We are all a little weird and life’s a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love. ~Dr. Seuss
I will never forget standing in front of a group of women who had sought refuge in a shelter, teaching a class on making better choices, and visually connecting with a woman who was new to the group. The whites of her eyes were bloody – like how prizefighters must look the next morning after losing a fight. Her dazed and blank expression was that of someone who has experienced repeated physical, emotional, and mental abuse. While her hollow, yet desperate stare still haunts me, her memory reminds me of why I do this, what my mission is; I am all about helping people, women in particular, make better choices. Why do I do this? Because I realized in my late fifties when I got back into the dating and re-marrying phase of life that I needed to do that for myself – make healthier choices.
Back when I was shopping for a new mate, I kept running into one dead-end relationship after another. Having had my heart broken far too many times, I sat down and wrote a list of what I wanted in a guy. No more messing around with insensitive jerks who did not care about the issues that were important to me. Was it too much to want someone who actually liked the same kind of movies as I did? Someone who had actually read a book? Someone who had a college education and a decent job? Someone who could carry on a meaningful conversation? This was in October. In November I started noticing a guy on my dating site who had been on there for a while, and like I said in an earlier blog, he put on a new profile picture as well as changed his status from divorced to widowed. Well, I bit – hard.
By January he had reeled me in, and we were head over heels in love. When I had a medical procedure, and he left soup, flowers, and a card on my backdoor porch, the hook in my mouth sank a little deeper. Any reservations concerning this guy that I still clung to were totally dismissed. That night after the soup at the doorstep routine, I was journaling, and I found my list from October. So I emailed him the twenty-five points. He responded to each one, and closed the email, saying he could have written that list himself.
Now that the relationship is over, I look back on my original list and see that much of what I was looking for was the opposite of what I had just suffered through not having in an earlier relationship – an emotional connection, someone who was willing to commit, and someone who was affectionate. Granted those were valid points, and my new love certainly had those qualities, but I became so sold on the idea of him filling my wish list that I failed to acknowledge the qualities and behaviors that should have alerted me to the bigger truth. This was not a healthy relationship.
Every one of us had our own version of a list, whether it was written down or simply expectations in our head. So your journaling assignment this week is to consider these questions:
- Whether you had an official list or simply a mental picture of requirements in a partner, was your ex what you had ordered? Or did you start making allowances from the beginning?
- Like me, did you become so enamored with your feelings of infatuation that you failed to see the telltale signs of a problem that was clearly evident to others?
- If you did have a list, how would it be different now? If you did not have a list, what would you put on one if you were to start over at this point?
- Next, and this is key, how well would you satisfy your own list? Would you be able to offer the same qualities and traits that you are looking for in someone else?
- Finally, and this is by far the most important question to ponder – Are you willing to be as kind, gentle, loving and nurturing to yourself as you would like to be treated by your partner?
All this reflection is not to give us more reasons to beat ourselves up. Rather, I encourage you to be perfectly honest with what you can see in hindsight, so that you are able to own what happened and the choices that got you into that old relationship. It is only by claiming our part that we can start to make different choices. As long as our exes are the only ones to blame for our failed relationships, then you cannot make different choices in the future – because you have nothing to change or improve.
That woman in the shelter whose battered face still haunts me had expectations for her relationship, yet she sat amidst a group of women who had all met with not only disappointment but also abuse. Again, and again her image reminds me of why I have committed to helping women in shelters. Please consider donating to Empowerment through Education. One-third of every dollar donated goes to a college fund for women’s shelters. Two-thirds of every dollar donated goes to put my book, Too Much Gold to Flush, into the hands of women in shelters. I wrote this book as part of my own healing process and to learn to make better and healthier choices. That is the message that I want to convey to every reader – we can always make better choices, no matter our age, our history, or our current relationship.
You can donate to the General Donation, which will be split among all the shelters in this campaign. Or, if you are interested in donating to a particular shelter, click here and then scroll down the page and choose a shelter. Once you donate, you will be asked if you want a tax receipt. Click here to see all the shelters in this campaign.
Happy exploring and excavating the elements of a past relationship that can add up to totally different choices in the future. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to hear from you.
The more connections you and your lover make, not just between your bodies, but between your minds, your hearts, and your souls, the more you will strengthen the fabric of your relationship, and the more real moments you will experience together. ~Barbara De Angelis