This past weekend, the kids were going to muck some horse stalls for a friend. I was chosen to be the designated driver, as I often am.
This adventure didn't sound appealing to me at all. It meant sorting thru some crap and moving it from one area to another. Sometimes the crap got composted and turned in to something really good. Sometimes it got stepped in and it stuck to your shoe for a while. Eventually you would get it all off of your shoe, but sometimes the stink stayed with you and you don't recognize that there was a stink. You just got used to it.
All of a sudden, I realized that this is exactly what a relationship is like.
The relationship that most people seek out is marriage or some other sort of long term thing. Once upon a time, a long, long, LONG time ago, I was married.
I didn't do the marriage "thing" very well. Most likely, I didn't enter in to marriage for the right reasons. Well, let me rephrase that. I THOUGHT I married for all the right reasons. After all, I did marry for love. Or whatever I thought love was.
What did I think love was? Hmmm....
I thought love was being together, laughing, financial security, stuff, vacations, acquiring more stuff and babies. Lots and lots of babies followed by lots and lots of baby stuff.
So, at the time, I believed I loved my husband. I believed that together we would achieve all those things. He was a good provider and seemed to have alot of potential. We both had a German background which seemed important to me. I thought it would give us alot in common. (Note to Self: You must have more in common than your heritage in order to have a healthy relationship.)
I was 27 when we met and I could hear my biological clock ticking! Back then (in the old days) it was important to be married by the time you were 30. All the magazines said so. Otherwise, the prospects for marriage were bleak! After a year of dating, I very politely let him know that I needed to be married by the time I was 30. It would be to him or to some other unsuspecting male. But 30 was going to be the drop dead date. No Ifs Ands or Buts.
So, approximately 134 days before my 30th birthday, He signed on the dotted line and I got married.
Fast forward 17 years, (and alot of good Blog content later), I found myself single with 2 children.
I was being tossed in to a world of dating and living the life of a single parent. I truly had NO idea what to do. I was eager to get started on my "New Life" with my "New Man."
Where to begin? Where would I find this new man?
My girlfriend, who was newly single at the time, introduced me to the world of online dating. Here was this gigantic collection of men that I could stare at and NOBODY would catch me doing it! Hours would go by and I would find that I was still scrolling thru profiles. Feeling as if I had no other choice, I entered in to the world of profiles, one liners and online dating.
I had grown up in the "meet a guy in a bar" generation (that was where I met my husband). What was I supposed to do with a profile page? I didn't think I was witty. I didn't think I photographed well and to HELL with describing myself. This was not going to be an easy option.
I created a profile that was sketchy at best. I didn't even put up a photo. I was terrified of what I would do if I did find a man! I knew I wanted to date and meet the "man of my dreams" but this was not going to be easy. I had 2 kids and I had to make respectable choices.
Here we go.
I exchanged polite emails with a couple of guys but it all felt so very hokey. The one man I did like blew me off faster than I could blink my eyes. Believing I had committed some cardinal sin of online dating, I removed my profile and became a confirmed hermit.
Ah, if only there was a TV dating show like The Bachelor called The Divorced Woman with Two Kids under 10...surely I would be the perfect contestant for that.
I was destined to be alone.
By some stroke of genius, I decided to get some counseling. I knew that part of the reason the marriage had fallen apart was because of my "baggage" (also known as my crap) that I had carried with me. So I went in to counseling and it was the best thing I ever did (thank you Kim!). The last thing I wanted to do was pile my "crap" on to someone else.
I learned the most important thing that I've ever learned in my life. In order to have a healthy loving relationship, I had to love myself first.
This IS NOT what I wanted to hear. I didn't want to have to "work" on myself. I just wanted to turn on some "switch" that would do the work for me. After heavy contemplation, I plunged in to the whole "loving myself" thing. I had no idea if it would work or not. I just wanted to be a good student, so I did everything Kim told me to do. And I mean everything. I wanted to be cured.
So began the daily prayer, positive affirmations, motivational books and tapes and meditation. These were all new to me, but I gave them a try because everything else I had done in my life wasn't working.
I was surprized when all of a sudden I found myself being alone and enjoying myself. I was feeling happy again. Not just plain old happy, REALLY happy! I learned to appreciate myself and actually LIKE everything about me. I didn't complain about ME anymore and I found that I was really funny and likeable. I didn't even mind being alone.
One evening, I was watching a movie. The main guy charachter in this movie was AMAZING! So amazing, that I knew I wanted a guy just like him: Sensitive, kind, caring, loving and supportive. Did I mention he needed to be sane? Yes, that was very important too.
I have a tendency to be "in the moment" when I watch a movie and I believed that this guy existed. After watching the movie, I went outside and I looked up in the sky. I said, "God, I want that."
So I went to my counselor and told her about this movie and this guy. She said, "Angela, you know that once you believe this type of guy exists, you will find someone like that." My mouth dropped open! "GET OUT!! .........Really?"
"Really," she said.
I wanted that kind of man. So I made him one of my positive affirmations. He was a part of my daily prayer.
I don't know how it happened, but within 2 months I met and started dating my boyfriend. We've been together for over 3 years. Did I mention that my boyfriend is the same guy that dissed me on the dating site? Yes, I know. Small world.
When I was married I used to always say to my husband, "Why can't you just love me for myself?" It took me many years to realize that I didn't love me for myself, so how could anybody else? I had worked so hard to make sure my mate was happy and that his needs were being met that I forgot about myself.
This life of mine hasn't always been easy. I've made some poor choices that really bit me in the butt, but I continue to learn from myself and my mistakes and I allow myself to be human. I lost all of the "stuff" that I thought was important. It wasn't so important after all. Once all the stuff was gone, I found myself. Funny thing is, all of that stuff starts to smell after a while.
Everyone has to deal with mucking the stalls. We all have crap on our path. Sometimes crap really stinks and it gets stuck on your shoe. You get to decide what to do with it. I found that composting the crap and turning it in to something pretty is the best option for me. And remember, compost doesn't happen overnight. It takes time to turn in to something beautiful.
This is one of those lessons that I wish I would've learned in my 20's, but thank you God that I finally got it!