When people carefully ask me, “What happened?” regarding my marriage, and essentially, how I became a single mom, they are waiting for a simple answer. Instead, I have a narrative that can fill up a novel.
It’s pretty standard, you may think. After all, everyone has stories that can be written into a novel.
What I emphasize is much deeper than that. We often think of someone’s unfortunate or fortunate fate as a result of one instance. We try to find that definite line of when the milestone of change began.
We come into this life with certain wirings and conditioning via our genetics, environment, and family history. The people who bring us into this world and raises us, have a tremendous impact on our brain chemistry and thinking patterns.
So if someone asks me why I became a single mom, I would start to talk about sexism and chauvinism in my family, and many families around the world, especially in traditional cultures. My background is Korean, and as much as it is a very modern society, family patterns and values are slow to change.
Examples: I was never told that I was intelligent, nor encouraged to try advanced academics. In fact, I was talked out of trying advanced courses in high school by my father. I was discouraged from pursuing my talents and desires. Compared to the male counterpart in my family, I found myself constantly pushed to the sidelines.
Instead, I was taught to be a helper, supporter, and a provider for my family. During teen years, I was regularly spoken to about getting married early, having children, to learn to be elegant, pretty, slim, because otherwise, no man will want to marry me, and my life will be over. I was encouraged to pursue education and a career that will fit the purpose of motherhood.
Now couple that with the environment I grew up in, and my natural DNA of adventurism, which I ironically inherited from my father. In my life, he was the main perpetrator of ancient gender roles.
At 21, I was still the same girl from my family. I felt responsible for everything. I had to help everyone. I had to sacrifice and put myself last before anyone else. I was greatly frustrated and angry. I needed male approval constantly because I could never please my own father. I found the first man who seemed to be able to give me these unhealthy approvals, and committed myself to him “forever.” I was 24.
Then, my life changed. At 28, I had a daughter.
I started to see the world through her eyes, and the kind of person I wanted her to become. I was far from the figure who I envisioned my daughter to become. I saw her as a powerful, successful, charismatic, and excellent woman with the world at her feet.
I knew I had to change. And there it began. At 29, still not knowing much about myself, I did the scariest thing. For the first time in my life, I pushed myself to stop being part of the cycle. I will not allow another woman in my family to be a part of the same story.
When our purpose is greater than our own, we do incredible things that we could have never imagined. For our children. Like for many parents, my children became the catalyst for change.
Always know you are enough. You are kind enough. You are smart enough. You are beautiful, caring, important enough for others to love you and reciprocate all that you have to give.
This is the story of my divorce. In a nutshell.