Dear Dr. Meg,
I am 24 years old. I am a single mom to a beautiful four-year-old girl named Grace. She is a joy and blessing to me and yet I am truly and utterly sad. Her dad and I met when I was 19 and I quickly got pregnant after that. It was a very unhealthy relationship full of physical and emotional abuse. He has changed quite a bit since our daughter was born and since we split when she was one. He is a part of her life and we share custody. He has grown up a lot, is in a healthy relationship that has been since our split, and is truly happy. The incidents that had occurred from going through a pregnancy alone to be a single mom have scarred me so deeply and I am having a hard time believing I will ever be happy. I have been in counseling, multiple times, and tried everything imaginable to heal and nothing seems to be working. I live my life in a state of guilt from a belief that I’m depriving my daughter of what she deserves from me as her mother. I have gone to God more times than I can count. I have involved myself in church groups, talked to priests, etc.
I have had a wild life prior to her being born as well which I think must also play a part in all of this. When I was young my dad was physically and emotionally abusive. As a teenager I rebelled, ended up aborting a pregnancy at 15, and was sent to an all girls troubled teen facility in the mountains of Wyoming. Upon my return after two years out west I attended a catholic university in Ohio which is where I met my daughters dad. It was only a year from the start of my freshman year that I delivered my daughter. I feel like I have lived more in my short life than most live in a lifetime.
I have had so much help, so many prayers, and yet feel so alone, helpless, unloved, and sad. I feel like I’ll never get married or have a family and quite honestly the thought of marriage makes me want to hurl. Do you have any advice on how I can heal? I am desperate, truly desperate.
I have been single now for over four years, many great men have come and gone from my life. I am so scared of being hurt that I am preventing anything that could cause hurt from occurring. I have read some of your work and thought if there was any advice you could give me it couldn’t hurt.
Thank you for your time,
A Hurting Single Mom
I picture you living in a bubble encased with glass so thick you can’t hear anyone and they can’t hear you. That is indeed a painful way to live. But I have great news for you- you don’t have to stay there forever. Let me repeat. You DON’T have to stay there forever and you CAN get to a place where you feel peace in your heart, you’ve forgiven yourself for the mistakes you’ve made and you believe that you have a bright future.
I tell you this not as “pie-in-the-sky” platitudes but because they are true. God sees you, hears you and loves you but the problem is, you can’t see or feel Him. But just because you can’t see or feel Him doesn’t mean that He isn’t there. He is patiently waiting for you to be at a point where you can genuinely feel him.
You aren’t there yet. That’s why going to church and bible study groups has left you cold. The glass around you is still thick and it hasn’t cracked. But continue to go to church and those groups because you want to be ready when the glass cracks. Here are a few thoughts for you.
First, you sound to me as though you are genuinely depressed. Depression is a disease and must be treated very aggressively. The best treatment involves two things. One, you must go to a good internist (M.D) who has treated depression in women. He or she will talk with you and figure out whether or not you need medication. If you do, listen to your doctor and take what he/she prescribes and keep going back until you are on the right track. If you don’t know a doctor, ask friends who they recommend.
Then, call the office and ask for a visit to discuss possible depression. The second part of treatment involves good psychotherapy. I know that you have been to counseling, but there are good counselors and bad ones. Ask your doctor who he/she recommends and ask for a Christian counselor who will incorporate God into the discussion. Once you have begun serious treatment for your depression, you need to be patient. Treatment takes a good 2 months to start to work but you must hang in there. I promise- it does work and the thick glass separating you from the world will begin to crack.
Second, you must work on crushing the guilt that you carry. This, too will take time, but it is war. Every morning, you must sit before God and say two things, “Lord, please forgive me for the mistakes that I have made and help me today to forgive myself.” Every day you utter that prayer over and over. The reason that you repeat it is not for God, but for you.
You must put your mind in a state where you believe that you are forgiven and fight away the guilt feelings. The bible tells us that when we ask for forgiveness form God, he not only forgives our sins, he forgets them!! So if God has forgiven you for your abortion, craziness when you were in high school and college, who are you to hang on to it? Are you smarter than God? I don’t think so.
Third, you must find one or two women (preferable a little older than you) who are solid, down to earth, roll -up –your- sleeves- and -help kind of friends. No superficial friendships- you need the real deal. It doesn’t sound like you can lean on your family, so ask God to help you find a woman or two like this and then share your story with them. Be sure not to share until you know that they are trustworthy friends.
AHSM- never, never, never give up on yourself. God won’t give up on you because He has already made a great future for you and He sees it. Now, He just needs you to see it. If you were my patient I would never give up on you so you must fight to win this battle. There is not question in my mind that you can win and you must- not just for Grace but for yourself because you, my dear, deserve it. I know you can conquer this depression.