parents staring at me and judging me, “oh she’s the one who let her child go”, “she didn’t care enough to fight for her daughter” etc etc.
When parents divorce, the mother is usually the one who looks after the children for the biggest amount of time. I fell different to all those other mothers and I find it incredibly hard to be open about how little I think of myself because of this.