When It’s Time for ME After Years of THEM
Dating has always been a ‘bad’ word in our small family. With two girls and a boy, the word dating was equivalent to ‘step-dad’ or ‘dad’s substitute’. Listening to Dr. Laura, I had an image of myself with a cane, quivering over to the bar to meet a soul mate once the children were grown and in college. “It’s not their fault you couldn’t get along with your spouse”… No, it really isn’t.
I separated in 1999. My husband’s ‘voices’ in his head told him that if he didn’t leave, I’d have a heart attack. I was sure glad they told him that, at the time. I was eager to have a peaceful home, full of the normalcy I once enjoyed, instead of the daily criticism and finger pointing that seemed to consume my daily life. He resorted to alchemy and creating gold out of air, while I submitted resumes for jobs, and small tutoring jobs to bring some food to our tables. The children were afraid and started having nightmares about his stories of spirits and other dimensions.
I felt that getting out of it was ‘saving our family’ so-to-speak. Regardless of the situation, the guilt remained. It took me a three years to decide that it was OK to have a little fun, go out to a movie, a dance, a class on an evening with friends, or by myself. If we don’t take care of our own emotional well-being, how will we arrive home in a mood to face all the dirty dishes and clothes all over the place?
Dating begins with being able to enjoy ourselves, with friends, and alone. Single parents should begin with creating a social network where they are able to be adults, with other adults, having adult conversation, and adult fun. By adult, I basically mean the ability to talk about the next presidential debate instead of which character on Twilight is the hottest, or sitting at a 21 and over bar with an expensive margarita instead of the Back-To-School night function eating In N Out Burgers and shakes.
It doesn’t mean we’re going to suddenly meet our life long dream and have to introduce him/her to the children. At this point, with our own family, meeting that life long dream may not happen the way we imagined it would. Time and patience to go out and discover our new selves, with a new freedom, is our first goal. Once we have established that new sense of joy, our children will cherish our newfound happiness, and perhaps accept that, one day, being with a new partner is something we also need. It might take a few years, so by that time, perhaps the children will be old enough to understand.
Take the time to soak in your surroundings, breath the air and see the stars. The happier we can be with our lives, the more magnetic we will become to those around us. Allow yourself to BE! You will be surprised just how many people you will meet who will be interested in you. Take it slow to determine what you want from each relationship. It may not be marriage. Perhaps just a friend to go to dinner or a movie with. Isn’t that how it all started?