Tuesday, October 1, 2013
What I've learned after not really dating for 3 years...
Yesterday I found myself drifting off mentally in Microbiology and the thought struck me "October will mark 3 years since your second divorce. You have officially not dated in 3 years." I'm not sure why that struck me so monumental at the time but it really did. I sat with it on the 30 minute ride home and thought over the last three years. Where I am. What I've learned. Where I'm headed.
I met my first husband at my 15th birthday party and have no shame in saying He was the love of my life. I fell madly for him and we dated off and on till I married him at 22. I adored him. We got each other. Unfortunately, He carries deep wounds and brokenness that he could not overcome during our union and I decided it best that I raise the girls solo in 2006. We were married 8 years and together 15. I love him still in a platonic, compassionate way. Healing is a beautiful thing.
Stayed solo till 2008.
I met my second husband through our mutual best friends and thought he would be my prince charming. Little did I know, that no one can be prince charming. We all have brokenness, body odor, and flaws. I quickly realized during our 18 month union that we weren't invested on the same levels and sought counsel from multiple sources. Turning point came and again I was solo.
We divorced October 2010.
I'm giving you the clean adult rated versions. Two sides. No one wins.
I decided when the second divorce occurred that it was a wake up call to be alone for a while, chill out and find other avenues of fun, fulfillment, and joy. I also decided to uproot my whole life, move from Dallas and a life I loved, to Arkansas to start over pursuing a new career. When I left Dallas, I was casually dating 3 men and couldn't care less about it. Revelation: I was no more fulfilled with 3 attachments than with none.
January came and I moved to Arkansas. With the exception of a few minor dalliance' here and there, I've not dated. I've not pursued invites. I've warded off friend hook ups.
What have I learned and where am I at in a culture that stresses relationships, sex, and codependency?
1. I'm OK. I was mortified when the second divorce took place. All my bets were on that one and when it imploded no one was more shocked and disoriented than myself. I was filled with a huge sense of shame. I was raised and truly believe in one man one woman for a lifetime. One divorce was a blow, two was death. But what I realized throughout the last three years is that everything I ever feared on a grand scale happened to me. And I'm alive. I'm great. I'm solid. My faith is stronger than ever. I'm a fighter. I'm a survivor. I'm loved. Sometimes looking our greatest fears square in the eye and being required to live through them sets us free. When you have nothing left, there is no anxiety over what might destroy you. I'm OK.
2. God really is enough. I don't hesitate to say I lost myself in both marriages. I sacrificed my health, my sanity, and my own opinions to codependency and a desire to have a "family". It didn't work. In the effort to be the perfect wife, I became a wreck. I lost touch with my goals and became a stepford wife the second time. It was awful and lonely. I've learned that the only way to be truly non-codependent is to be completely God-dependent. I wake up in the morning and my first thought is "Get to the couch and dive in." (It's my devotion spot) When things go haywire, I don't think anymore who can I call for support. I call God. In this process, I've learned that I can live in the woods raising two little women alone and be completely fulfilled and not lonely. Family is not defined by one woman, one man, and 2.5 kids. It's defined by love, peace, and contentment. It's completely weird and people don't get it but it's true. Not to say I don't have moments, but in general terms, He fills me. I have no needs.
3. You really can live without sex and not crumble up and die. I love sex as much as the next person. Believe me. However, I made a commitment to myself that sex would not impede my judgement to stay out of bad relationships. I really believe not having sex before marriage is the way to go. I think it honors God and myself. It really is quite horrible though. All these people around you asking "HOW DO YOU GO WITHOUT SEX?" Every movie, TV show, book throwing you curve balls about the joys of sex every other second. It's rough. But you know what is more rough? Lying in bed next to someone that you've just given your body (and in my opinion soul) over to and feeling like the loneliest person in the world. Not cool. Devastating. Remembering how that felt strengthens my resolve. I'd rather be sexless than feel worthless and used.
4. Life is not "less than" because you do not have a romantic partner. Dude...the world is so awesome. There are some incredibly amazing people out there just dying to hang out with you. Dying to share their stories and their time with you. YOU DON'T HAVE TO HAVE A PARTNER TO ENJOY YOUR LIFE TO THE FULLEST. I am so fulfilled and loved by my friendships and non-romantic relationships. Love does not have to be romantic. Love comes in many forms. It is truly possible to live feeling completely accepted and loved while LIVING alone. It's also truly possible to live with a partner, sitting on the couch with them at night, and FEEL completely alone. I know. I've done both.
5. It is entirely possible to live life on your own terms. When I began this journey, I had much work to do in regards to relegating my "coolness factor" to my situation. I struggled with feeling "less cool" "less hip" because I didn't hang out with single hot men and I hung out in my house reading like a fean and studying. But guess what happened? I became a nurse. My vocabulary and knowledge increased. My worth felt secured. My children blossomed from routine and home life. I finally have come around to the fact that what culture dictates as necessary for "coolness" doesn't apply to me. I call my own shots and listen to the voice of God for the next step. That's pretty dang cool in my opinion. I don't need anyone else to validate me anymore. My decisions and what they have led me into speak for themselves.
6. This season doesn't mean I'll never fall in love again. I'm not a man hater by any means. I know a lot of really incredible ones. They love their wives and children in ways that astound me and make me love them even more. I just haven't partnered with one of these types yet. ;-) Emerson said this "We must be our own before we can be another's." I'm not sure until now that I ever truly belonged to myself. This legality most assuredly hindered my choices. I was looking for completion. Acceptance. Validation. What I didn't realize is no one can fill those areas but God and me. Now that I'm recovering from those areas and belong to myself, I'm not going to shut the door that I won't ever date again. I'm also not going to shut the door that I indeed might be alone for quite a while. You just never know. But here's what I do know: Either way, I'll be great.
Grace n Peace,