have learned a lot in my 43 years — more than I really thought I needed to learn. I learned that people are not always who they seem. I learned that people who are supposed to love you can hurt you the most. I learned that when you try to do all of the right things, things still go wrong. I learned that when everything goes wrong at once, you just have to hold on for dear life. I learned that perspective is a beautiful thing. I learned to trust myself. I learned that doing the right thing may not get you what you want, but you will be able to look in the mirror. I learned that I, and only I, am responsible for my happiness. And most of all I have learned who I am and what I am capable of doing.
Many of these lessons came from my divorce and the ensuing hell that followed. I will not go into specifics for the sake of my children, however, I was with the wrong person. I was with someone who was not who he had claimed to be for the entirety of our marriage. After 10 years, the mask came off. About the same time, my youngest son began having seizures. On the hour, every hour for two weeks and then once a month for a year.
That exact period of time during the divorce and the seizures was the single most difficult time I had ever experienced. Life felt like everything was falling apart at once. Looking back, the seizures couldn’t have been predicted, but the years that led up to this moment telegraphed the end of my marriage. I was with someone who tore me down rather than built me up. I was with someone who minimized my goals and dreams while he went to law school and followed his. I was with someone who wore me out needing validation while offering the opposite of that to me.
Finally, I was with someone who was ambivalent about my writing. The response was always, “Eh, it’s okay.” I was told that I couldn’t write a book or make a living writing at all. I was discouraged from following my path. It was generally a subtle blow off, a disregard for what I thought and felt, but over time it seeped in and infiltrated my life.
The fact that I listened to this discouragement is my responsibility, but I think a lot of people, when told over and over how inadequate they are, begin to internalize some of this thinking. It’s almost funny to me because I am generally not someone to suffer a crisis of confidence, but life was busy. We had three kids in four years. He was in law school and studying for the bar exam. I just put my priorities aside and when I received negative feedback, it was easier to keep them aside.
Believe it or not, the thing that woke me up in my life was my son’s seizures. As I said, perspective is a beautiful thing. And with his condition, came an immediate shift from the difficulty of my divorce to getting this 2-year-old child well. And after that, being able to take care of my children. And after that, regaining my confidence and happiness.
The evolution for me occurred over the next eight years. My kids and I had to move in with my parents for a while until my son’s seizures were controlled (he is now, 10 years later, seizure-free and has been released from his neurologist.) I got a job. I healed. It was no easy task. When things settled down I realized that my own path had gotten derailed. With my divorce came freedom to rediscover my dreams and reevaluate what a good relationship should be. I worked on becoming a whole person by myself so that my path would be strong with or without a partner.
When I began online dating, I had one crazy date after the other — married guys, criminal guys, toothless guys — who knew this was in store for me! I learned how to date (especially having kids to think of), what I wanted and how to get it.
My friends began telling me I needed to write these dates down. So, I began a blog. It was originally called You Can’t Make This Shit Up. I chronicled all of my funny and horrifying dates for everyone to read, and began writing again. After about five years, the online quest finally met its demise when I met my now husband. My husband is supportive, caring and encouraging. He met me when I had learned that I could be happy on my own, when I knew what I wanted and when I was ready to go after it.
With his support and encouragement, I turned my blog into a book. I added in all of the dating lessons I learned during some hard and crazy times. I began working as a freelance writer while working to promote my book. I am helping to support my family as a writer, and I am happy and whole. The book will be released on April 1, 2015 and is now called Sweeten the Deal: How to Spot and Avoid the Big Red Flags in Online Dating. My first book signing is scheduled, my family will be there. I am excited and ready for the next adventure! Onward!