Guest Blog: How Michal Found Post-Divorce Love with Former High School Sweetheart

Trash the Dress private support group member Michal has a story too adorable not to share. This is proof that people are in your life for a reason, even if you don’t realize why at the time. And I think all the single moms with little boys will have a laugh towards the end. OK, stop reading my thoughts and start reading Michael’s guest blog:

My story begins in high school. I had a serious boyfriend. We dated all through high school and off and on through college.  I was always hesitant to take out relationship to the next level. I was the product of divorce after all, and did not want to end up divorced and alone like my mother.

Plus, for some reason, my boyfriend always felt so, well, boring! He was all I had known as far as dating guys and I felt that there had to be “more” out there. No one ends up with their high school sweetheart, right?

So after college I got a “real” job, dumped my boyfriend…and boom, met who I thought was the love of my life, right in the office break room!  Who knew he was so close?  Before I knew it, I was completely infatuated. Like, crazy-head-over-heels-can’t-be-away-from-you-for-ten-minutes infatuated. Then our company reorganized and he was transferred halfway across the country. We gave the long distance thing the ol’ college try. We flew out to see each other on weekends, sent emails and flowers and after about six months, it was shit or get off the pot time. So I jumped on the sword.

I quit the job I loved and left all my friends and family to go be his everything. That should have snapped me out of it. Why was I dropping everything important in my life to go be someone else’s other half?  He certainly wasn’t willing to do that for me.  But it didn’t matter; I loved him so deeply I would have (and did) do anything for him.

So over the following year, I learned to do everything as he wanted. I didn’t have any friends or family around, so what else was I going to do with my time, anyways?  He began drinking heavily.  I turned a blind eye, just like I turned a blind eye to his frequent indiscretions.

I remember the night before our wedding.  I sat at a table with my sisters and mother and looked them in the eyes. I asked, “Am I doing the right thing?  Should I be getting married?”  My questions were met with silence. So the next day, I walked down the isle and said my vows.

It was two weeks after my wedding when everything finally came to a head. It’s hard to turn a blind eye when you are forced face to face with the “other woman.” As it turns out, she was one of many. I moved out. But a week later I was back home with him. I meant my vows and loved this man and he said he loved me, too. So it was off to marriage counseling we went.

That’s where he effectively charmed the pants off our therapist. Man, this guy was good.

Then I found out I was pregnant.

There I was, no family or friends but a philandering husband.  I was too ashamed to tell anyone what had been going on.   I convinced myself I would make it work. I would do whatever it took to keep our family together for my baby.

Two weeks after our son was born, I realized this had to be the end. He had lost his job, so there was no reason to stay where we were. I convinced him to let us move back closer to my family. Once there, (around my support system) I carefully planned and waited for the exact moment I could leave- the moment where I could muster the strength to do what I knew I needed to do.  I let my family in on what had been going on.  When my son was six months old, I finally kicked him out.  My priority was getting my son and myself into a healthy and happy living situation.

I somehow got myself through the next year. I swear there were days when the only reason I got out of bed was because of my son. I had to get through. I couldn’t lie in bed and be sad my marriage ended. I couldn’t feel sorry for myself. I had to get up and make funny faces and sing songs and try to be the best mom AND dad for my little one.

My ex moved away and has little involvement with his child. I was a divorced, single parent.  A 28-year-old scared, divorced single parent. All my friends were getting engaged and married and here I was: the epic buzz kill.

Life went on for months like this. It sounds cliché, but I swear everyday got a little easier. Not necessarily in that order though. Some days were harder than the day before and some were easier. But it eventually got to the point where I had more good days than bad. I do think that having my son helped me.  It forced me to not dwell on the past. It forced me to get up, get out, and laugh. His smile made me smile. Even when on the inside I felt like crying.

It’s been just over two years now.  My son is thriving. My life is finally starting to look like a life again!  I made a career change, moved into a new place and effectively started over.  Only now I don’t feel like my life got screwed up and made me start over. I feel like life HAPPENED and I was given a unique opportunity to change it- to be more authentic and more empathetic.  I’m even dating again.  Remember the serious boring boyfriend from high school?  Well, as it turns out, sometimes you need a little boring ;).  This boring boy turned into an amazing man. One who lifts me up, adores my son, and would never want me to leave the things or people I love.  He’s helped me believe in love again. It’s out there probably in the last place you expect to find it.

Every now and then I think about my marriage and what “went wrong” and the “signs” I ignored or missed completely.  Looking back, I can see that I had what I would consider an unhealthy infatuation with him. I was willing to give up too many things that make me who I am just to please him.  I made mistakes. Lord knows he made mistakes. We BOTH made a mistake in getting married. Sometimes just because you have a strong connection with someone, or a lot of passion doesn’t mean that you are compatible.  Going through this has been traumatic, sad, hilarious, awkward, and enlightening.  And what do you know?  I’m standing on the other side now and I’m still alive!  Cheesy as it may be. It’s the truth.

Now I get to the hard part.  I made it throughout the divorce. Can I make it through raising a strong, independent, courteous, loving, kind, smart, stand up little man by myself?  I think I’m up to the challenge.  It will be hard, and I won’t always get it right, but I owe it to my son to do the very best I can.  We have already started our first challenge: how to potty train a boy when you haven’t got a man at home to show him the ropes! (At first I just was having him sit to pee, but the boys at daycare stand, and he wants to be like them). So last night, he peed all over the toilet seat.

Single mommy lesson #1: Don’t forget to put the toilet seat up or else you will be cleaning up pee.  Lesson learned.  I am sure this is just one of many things that will come up on this crazy ride, and if I’m lucky, I will be able to handle them like I handled the pee- a moment of shock, a minute to process, and explosive laughter.


Hurdles, Hills and Humping

I haven’t done it for a while now so I thought it was best to get straight back on it….. Blogging that is, geesh you guys, get your heads out of the gutter!

If you haven’t read my blogs before, here’s a short background on me: I’m a 24-year-old nearly divorced, unemployed, mother of three.  This is the exact introduction/description I readily give out to sleazy and even sexy men trying to chat me up in the hope it will make them leave, but for some reason it doesn’t. This has interested me. Why do most men not care about this?

I’ve been doing the whole dating scene for a while now, if you have read my previous blog ‘Internet love v’s Internet letdown‘ you will know I’m up for trying anything to find love!

But the fact most men are not frightened away,  running and screaming to the hills when the dreaded  ‘D’ word is mentioned really did surprise me. Yes, it’s true being honest straight away does not scare people. It can shock them a little when you look so young like I do, but scare them, no. It’s a revelation girls, I was so worried I was going to be seen as ‘tainted’ and other nasty self put-downs.

If anything, I genuinely think it can be seen as an advantage and an attractive quality to have been married before. It shows good qualities. For instance:  you’re able to look after a man, you can be part of running a household, you’re mature, you’re not afraid of commitment and you’ve had a practice run and you have already seen where things might have gone wrong the first time and therefore learned from it. So don’t avoid telling someone you’re a divorcee-be proud of it and embrace it. If someone is put off by it they are clearly not the one for you and well done on weeding them out so efficiently and quickly!! The right one will not care!

Right, so you’ve met a nice guy he doesn’t care you’re a member of the divorced in your 20’s club and you both find each other attractive. The next hurdle you must face is sex AFTER marriage.

Is it adultery? Is it immoral or unethical? Does it go against everything you believed in?

The first several weeks were not a problem, but soon it did become an issue and the questions above slowly became less important.  As well as being a huge emotional barrier for me, there was also this stubborn competitive side of me that still wanted to prove I had fully committed to my wedding vows and technically win the marriage game by not breaking any rules and carrying on playing ’till I reached the winning square on the board. But after six weeks of dating I thought, “really what’s the point in playing when you’re the only one left on the board?” And if you played the marriage game where the other player was disqualified due to breaking the monogamy rule this may take away some guilt.

So you reached the final hurdle and let me tell you the first time is the hardest. Breaking down the emotional barriers of sex (that most men do not appear to have) can be  challenging to say the least and you may suffer with emotional turmoil for sometime. Once you get past this I assure you it will be fine. For me it proved my husband really didn’t care about what I wanted or needed and that we were living in a very selfish marriage. So why don’t you try and look at the positives that can be achieved? It can be hard moving on but for me it was the best thing I ever did! Just remember having sex is a normal thing and if you want to, it’s actually OK! No one will judge.

If you waited for your divorce to come through before engaging in the act of sex then gosh I don’t even know what to say apart from that’s very impressive of you! Even if you are holding that paper that says you are legally no longer married it doesn’t necessarily take away the fears and concerns about taking a new sexual partner for a spin. Being with the same partner for a long time and then being with someone new is the same feeling for all of us.

Anyway, Internet dating was a bit of fun and I was dating someone for about six weeks that I met through that momentary method.  But I ended up getting back with ‘rebound’ mentioned in ‘the search’ for his ability to achieve number 17 on my list. Oh how I missed number 17.  Oops I mean, him!

My Pursuit of True Happiness

Since the day I decided to be a part of this wonderful website as a blogger, I’ve been seriously struggling choosing a topic. For the past couple of weeks, “writer’s block” would be an understatement. I have figured out the source of my inability to put my thoughts into words, and that’s exactly what I’m going to write about: dating after divorce.

You may be thinking, “What does writers block have to do with dating?” and let me tell you, for myself at least, right now it has everything to do with it.

Before I got married, I had the perception (or miss-perception)  that a relationship should fulfill you in every way. I believed that a person should be able to get everything they need out of a relationship: socially, emotionally, physically, and mentally. That’s where the problem lies: Both during my marriage and after my separation, I began to realize just how important having a well balanced life is to my well-being.

I consider myself somewhat regimented, but mostly a free spirit. I need to go out, do things, have fun, laugh, and in general enjoy as much of my life as I possibly can. I need these things to truly feel alive, and without it, I am like the walking dead, going though each day lifeless and miserable. Prior to my marriage, and subsequent divorce, I ignored that need. I put all of my energy into my love and into my relationship, thinking that by doing so, I would eventually fulfill that need.

Boy was I wrong… My relationship with my ex did begin that way, it was full of life, laughter, fun, and excitement. I ignorantly applied that feeling towards the rest of my life and my need was fulfilled. However, once I came to the realization that there is more to life than a boy (SHOCKER!) is when my relationship, my life, and myself started to crumble. I grew more miserable by the day. It was like every ounce of energy, and who I was, was being slowly and devastatingly sucked out of me. Eventually, this (amongst many, many other things) lead to the demise of my marriage and subsequent divorce.

A few months after my separation, I began to feel alive again. I started to enjoy things I had forgotten I enjoyed: I went out with friends, I exercised, I picked up hobbies, but most importantly, I was being ME again. Perhaps I am the one to blame for allowing myself to believe in the misconception that my relationship should be the only source of life and happiness, but perhaps it was my subconscious allowing me to believe in this knowing that I was not with the right person. Either way, it eroded my life in a way I never want to happen again.

Fast forward to today. I have been dating a wonderful, caring, smart, handsome man for the past couple of months, who has also been though separation and who will soon also be given the almighty divorce stamp. Not only do we share in experience and understanding of the process of separation, heartache, and divorce, but we truly care for each other, share many interests, and enjoy each other’s company. As much as this man makes me happy, I have found myself slipping into a familiar rut for the past couple of weeks. Recently, I have not been able to think or enjoy anything around me (including writing for this blog!). I have been trying desperately to figure out where the source of this misery has been coming from, and today it finally  hit me: I have been slowly slipping back into my old habits. I started to uphold my current relationship to the standards I held my previous; I was expecting this to be my be-all end-all of personal happiness. For the past few weeks, and particularly this morning at breakfast, I have found myself wanting, no, needing to be alive again. I have been making that familiar mistake of blaming my unhappiness on everything but the main place where it belongs, on myself.

When it comes down to it, we are all ultimately responsible for our own happiness.

For myself, I need to get out there and do things, whether it is with my boyfriend, or out on my own. That means I need to make a conscious effort to remind myself what makes me happy, and go do it. I cannot continue to blame my boyfriend, my period, my job, my friends, or anything else for why I am not happy. I need to take full responsibility and do something about it. Don’t get me wrong, if the relationship isn’t working, it’s not working – and it may or may  not be our faults. Dating itself can be a daunting, and sometimes disappointing task, but if we can make sure we are happy with our lives beforehand, it will be that much easier to distinguish happiness in our dating lives as well – and whether the relationship is really working or not.  When it comes to dating, having a fling, developing into a relationship, and eventually into a marriage – especially after divorce –  we all need to make it a priority to make sure we are truly fulfilled, both in our relationship, and OUTSIDE of our relationship as well, that’s when we can truly find happiness in both.