‘I didn’t feel safe in my own home. It took 3 years for me to find the courage to ask for a divorce. I developed stomach ulcers from all the stress. The end was inevitable.’

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“I could hear my mother’s voice playing inside my head over and over again. ‘You are never satisfied with life; you always want more. Why can’t you just be happy and grateful for what you have and call it a day?’ Repeated so many times throughout my life that now in my thirties I found myself in a new state, with a new career, and in a marriage I could not recognize as my own. Was my mother right?

‘Here we go again Jasmine,’ I told myself.

But now the stakes are higher; it’s no longer just me. I have a family now, a son to consider. Am I really just this person who is never satisfied with life? Am I really not meant to be entirely happy? Are my needs just too much? ‘If anyone can make a marriage work, it’s me,’ I thought. I am no stranger to hard work, and I’ve never failed at anything I really wanted.

It took three years for me to find the courage to ask for a divorce. After many failed attempts to make things work, one day I looked in the mirror and couldn’t see myself anymore. It was as if I was looking at a stranger staring back at me. ‘Failure is not an option. Where there is a will, there is a way, and Jasmine will find it.’

Courtesy of Jasmine Montoya

Yes, as cliché as that sounds, that truly is how I lived my life for so many years. My heart sank as the one thing that mattered to me the most – I could not save. No matter how much I tried to shrink myself to keep the peace, the end was inevitable.

I developed stomach ulcers from all the stress during the last year of my marriage. I was trying to stuff down my feelings for the sake of our son. I know women who stay in marriages and are unhappy, but from the outside looking in, they seem happy. I tried my best to be that woman, but even my body was telling me enough was enough. My anxiety was at an all-time high and I didn’t feel safe in my own home. There was a whole lot of passive aggressiveness, no love, and support.

We had moved to the west coast for a better life for ourselves and our son. All my friends and family were back in New York. I can’t help but think how different this all would have been if I filed years ago in New York, where all my support and loved ones were.

Courtesy of Jasmine Montoya

It didn’t happen that way, and in many ways, I am grateful for the lessons learned and how it has all played out. I know my strength and power now.

When you leave a toxic relationship, you feel so much lighter. The day I moved out of our home and into my very own place – as emotionally draining as that day was – the moment I stepped foot into my new home, I felt at peace. A huge weight of stress was lifted off my shoulders.

I had experienced years of him ‘bending’ the truth, of him telling me I was ‘too much,’ trying to diagnose me with different types of mental illness. Little did I know, there was more to come. When you leave a toxic relationship, sadly, the toxicity doesn’t just disappear – it bleeds into the divorce. I am almost a year into the process of my divorce, and it’s been one hell of a ride.

During what is one of the most traumatic times in someone’s life, I found myself, as any mother would, giving all my love and attention to my son. I wanted to make sure he didn’t suffer because his parents just weren’t meant to be.

Courtesy of Jasmine Montoya

I was emotionally and physically drained. I found reserves I never knew I had, but that’s what moms do. We do everything and anything possible to make sure our children don’t get hurt, and I tried everything to soften the blow of divorce. I practiced living in the present moment because you can drive yourself crazy thinking of all the possibilities the future could hold. I learned to take each moment as it came. Some days I felt untouchable and others I felt so lost. There were many restless nights, and many times I cried myself to sleep.

But not all of it has been bad. In the midst of all of this, I found myself again.  I can be me, unapologetically me. I learned to appreciate the simple things because it’s those little things like my son telling me he loves me out of nowhere, or those morning snuggles that you don’t want to end. It’s those things that get you through the day and make this all worthwhile.

Courtesy of Jasmine Montoya

I learned not to beat myself up as now I am one parent trying to do it all. I learned that, ‘YES, this IS possible,’ and I can be a single mom in a new city and make my own path and build a tribe and community just like the one I created back in New York.  My son just recently graduated T-K, and it was such a proud moment for me. 

In this year alone we conquered two new schools, one last move to our forever home, and my son’s first real ER visit. He learned how to read and write. I taught him how to wink, snap his fingers, and how to count in Spanish. He was able to experience the beauty of the ocean and saw his first whale. This year was one for the memory books. There was also an energy about this year that wanted me to fail. All eyes were on me. But let me tell you something. Sorry to disappoint, but I was made to be Noah’s mother, and I am so ready for what’s ahead. We did it, nugget. Against all odds, we did it. You truly are an amazing soul.

Courtesy of Jasmine Montoya

Through all the ups and downs this year has brought me, seeing my beautiful son smiling with his friends graduating from his beloved school made my heart full. I know I made the right decision, and I have no regrets.”

Jessica Raymond Photography

This story was written by Jasmine Montoya of Los Angeles, California. You can follow her on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more empowering stories from single moms:

‘I asked for $20 for diapers. My husband called me a ‘pathetic gold-digger’. It felt like a cruel joke. Post-labor, I became a full-time mom while he worked. We made this decision TOGETHER.’

‘My child’s father was leaving me. I was a new mother to a 3-month-old baby girl. The only items I had were a bag of clothes and a computer. She didn’t deserve any of this.’

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