names have been omitted in this post
A man once told me that the sign of a truly great driver was someone who always had an out... someone who no matter the situation they were always deftly aware of how and where they could maneuver to avoid catastrophe. Sometimes that theory can correlate to life and relationships in general... or maybe we feel trapped by our own thoughts all the while knowing they really serve no healthy purpose... but it's achingly and admittedly where we are at the time in our journey so instead of swerving around them and avoiding we must ride this out and continue to cling to hope.
"Are you seeing anybody? Dating?" He asked me as he slipped his fork into a bite of Spanish rice.
"No... "I shook my head. People sometimes acted like if you weren't with someone you should at least be interested or looking. Like you're incomplete or something. And sometimes you get that pity look while they say like clockwork "It will happen. You will find someone." Really? Where are all these great fish in the sea everyone keeps talking about? Hiding under rocks? In a witness protection program? Coma's? What further frustrated me is single men are often like: "Well, I'd treat you great if you were with me. You say you want to meet a great guy. I'm a great guy but you won't go out with me." They fail to understand it's really not a rejection of them. Maybe they are a great guy... but for someone else. If you have a certain type or handful of types you're attracted to it really doesn't matter how great they are if they are polar opposite to said type or types and you have zero chemistry and merely see them as a friend. Or alternatively perhaps you find them attractive but you share zero common interests. If I don't like bike riding I'm not going to want to date someone who wants to spend the majority of his free time doing that. If he doesn't like art he's not going to enjoy going to art exhibits at the local museums with me. It comes down to basic attraction, chemistry and common interests.
"I'm really hesitant to go there again... you know? I mean, I took some time after the divorce was final and then dated a little and that all went south so after that last one I'm pretty hesitant." I replied.
"What happened with that last guy?" He asked me.
As I dipped my nacho into some sour cream on my plate I spoke "Oh you know... the actions didn't match up with the words... the usual. I think I'm just too jaded about it all. I'm really struggling with it so my way to cope is to just not date." I admitted. "Maybe I'll just get a dog... aren't they always loyal and happy to see you?" I said with a smile.
The ugly truth was I had slipped back into a quagmire of wretched and stinking thinking that men sucked. Yes, I know... it was embarrassing and generalizing but mentally I had been sliding like a car hitting oil on a wet street back into the idea that there was not a single one that was capable of true love and being loyal to you. I kept fighting it... I kept trying to put the brakes on those thoughts but they persisted. I felt like I was in a current tug of war between having faith that surely God wanted more for me and the devil whispering there was no man on earth who could measure up so I should just give up that pipedream and cry forever defeat. I either observed men griping about their wives and how much of ***their*** money they were spending or observed them checking out other women while their wives were present or not. Being someone who had a difficult time keeping my thoughts off my face when something disgusted me it was really hard to edit my reaction to all that mess. I was currently witnessing all these behaviors and more from men in all aspects of my life and it was honestly depressing as hell. And it wasn't much better where women were concerned. It made me question if there was anything better out there. It would make anyone begin to think marriage was nothing but a sentence of false advertising and punishment and somewhere between all the laughs and joking about wives and husbands I was beginning to think there was semi hidden truth to it. All I could say right now to a hypothetical marital future was huff no thank you and yet simultaneously go bawl my eyes out in a corner somewhere at the bleakness of it all. I was trying to do my usual of smiling, putting up a strong front and using the tools of distancing and humor to hide the thick armor I wore but inside I actually felt fragile, exhausted and uncertain when it came to love.
One coping strategy of dealing with the aftermath of narc abuse
may be keeping people at arms length and not letting people get to know you. But when we meet someone that we click with and feel we can let those walls down it's a much needed connection and welcome friendship.
"Yeah... well, a dog might help!" He laughed but then added... "I mean, you're usually pretty upbeat about being single. I think this is a rough patch right now. Take a break but don't give up." He advised.
"Yeah, I enjoy being single and I wouldn't mind dating but dating means they always want more. More than I'm willing to give. It's no time before they want to be exclusive and marry you. It's like instant." I told him. "I see no problem with dating several years. But they aren't willing to do that." I shared with frustration.
He nodded and gazed at me intently "That's because generally speaking if they are interested, attracted and feel you'd be wife material they pursue hard with that intention. No, in that context they won't be satisfied just going out for however long. Not gonna happen." He shook his head.
"I'm very leery of anything rushed. "I replied, "But the other thing is I want to move at some point. When my daughter is older and shared custody is no longer an issue. If I met someone between now and then how can I ensure they are telling me the truth that they would be willing to move at that point in time? I don't know that I can believe them if they tell me yes." I shared.
"Where are you wanting to move?" He asked as he cut into his enchilada.
"I'd prefer Florida... but anywhere with a beach really. Much of it will come down to what's affordable." I replied. He nodded and I continued, "Plus, you get into the possibility of them having children. Hypothetically speaking if I met someone who had kids that were older it wouldn't matter but if his kids were younger? Am I going to be willing to wait around a few more years for his kids to grow up so we can move? Um, no. " I shook my head and took a sip of my drink. Then dipping my chip in salsa I added, " That's another reason why I think it's best to just wait. Maybe meet someone after I've moved. I guess that's around seven years off. " I surmised.
"I think if it's the right person all that stuff will fall into place. I mean, I agree you shouldn't back down on what's important to you..." He stressed "But you also don't want to use that stuff as an excuse to not get out there and meet people. You might meet someone who really does want to move to the coast. Or who has a place both here and there." He pointed out.
I think one of the biggest issues people often don't realize regarding adultery is when it's discovered by a spouse there is such a huge magnitude of damage done. There is the initial shock of realizing the past few weeks, months, year or even worse, years have been a lie. This person was telling you they loved you, laughing at your jokes, sharing the stress of juggling a family, bills and errands and sleeping beside you each night all the while hiding another life from you. In that you question how this person who stood beside you and made vows before God and witnesses of loved ones took it so lightly. You wonder what on earth brought them down this path to such destruction and deceit. You of course when being rational know it's not your fault as they made a conscious choice to destroy what they had... but your emotions betray that rationality and at times you wonder why or how you no longer measured up. Was it the fine lines and gray hairs you developed? Was it the nagging about the dirty dishes they left in the sink or voicing the annoying antics of your in-laws? Was it the differing views on parenting and exhaustion from work that contributed to the distancing and resentment? Or all the above? Who knew... and at the end of the day did it really change what's happened?
We question anyone's and everyone's motives after being cheated on. Even those we don't date... whether it's friendships, bosses, co-workers or new acquaintances... we may be hesitant of people in general and do more observing than talking. You don't have to date someone to be gas-lighted and thrown under the bus There are occasional snakes in all arenas.
Regardless, as you continue down the path of divorce and it becomes final you realize how adultery has completely changed you. The one who cheated just goes on their merry way unscathed as you continue to pick up the broken pieces scattered along the sidewalk. They leave you in the dust as they scamper off like a rabbit to meet up with someone new. You stand alone... and now a completely different person. You look back at the old you.... maybe naïve, sweet and trusting. Now you feel more skeptical, perhaps jaded and uncertain. Maybe the idea of love sounds great, in theory but the reality seems much more scary.... it's not like when you were twenty and had your whole entire life ahead of you not yet realizing the magnitude of how dire your choices in dating and marriage could be... being the innocent lamb you had a horizon of beautiful possibilities and promise ahead of you and no idea the terrible potential weight of one poor choice in a person. Adultery strips you of the ability to trust in another human being. The thought of marriage might be terrifying and in that even if you dared can you really subscribe to a philosophy of complete and utter trust or alternatively one of "trust but verify"? Is that any way to live? To have your spouse followed, tracked etc only to discover they are truly going to the grocery store as they said they were. Is it really fair to put someone else through that game of hoops and ladders? No, not a bit.
I believe so many can relate to this and I'm not sure how we bridge the gap between wanting to be able to trust someone again and actually doing it. Perhaps it's just a day by day watchful eye of matching their words and actions to see that they really do line up... and yet for some time in the back of our mind waiting for the other shoe to drop.... when does that no longer occur? For how long? At what point in time can we really release a huge sigh of relief and say "Oh, okay.... I don't have to worry anymore they are going to turn on me." I don't know. I don't have the answer to that and it's not only frightening but disappointingly depressing as well.
Maybe it's on the one we meet and them proving time and time again they have a heart that's true. Maybe it's prayer.... maybe it's clinging to God's goodness and not letting the devil further prey on our doubts that try to creep in. Aside from prayer and being aware of the early red flags in relationships we also pray for protection against the enemy. Maybe we pray for someone who will recognize the precious gem they could share love and life with and will be more than willing to patiently be that rock... not wavering or walking away... but consistently standing steadfast and being that Godly man or woman we need through actions, not empty words and unfulfilled promises. We've had abusive evil... we've had lies... we've had manipulation that for some of us has continued through our children in unprovoked custody battles. We didn't deserve that nor do we deserve for it to continue. You deserve a love that will risk everything for you... you were with someone who looked out for themselves and ultimately their own happiness... and you shouldn't settle for anything less than amazing the next time. Is there nothing sweeter than for two people who have been through hell to find each other and live the next chapter beautifully together?
Where are the men of courage? A man of strength in morals and character and not just a flimsy imitation but instead taking a substantial walk with God and willing to prove their love? Where are the men who stand on God's promises of an eternal home due to His son's ultimate sacrifice and actually take it seriously in leading his family with tears of humble gratitude? Likewise for the men where are the women who walk with words of salt and grace and strive to live her life filled with Christ's truth and thanksgiving on her lips? Where is the woman who is willing to work hard but also recognizes prayer as a shield and needed force of life in her day to day steps as wife, mother, sister, friend, etc? Where are the women who speak life into their husband's ears and heart and know he won't stray?
Be of strong faith and hang tight to the good promises God has for you... it's not in His plan for you to settle. So many of us have been through much more than we ever anticipated and yet in that we are not meant to live in despair, defeat or depression. We are meant to soar like eagles in a blue joy-filled sky with a love that's true... not be unequally yoked to someone that does nothing but lead us to a pit of misery and darkness. Proclaim to God you reject any counterfeit person from walking into your life and instead welcome the one who wholeheartedly loves and adores Him and his son Jesus Christ your Savior. Stand firmly on what love truly is and refer to God's definition of it as your guide. The one who truly loves you will faithfully follow through... not leave you hanging, wondering, sinking in sin or betrayal. True love never fails.