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I am a wife, mother, and step-mom. I am not perfect, but try my best to reduce damage control. I have incredible family and friends that encourage us on this adventure. My mom always told me that motherhood isnt for whimps... and I couldn't agree more!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Daddy Shopping

Part I: Do you take Cash, Credit, or Desperation??

I have to admit... after 5 years of marriage- I was in a hurry to find a daddy for my baby girl! I did not know how to stand on my own two feet. I had no confidence in my ability to be able to parent her successfully alone. I felt incredibly insecure on my own, and I desperately missed having a "family"! I felt that having someone would help to soften the heart breaking blow of the affair... and the failure of my marriage. I felt like I was wronged- and since I made such a fabulous wife (TootToot<-- my own horn!) I deserved to do what I was good at. I didnt want my daughter to miss out on anything because she didn't have a daddy in her life. So I set out to find her a daddy stat! I went daddy shopping....

Lucky for me... I came home empty handed. But not for a lack of trying!!  (Note to Self: you cant purchase a dad with emotional baggage!)

Ok- confession time: (I cant believe I am about to tell you this!!)
I managed to scare off a great guy with my desperate psycho-clinginess right out of the gate. Quite possibly my most epically embarrassing period of desperation.We had hung out a couple of times- would talk on the phone... but then he stopped calling as much. I called and called and called, leaving message after message after message and text after text after text! I made him four different types of cookies, drew funny pictures on each gallon bag of cookies I made for him, and drove all the way to his house to drop them off on his door step. I called him some more- leaving message after message- text after text. This embarrassing madness continued until I found out he was dating someone. In my psycho desperation I missed signals, mixed up other signals... and never saw that we were just friends. Nothing more. My desperation was blinding. My emotional baggage was all over... I was a mess- and not in a hot way!

I wasn't even close to being in the right place to start dating- I was Daddy shopping for all the wrong reasons, and I had nothing to offer in payment for a daddy of value. 

So, after a divorce... when is it ok to start dating again?

I think that the first part of this process is a healthy dose of grieving. Enter the 7-steps of Grief...

Step 1: Shock and Denial
I was still in love with the wonderful side of him... that I hadnt seen in years. He was sweet and loving and funny and protective. Someone that I shared adventurous memories with doing the most ridiculous things (ie: driving our motorhome to the Walmart parking lot to stay the night- because we couldnt afford the gas to actually get past the city limits!). I had witnessed a darker side of him over take the man I fell in love with as he fell deeper and deeper into his addictions. I choose not to dwell on those things- because I knew I wasnt strong enough to change them. The man that I had a restraining order against wasnt the man who's last name I carried.

Step 2: Pain and Guilt
Wow... this stage was hard on the finances! My daughter and I called it "Retail Therapy"... and oh it felt sooo good! We would be feeling a little on the blue side of the spectrum and would jump in the car with a retail store in mind... spend hours strolling the isles and picking up things that we didnt need- but wanted!! Ha ha ha. In retrospect- probably not the best thing. Ha ha ha! It was hard at this point for me. I felt guilty for putting her in danger by allowing him to watch her while I worked... I felt guilty for choosing to have a baby with him (not that I regretted her!! She was the best thing that I EVER did!!)... I felt guilty that I had to work and earn a living... the list went on and on. The pain at times was palpable and written across my swollen face. I lived on water-proof mascara and coffee... why try to sleep when my empty bed was only another bitter illustration of my loss?? 

Step 3: Anger and Bargaining
I was bending over to pick up a stuffed animal one day... when it hit me like a semi-truck... how could he do this to me?!! I picked up the toy and flung it with all my strength across the room- I ran into my room and began punching my pillows and throwing things across the room in an intense fiery of tears and burning anger. I couldnt understand why God would allow this after I had trusted Him to redeem my marriage from failure. I couldnt understand why my (then) husband would do this to me after I gave him everything that he wanted and needed with a happy heart. As incredibly intense and gut-wrenching this stage was... it was also kinda redeeming. If I didnt get mad- I would have never acknowledged that I knew I deserved better... both my daughter and I deserved better. 

Step 4: Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness (... and just when you think that youre on step 7... Step 4 slaps you in the face like a stinky dead fish.)
I challenged myself to untie the old memories and make new ones. I usually picked locations that had a memory of me and him. (Some of them not great memories... but still it was a place that screamed him- and I was sick of him). My natural reaction was to avoid that place... but I knew sooner or later I would encounter that location again. So, I would choose that as our destination for the day with plans to recreate some new memories. Sometimes it left me with intense sadness until I realized that I had just tied new and better memories to that location!! I was slowly burying the old memories and making new ones, one adventure at a time! This was the weakest stage. I hated the way I felt: lethargic, tired, achy, irritable, frustrated, and completely chaotic. I had no peace- and my mind was always on overload of what I didnt have. I forgot the simplest things... bills, my wallet, keys. This step seemed to be all encompassing when I allowed it to be. I learned to control it to avoid letting it spill into my daughters' life. I found naptime, showers, and the garage to be consoling places to squirt a couple if I needed to cry. 

Step 5: The Upward Turn (My favorite!)
In the movie Runaway Bride, Julia Roberts plays a character that eats her eggs however her fiancee likes his. Eventually she needs to learn how she likes to eat her eggs solo. Whether you are reminded of how you like to eat your eggs, or you are learning for the first time... this is the step where you begin to build and get settled into a life that is your own. I loved this step! It was empowering to plan a vacation without him. It was incredible to decorate my house the way I liked it with things that I liked , cook the food I liked- all because I liked it! It felt so good to see the pictures hanging on the wall with smiling memories to illustrate my success. The painful sting of being alone began to transform into a victorious crown of glorious success. I could be independent apart from him, raise our little girl on my own without his help, and have a wonderful quality of life... AND PEACE! I began to remember things easier and started to tackle small challenges like our old file cabinet. I could see the future for the first time... and it was pretty bright!

Step 6: Reconstruction and Working Through
This is hard work... and really more a constant process than a step you breeze through on your way to bliss. Sometimes my emotions hit me hard... and I find myself being weighed down by the intensity. I want to curl up on the couch and sleep. Instead- I grab a shovel, rake, bush wackers, and get outside into the sun for some good old fashioned hard labor. This is a productive way to work through my emotions. When Im done- I have glorious blisters of success, and a gorgeous yard. Its a win-win. I have also begun to tackle things that were otherwise overwhelming for me... like my vehicle and credit. I finally had the mental capacity to handle the stress without breaking. 

Step 7: Acceptance and Hope
I have accepted that I am successful on my own. I soooo content with only my daughter as my plus one. I love not having to check in with anyone or asking permission. I have embraced my freedom that I otherwise before saw as a prison of loneliness. Yes- I do have my moments I wish I had a partner with me to make my life easier, someone to share my life with. However I love not having the added drama that can also come with a relationship. I love the peace in my home. I love the availability I have to my daughter. Most of all, I love that I have demonstrated several life lessons to her in the past two and a half years. The most important being that she doesnt need a man to complete her... and resilience. I am no longer angry with my ex personally. I no longer wish that things would have worked, and rarely think of him unless it is in respect to the daughter I have the privileged to raise alone. I know I walked away with the best he had to offer!

I finally feel after giving myself time to grieve, I have something to offer when I decide to go Daddy shopping! And it isnt desperation or emotional baggage; rather an incredible package of two stellar chicks that love to rock... and we aren't cheap! I am no longer looking to do the leg work... I'm content on my own. HE's gonna have to work and do the legwork to catch and earn this gift! And it is her and I that ultimately will get to pick "The One" for us!


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