August 4, 2012 — 102 Comments

Its just gone 2am and I had no intention of writing this story right now, as I was in the middle of writing another story for you, you know, a funny one, a nice one, an easy read. But I am sitting here, torn. And I have to write about it, because its all I can think about.

Oh my goodness, tears already….

When I left my ex-husband, nearly 2 ½ years ago, I left with our two children, a substantial share of debt and a few pieces of tired, donated furniture. It was over 3 weeks before Christmas. I wasn’t trying to be ironic; I just woke up one morning, turned to look at my husband of nearly 7 years, whose eyes were still shut in slumber, and knew it was the day.

I am not ready to speak yet of that marriage, and the divorce that followed, so allow me to tip toe around it during this one story please. I’ll write about that one day when its right.

When I moved myself and my two boys, who were 3 and 5 at the time, into our new home, I was on auto-pilot. I had cried with hopeless abandon into the lap of my mother for days and days on end over the Christmas we all shared together, and she stroked my hair without many words, as there could be no words for a mother to say to a daughter who had just broken free from years of a painful and devastating marriage, but after the tears and after the sorrow, there comes reality.

My reality was that I was now alone, with two boys, and no idea what to do next. I didn’t have a penny to my name, and everything in my small little unit was either borrowed or donated. My son had just begun at the private school up the road, my 14 year old sister had just flown from New Zealand to live with me in order to discover better opportunities In her life, and I was working part time.

What the hell am I going to do now?

The first decision I made was that no matter what it took, no matter what I had to sacrifice, give up, turn my back on, or sink my teeth into, that I would rise from this situation and that though my children would undoubtedly suffer untold heartbreak from watching their family shatter around their feet, that I would do anything I could to soften the blow and still try and give them the best possible platform to life that a suddenly single and broke mother could.

Choice number 1: I would keep my son in that private school, even though the school fees made me weep, it was a good school, he loved his friends, his teachers and it was a faith based education, which was the least I could do for him. It wasn’t his fault I broke up our family, he shouldn’t have to wear every consequence.

Choice number 2: I would apply for university entrance into the full time Bachelors Degree in Nursing.

I had decided not long before the divorce that I simply must become a nurse somehow as it suddenly made such sense to me. It had been creeping up on me for years, this desire to care for people, to be close to those who were suffering, who were weak, and to care for them. I also knew that if I had any chance of providing a decent future and being a good example to those kids, I had to get a decent education.

But a full time degree? While raising two young boys? While trying to love my sister who had troubles of her own?

The reality sets in again: Dreams of becoming a nurse, providing for a family, creating a happy ending, it comes at a cost…. did I have it in me? Not just for a few weeks, not just for months, but did I have it in me to persevere for years to make this happen?

Different tears followed: The tears I poured out over the acceptance letter that arrived in the mail saying that yes, I had been accepted into University, that yes, I may attempt to write a happier ending for my children… if I indeed, had it in me.

18 months on, I am half way through the degree. I have sat more exams than I can count, and passed them all. I have written thousands upon thousands of words in essays, assignments and presentations, and those too have been acceptable. I have completed 2 clinical placements and am currently preparing for my 3rd and 4th.

I love being a nurse. I was created to do this. I feel a genuine love for every patient I care for and even on the most exhausting days on placement, where I have seen things that shook me to my core, and witnessed people on the edge of their life, gasping for breath and clutching at their chest, being bought back to life by emergency procedures and state of the art equipment and skilled and experienced hands, I still drive home glad I chose do this, and knowing I am exactly where I am meant to be.

Where do I find the time to write essays, and study the medicines and terminology I can barely pronounce let alone describe? Its called ‘AM’.

1am, 2am, 3am…

A few months ago, there came a twist to this dream, and that was the realization that yes, I did was to be a nurse, but that I also wanted to be a midwife. I wanted to deliver babies and to inform mothers and to educate new families and I’m sure my heart stopped when I realized that in order to achieve this new addition to the dream, I would have to go back to university after graduation for a further 18 months and complete a Masters Degree.

Are you SERIOUS!? As much as I love this degree, and as much as I love all this learning, I am exhausted already…. How will I get through it if I have to then do a Masters Degree…

So I tried to forget all about it. It was too much, I just didn’t think I could dig that deep.

But a dream is like a worm. You can bury it as deep as you want in the soil of denial, you can try to ignore it, content it is hidden deep within the surface, but eventually it will wriggle and writhe its way to the top, and indeed one day it did, and there is was again, staring at me: My dream. To pursue it, or not?

So the decision was made, through the most clenched of teeth, that after that wondrous day of graduation in late 2013, that I would return to the classroom for more, and not stop until I had someone shake my hand and tell me I was now free to deliver all the babies I wanted, and love on all the new and expectant mothers I could…

But then this happened. This Writing.

For how many years the worm that also carried the secret of my dream to write remained buried, I don’t know. I can remember day-dreaming of writing stories since before I could even hold a pencil correctly without those triangle finger cushion things. And I never told anyone about it either. I was comfortable praying night after night that God would turn me into a mermaid, or with asking mum to make me a pixie outfit because of how I so enjoyed imagining I was one in real life, but the writing? No. I don’t know why, but I was, and still am, incredibly self conscious of this desire I have to write. Perhaps it is because it really does mean so, so much to me, and to one day achieve the ultimate: to publish a book, seems so out of reach that I may as well say I want to be an astronaut.

But one day I just began putting one word in front of the other, and I began to write. I would close my eyes and let all those words that have been bouncing around in my spirit pour out through my fingertips and with the deep sense of joy and satisfaction that came with the writing, also came a dilemma:

There are only 24 hours in a day, and its not enough to pursue two dreams, raise two young boys and sleep.

For several months now, in light of the wonderful response my writing has had, I have been managing to study, write, and be a mum, by not sleeping. I go to university during the day, run around after the kids and make sandwiches and help with homework in the afternoons, and after the children are asleep, I write. But to write at a level which I am happy to publish takes a long time, and so I am not unfamiliar with this time of the night, where the cars disappear from the highways, the staff in the 24-hour MacDonald’s sit, clicking their pens in the boredom of the ghost hours, and even the bugs are asleep.

Several times in the last 10 days, I have woken up to my alarm breaking through the 7am of my morning, only to find I am still here on this couch, with my fingers still positioned on the keyboard of my laptop, and I know I have only slept for an hour or two, and I have classes on campus, back to back from 9am through till 5pm, and even coffee won’t save me.

Its no wonder I am sick, and that I am not getting better, I’m run down, and I don’t know how to fix what is happening, because I don’t know which dream to put on the shelf.

I’m torn.

What do I do? I know I have to choose, because I can’t keep doing this. Its now nearly 4am, I have to be up again in a few hours because that assignment sitting on my desk isn’t going to write itself and I have an exam approaching. But how do you choose?

Its like choosing which leg to lose, how do you make a decision like that: I need them both.

What I actually need, is more hours in the day, but I get the same portion afforded to everyone else, and my body is telling me its not okay to keep stealing hours here and there from its rationings set aside for sleep.

To make a tight situation even more cramped, I have begun restoring furniture so I can sell it, so that I don’t have to resort to working night shift 2 days a week in order to survive financially. Seeing as my ex-husband has decided to remain firm in his decision not to contribute one single dime to the upbringing of his beautiful sons, I am left with the expense of private school fees for two, uniforms, clothing, food, toys and happy experiences all by my little self, and when you add to that text books thicker than your arm and more expensive than your rent, things start to get real scary, real quick, so I don’t have much of a choice, I have to make money somehow, and while the furniture restoration has proven to be a very good solution to this problem, it also takes time… and a lot of it.

So here I am, reader, in this dilemma. I have tried to break it all down and see where I may have room to move, but there is no room. I can’t not study, because I cannot bare the thought of not being a nurse. I can’t not write, because I cannot bare the thought of not being a writer, and I can’t stop making old furniture new, because I need to keep the power on somehow….

It is now approaching 5am, and nothing is coming to me. Dear reader, I have come so far, my sister, my boys and I, we have created a new life, but the freedom of this new life has opened what feels like a pandoras box.

What am I going to do?

I hope this doesn’t sound like I am complaining about the dreams themselves, oh I know how blessed I am to have been given a purpose and the eyes to see what that was! What I am battling with is, that something is going to have to be put aside here. I know it can’t be my degree, and I know that money doesn’t grow on trees, so I have to keep making it somehow, and so what I am trying to say is, I fear that the writing will have to go away. I mean, that’s it isn’t it? God isn’t going give me more hours, and no one can survive on 2 hours sleep a night, and I don’t buy lotto tickets, so a win seems out of the question, and this writing won’t pay the bills, it just makes me happy.

I don’t know what I’m going to do, but sitting here crying like a baby isn’t going to answer the question either I suppose, and I can feel the light of day begin to break across the sky behind me, and the children will be waking up soon and will need breakfast, so I should just publish this now and leave it hoping that the morning will bring some answers.

I really must sleep.

Forgive me if this particular post has spelling and grammar errors, or if it is nothing more than a rush of self-pitying and pathetic complaints, this is my online diary remember, so I suppose there will be the occasional post that is nothing more than me breaking down in my living room while being unfortunately close to a laptop so I can spew out the play by play for you poor unfortunate and long suffering readers.

Dear God, please give me more hours in the day…


102 responses to Torn


    What do your kids think about your writing? This is as season of life that will pass. Your writing will be with you forever, your kids won’t. It definitely seems like a challenge, but as it seems you know from experience these things pass…


    You are such a great writer, I was captivated! Dreams are the things in life that keep us going. You will find a way, and you will achieve both dreams. Your boys must be so proud of you, achieving so much! You can do it, everything will turn out well in the end, just you wait and see 🙂 x


    Wow, you are definately a gifted writer. I don’t think you should shelve that dream. As a matter of fact I don’t think you should shelve any of your dreams. Maybe you need to slow down a bit so you can do it all. I do not have kids so I can not even imagine all that and work. But take a few deep breaths and now that God, the universe hears you and is guiding you to your ultimate path, which I feel includes all of your dreams. I too have often prayed not for more hours in the days but more days in the week would be lovely. I got my masters at the age of 49. It can be done. Ask the universe to bring into your life the people who can help you and who you can help–it is an amazing afirmation.

    I am looking forward to more of your posts.


    ps love the blue wig 🙂


    Life is a journey and being happy during that journey all comes down to your ability to create a fulfilling life and this is the most important part, a SUSTAINABLE life. I was actually going to write about this in my next post. But, I will allude to it a bit now.

    You are doing truly doing the right thing with all your choices (including writing and restoring furniture). They are all valid and good choices because they are driven by your instincts and not by what society or someone else tells you.

    Your problem is not that you do not have enough time in the day, but that you must learn that as much as you want to do everything all at once, you CAN’T. NO ONE CAN!!!!

    You need to find the place where you are providing the basic needs for yourself and your children and yet your are still eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising. YOU MUST DO THOSE THINGS!!!! THEY ARE NOT OPTIONAL!!!

    You are attempting to forge your own path in life and that takes a lot of strength and energy. Even though writing is important, what is MOST important is your overall physical and mental health. You can not fly until you can walk and you cannot take on the world of you are tired, hungry and our of shape.

    Good luck and whatever you do, NEVER GIVE UP!!!!!



    There are 1440 minutes in a day, this is the same amount that Albert Einstein had to work with. Be easy on yourself, you’re doing great. Love your blog! Your story is interesting.


    I wish you well. I’ve been through what you’re going through and I know it’s hard.


    Well, my dear, YOU are definitely a writer. Have you tried for a grant? There are universities and other private institutions that encourage writers by providing them with grant money for certain projects. Just google “grants for writing.” It’s very cool that you renovate furniture, too, but if you had grant money to write then you could put the furniture on the back burner, until you finished your midwife certification. As others have said, we cannot do it all and stay sane and healthy.


      Thank you so, SO much for this tip. I had no idea anything like that was available, but after googling, I see there are many Australian writers grants on offer. This is invaluable information, thank you, thank you.
      I will find a few that I think will be relevant to my style of writing, and apply. You will be getting an email from me if I am successful. I really appreciate that you took the time to pass that information on.


    I’m completely captivated by your writing, it’s beautiful. I hope things turn out well for you, and that you end up happy with whatever you pursue.


    Reblogged this on Kailee Mekia and commented:
    Just discovered this blog from a very bold lady who shares my own experience that sometimes you need a new life. It won’t be easy, but ultimately that doesn’t matter in the face of it will ultimately be the most necessary and rewarding thing you could have done.


    “Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite…
    … reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.” kahlil gibran, the prophet.

    i suppose it is the peace and calm of the small hours that gives us the space to really face ourselves… and our dreams. to weigh up what we want and what we can have. but don’t be so hard on yourself. the universe has a way of working itself out. have faith. everything in it’s time and you will make it through the night and the next and the next and then weeks and months and years will pass and you will look back and see all that you achieved. i know this is small comfort when you feel you are falling and striking out to catch on. oh, just to sleep! but hang on in there and hold out for your dreams. all of them.


    I feel every single word you’ve written. And yes, having more hours is something I dream of as well. I have two sons, both in expensive private schools. I have a full time job. I want to pursue an MA in creative writing, but that would mean quitting my day job, as I would have to move away from home to make that possible (I’m not sure I can afford that). I dream of getting published. I have a supportive husband. But still, realised all my dreams at once is not possible. So I prioritise.
    Get your degree, and then go back to your book. But keep writing short pieces every day, until you have all the time you need to focus on a novel. You write beautifully. I really believe that you will realise all your dream, all in due time. Wish you all the luck.


    I’ve been there! I can feel your anxiety about the situation. Unfortunately God will not give us more hours. But if we ask, He will grant us wisdom on how to use the hours we have.


    Not to decide is also a decision (it took awhile before I accepted that). Life has a way of catching up with us and perhaps deciding for us. A number of years ago, I could have written that (albeit, not as well). Except there were three children not two (the youngest with kidney failure), I worked toward a Master’s Degree in Psychology (yes, from the beginning) and no family for support. If anyone had asked how I managed, they would have received a blank stare. If I thought about it that much, I would given up. After reading your words, I know you will succeed at whatever you choose. Since getting my degrees much has happened and I am now living a dream I never dared dream. You can do it too.
    Bon courage et bon chance! 🙂


      I love how you said that when people asked you how you cope, you returned to them a simple, blank stare. Oh I know this all too well. The truth is, I don’t know how I cope. I actually don’t. And yet every day, I do. You know, messages like the one you just wrote do actually make such a difference.
      Knowing someone else has gone before you can provide such a sense of company.
      Thank you for taking the time to encourage me and share a slice of your own story. Really…. thank you.


    Hi, I get the feeling that you’re burning the candle both ends. I ended up putting the children first, every time. They are my first priority. You sound very hardworking, determined, intelligent, creative, talented, and very big-hearted. Capable of following many paths. The big thing I found helped near the start of sole parenting was sitting down and writing all my dreams or goals down on separate bits of paper, and moving them into order of priority. Later, figuring out how much time and energy was available, and cutting lots of things off the list. They could be done later in life. “There’s plenty of time,” was a helpful thought for me. All the best to you.


    Hi! i read some of your blogs, and I agree that you are such a gifted writer! Not only that, being able to surpass all those hardships just shows that you are a strong woman. It might help if you take a little time to sit and think through your dilemma. Thinking about all these is overwhelming, but if you take them one by one, it would be more manageable. May I also say that you have the writer in you, and no matter what happens, you will still be a great writer.. 1, 2, 30 years from now, that gift won’t be taken away.=) This is just a suggestion, but you may want to lessen (if not cut off) the less-important things (for example, writing once every 2 weeks instead of daily..) Prioritize.=) I am wishing you all the best and trust that I will include you in my prayers. Oh, and for what it’s worth, you’re not the only one going through rough times (it might help that you’d know a lot of people around the world are dealing with a similar situation.=)). You’d get through this! Things will work out in due time. Take it easy.=D


    You are an excellent writer. It’s truly a gift. I hope that just by writing you gain strength.

    Trust me when i say that there is a future for you that is grand, glorious beyond your own current sense of appreciation. And you will find it. You aren’t staying up all night for today, you are doing it for tomorrow. And your hard work, determination, sweat, and sacrifice will be rewarded. Think about tomorrow and in that context, enjoy the hardness of today. It’s worth it.


    This is beautifully written and so inspiring. I have dreams too, but I can’t even formulate exactly what they are so that I can pursue them. It’s frustrating because as hard as it will be to chase them, it’s impossible to do so when I’m not sure precisely what they are. Writing is certainly one of them, but then reading this makes me realize yet again that I don’t have what it takes. I’m not REALLY a writer. So what then? I don’t know, but I’m glad to have read this and I thank you for sharing. It’s obvious from reading this that no matter which direction you go, you will be successful. I’m simply amazed by your fortitude. Best of luck!


    Write on. You don’t have to write as often or even as perfectly but don’t stop. I imagine the writing has been an outlet to help you walk this walk. So write on. Those days where you need sleep more than expression, go to bed knowing that the time will pass quickly and one day you will have more of it. Writing can be put on pause. So for now, write what you need when you need to. That worm of desire has revealed itself and will always be with you. Write on.


    I want to thank you for liking my post. i really understand your dilema. I also am lacking sleep because of the same issues. I want to be an entrepreneur. i also have kids and want out of the relationship that bore them because it is so very destructive.. I wish you the best. Perhaps a weekend rendeveux with your writing will suffice for now.


    I am a new follower. I have just read this post and it struck a cord. I found myself single with two kids (6 weeks and 3 1/2 years) and was living on auto pilot for some time. I had a new degree, was beginning a new career, starting a new life and dealing with multiple losses. I wished for more time. I woke in the wee hours with a laptop teetering off of my lap, and was blown away when people asked how I managed it all rather than asking if I could use some help! As others have said this will pass. You sound like an amazing person with so much heart, soul and strength. Don’t fear missing a day or two of writing. It is part of who you are — woven into the fabric of your being. I have taken breaks from my writing and discovered its loyalty as it waits quietly for my return. I wish you good luck and will follow your blog.


      The best thing is being reminded that you are not the first person to face this. Thank you for giving me a glimpse into your own survival story! I am only a few months away from over 3 months of summer holidays and I am just holding onto the vision of that long, much needed break.
      Thank you so much for writing.


    Hello Vanessa, I love this post – it is so beautifully written, moving and expressive. I could feel your pain and indecision as I read it. The cold early hours of the morning can be lonely places when you are feeling overwhelmed by something, be that indecision, worry, heartache or pain.
    You needn’t worry about your choices though because I think you can do both, but maybe not quite the way you thought. Your hardwork and dedication has got you this far in fulfilling your dream to become a nurse and I’m sure your burning desire to work on to become a midwife will be enough to get you there. Meanwhile, your love of writing and your talent and ability will not leave you. It’s something you can fit in when you can whilst you studying and then when the intensive training periods are over you can write more. So you are not choosing to do one thing at the exclusion of the other. You can do both. In years to come, when the boys are older, you may decide to work part-time as a midwife and be a writer too.
    I’m going to follow your blog with great interest! Thank you for liking my blog “Is it better yet?” – I am now 8 weeks post-op after my knee surgery and managing on my own. I was widowed 17 years ago at the very young age of 31 so I can relate to much of your writing.
    All the very best, much love, Lyn x


      Oh wow. Thank you so much for this. I know that there is a way to achieve it all, but it wont be all in one day right!
      I nursed a lot of people post surgery who had undergone the same surgery so I empathise with you. It is a long recovery process and I hope you are feeling well.
      Thank you again Lyn. xx


    Of all things I’ve read on WordPress, this rings true for my own experience more than I can tell you. I agree with those who have said to write when you can, but do not allow it to cause you additional anxiety if you don’t have time to write, or don’t write as much or as “perfectly” as you wish you could. I started a blog as a way to deal with the divorce I went through when I left my husband of seven years to raise our son, now 5-years-old, by myself and move back to my hometown to pursue a new life. Pursuing a master’s degree was one way I found direction at that time, but in the last two years, I found a way to better manage my time and better value sleep in my schedule. I look forward to reading more of your blog, as I respect your decision to stay single. I chose to move forward into a new relationship about six months ago as a caring man I knew in high school found his way back into my life and consistently provided encouragement and love to me until I felt ready to accept him and what he offered. Keep to your challenge. All of your dreams and the pursuit of them make you more fierce. I’m encouraged and impressed.


    inspiration has a knack for striking during those hours we should be sleeping, doesn’t it?

    i could not conceivably presume to give you advice because 1) YOU GOT THIS, and 2) i have never faced what you’re facing.

    if i were to wish anything for you, though, it would be more sleep. the two things that have ever made EVERYTHING in my life better, no matter what was going on, are good sleep and good nutrition.

    take care of yourself, as i know you already are the best you can. x


    Thanks for the like. 🙂 You write beautifully. I can feel every emotion. Please write whenever you are able to.

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