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