untold stories slummy single mummy
Today’s Untold Story is a contribution from a woman who years later, still feels a crushing guilt at having ended her marriage. Guilt is something that we all carry so much of, especially as parents, that I’m sure her story will resonate with a lot of people. Please leave a comment if you’d like to share your experiences of guilt and please get in touch if you have your own untold story you’d like to share – they can be published anonymously.

I’ve decided to write a blog post on guilt because it’s something I have struggled with terribly and something I imagine a lot of you have struggled with also.

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, the definition of guilt is a feeling of worry or unhappiness that you have because you have done something wrong, such as causing harm to another person.

Now the difficulty here I found was that there is guilt where you have genuinely done something wrong, or guilt where you perceive you’ve done something wrong but you know deep down you haven’t or there are extenuating circumstances.

Ever since leaving my husband I have suffered with guilt.  The marriage had been failing for a long time for many reasons which I won’t get into here.   And every argument has two sides.  My justification and reasons for the breakdown of our marriage could be the complete opposite of my husband’s.  Because it was me who left, I shouldered all the guilt and blame.  The marriage ended because I left.  It was my fault.  If I’d stayed, maybe we could have worked it out.

I knew deep down those thoughts were unfair to myself and I knew deep down I’d made the right decision but I couldn’t make them stop.

Our marriage had been toxic in later years and I couldn’t have my children growing up in that environment.  Surrounded by so much negativity, despair, pain and anguish.  I didn’t want them to grow up thinking that was a normal relationship.  That was how a man and a woman or any couple should love each other.  I didn’t want them setting their own bar so low.  Their own expectations of love and marriage.  I felt it was my responsibility to free them from those experiences and hopefully show them one day what love could be.

For the first couple of months I felt so much guilt it was like a physical weight crushing my chest.  Have I done the right thing, for the kids, for me, even for him.  Could we have made this work?   I would look at the house we’d bought together and the garden.  The home we’d bought for our children to grow up in.  All the plans we’d made.  We’d even had architect plans drawn up for a big extension project.  It now all felt as though it had been for nothing.  13 years of my life had led to this point.  

Towards the end of our marriage, the last couple of years or so, I yoyo’d back and forth between anger and hatred and complete indifference.   I was on antidepressants which helped to take the edge off.  I see now that despite the way he treated me, this wasn’t fair to him.  I was a shell of myself.  I had shut down.  I had stopped engaging with him in any way but I also didn’t have the courage to move on.  I was just drifting through the days.  Existing for the sake of the kids.  I felt completely trapped and joyless.  Like I was in a downward spiral where I could neither see the top nor the bottom.  

One day it all came to a head and the marriage ended just like that.  My very first feeling was devastation and crushing guilt as I saw my future, unhappy though it likely would have been, come crashing down.  At least a miserable future is a future.  Now I just saw nothing.  A single woman with two young kids, no job as I’d moved to the other side of the country and I was living with my parents.  But after a week or so relief set in.  I was free.  It didn’t matter that I couldn’t see a future because the future was now mine and it was mine to control and shape as I wanted.  The future could wait.  I was just taking it a day at a time.  

But eventually the relief, whilst still there, was displaced by the guilt which came back with a vengeance as I started to fully process what I had done and what it would mean.  The phone calls from my ex husband asking to come back, the horrendous tantrums from my older daughter as she wondered where her dad had gone and standing firm in the face of all of that whilst feeling like I was falling to bits piece by piece.  There are two years which I can say are the worst of my life and the year I was on my own was one of them.

This is not because I was on my own in itself.  Being on my own was liberating.  Yes I was managing two kids, a house and a full time job but I did so with no external factors.  I didn’t have to worry about abusive arguments or fists through walls anymore.  It was horrendous because I had a new job and my boss was a narcissistic bully.  I’ve never worked for such a volatile, unpleasant person.  I was also navigating the practicalities with my ex husband.  Money, housing, the kids.  To begin with, this was not done on amicable terms and it was an absolute minefield.  But whilst I absorbed the abuse and the threats I knew this wasn’t my life anymore and I could just walk away.

Three years have now gone by and the guilt is still there.  It is much weaker than in the early days but I don’t think it will ever fully leave.  It will still hit me from nowhere.  A memory, photos flashing up on my phone of when the four of us were a family, wedding paraphernalia, holidays, films we used to like, sayings and phrases which were in jokes.  But mostly my children are a daily reminder of the decisions I made.  Marrying the wrong man and making my children pay for my mistakes.  Even though I know leaving was the right decision for me and for them, there is always an alternate reality where my children do not have to split themselves in two.  Where I married a different someone and we lived happily ever after.  

My ex husband is now living with another partner and they have a baby girl together.  I live with a new partner who is a truly wonderful man and who I’ve been with for just under two years.   But every time my life moves on, the guilt is re-triggered.  The first time I was intimate with someone other than my ex husband.  For the first time in 13 years.  This was with my current partner and it took me a long time to fully embrace a new relationship and let go of the last.  When my partner moved into the house I bought with my ex husband this was another trigger. 

My ex husband now lives at the end of the road and his partner’s daughter is the same age and is in the same school as my older daughter.   My younger daughter is the same age as my partner’s son and he will be attending a school in the same area.  We all attend school events together and are on friendly terms as a group.  My ex husband respects and happily chats to my partner and I to his.  But it has taken nearly three years to get to this point.

As for me, I believe I can now show my children what true love is and can be.  I don’t believe the guilt will ever fully leave me because no matter how happy I am now, my children will always have to split themselves between me and their father and find their place in two separate families.  This will have repercussions.  Maybe my happiness and feelings of guilt are interlinked.  After leaving my husband, do I deserve to be happy?  Is my happiness at the expense of other people’s?  Does everyone deserve to be happy?

But regardless of this, I do believe I’ve finally found my happily ever after and I hope against hope my children will find the love and respect first time around that it took me a second chance to achieve.  

For other blogs and my journey from before the separation and divorce to the present day, please see my blog Single Mummy’s Voice.

Guilt over divorce
Photo from Unsplash


untold stories slummy single mummy

Today’s Untold Story has been anonymously contributed by a man who has been through the experience of losing a friend – literally losing them, without any idea of where they’d gone. I can’t begin to imagine how this must feel, that state of limbo and uncertainty, unable to move on or let go of the hope. Please read and leave a kind comment if you’d like to. If you have a personal story you’d like to share please get in touch.

This story starts in the late 60s – 68 and 69 to be precise.

Growing up I had lots of friends, but I had one special friend. She lived on the same street as me and we were as thick as thieves. But the story starts before just living on the same street.

Our mums worked together at the local school as dinner ladies and were great friends, they both had other children older than me and  my friend – let’s call her Claire. Our mums fell pregnant at the same time, so as they were good friends they supported each other through pregnancy just as they did with my older brother and sister.

They would go to antenatal clinic together, shop for baby clothes, support each other through pregnancy, do what expectant mothers do all throughout the country.

So as the pregnancies progressed the due dates appeared to be within days of each other in March. Claire’s due date came and went with no sign of her. Three days after the due date she appeared, a happy and healthy little girl. Next it was my turn to make an appearance. Within three hours of Claire being born, little old me came along.

As you can imagine, living on the same street only six doors apart life was pretty much growing up together. From going to school together, playing together, eating together, even going on holidays with both families together. We were inseparable friends.

I lost my older sister when I was nine to a tragic playground accident and Claire naturally took the role as my sister. Once the tragedy of the accident had faded and was just a memory, Claire was my rock and best friend. Even though we grew into teenagers, our friendship never faded and we didn’t let hormones get in the way.  View Post


untold stories slummy single mummy

Today’s Untold Stories is contributed anonymously by a mum of one who I met randomly online a few months ago. We got to talking and before I knew it, she was sharing her story. ‘I don’t love my husband,’ she told me, ‘but I don’t know how to leave him.’ (People tell me things, I don’t know what it is.) She asked if she could write a post for my Untold Stories section to help her clarify her own thoughts and to hopefully get feedback and support from other people about what she should do. I know what I think, but I’d love to hear your comments.

I feel guilty even writing this. In so many ways I know I have a perfect life – great friends, a lovely, affection son, a big house, a husband who is perfectly nice…

But that’s the trouble. He’s perfectly nice, but that’s all. He doesn’t hit me, but that’s hardly a reason to stay married to someone is it? When it’s just me and the thoughts in my head though, it feels like it should be. Sometimes I’ve wished he’d do something awful – come home drunk and confess to an affair with his secretary, or tell me he’s slept with a prostitute or something, anything that would make me feel justified in ending our marriage.

I know I could just leave, but as easy as that feels to say to the characters on the TV who are clearly stuck in an unhappy marriage, when it comes to saying it to myself? Somehow the words don’t come as easily. I look at my husband with my son, in the garden at weekends, playing football, laughing, and it feels like such an awful cliché that sometimes I wonder if I’m the TV show, looking out.

My son is nine now. When I try to think back to when I first met my husband, to when I was pregnant, when we were new parents, it feels hazy. I want to remember how it felt to be in love with him, imagining that if I could hold that feeling even just for a moment, that I could recapture it, but I can’t. I’ve thought about it so much, replayed the past so many times, looking for clues, that I can’t even remember now if I ever loved him?

I think I did. Would I have married him otherwise? I’m not sure.

He’s a kind man. He’s sweet and generous and loves his family. Why can’t I return that love? How could I take everything away from him when he’s done nothing wrong?

That’s the crux of it for me, that idea of right and wrong. He’s done nothing wrong and therefore I have no valid reason to leave. My unhappiness isn’t a reason enough, but I’m not sure why. Perhaps because the status quo is passive? I’m already unhappy, suck it up, leaving would make TWO people unhappy – father and son – and it doesn’t take an expert to do that maths. What gives me the right to think that my ONE is worth more than their TWO?

At the moment, while I don’t love my husband anymore, I don’t hate him either. We rub along, I’m good at pretending, maybe he knows, maybe he doesn’t. I worry though that over time this tolerance is going to erode. I don’t want to hate him. I don’t want to start resenting the way he spreads butter on bread.

But I don’t know how to leave. I don’t know how to feel okay with making my own happiness more important than by husband and son’s.

Read more Untold Stories here. If you’d like to contribute your own, please get in touch.

I don't love my husband anymore

Photo by Katie Drazdauskaite on Unsplash


Today’s Untold Stories post was sent as a response to some questions I posed for this post asking ‘how important is sex in a long term relationship‘, but there are some key things within it that made me want to share it as a standalone. Questions it raised for me personally were things like ‘how much is sex tied up in my self-worth and why?’ and ‘to what extent do I want to feel desired to make me feel powerful or in control?’ When I thought about it, I haven’t ever been in a relationship where I’ve not felt sexually desired 99% of the time and I think if I’m honest with myself I would really struggle with feeling secure and loved without that.

It’s very much tied in to what I have been reading and thinking a lot about lately – the concept of the male gaze and, as a woman, your role being to be SEEN rather than to just BE. I would say that I have used sex a lot, especially when I was younger, as a way to get attention and to feel noticed or important, and although I am understanding more and more where this comes from, it’s a very difficult habit to break – to separate your worth as a woman from your sexual desirability. Anyway, that’s what this post made me think about. I’d love to know what questions it raised for you, so please do leave a comment.


higher sex drive than my husband

This is actually my longest relationship. I met my husband online and when we got together one of the things that I really liked was how affectionate he was. It wasn’t just sex, it was intimacy. Probably for the first time in my life I felt really loved and accepted.  View Post


untold stories slummy single mummy

Today’s anonymous contribution to Untold Stories is a powerful one. It tells the story of one woman, living what seems to be a perfectly normal life, but hiding a secret. Reading it raised so many questions for me about relationships, intimacy and sexuality. Can we really be happy if we are keeping a part of ourselves hidden? Where do you draw the line when it comes to putting other people’s happiness ahead of your own? I’m sure there are a lot more people in situations like this than we realise and I’d love for you to leave a comment if you’d like to tell your own story or simply share your thoughts.

I got married fairly young by today’s standards. I was 24 and had met my future husband 5 years before that. We had a house, a dog and joint bank accounts. The next expected step was marriage and so, when he proposed, I accepted without hesitation.

We’ve now been married for the best part of 15 years. We have three gorgeous kids, a beautiful home and a secure financial situation. We go on holiday a couple of times a year, upgrade our car regularly and are always doing something – days out, evenings with friends. We have a busy, full, happy life.

So where’s the catch? Well, for that I need to go back to the start.

I grew up on a city council estate with parents who worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. They were very conservative for labour voters really and it was a different time back then in the 1990s. Life has, thankfully, changed so much over the years.

By the time I got to my teens I knew my parents expected me to get a boyfriend eventually – they were dreading it. I was a late developer. Had no interest in relationships and instead focused on school. But, by the time I got to 16, all my friends had boyfriends so it seemed really natural for me to have a boyfriend too.

I’d had a hard time at school and hadn’t found it easy to make friends or form real relationships so as soon as a boy showed interest in me, when I was nearly 17, I jumped at it. We went out, I lost my virginity – as I felt it was expected of me – and we were together for a few months.

After that I had a couple more boyfriends and it was all fine. But, I didn’t really know what the fuss was about. We had sex but it wasn’t the mind-blowing experience from the movies. It was more mechanical than anything else – going through the motions until it was finished. Everyone was doing it, but what was so special about it?

Then something changed for me. A new girl started at work and she was different to anyone I had ever met. She was gay and she didn’t mind who knew it. She was loud, proud and full of personality and we became friends easily.

Our friendship was strong from the start. I’d chat to her all day at work and then text her through the evening until I saw her the next day. We’d go for drinks, go to the movies and wander aimlessly around the shops. All the things that friends do.

And then one day we were sitting in the park, drinking Red Square like we did most weekend evenings, and she kissed me. She kissed me and my world span around. I finally knew what people got excited about. I had butterflies in my belly and tingles everywhere else.

After that we formed a tactile, close relationship. We’d kiss and mess about and I felt like the 17 year old I always should have been. I found myself and I liked it.

But, back then I was torn. I found someone that made my heart leap. Their fingers entwined with mine made me so happy and even now, 20 years later, I can remember the smell of their shampoo on their hair.

But, it was never going to be straightforward. View Post


untold stories slummy single mummy

The last few months have been tough on the strongest of us. I’m not normally prone to anxiety, but coronavirus has hit me hard. Imagine dealing with a pandemic on top of a long term anxiety disorder and OCD. Then throw in leaving both of your children at university in a big city and going home to an empty nest. As you can imagine, things have not been easy lately for Jilly Mackenzie. I feel so honoured that she has chosen to share her experiences with us through my Untold Stories segment and that she feels courageous enough to share her name too. Please show Jilly some kindness and support by leaving a comment if you can. You can read more Untold Stories here.


Today, I did the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’ve had my share of really hard times, but this has just been the hardest day. Today was the day that I took my girls (20 and 18) to their student accommodation in Glasgow.

This year has definitely been hard on everyone, but two weeks ago, we had a totally unexpected event that just overwhelmed all of us. My eldest has been in a four-and-a-half year relationship with her boyfriend. A young man who we have loved as one of our own. But two weeks ago, after a short holiday with his parents, he ended the relationship via a text message (yes, you read that correctly, a text message). She was utterly blindsided, immediately came out in hives and within two days was on beta blockers and meds for a nasty IBS flare-up.

I watched my normally strong daughter turn into a completely heartbroken wreck.

I have felt so helpless watching her blame herself, sob herself to sleep, grapple with severe physical and emotional pain. There have been times that I’ve had to take myself off for a cry and also times I’ve had to restrain myself from turning up at his home and lecturing him about dumping her a week before they were meant to move back in together.

I have found the situation particularly hard as I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). I also battle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), bouts of depression and IBS (yes! I get all the fun). The unwelcome arrival of Covid-19 just about broke me – all my coping mechanisms fled from my brain like a crowd of shoppers fleeing from a single cough in a supermarket (I submitted an Untold Story here about my marriage during coronavirus, which will explain a bit more). View Post


untold stories slummy single mummy

Divorce is down as one of the most stressful life events you can experience, but today’s contributor wants to reassure people that although it can be a heartbreaking and traumatic event, there are positives in divorce, and you will find happiness again. If you’ve been through a divorce I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.


“Getting divorced is absolute agony,” I was once advised by a friend, (who had the audacity to be in the middle of divorcing an actual vicar), “but the alternative is far worse. It’s like living with an gangrenous leg that you know you have to have chopped off: sometimes it feels that it might be easier to die slowly from the inevitable poisoning, but the brave accept that it needs hacking off so you can thrive again.”

Two decades later, I often thought of her advice when I was in the middle of my own, painful hacking off. The first nights when my children were at their father’s house I would have to close their bedroom doors because their flat, empty beds hurt so much. I shut the doors, boxing in that part of my life so I didn’t have to feel their absence. I felt full of doom when I told some of my older friends that my husband and I were separating, and they looked grave and said things like: “But what about your lovely children?” I felt that I was doing something awful, something unforgivable, hurling us all into a dark future.

Since then I’ve seen friends go through the same process. It’s so painful watching them go through their own personal severing, knowing I can’t do much to help other than to listen, to not judge, and to buy wine, fairy lights and other pretty things to adorn their new, fierce tiger-mother lairs.

But it’s not all agony. After everything is put asunder, there are some truly great up-sides to getting divorced: View Post


When I became a teenage pregnancy statistic aged 16 and then a parent a second time around at 24, (I felt so old and wise!), I had a very clear narrative around what was going to happen with the rest of my life.

I watched as my peers went through their twenties building careers, buying houses, living alone, taking exotic holidays, while I went to parks and took holidays in cheap caravans and worked several part time, poorly paid jobs to fit around childcare. I stayed in a relationship until literally a few weeks before my 30th birthday because I lacked the conviction to leave.

This paints a rather sorry picture but actually I enjoyed myself most of the time. I didn’t have much money but I had lots of friends and plenty of energy and to be honest I’ve never really minded a cheap caravan.

And besides, behind it all I had the narrative that gave it all context.

‘Oh you might be enjoying your twenties’, I would say to my friends, ‘but just think, by the time I’m just 40 years old Bee will be grown up and Belle will be 16 and I’ll basically be able to do what I like! Parenting will be over and I’ll get my independence when I’ll really appreciate it, and have disposable income. You lot will all have young kids and I’ll be on a cruise, sipping a martini!’

It was a powerful image and without even realising it I made it my story. It was simple – I put in the work and I got the ‘rewards’. The rewards being the child free cruise, in perpetuity. (It’s worth noting here that I have never actually been on a cruise and have no idea if I’d even enjoy it. I do like martinis though.) View Post


untold stories slummy single mummy

Today’s guest post is an anonymous contribution from a mother of one child who found herself questioning her identity and her value after becoming a parent. It’s very easy to judge people in these kind of situations and I’m sure not everyone will understand. Having a baby though is a massive life shift, it sends our hormones into a spin and can throw us completely off balance. It’s often a time when relationships become especially valuable. We are all human beings after all.

Please do leave a comment or get in touch if you have your own story to share about your family life. Read more Untold Stories here.

By Anon.

I became a mum five years ago, aged 36. We’d been married for 10 years already by then and had been trying for a baby for most of those. Our daughter was eventually conceived on our third round of IVF.

I’d wanted to be a mum ever since I was a little girl. I had this picture perfect idea in my mind of meeting the perfect man, and having a fairytale wedding. Then we’d get on with the business of having three kids and living happily ever after. I met the man, a good start, and I waited for the kids to follow. They didn’t.

We didn’t worry too much about it to start with as it felt like we had plenty of time. As the years rolled on we started to have to face the possibility that our perfect family wasn’t going to come as easily to us as we had imagined. We had tests, we took temperatures, we plotted things on charts and eventually started IVF treatment.

IVF was hard and the all consuming battle to conceive took its toll on both of us, physically and emotionally. By the time we found ourselves pregnant, the longed for baby had become this huge symbol of hope and promise. It felt like everything was resting on it, that once the baby was born our lives could properly begin. View Post


untold stories slummy single mummy

I feel like Untold Stories has been pretty sad lately – the woman who regrets having children and the new mother who hates her husband – it’s perhaps a bit heavy going right now isn’t it? I do want this feature to be a place of honesty, but I’m tempering it a little today with a story that blends authenticity with positivity. Becoming a parent can be shocking and difficult and exhausting but also wonderful and surprising and beautiful. Today I’m celebrating both sides. Get in touch if you have a story you’d like to share anonymously.

By Anon

When my baby is seven months old and I am starting to emerge, blinking, into the daylight, I go for lunch with a work friend who has a toddler.

“How have you found it?” she asks, innocently.

My only reply is a wide-eyed stare.

“I know,” she says, nodding sagely.

Nobody tells you what sublime bliss and utter tyranny it is to have a baby. Parents apparently take a vow of silence about the total surrender that comes with the territory. Through school, university, work, we are taught to analyse, to be rational, to put things in order. Then babies come along and don’t so much challenge your now hard-wired rationality as throw it out the window and stamp on it, chuckling gummily.

Pregnancy is a good preparation. Suffer from hayfever? Tough, you can’t take antihistamines. Stay indoors. Chest infection? Mmm, better if you can muddle through on honey and lemon. Used to rushing about town in a constant whirl of activity? Two words: slow down. Your body will give you no choice.

Towards the end, I felt like my body was turning inside out. I had expected my baby to be like me: early or on time to all appointments. Instead, she was lingering cosily, and my body was protesting in every way it knew how. View Post


untold stories slummy single mummy

Today’s anonymous contribution to my Untold Stories series is an incredibly brave and incredibly sad story about a woman trying to live with Generalised Anxiety Disorder through lockdown, and how that is impacting on her relationship with her husband and her children. I’ve noticed over the last couple of weeks that people are talking more and more about the impact of the coronavirus on mental health and I’m sure today’s storyteller can’t be alone in finding herself struggling to cope with this new way of living. If you have any words of comfort or reassurance, or are experiencing any similar, please do leave a comment, I know it would be hugely appreciated. If you have your own story you’d like to share, please get in touch.

By Anon.

I am THAT person

This pandemic. This coronavirus. This new way of existing. It’s terrifying, it’s depressing, it’s beyond our control.

I’m pretty sure mine is not the only household that’s reeling under the pressure cooker atmosphere of lockdown. Many are struggling to contain their kids or not particularly enjoying their partners working from home. It’s absolutely not a way of life that any of us are used to, nor do many of us like it.

But I wonder how many people have discovered that they themselves are actually impossible to live with. This is a sickening realisation that I’ve had to come to terms with. I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). To explain: this does not mean I “worry”. It means that I spend my entire day in “fight or flight” mode. It’s a constant, exhausting, terrible fear. It’s a permanent attempt at holding it together, pushing down the urge to shriek with panic, persistently trying not to cry. It’s constantly seeking reassurance, constantly asking questions. It’s trusting no one. It’s catastrophising every single thing, until the world seems to be a terrible place not worth living in. It’s such a burdensome load to carry, that it seeps into my veins and poisons my blood with a depression that never lifts. View Post


untold stories slummy single mummy

Today’s anonymous contribution to Untold Stories is, sadly, not an uncommon one. It’s all about that time after a birth of a baby when you’re meant to be living as a happy family and yet somehow it doesn’t always work like that. It’s a massively tough time for even the strongest of relationships and if there are any cracks at all, it’s now that they can begin to show. If you’ve had a similar experience and have come out the other side I would love you to leave an encouraging comment. Or maybe you came out the other side and it didn’t look exactly how you thought it would look? Please do leave a comment and share your story. (Names have been changed.)



Hate feels like a strong word but I don’t honestly know how else to describe it. What is it called when you lie in bed next to someone while they sleep and all you can feel towards them is resentment and bitterness?

I haven’t always felt like this about my husband. We met when we were 24 and married five years later. For all that time we were perfectly happy. Okay, so not perfectly, but we were a normal amount of happy. We both had jobs we loved, friends with whom we did all the things that twenty somethings are meant to do – boozy brunches, Sunday lunches, all of that. At weekends we sometimes lay in, sometimes we went away. We had disposable income. We were tired sometimes, but the kind of tiredness that comes from fun nights out and work projects that you feel passionately about. It was the sort of tired that you don’t mind because you know there will be chance to catch up at the weekend. It didn’t seem to matter who put out the bin as long as it happened at some point.

Then when I was 32 we had a baby. I’ve always wanted a family, we both have. We were excited about it. We went to all of the classes, did all the research. We felt ready. It turns out I was really not ready. View Post