Sarah Caldwell’s Guest List: The Truth about Heartbreak & Becoming a Single Mum


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I love a jaunt introduction, but it doesn’t feel appropriate here. I actually first read this list on Sarah’s blog and found it so moving and raw that I asked if I could share it on Mother of All Lists. So here it is.

Heartbreak is one of those things that’s banded around all the time, it sells songs, films, papers, and statistically speaking 71 percent of people have experienced it in some way or another. Up until 6 weeks ago, I was one of those lucky ones who had managed to avoid heartbreak. I’ve broken up with partners before, fallen out with friends, lost family members, I’ve read a fair few ‘Dear Deirdre’ letters back in the day, but had never felt it. Then I did. And Holy fuck did I.

My fiancé left. My bff, my baby daddy, my soulmate, my partner in crime. Unfortunately, we were to be no more. No more us. We pissed each other off sometimes and occasionally life was complicated. He danced like a god, and physically we were dynamite. We laughed lots and knew each other well. But just like that, we were over. 

I’ve written this because I am feeling it, right now. I am in the process of picking up all the pieces of our shattered life. I’m also writing it because I know how comforting it is to know that you aren’t the first person to go through it. Heartbreak is very isolating, being a single Mum can be very isolating, but knowing you aren’t alone helping an awful lot. If my blog makes at least one person feel a bit of comfort then I feel I’ve done my job. To that person: I see you. And I know how much you hurt, and if I could, I’d hold you super tight. 

So, here’s my list, the truth about heartbreak and becoming a single mum.

•Heartbreak hurts. It is a physical pain as well as mental and emotional, and not only do you hurt, you hurt all the time, inside. 

•You think you can’t hurt anymore, then you look into the eyes of your heartbroken children asking for their dad. It breaks you all over again.

•Those words or the phrase that marks the beginning of separation and the end of your relationship will be etched into your mind forever, and you will replay those words daily, multiple times. 

•You feel like you’re the only person in the whole world. 

•You turn a bit insane. Like, weirdly obsessive, crazy detective insane. 

•Goodbye Ocado, hello Tesco Value #singlemumlife 

•Your children start waking up at 5am. Every damn day. Sod’s law. There’s no one to help you out on that anymore. Suck it up buttercup. 

•Your head feels simultaneously numb and empty, whilst being completely full of things you have to do day to day….the school runs, applying for benefits, feeding your cats, bathing your children…you run on autopilot, and suddenly it’s the end of the day and you don’t have a fucking clue how you’ve made it. 

•Heartbreak doesn’t hold back, you could be fine one minute feeling in complete control, then crying into your dinner the next with no warning. (Or in my case, crying down the phone to the HMRC advisor who really just wanted to know about how many hours a week I work, but bless him, he let me cry and he listened like a trooper). 

•You know people mean well, but comments such as ‘you don’t need him, he didn’t deserve you anyway,’ don’t help. How can you possibly live without them? You’ve just spent years and years planning your life with this person (You make a mental note to attempt to bring yourself to delete the secret ‘wedding board’ on Pinterest).

•When you have kids you have to put your hurt on hold until the moment they go to bed. Those days are 374 hours long. 

•The tears of heartbreak are different to normal tears. They are hot and heavy, they are continuous and they burn like acid. 

•You really do grieve. You’re in denial, you feel angry, you try to bargain, you hit the lows of depression and then you accept it. You also continue this periodically and will do the cycle hundreds of times before you finally settle. (I’ll let you know when that eventually happens.) 

•The women in your life rally around and keep your head above water. WhatsApp groups appear, they communicate secretly with your mother to check in, they hold you whilst you cry and cover their shoulders in snot, they turn up at work to make sure you’ve made it in, they support you with no judgement, they look after your children and mother them like they were their own. 

•The sadness reaches new depths. The mum-guilt you feel for your children is excruciating. You feel it heavily in the pit of your stomach, like you’ve swallowed lead. 

•You buy your kids a lot of crap to make up for them having one less parent…guilt buying. Short term fixes. 

•Your kids stick to you like limpets, they feel the tension and your sadness, and understandably they want to be close. Alone time isn’t an option. 

•You’re touched and overwhelmed when your parents take you in when your mental health hits rock bottom. They pick you up from home in the night, they hold your hand to emergency mental health appointments and they let you take on life at your own pace. 

•’You’ll meet someone else in no time’, is the most ridiculous statement anyone can make. 

•But you mentally write your dating profile, ‘I am a fun and outgoing person, newly single (although still married to the first dick) 2 kids by two different dads, some deep rooted mental health issues but I’m funny, I can make a semi decent coffee and I’m an awesome cook. I think.’ 

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  • Reply hoolahmama March 14, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    I felt every word resonate with my own experience. You put it into words; I never could.
    It does get better

  • Reply Right Royal Mother March 15, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    What a raw, powerful list. Your children are lucky; you are a warrior. I hope you can see how brilliant you obviously are. Xx

  • Reply Anna May 3, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Incredible. It’s like you got inside my head, scooped out my feelings and poured them into this article. Five years on I’ve moved on, I have a new life, a new wonderful man, but I will never forget that hurt.

  • Reply Now That’s What I Call A List 2017 – Mother of all Lists December 30, 2017 at 4:29 pm


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