I became a single lady again in August of 2008. I enjoyed that time in my life. I loved my self-care rituals and got so much enjoyment from them. I was taking really good care of myself – my mind, body, and spirit. When I moved back in to my house after the divorce I began doing some home improvement projects; painting, redecorating, and fixing up the house and yard. I gained a tremendous amount of self-worth that year. I proved to myself that I could accomplish just about anything I set my mind to doing. I learned how to do all of the work myself (with God’s help).
I was still going to counseling each week that whole year. I was still attending the Methodist church and I got involved in several of the ministries there and my relationship with God was growing. I was also still working as the Executive Director of the substance abuse prevention center. I started working in a small community that was in my service area about an hour away from my home town. I was supposed to start a grass-roots community coalition to help address the substance abuse issues in the area, focusing on prevention. I had to garner support and get coalition members from groups such as social service agencies, youth services centers, law enforcement, the court system, local government, and the media. I was successful in my endeavors and had a coalition put together within a month of when I started the process. We had monthly meetings and sponsored many prevention activities in the community. During one such community activity, coalition members volunteered to take shifts to host the event. A gentleman that was the editor of the local newspaper that was on the coalition showed up to volunteer. We had the whole day together to talk and get to know one another better as we worked. It was a nice day and I enjoyed getting to know him. When the event was over we gathered our supplies and cleaned up our space. Right before I was getting ready to leave, he mustered up the courage (I could tell he was nervous) to ask me out for coffee sometime. It was really weird because I had this feeling he was going to do that but I was still shocked and it took me by surprise. I was absolutely NOT looking for a another relationship. I was in a very different (and wonderful) place in my life. When he asked I didn’t really know what to say. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings because he was a really nice guy so I told him I did not drink coffee (which was the truth) hoping that maybe he would just let it go. He persisted so I told him that I do drink tea and that I would meet him for drinks. I think I let a few weeks go by before I relented and met him for coffee . . . and tea. We did that again a few weeks later and then he asked me out to dinner. Really? Having drinks and talking as friends is one thing but dinner in a restaurant at night sounded like a date and I wasn’t so sure I was ready for that. I told him I needed to think about it and I would let him know. I let three weeks go by before I even thought about it, then he asked me again so I really had to think about it this time. It wasn’t that he was a bad guy or that I was getting some bad vibes from him, it was that I was unsure if I wanted to “mess up” this good thing I had going with being single. I really loved my life! I talked to my counselor about it and she helped me sort out my feelings. I realized that it was fear keeping me from having the date. I was afraid I would fall back in to my old ways and start doing things for unhealthy reasons once I got back in to a relationship. She reminded me that I was a different person now. That was true! I had grown so much and I needed to believe in myself that I was capable of having a healthy relationship now. Plus it wasn’t doing me any good to have these new skills and tools I had learned and not use them. What was I going to do, be a recluse my whole life and avoid relationships like the plague because I was afraid of making a mistake? That didn’t sound like a good idea. God created us to love one another and be in relationship with one another. I was fully capable of having a healthy relationship with a man now. I just needed to “take the show on the road” so to speak.
I went on the date and had a nice time getting to know him and letting him get to know me. He asked me out again and I met him for dinner again a few weeks later. That was a special date for us and an official beginning of our relationship. I told him if he would like our relationship to progress we would need to take it slowly and he agreed. He was also coming out of a painful divorce. Physically and legally he was divorced, but mentally and emotionally he was still in a relationship with her. I would find that painful truth out the hard way several weeks in to our relationship when he broke up with me to go back to his ex-wife. The breakup only lasted a few weeks and then he came to his senses and realized how unhealthy she was and that he couldn’t fix her or change her so he ended it for good and asked me to take him back. I told him we would have to start over, take it slow, and he would have to start seeing a counselor about his unresolved issues if we were going to be able to have a relationship. And so we took it slow. It was 3 months before I let him hold my hand and six months before our first kiss. I wasn’t kidding around! I wanted to make sure I was doing things for the right reasons this time and the relationship was staying healthy. We developed a friendship first that was based on mutual respect, honesty, and open communication.
He started attending church with me at the Methodist church. I loved going to church together. We saw each other whenever we could. I was busy with work, family, and home improvement projects and he was busy with the same things (he bought a new house after his divorce) and he had two young children from his previous marriage that he saw on Thursday evenings and every other weekend. That made it difficult to find time together because we lived an hour away from each other and didn’t have much free time.
I met his children four months after we started dating. I like kids and I have a degree in child development so seeing them was always fun for all of us. We played together and had a good time when we were together. They enjoyed it when I would visit because I always had something fun planned for them.
As we continued to date I realized that I was capable of having a healthy relationship, especially after how I handled the breakup. I told him if he needed to go then I would let him go, that I was sad but I wanted what was best for him. I was not worried about being abandoned anymore. Then I set boundaries when he wanted to try again. I was proving that I could indeed have a healthy relationship. I could make healthy choices and set boundaries, take care of myself and not care-take others, and have a relationship with God and a man at the same time. I was given the opportunity to do all of those things and I learned that I was capable of it. It was another great time of growth for me.
A full year after we started dating he asked me to marry him. I accepted on the grounds that we would have a long engagement. We dated for three years before we got married and we will have been married for five years this September. We have been through a tremendous amount in the eight years we have been together, including him selling his house, moving to my home town, getting a new job; me quitting my job, purchasing a 5,000 sq ft historic home, writing a 100-page business plan, opening and operating a bed and breakfast, starting an event-hosting business and an online home decor and gift shop; starting a financial services business; and going through a very long and painful custody battle to win custody of his two children from their biological mother who unfortunately is mentally unwell. There have been a lot of difficult times in the eight years we have been together. Some times I would slip back in to fear and self-doubt and make myself sick because I took my eyes off of God and I listened to the lies that I used to believe about myself. But because I had grown mentally, emotionally, and spiritually it wouldn’t last long and I recovered quickly.
I knew early on in my relationship with my husband that no matter what happened between us we would always be able to sit down and talk it out. We have always been able to communicate about anything. That has gotten us through our hard times, along with our faith and our commitment to each other. He loves me for who I really am and he lets me be myself. I do the same for him. This relationship is very different because we are different. I know I would not have been able to accomplish all of the amazing things I have done recently had I been the person I was in my previous marriage. My faith and my new found relationship with God, the healing that occurred and the tools I learned through counseling, and the healthy relationship I have with my husband are the things that have allowed me to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time. I have recovered that “singing, dancing, care-free spirit” I spoke about in my first post. Now she is a grown adult woman, a wife, a mother, and a business owner who knows she is strong, capable, worthy, and so grateful. When I look back to see who I was and where I started and how far I have come I am in awe at the great things God has done for me. Each day I grow closer to God through prayer, meditation, yoga, studying & reading, attending church services to feast on the Word (thank you Father John), and then practicing what I am learning out in the world. I finally know who I really am, that I belong to God, that I have a purpose, and that I am truly loved. God is my Source. I am whole and complete in Christ and nothing can change that. I am timeless and eternal. I am connected to God and all of life and always will be. I am free to live and love. I rest in these truths. I rest in the light of God’s presence that I have attained thus far and I will continue my journey forward deeper in to His light. To God be the glory. Amen.