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Ask Shan Tell'emJET Love

Love Advice: Staying For The Bills

Dear Shan Tell’em,

In order to build a better life for myself and my family, I moved back home to the West Coast. My relationship with my child’s father was rocky before the move, but I figured a fresh start was needed. We’ve been living here for about a year now, and unfortunately, I was wrong. Not only did he cheat on me with another woman, he left me for her. I’ve lost weight and have had times where I didn’t even want to get up out of the bed. And while it’s been tough, I’ve accepted the fact that we’re not together anymore. The problem is that he still lives with me. Rent on this side of the country is extremely expensive, and I just can’t do it alone because I lost my job last month. He’s been slacking lately with paying the bills, but has been working extra hours to catch up. I don’t know what to do. 

Signed,

Staying For The Bills

Dear Staying For The Bills,

I do not envy your position. Often, people think that a change of scenery will improve their relationship. But honestly that type of change has to be desired internally within both parties. I’m sorry that things didn’t work out with your boyfriend. But now is the time to focus on keeping a roof over you and your daughter’s head. The unfortunate reality is that he’s moved on, and could be planning to move out of the living space that you share. While the rent may be pricey on the West Coast, you’ve got to find a way to have a place that you can afford on your own. Have you tried filing for unemployment? I know this is an obvious step, but I must ask. While the looming financial pressure of survival is on your back, I think what may be more taxing is the fact that you have to constantly be reminded that your relationship is over.

While you might not be able to make any immediate physical moves yet, such as moving out and only communicating with your ex when it relates to your child, there are some steps that you can take to have peace of mind. Ninety percent of getting through difficult situations depends on how solid your mental, physical and emotional well-being is. You’re in a high stress situation and it’s best to acknowledge and deal with it in the most effective way possible.

If you can, take time away from home. Do not avoid going there, but do make sure that you are placing yourself in as many other peaceful spaces as possible. Spend time with friends, take your child out for a fun day or just go to the park. Getting out of the house allows for the dust to settle and for you to have peace of mind. You’re going to have to mentally prepare for the fact that this post-breakup living situation is going to be longer than you may like. It’s also best to remain cordial and set ground rules. I think it would be pretty messed up if either one of you decided to bring a romantic interest to your home. In addition to the awkwardness that would create, your child does not need to be subjected to that type of confusion. While he/she may know that mommy and daddy are no longer together, you are still living under one roof. Your number one job as a parent is to set the best example of how to be a kind, mature and responsible adult. And most importantly, remember that this is all temporary. It may seem like you are being hit with a lot of obstacles at once, but you CAN handle them.

Good luck and I wish you the best.

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Shantell E. Jamison is a Chicago-based writer, radio personality, and cultural critic. She’s also JET Magazine’s Digital Content Editor. She’s been featured on WBEZ 91.5FM, “The Monique Caradine Show,” Vocalo 91.1FM, KDKA Newsradio 1020AM, WBGX 1570AM, WYCA 102.3FM, Chicago Now, The Grio, The Black Youth Project, The Gate Newspaper and “Launching Chicago with Lenny McAllister.” Her debut book, “Drive Yourself in the Right Direction: Simple Quotes on How to Achieve Your Best Self” is available now at Amazon.com.