I had read a lot of the marriage self-help books: how to save your marriage, how to deal with this personality type/that personality type, how to save your marriage without discussing marriage, how to change when your partner doesn’t want to change, how to live happily in an unhappy marriage and finally, how to stay married no matter what (even if you take a lover). I lived every possible scenario in my head that would make it palatable for me to remain in a marriage that had been starved of nutrients and attention, and had withered and died on the vine.
The worst part of it all was knowing that, if I divorced, my daughter would become another statistic. I hate statistics, cause let’s face it, Black folks never look good in statistics. With the daunting numbers for Black children and Black households haunting me, I was determined to keep my daughter from being another statistic—part of the growing list of Black children who didn’t live with their biological fathers. It hurt to even think that my daughter would part of such a group. But that wasn’t even the worst thing to be faced. It was the labels—and one label in particular that terrified me: Single Mother.
Being a single mother was my worst fear. My most dreaded possible reality. All my life, all the single mothers I grew up loving and admiring (and there were plenty) seemed always angry at this shadowy figure who didn’t do shit: Didn’t come around, didn’t buy diapers and damned sure didn’t buy school shoes when needed and they seemed to live lives of constantly lamenting their status of “doing it all by myself”.
I didn’t want to do it all by myself. I didn’t want to take on the moniker of being a ‘strong Black woman’. I didn’t want to be strong. I wanted to be loved, cared for, and taken care of— even as an equal partner– like I perceived women of other races had the luxury of expecting. I didn’t want to be the mule of society, carrying the loads of the world on my back, being at the first of the line for hardship and last in line for blessings. I didn’t want to have a ‘testimony’, I didn’t want to have a story to tell. I didn’t want to be stressed or scared how I was going to make it financially, emotionally day after day. I didn’t want to be lonely. I didn’t want to be tired, or sick and tired or tired of being sick and tired. I just wanted to be happy. Not only that, but those damned statistics! I was well acquainted with the statistics on children from single parent households. I felt that I had failed my daughter. I was ashamed. I was desperate.
So I waited—determined that I would find a way to restore my marriage, bring each of us back from our separate islands and make us realize that the safety, comfort and security we shared could be a building block to restore all that we had lost. But I didn’t want to wait too long.