So much is made about “the one.” But how I define my perfect mate probably differs from your perfect mate. That’s part of what makes dating so exciting.
Most people (including me) start out defining what characteristics they want in their potential mate (tall, dark, thin, curvy, etc.). But in my short year and a half of reentering the dating world, I’ve discovered that I’m doing myself and my date a much better favor by defining what I want by looking for values.
After a long marriage, I can tell you that having similar values is much more important than what a person does, how much money they have or what a person looks like. This seems like a no-brainer, but how often do you hear someone physically describe their perfect mate? And, I’m just as guilty when a friend asks me what I’m looking for.
Do we even know what we’re looking for? I had a friend recently (so refreshingly honest) tell me he had no idea what he was looking for in a woman. I think to know what you want, you have to know who you are.
While I took a shotgun approach to dating, it was really an exercise in figuring out what I wanted and defining what matters to me. It’s been a time of reflection and definition for myself. Because I took the time to do that, it’s given me the opportunity to define how I want my life to look like, how I want to live, who I want in a partner and yes, what I truly value in life.
A book that I love is called “50 Things That Really Matter.” It’s a great peak into my value system and what I think is important in life. This is what I want to impart on my children and what I want from a partner.
“Big homes. Luxury cars. Diamond bracelets. Digital TVs. Exotic vacations. Extravagant trips to the spa… These aren’t the things that really matter in life. Not by a long shot. What matters most is the simple pleasures so abundant that we can all enjoy them; the plain values that define us as good people; the emotional connections with friends and family that fill our souls with a sense of purpose.”
But, do I love those material things? Sure, I do. They make life more comfortable. But if I don’t have those connections in my everyday life, that big home, luxury car and all of the diamonds I can wear mean nothing. A luxury ski vacation doesn't mean a thing if you don’t want to be with the person with you.
In addition to those values, I am looking for someone with certain characteristics, someone who has similar interests. But those things are more “wants” than “must-haves.” Someone with similar values is a must-have. Someone tall, dark, silly, responsible, warm and genuine is certainly someone who would catch my eye, but he has to have similar values to keep my attention.
Another girlfriend suggested that there has to be a happy medium. I agree. I doubt I will find someone who checks every single box. But I do expect to find someone who shares my values and wants to live the same kind of life that I do.
So the next time you’re asked what you’re looking for, tell a friend about what values you want and you’ll more likely find the person who you’d really like to date instead of just someone who meets those physical characteristics. As my grandmother always said, “Beauty is only skin deep and we all grow old eventually.”
In the year and half since my divorce, I have learned more about myself than I did during the previous 10 years. Someone I met right after my divorce asked me what has been the most valuable thing I’ve learned.
I can tell you, it’s been a year of discovery. Do you remember when your toddler discovered how to crawl, how to walk, or discovered a new flower? Everything was new and exciting and wonderful. Do you remember that look of pure joy on their faces.
That has been my life during these 18 months of freedom. Just like a toddler, I’ve stumbled, I’ve fallen and I’ve gotten back up to explore some more, all with eyes wide open at the world before me.
Resilience I’m more resilient than I thought. I’ve learned that my kids are too.
Patience Some things do indeed take time. Although I’m typically extremely patient with kids and most people, I prefer quick solutions to problems. I tend to see problematic situations and conflicts as something that needs immediate attention and problem-solving. But some situations just don’t work that way.
My faults I have several and I’ve become keenly aware of my short-comings and what I need to work on.
Independence Growing up, I was fiercely independent and strong-willed. I lost that somewhere during my marriage, but I have found it again.
Family is my core That sounds like a no-brainer. My kids have always been my first priority. But staying in an abusive marriage where you are disrespected in front of your kids is not, in my opinion, putting your kids first. I thought it was for a long time. Instead, it gave my boys the idea that I was weak. They don’t think that anymore. I also allowed myself to be separated from my family. Getting back to my roots has given me stability and strength.
I don’t care what other people think This is something that has been rather constant during non-stressful times. But when things got tough and the person I trusted broke me down, I suddenly cared what everyone thought. I was concerned about what people were saying. It was stupid and will drive you crazy. Don’t get me wrong, I do listen to my friends and take their advice and constructive criticism into consideration, but I no longer allow what others think to dictate my own self image.
Communication style I prefer direct, honest communication. It doesn’t always mean it has to be delivered harshly, but I prefer to let people know where they stand with me and expect the same from them.
Weed the garden Not everyone is invited into my circle and I’m not always invited into someone else’s. And I’m good with that.
Kindness and compassion is the key to my happiness: I make mistakes. So do others. I think everyone deserves second chances, sometimes multiple chances. I care more about a person’s heart and intentions. I love to love. Happiness is a daily, hourly choice. I’m kinder toward myself and allow myself to learn, grow and make mistakes. I’ve stopped beating myself up when I make a mistake. I learn and move on.
Different Loves I learned what it was to actually be in love with someone. I learned how I feel when I am in love and more about what I’m looking for in that special relationship. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work for me. More importantly, I’ve learned that I’m truly happy with waiting for the right person at the right time. I’ve learned that I can still love someone’s essence and how I feel around them even if I don’t love how they treated me.
Conflict avoidance I do not like conflict. I want everyone to hold hands and sing kumbaya. I read books on conflict resolution. Can’t we all just get along? But sometimes in my effort to fix something, I make it worse. Sometimes, the better choice is to simply walk away from people I will never see eye-to-eye with and who have vastly different values than I do. Sometimes, the choice to be kind to myself means not engaging with people who make me anxious or uncomfortable. Learning when to work toward a resolution and when to walk away has been a big discovery.
Reflection I need time to reflect on my thoughts, feelings and emotions. I need time to reflect on big decisions, to weigh the pros and cons, to figure out why some things work and some things don’t. I do a lot of that through writing. I do some of it by reading. I do some of it when I’m running, working out, driving in my car or talking to friends. It’s part of my self-care and something I’ve learned to respect. When I push that time aside for a busy social, work and single-parent calendar, my body revolts, tells me to sit down, pause and just be. AND, I love to vacation by myself!
Reality is a mind-set Success is a mind-set. Happiness is a mind-set. What you focus on is what you will become and what your reality will be. If you have sad thoughts, you will be sad. If you believe the world is your oyster and you should seize every opportunity, then you do. Just like the music you listen to can alter your mood, the thoughts in your head will direct your actions.
When one door closes another one opens. I know it’s a cliche. But sometimes, it’s a cliche because it’s so true. When things are taken away, you have the opportunity to fill it with something even better.
The one thing that has been constant since I was a little girl is that time is precious. Time with my children, time with my friends, time to myself. My mother’s death taught me that in spades. Nothing is guaranteed. I tell my friends and family how I feel about them. I hug, I laugh and I choose happiness every day. Life is too short to hold onto grudges or to be around people who bring you down or create a toxicity in your life.
After my divorce, I heard about the book, “Five Love Languages.” I was intrigued by the thought that you could speak to someone and possibly fill up their cup if you knew what love language they spoke. I was also curious to know what mine would be. But as I was reading the book, I saw that not only can it apply to your romantic relationships, but also to your friendships and your kids too.
Realizing that my thought was probably not an original one, I looked to see if author Gary Chapman had written any books about children and found “The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers.” I stopped reading “The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” and picked up a book that would actually make a difference in my life.
The divorce, the aftermath of the divorce and my children’s father’s impending criminal trial have taken a toll on my boys. Although we do a lot to focus on healing, resilience and that our thoughts have more control on our mood than external forces, I wanted to see if there was something I could do to help them get through it.
When you hear the five love languages (words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch) you can kinda guess which ones mean the most to your loved ones. I think most people give love the way they want to receive it.
However, reading the book increased my understanding of each, the subsections of each and how to go about filling their love tanks and giving them the emotional support they need in the way they need it. The book also provides ideas on how to go about fulfilling those needs.
Honestly, a lot of the tips are things you pick up intuitively about your children, but it focused my attention on what means the most to them. So, if your child tends to readily do things for you, their primary love language may be acts of service.
It’s also helped me identify what my primary love language is as well. When you identify what it is and how you can speak their language, it helps strengthen those connections and bonds with your children.
Quality time is one of my boy’s languages and part of that is quality conversation. He has always loved to have long, deep conversations at bedtime. For a long time, I thought he just wanted to delay going to sleep. I enjoyed them so much that we would usually talk for 30 minutes before I’d cut it off and make him go to sleep.
Thankfully, those bedtime conversations have extended to talking in the car and just randomly throughout the day. I’ve learned that he prefers to have them when it’s just the two of us so I ensure he and I get that one-on-one time together. But it also includes sharing funny videos, singing loudly and off-key together and doing a number of other silly things.
One of the most important things I did while reading the book was to talk to my boys about the different love languages. I wanted them to guess which is their primary love language. (They LOVE these kind of conversations and getting in touch with their emotions and feelings btw. Doesn’t every teenage boy? They humor me. They’re sweet.) But, it helped confirm my guesses.
Chapman’s website also offers a free test you can take to determine yours and your children’s. I scored high on a few of them which is not uncommon. What was the most interesting is that my boys primary love languages ended up being my top two as well. I probably would’ve said that physical touch was one of my top, because there are times when a hug just makes everything better, but it ended up as fourth on my list.
My other son’s love language is the one I grew up with, how I was raised and how I’ve raised him. Acts of service isn’t just about doing things for others. For me, it’s also about teaching them independence so they can be successful. It’s about family and helping out the family to take care of all of the things we need to take care of so that we are all fulfilled and our responsibilities are met.
In the end, it has been a focused learning experience on how I can best communicate with my boys and provide them the support they need in the most effective way.
Order book if you're interested.
Change can be hard. Depending on your arrangement, you may or may not have your kids for Thanksgiving or Christmas. No matter your situation, here are some tips on not only surviving the holiday season, but for thriving.
After my divorce, I had little idea what kind of guy I wanted to end up with. I met my ex-husband when I was 19. Prior to that, I only had a handful of relationships, but always had lots of guy friends.
I decided to be open to dating the whole spectrum: guys from their mid-20s to early-60s with incomes ranging from hourly workers to men with enough personal wealth they don’t ever have to work another day in their life. It spanned professional athletes to desk jockeys. I thought I’d find some commonalities between age groups or income/education levels, but nope. Communications styles, levels of commitment, levels of energy, and the way they treated me all differed. It just boils down to the individual and what type of guy he is.
Honestly, when I was going through my divorce, besides finances, getting back into the dating scene was one of the most terrifying thoughts of being single. But, it’s been enjoyable. Even the skirt chasers are entertaining. I’ve ended up staying friends with a few of my dates and we have enlightening conversations about the different sexes, dating, parenting and just life.
Buyer beware of these types
Bench warmer (still finding myself/still a boy): These guys are the most frustrating because some of them have potential. But if they aren’t going to get off the bench to chase you, you need to move on. They lurk. When you find yourself saying a guy has potential, no matter how many boxes he checks or that feeling you get, you need to move on. If and when he ever decides to step up to bat, then he can get in the game. Until then, you’re better off alone.
Emotionally unavailable: These are harder to spot. Sometimes you can get further down the road with someone and realize they are never going to be able to take a relationship to the next level. Something is holding them back. It may be an ex, or something else that has happened. My friend got mixed up with someone who was very unavailable. It didn’t stop him from pulling her close and then pushing her away. It’s not a good place to be.
Take a hard look at how you feel around him. Do you mostly feel anxiety or do you know where you stand? Even if there are brief periods of feeling amazing, but most of the time you’re just anxious, then they may be emotionally unavailable.
Skirt chaser: These guys are all about the chase. You will never be enough because you aren’t special to them, no one is. They just want a skirt to chase, doesn’t matter which skirt, so long as they are “in the game.” Once they feel they’ve caught you, they don’t know what to do with you and they’re on to the next one. This one is easier to spot quickly, just look at his Facebook friend list. TONS of single women? Yep, red flag.
The funniest example of this was when I went to a work conference. Some mutual friends introduced me to this guy (I’m assuming it was for the sole reason of us both being single, because as soon as he opened his mouth, I was like ‘no’.) He grabbed my phone and put in his number using the nickname “hot pants.” Classy. I bumped into him throughout the conference and he made no effort to be discreet when he’d check out a woman. I’m talking craned neck, walking backward. Total cheese. Subcategory: F-boy as in “send me a pic babe.” No Thanks!
I do kinda feel bad for them. There will always be someone prettier, funnier, sweeter, hotter, whatever-er. What they don’t understand is that there’s always someone “better” than them too - hotter, more successful, fitter, etc. What matters is that someone choses you for you and for all of your quirks.
The rescuer: These guys want someone to take care of, or rescue. They barely know you and they want to spoil you, take you on trips, fly you away and just overwhelm you with stuff. For me, this means strings and a cage. No thanks, I’m not a puppet. I’d rather be single and independent. This does not include someone who is just trying to do something nice for you or be there for you after you’ve gotten to know each other. That’s normal. Pampering is one thing, trying to rescue you or buy your love? No Thanks!
The narcissist or control freak: Worst date was with a guy who spent the entire brunch talking about himself. If that wasn’t bad enough, he proceeded to order for both of us without consulting me and then told me how the food should be eaten with the different sauces. There aren’t enough mimosas in the world to make that tolerable. RUN!
Stage 5 clinger: Please get off me because I can’t deal with this. I need space. You make me want to move to Mars.
The guy next door: Luckily, most guys seem to fall in this category. They’re just normal, run-of-the-mill nice guys.
You may see yourself a bit in each of those categories, but these guys take things to a whole different level. Here’s the big self-awareness thing I learned: I’ve been guilty of being in most of these categories while going through my divorce (yep, another reason not to date before your divorce is final or for the first year after).
Dating different guys helped me create a list of characteristics for what I want, which is a helpful exercise. I’m not married to that list though. I’ve noticed that a guy can check all of the boxes, but it comes down to that connection. It’s either there or it isn’t.
The whole process of dating allowed me to figure out what dating process make me the most comfortable, and what it will look like for anyone to be successful with me.
We all have baggage. It boils down to which imperfections you can live with. Those who are self-aware, warm, genuine and empathetic are the ones who are easiest for me to be around. A guy who is a kid at heart while also being responsible and having his sh*t together would be awesome.
The key lesson for me? Finding someone who captures my imagination and lights me on fire is rare. Like “shooting star” rare. I didn’t find that shooting star until after my divorce. It’s like eating McDonalds all of your life and then tasting something from Odd Duck or Trulucks. You just can’t go back to McDonalds. Even if you’re starving, break down and go through the drive-through anyway, it’s never satisfying so you’re just back to square one and craving some crab cakes.
Unfortunately, that shooting star didn’t work out, so I’ll just make a lot of friends in the meantime and hope another comes along. After all, there are a lot of stars and one of them will eventually shoot through the sky.
Because another thing I’ve learned is that there’s a TON of single people and guys are willing to drive and fly for miles just to go on a date with you.
Here’s to finding that shooting star!
In Brene Brown’s book, “Daring Greatly,” she discusses shame, the importance of understanding and combating it. She says, “Language and story bring light to shame and destroy it.” She couldn’t be more right.
When I decided to leave my ex-husband for good, he set out to shame me in every way possible: my weight, my age, my looks, my ability as a mother, my worthiness as a future wife or partner, my ability to support myself and our children. Of course, that behavior had started long before, but it had never been a concerted, targeted and daily effort. He put all he had into it. He was laser-focused and deadly accurate. After all, we’d had 20 years together. He knew my fears and my weaknesses.
He began an ongoing campaign to strip away the rest of my self-worth and my safety in every way possible. And he succeeded to a certain degree. His determination to “make me pay” was terrifying. His complete lack of remorse, his objectification of the mother of his children was fascinating from a research perspective, but mostly it was just frightening. He was cold. There was no remorse or empathy.
An absolute mess, I felt like I was drowning. I lived in a constant fight or flight mode while trying to function as a mom, car pool driver, friend, daughter and employee.
Near rock bottom and backed into another corner, something in me said, “eff that.” Why am I letting him define me? Why am I letting him determine my happiness? My future? My self-worth? Why am I continuing to give him control of my life? Isn’t that part of why I left?
Something happens when your deepest fears of shame and humiliation are reached, you realize that you have nothing else to lose. I also began to share with some of my friends what I was going through, even though some had already witnessed it. Their empathy and reassurance, combined with my new “eff that” attitude, was the life raft I needed to keep from drowning.
It was freeing. I decided I truly didn’t care what he thought. His issues are just that, HIS issues. I began to rebuild. I focused on the untethered joy I feel when I am with my children, my friends and alone. I focused on God, on the love I have for others, on loving myself.
Then he was arrested. His story hit the news and my first thought was to take my kids and return home to the safety and comfort of my family. All I could think of was, “we have to move.” How would my kids survive this? Other kids can be mean.
Then I took a moment to calm down. I’ve lost several loved ones and know from experience that one of the worst things you can do is make life-altering decisions in a crisis. So I took stock.
I was a child when my mom died. My family kept my day-to-day the exact same. I was not uprooted and it made the adjustment of life without her easier. I realized I couldn’t uproot my children and take them away from their friends, their schools, their neighborhood and everything they had ever known even if I just wanted the comfort and security of my family.
But then a great thing happened. There was an outpouring of support. For me. And more importantly, for my children. There was empathy, compassion and a love from my neighborhood. (If you’ve seen “Bad Moms” I’m talking about the PTA moms, the stay-at-home moms, the working moms, the soccer moms…) I had known these families for years. They rallied around us and I am forever grateful and humbled by their compassion, love and offers of help. Those connections helped me see past the pain and humiliation.
One of the things I hear most is that people are impressed with my strength. But the thing is, I was never truly alone. Those connections, those bonds, those relationships that I formed with all of those families have never been broken. Those connections are what keep us intact. Brene Brown writes, “A social wound needs a social balm, and empathy is that balm.” Community is that balm.
I realized from friends who moved away from our neighborhood that what we have is unique. The bonds we formed when we built our houses, stayed at home and nurtured not only our own kids but each others, are solid and unique. That lesson was learned a thousand fold. Those same people who lift you up, who care about you and yours, they see your vulnerability and love you for your weaknesses and your strengths. That feeling of community and God’s grace is truly a blessing.
I’ve made plenty of mistakes and will continue to make more. We’re human, we all do. But I won’t be shamed by those mistakes. Yes, I’ll feel guilt and I’ll be sorry when and if my actions don’t align with my values. I’ll try to learn from them so I don’t repeat them.
What I’ve also learned is that I can hold what has happened apart from who I am. I can remember the love I once felt for him, be thankful for my beautiful children and forgive myself for not seeing ALL of the red flags and staying through years of abuse. I forgive my 19-year-old self and all of the excuses in the last 20 years. I can also feel compassion toward someone who was clearly hurt at some point before I ever came along and who could ever want to hurt someone so badly to want to “make them pay” for everything that has ever gone wrong in their life.
My girlfriend works for a domestic abuse association. She is the one who encouraged me to write, to tell my story, to help others. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, nearly 3 in 10 women (29%) and 1 in 10 men (10%) in the US have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a partner and report a related impact on their functioning. Domestic abuse takes many forms.
Shaming is a way that abusers keep people trapped. Shaming is a way they keep their victims silent. You feel that you have no where else to go, but you do. Once you understand that you are enough, it makes it harder to shame you. “When we experience shame, we feel disconnected and desperate for worthiness.”
I know it’s hard to share. This is painful to write and even more so to publish. There will be people who judge, who will see me as a victim. No one wants to be viewed that way. That’s why you stay silent. You keep that shit shoved in a closet and put a smile on your face. But it’s important to share. To not be silenced or shamed. You are not defined by others choices. Your life is what you make it.
Remember and Know that You Are Enough and when you are ready, Choose Joy.
We’ve all heard the saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” But when you’re trying to leave an abusive relationship, negotiating how to divide your assets may seem less important than physical safety or just keeping your sh*t together for your kids and your job.
Even if you aren’t leaving a toxic relationship, divorce is stressful and often brings out the worst in people. No matter what your ex says or does, your financial health and what you take away from the marriage is to help establish a good, stable and financially-secure home for your children.
My ex told me all kinds of crazy things that, embarrassingly, I fell for. He was/is connected to our legal community and used his status to manipulate, bully and threaten me into a “uncontested” divorce which he quietly took to a local judge who signed off on it.
Just remember, to a narcissist, everything is your fault and he is the victim. Wrap your head around that and you’ll have a better chance of taking your emotions out of it and making better decisions when he tells you something/offers advice. It’s similar to when your toddler threw a fit or whined to try and get something. You look at them calmly and let them know where your boundaries are.
He said if I pushed for half of our assets, I’d lose and get nothing. He said he would also take our children away from me if I tried to go after any of our assets and that I wasn’t entitled to child support.
I forgot how much it actually costs to set up an entire household. Most people accumulate their things over time, like when you go away to college and start a home with your spouse. Starting over by buying home essentials, kids clothes, furniture, etc. adds up quick.
You need to have a thorough and comprehensive look at your financial situation and plan accordingly. There are several things you want to avoid when dividing your assets especially with a narcissist.
Doing your due diligence when it comes to getting a comprehensive look at your financial affairs is reasonable and equitable. You can’t divide something if you don’t know what that something is. Keeping your wits about you and your emotions in check (easier said than done) is key when divorcing a narcissist.
It’s also important to remember that your lawyer is not a financial advisor. He or she can advise you based on their experiences, but if you have a complicated financial situation, it may be better to hire a specialist. Also, remember that this is not about taking someone to the cleaners or revenge. It is about dividing your assets in a reasonable and equitable way to provide two financially secure homes for your children.
Disclaimer: I’m not a financial advisor or lawyer.
If you need a photographer, this guy is the bomb. You know when you can communicate with a friend with just gestures and your eyes and they just get you? That’s these guys. Sure, we had conversations about what I was looking for during our industry conference, but sometimes all of the different shots you’re looking for don’t get communicated.
These guys delivered and then some. They captured our conference, socials, networking, fundraising, auctions and trade show in a beautiful way which, let’s be real, is hard to do. What they do with fun events is amazing.
So, if you’re in need a photographer or videographer for a wedding, birthday, (any celebration really), corporate event, check these guys out.
Plus, Greg can really cut up a dance floor: BONUS!
Check him out:
Need a videographer? I've already posted about him, but Zac does an amazing job at Double Z Productions
On the eve of my minor surgery, I’ve taken time to focus on the little things that put a smile on my lips:
It turns out my chronic sinus infections were partly because of the internal damage that happened when my nose was broken years ago. I thought it was simply cosmetic. Because only doctors ever really notice it, I haven’t felt compelled to shell out $3,000 - $4,000 to fix it. I’d rather take a vacation.
But it turns out that a broken nose is more than just a vanity thing. An X-ray showed that my nose is seriously jacked up.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence comes in a lot of forms and like my nose, it’s the internal damage that you can’t see that can be the most damaging. National statistics show that “on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. One in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.”
But those statistics only account for physical abuse. “Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional or psychological abuse.”
Another form of abuse is stalking. “One in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked. Stalking causes the target to fear she/he or someone close to her/him will be harmed or killed.”
In my opinion, gaslighting is one of the worst forms of abuse because it makes you doubt your sanity.
Victims of domestic violence stay silent out of shame and fear. No one wants to be known as a victim of anything. We want to be known for our accomplishments and our positive attributes.
Even if victims do speak up, there is little the law will do unless physical violence actually occurs. And if that victim is stuck in a situation, turning to the authorities gives their abuser more ammunition to use against them.
An abuser seeks control and when they start to lose it, they ramp up their efforts to keep it. Controlling behavior comes in many forms. “Psychology Today” lists the following:
But there are more subtly controlling behaviors as well.
After being criticized daily and told that I was old and fat, I started working out again. Fifteen pounds lighter and back in shape, it didn't matter to him. I still wasn't good enough for him. But what I saw was that I would never be. In fact, no would ever be good enough for him because the problem was with him, not me or anyone else. Taking care of myself lead not just to physical changes but mental ones as well. That discipline made me mentally and physically stronger. Strong enough to actually, finally, leave.
Getting away is a win. I’ve never been happier even on the days when he files motions that cost me thousands of dollars, time off and energy to fight it. It’s a win because I’m free and no longer a daily puppet in his show. Eventually it will all come to end. He'll get tired of fighting or end up in jail. I believe in karma, the goodness of the world and God.
Restraining orders are hard to get. Lawyers are costly. The system is designed to protect the abuser more than the victim. But I can honestly tell you that it can be done. You don’t have to end up in the hospital to get away. And on those days that just suck and don’t go your way, you can focus on the little things that put a smile on your face.
5 Controlling and Manipulative Relationship Signs to Watch Out For, Because Love Isn’t Supposed to Be Restrictive
Subtly Controlling Behavior
20 Signs Your Partner is Controlling
Recognize a Controlling Person
When you get injured, it can be a daunting task to put yourself back into a position to do it again. My oldest son plays hockey. In the first game of the first tournament last year, one of his teammates was checked from behind and broke his leg. We could hear his screams from the other side of the ice. After his teammate was stabilized and taken off the ice to the hospital, the game resumed. Every player on both teams played in a much more subdued manner. They just weren’t as aggressive. No one wanted to experience that, or hurt another player like that.
Getting back into the dating game can be just as daunting. After a 20-year relationship, it was scary to put myself back out there. Especially when my ex was joyfully recounting rape statistics on how often women are abused and extrapolating that to say that one out of four of my dates would be a rapist.
Just like the hockey players, I was tentative at first. Even though I couldn’t articulate what I had been feeling, I understood at a gut level that my weakness was that my boundaries had been crossed so many times during my marriage, separation and divorce that I didn’t know up from down. He even had me questioning my own truths and intuition.
So, just how you wouldn’t choose the toughest, biggest looking opponent, I chose dates who I knew wouldn't push my boundaries. I needed time to rebuild and regain confidence in myself. A friend of mine said it really takes two years before you’re ready for a commitment. I think that’s a good rule of thumb. That first year after my divorce was filled with conflict, which I was still learning to deal with. This second year has been much better.
Women are conditioned to be people pleasers. We are the first to extend the olive branch in an argument and volunteer our time and money to important causes more frequently than men. When it comes to relationships, we tend to lead with our hearts and not our heads.
I’ve heard from many women who have been in abusive or just really toxic relationships who are understandably gun shy. They feel that men are all bad. That hasn’t been my experience at all. There are many gentlemen out there. You just have to know what to look for and be aware of red flags.
Each date helps me refine what I want. Saying that you want someone nice isn’t exactly specific enough. You have to learn to define what behaviors are nice.
When I was 19, all I knew was that I wanted someone who would challenge me. Be careful what you wish for. I got that in spades with my ex. I still want that, but someone who will challenge me in a healthy way.
Whoever I end up choosing will have been through a long vetting process. My biggest question after my divorce was what red flags should I look for? How did I miss the signs in the beginning? Instead of beating up and judging my 19-year-old self, I started making a list. This was actually at the suggestion of my first date. He was an older guy and gently said I had that “deer-in-the-headlight” look. He gave me a lot of suggestions.
If you’re like me and got married young, you missed out on dating a wide variety of guys and didn’t learn to look for red flags.
Here’s some game-ejecting penalties to watch for (yes, some of these seem like no-brainers, but you would be surprised at how many excuses we make for men and all of the crazy things I’ve heard strong women (including myself) have put up with just because we fall head over heels for a guy).
I'm single and loving it. Two kids and a busy job. Life is an adventure. Being single is liberating. Life is short, spread joy.