The Sacrifice of Starting Over

I waited more than six years for the bedroom you see here.

2,238 nights, to be exact.

That’s how many nights I slept on the futon in our living room.

When my two kids and I moved into a small duplex, our current home, in July 2015, I decided they should each get their own bedroom—even though it’s only a two-bedroom unit.

The alternative was stacking them in a tiny, shared room so that I could have the other for myself. But they were getting too big for that to be feasible, let alone comfortable. I also saw value in giving them separate spaces. The reasons were many, especially with their teen years coming down the pike.

Even if I initially hesitated, it wasn’t a hard decision.

Most single moms know that this is just what you do. The kids come first. Sometimes you cut corners and go without.

And this is how it is for women who leave abuse. The starting over is replete with sacrifice.

When you’re recovering from (and still affected by) financial abuse. No savings to help or build from. No or late-coming child support. Debt. Limited income options. Unnecessary and manipulative legal fees.

When you’re bound by shared custody to live somewhere that isn’t your first choice—somewhere that may not boast a lot of job opportunity, and perhaps also has a high cost of living.

When you work your tail off but it still isn’t enough to afford all the basic comforts.

When you prioritize your family’s mental and emotional well-being.

When you put others first.

It’s a long, lonely, difficult climb to stability.

But we climb because we have to. Because it’s worth it.

I’ve done it, but also, am still ascending. You’re doing it now. I may not know you but I know your efforts and I believe in you.

I earned this bedroom, which I have now inhabited for 170 nights, since we moved my daughter to college and I took over her space as my own.

I sleep better than I have in years. My body doesn’t carry so much tension anymore. The dark circles under my eyes are fading.

And I’m going to replace that futon soon, with something cozy and comfortable. I’ve earned that, too.

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