This past year, for the first time in my son’s life, I ventured into the dating world….and proceeded to fall flat on my face because the guy I was seeing turned out to be not who I thought he was. One of the biggest mistakes I made early on was caving in when he insisted on getting my teenage son’s approval prior to us seeing each other. I broke a major fundamental rule when I did this because my stance had always been that unless the relationship becomes serious, no one is introduced to my son.
He was different or at least I thought he was. I knew him from a long time ago back before I had my son. Since I knew him, I trusted him. Under normal circumstances, my response would’ve been a quick no…or HELL NO would be more like it!
When we first met all those years ago, there was just something about him that drew me to him and it had nothing to do with the fact he was good looking, gorgeous and had an amazing sense of humor. I was attracted to everything about him and the way he carried himself…always so self assured and confident. But as drawn to him as I was, I never acted on the attraction because at the time, both of us were involved with other people. It threw me to find out he had been attracted to me all those years ago as well.
When we found one another on Facebook, I never imagined that we would get involved. An entire lifetime had passed between us since our initial meeting when we were teens.
I should’ve known in my heart that if the timing wasn’t right for us all those years ago that chances were high that there was a reason we shouldn’t be together. There was a reason we lost touch with each other.
Before technology and social media, interaction between people was done via face to face or by phone. If you happen to lose touch with someone, that was it. There was no such thing as the Internet or Google to find someone from the past. As such, the past remained neatly tucked away…out of sight, out of mind, for a reason.
When we reconnected, I foolishly thought this was the chance we never had. He made it sound like he was looking for the same things I was. Unfortunately when one tries to tempt fate, the reality in no way matched what I had imagined things to be with him…not by a long shot!
The him I reconnected with was still confident and self assured but many times, it crossed over to extreme arrogance and cockiness. Those in my inner circle who met him were turned off by his arrogance and who they perceived was a self-centered individual.
Unbeknownst to me that while on the exterior he was still him, inside he was broken and angry. He was also bitter, jaded and extremely cynical about women, feeling that all women were out to hurt him the way his two ex-wives had. One had cheated on him with one of his friends and the other took advantage and basically emasculated him. These experiences stunted him forever and he vowed he was NEVER going to let anyone close enough to hurt him like that again.
Whenever anything happened between us that remotely reminds him of what THEY did or the hurt they caused him, the walls went up even higher and he would shut down.
Not wanting me to get close enough to ever hurt him, he often spoke in generalized blanket statements even about the most minor and insignificant things. We could never have serious conversations because he perceived everything I said or brought up as drama and if I contradicted him or proved him wrong, he would hold a grudge like nobody’s business. I found this to be ironic since he often claimed to be moving toward the positive and cannot dwell in negatives.
Isn’t that what holding a grudge is? To dwell in negatives to the point where you’re ready to spit nails because you can’t see beyond whatever it was you felt the person who wronged you did?
Despite all his faults and the fact we had absolutely nothing in common other than mutual attraction, I stupidly fell very hard for him and the feelings were unfortunately one sided because as he later told me, he will never feel for me the way I felt for him.
In retrospect and hindsight is always 20/20, perhaps over the years and our lifetime we spent apart and believing we would never cross paths again, I over-romanticized what I remembered about him…the memories that I tucked away in my memory banks of him and who he was.
Getting involved him and giving him my heart was a colossal mistake. It wasn’t the him that I reconnected with that I fell so hard for and tried with every ounce of my being to make things work between us. Rather, it was image I had of the him burned in my memory bank of long ago that I was attracted and drawn to…the gorgeous, confident, self assured young man who was untainted by life, ready to take on the world. Not the broken beyond words, cynical, overweight, bitter and jaded middle-aged arrogant jerk that he became.
He broke my heart into a million pieces and walked out of my life as quickly as he re-entered it.
As for the impact of me venturing into the dating world had on my teenage son, he has mixed feelings about it…though he seemed to have liked him initially and said it was nice to see his mom happy, he always felt there was something off and not right about him from day one. As time went on and the days turned into months, his feelings toward him cooled immensely. It wasn’t until things ended between us that my son finally confessed that he really didn’t like him at all and he was so happy that I was no longer seeing him.
In the end, when all is said and done, what it all boiled down to was that I tried to tempt fate in a futile attempt to recapture a moment I thought was lost forever in time and it imploded on me. Reality is ugly and nothing like the fantasy of memories tucked away from a lifetime ago because people change over time…sometimes for the better, but more times than not, as in my situation, sometimes it’s for the worse.
It was lesson learned the hard way that the past should remain just there, in the past.
As a parent, I have always taught my teenager no matter what happens, to never burn his bridges, because he never knows when he may need the person again and he doesn’t want to create a situation where he makes it impossible to return to somewhere or to someone because he just may need to go back that way again.
When I instilled that lesson in my son, I was thinking of work and dealing with bosses, co-workers and friends. It never dawned on me how this all applies to burning bridges when it comes to romantic relationships or rather when they fail and don’t work out.
I’m normally not a vindictive person. That’s not me and never has been me. But my first instinct after a failed relationship because I’m hurt is to think, “I’ll burn bridges, cut people off, destroy emotional attachments and live my life.” While I may not be vindictive, believing that statement makes me appear vindictive and as such, my behavior will reflect this even if it’s not who I am.
Someone once said, “If the bridge is rickety, fundamentally unsafe, and generally useless, burn the damn thing down.”
In giving this some thought, I think the “better advice” I should be dispensing to my son is to tell him that before he decides to “burn bridges,” is to first determine if the relationship was rickety or solid or if had major foundational flaws.
Instinctively, when someone wrongs us, we immediately focus on the person or the event that has wronged us rather than the relationship or on the “bridge” so to speak. More specifically, the condition of that “bridge” and to determine whether it’s even worth salvaging.
In my case, I was wasting time by putting myself in a situation where no value was being exchanged. The guy I was “seeing” (and I totally use this term loosely) held onto grudges and past hurts like nobody’s business. He claimed to be moving into the positive and had no time to focus and dwell on negativity when in reality, he was letting his past control his future. His past stunted him and no matter what may have been happening, his immediate reaction was to assume the worse case scenario in many situations. For him, it was a habitual reaction to transfer the bad outcomes from those former experiences and past hurts to our situation, regardless how big or small. No matter how hard I tried, once he felt the hurt, or the perception of hurt, there was no going back to the original relationship or move forward from it and from there it was like fighting a losing uphill battle.
My advice to my teenager should the topic come up again, is that if only one party places value in the relationship and in the end, it is painstakingly obvious that the entire thing was a futile exercise and colossal waste of time, by all means, grab the gasoline, douse it up, throw the match and set it, the bridge, ablaze!
Ultimately, in the long run, it’s easier to sever ties, walk away with your dignity intact and feel the freedom from the toxic relationship that never had a chance to grow, develop and mature than to continually bang your head against the wall to fix something that is irrevocably broken and was built on a shaky foundation to begin with!
Found this and it’s really good and sound advice and most definitely worth a post and share! Many of the items on this list is common sense and even though it’s common sense, sometimes during those teenage years, with hormones raging, common sense, at least for MY teenager, just goes out the door! As a result, even though it’s stating the obvious, I have found myself sharing a lot, if not all, of this list of advice with my own teenager.
With MY teenager, #3 to him means, “let’s play let’s make a deal!” because in his mind, he believes that he can convince me to change my mind after I told him NO in every possible circumstance. I give him points for being persistent that’s for sure! But, however persistent he may be, I am more stubborn and more adamant in my stance than he can ever be and I can dig in my heels with the best of them!!
I’m not too worried about #5 – my teenager has told me consistently over the years that he can’t stand taking the legal drugs that keeps him healthy so it makes no sense to him to take the illegal drugs…EVER!
#7 we have discussed at length. In our house, it’s not called yelling…we call it, “mom is encouraging him loudly!” and usually it’s because my teenager has chosen to forget to do something I asked or his brain was in his butt that day!
#12 my teenager and I just had a LONG talk about recently…especially since my nephew, his cousin, was seriously injured in a car accident this summer right before school started and the car accident involved a drunk driver! We are fortunate that my nephew was the least injured (with 2 broken legs, an arm broken in 4 places, and 2 broken wrists) in the car and and that even though he didn’t have a seatbelt on, he is so lucky to be alive! My teenager knows that no matter the hour, if he finds himself too drunk to drive home or stuck without a ride home because his ride is too drunk to drive, he can call me because I would prefer him to be in one piece and A-L-I-V-E!
The one that cracked me up the most was #19. One thing my teenager knows how to do is budget. Ever since he was a little boy, he has been really tight with his money. He has always been my little “Ebbie” (Ebeneezer Scrooge) and the joke used to be that he was so tight with his money, he squeaked! The funny thing is, this past summer, he got his first job where he got paid only once a month and his budgeting skills came into play. And he soon realized that spending his own money was not quite the same as spending mommy’s money. No matter the time of month, mommy always had money for him for his outings with his friends and such was not the case with his own money if he didn’t budget correctly. It was really interesting to see how he managed to make his money last for the month but somehow he did.
Ultimately, as his mom, all I want for my teenager is for him to be better than me….in every possible way.
MESSAGE TO MY TEENAGER ~ (author unknown)
1. Yes, your freshman AND Sophomore years count towards your GPA for college entrance. Screw it up and you’ll work for crap wages your whole life.
2. No means NO. In every possible circumstance.
3. Join every sport, every club, every after school activity no matter what the cost. It’s cheaper than bail.
4. Repeat after me: I am never in that much of a hurry…I am never in that much of a hurry. Now say that every time you get behind the wheel. It will save your life and that of your best friend in the seat next to you.
5. Don’t do drugs or drink – it is so not worth the trouble.
6. Don’t get a credit card. You earn it or you live without it.
7. If I yell at you, it’s because I love you. And also, because you pissed me off. To avoid the latter, don’t be an idiot. And don’t disappoint me. More importantly, yourself.
8. Make a vivid picture inside your head of every great moment of your childhood. You’ll need those to get through adulthood.
9. Make snow angels as often as possible. Make a bucket list. Check it off!
10. Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
11. Be always benevolent. Yes, that’s a word. Look it up.
12. Call me for a ride even if you are so drunk you barely know my number. I’ll probably be mad for a while but I’ll respect you for calling and I won’t kill you. Riding with someone who is drinking will. (PS – remember #5?)
13. Be a leader, not a follower. Unless you are following the kid with the highest GPA and (s)he is going to a study group, then by all means be a follower!
14. Love your siblings, even when you don’t like them. Some day you will be trying to get them to take care of me in my old age. If they are mad at you, you are stuck with me.
15. I’ve been there, done that on more things than you can imagine. I’m not stupid and I know what you are doing. I was once you (times ten).
16. Work hard at everything you do. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.
17. Cover it. (Enough said.)
18. When I tell you to clean your room, do not point at my messy room and raise your eyebrows. I’m trying to raise you to be better than me.
19. Learn to type; to budget; to spell correctly and to pray. All are equally important.
20. Never be sedentary. Someday soon you will no longer be able to move like that. Enjoy it.
my teenager did his first private swim lesson this afternoon and the little girl he was teaching cried and screamed for mommy the entire time….teenager could’ve gotten riled up, flustered, or even upset throughout the entire lesson…but instead, he was so patient and kept his cool and kept encouraging her to blow bubbles or to kick…and even though she protested and told him no whenever he told her what he will be doing next and continued to scream and cry, he was calm and maintained his composure…not surprisingly, toward the end, she started to calm down.
I don’t say it nearly enough because often times, the hustle and bustle of a very busy life gets in the way of me finding the time to “stop and smell the flowers” and to appreciate goodness when I see it…but after watching my teenager in action this afternoon with the hysterical little girl and how just calm he was throughout reaffirms the fact that he is a very kind and patient young man and for that I am very proud of him!!
I found this post the other day and wow, totally words to live by that applies to both men and women. A lot of this is just common sense and treating someone else the way you want to be treated. Relationships, whether it be marriage or even a long term partnership takes work and a commitment that through thick and thin, good times and bad, in sickness and in health that you will stand by that person no matter what. But sadly we live in a time where things are temporary and disposable, including people. When something is broken, we immediately throw it away and replace it with something new.
My fave is #5, #9 and #19. What was the saying? “If it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it?” People aren’t “fix it”‘projects and often, we are who we are because our past. Shouldn’t we just accept the person whom we have chosen for who they are and not who we think they should be?
Too many times, in the hustle and bustle of life, we all tend to take things too seriously and there isn’t “time” to be silly with each other. We all worry that as adults, we must act our age and not our shoe size but when you think about it, and I’ve said it over and over again, life is too short and too precious. Whoever said that as adults, we can’t tap into that child-like silliness in all of us?
I’m all for protecting your heart as stated in #2 but if you constantly have your walls up and never let anyone in, you will lead a very lonely existence!
And forgiveness is key. Someone else said that holding onto grudges is like drinking poison and waiting or the other person to die. I met someone recently who told me that they have only moved forward toward the positives in their life but this same person holds onto past grudges and anger like nobody’s business and cannot let it go. I found it interesting that they would say one thing and their behavior contradicts what they have said.
Beautiful advice from a divorced man after 16 years of marriage.
Obviously, I’m not a relationship expert. But there’s something about my divorce being finalized this week that gives me perspective of things I wish I would have done different… After losing a woman that I loved, and a marriage of almost 16 years, here’s the advice I wish I would have had
1. Never stop courting. Never stop dating. NEVER EVER take that woman for granted. When you asked her to marry you, you promised to be that man that would OWN HER HEART and to fiercely protect it. This is the most important and sacred treasure you will ever be entrusted with. SHE CHOSE YOU. Never forget that, and NEVER GET LAZY in your love.
2. Protect your own heart. Just as you committed to being the protector of her heart, you must guard your own with the same vigilance. Love yourself fully, love the world openly, but there is a special place in your heart where no one must enter except for your wife. Keep that space always ready to receive her and invite her in, and refuse to let anyone or anything else enter there.
3. Fall in love over and over again. You will constantly change. You’re not the same people you were when you got married, and in five years you will not be the same person you are today. Change will come, and in that you have to re-choose each other everyday. SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO STAY WITH YOU, and if you don’t take care of her heart, she may give that heart to someone else or seal you out completely, and you may never be able to get it back. Always fight to win her love just as you did when you were courting her.
4. Always see the best in her. Focus only on what you love. What you focus on will expand. If you focus on what bugs you, all you will see is reasons to be bugged. If you focus on what you love, you can’t help but be consumed by love. Focus to the point where you can no longer see anything but love, and you know without a doubt that you are the luckiest man on earth to be have this woman as your wife.
5. It’s not your job to change or fix her… your job is to love her as she is with no expectation of her ever changing. And if she changes, love what she becomes, whether it’s what you wanted or not.
6. Take full accountability for your own emotions: It’s not your wife’s job to make you happy, and she CAN’T make you sad. You are responsible for finding your own happiness, and through that your joy will spill over into your relationship and your love.
7. Never blame your wife if you get frustrated or angry at her, it is only because it is triggering something inside of YOU. They are YOUR emotions, and your responsibility. When you feel those feelings take time to get present and to look within and understand what it is inside of YOU that is asking to be healed. You were attracted to this woman because she was the person best suited to trigger all of your childhood wounds in the most painful way so that you could heal them… when you heal yourself, you will no longer be triggered by her, and you will wonder why you ever were.
8. Allow your woman to just be. When she’s sad or upset, it’s not your job to fix it, it’s your job to HOLD HER and let her know it’s ok. Let her know that you hear her, and that she’s important and that you are that pillar on which she can always lean. The feminine spirit is about change and emotion and like a storm her emotions will roll in and out, and as you remain strong and unjudging she will trust you and open her soul to you… DON’T RUN-AWAY WHEN SHE’S UPSET. Stand present and strong and let her know you aren’t going anywhere. Listen to what she is really saying behind the words and emotion.
9. Be silly… don’t take yourself so damn seriously. Laugh. And make her laugh. Laughter makes everything else easier.
10. Fill her soul everyday… learn her love languages and the specific ways that she feels important and validated and CHERISHED. Ask her to create a list of 10 THINGS that make her feel loved and memorize those things and make it a priority everyday to make her feel like a queen.
11. Be present. Give her not only your time, but your focus, your attention and your soul. Do whatever it takes to clear your head so that when you are with her you are fully WITH HER. Treat her as you would your most valuable client. She is.
12. Be willing to take her sexually, to carry her away in the power of your masculine presence, to consume her and devour her with your strength, and to penetrate her to the deepest levels of her soul. Let her melt into her feminine softness as she knows she can trust you fully.
13. Don’t be an idiot…. And don’t be afraid of being one either. You will make mistakes and so will she. Try not to make too big of mistakes, and learn from the ones you do make. You’re not supposed to be perfect, just try to not be too stupid.
14. Give her space… The woman is so good at giving and giving, and sometimes she will need to be reminded to take time to nurture herself. Sometimes she will need to fly from your branches to go and find what feeds her soul, and if you give her that space she will come back with new songs to sing…. (okay, getting a little too poetic here, but you get the point. Tell her to take time for herself, ESPECIALLY after you have kids. She needs that space to renew and get re-centered, and to find herself after she gets lost in serving you, the kids and the world.)
15. Be vulnerable… you don’t have to have it all together. Be willing to share your fears and feelings, and quick to acknowledge your mistakes.
16. Be fully transparent. If you want to have trust you must be willing to share EVERYTHING… Especially those things you don’t want to share. It takes courage to fully love, to fully open your heart and let her in when you don’t know i she will like what she finds… Part of that courage is allowing her to love you completely, your darkness as well as your light. DROP THE MASK… If you feel like you need to wear a mask around her, and show up perfect all the time, you will never experience the full dimension of what love can be.
17. Never stop growing together… The stagnant pond breeds malaria, the flowing stream is always fresh and cool. Atrophy is the natural process when you stop working a muscle, just as it is if you stop working on your relationship. Find common goals, dreams and visions to work towards.
18. Don’t worry about money. Money is a game, find ways to work together as a team to win it. It never helps when teammates fight. Figure out ways to leverage both persons strength to win.
19. Forgive immediately and focus on the future rather than carrying weight from the past. Don’t let your history hold you hostage. Holding onto past mistakes that either you or she makes, is like a heavy anchor to your marriage and will hold you back. FORGIVENESS IS FREEDOM. Cut the anchor loose and always choose love.
20. Always choose love. ALWAYS CHOOSE LOVE. In the end, this is the only advice you need. If this is the guiding principle through which all your choices is governed, there is nothing that will threaten the happiness of your marriage. Love will always endure.
In the end marriage isn’t about happily ever after. It’s about work. And a commitment to grow together and a willingness to continually invest in creating something that can endure eternity. Through that work, the happiness will come. Marriage is life, and it will bring ups and downs. Embracing all of the cycles and learning to learn from and love each experience will bring the strength and perspective to keep building, one brick at a time.
These are lessons I learned the hard way. These are lessons I learned too late. But these are lessons I am learning and committed in carrying forward. Truth is, I loved being married, and in time, I will get married again, and when I do, I will build it with a foundation that will endure any storm and any amount of time.
If you are reading this and find wisdom in my pain, share it those those young husbands whose hearts are still full of hope, and with those couples you may know who may have forgotten how to love. One of those men may be like I was, and in these hard earned lessons perhaps something will awaken in him and he will learn to be the man his lady has been waiting for.
MEN- THIS IS YOUR CHARGE: Commit to being an EPIC LOVER. There is no greater challenge, and no greater prize. Your woman deserves that from. Be the type of husband your wife can’t help but brag about.
I always thought that as mom, I’m just me…ordinary and unassuming. I am no different than any other mother out there in the world since the beginning of time, raising a child. When I was told long ago that my story, my journey as a single mom, could inspire others, I took it as a big joke.
I always felt that in order to inspire (or to breathe life) into others, you have to have done something amazing and out of the ordinary otherwise, how else can you inspire someone right?
How could *my* life as a single mom possibly inspire others when I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary? I felt I was neither strong or courageous, two attributes I equated to being inspirational.
In my eyes, I just did what I needed to do when I decided to bring a child into this world, unplanned and unprepared. But like any challenges and obstacles I have had to face along the way, I raised and nurtured my child the best way I knew how.
So on a whim, I decided to break it down…what exactly does strength and inspiration mean to me?
I have always seen strength as more than physical prowess that makes a person strong. True strength is the ability to keep everything together when everyone expects you to fall apart. It’s when you take a trembling step into darkness, not sure of what to expect, and though fearful, you are at least willing to give it a try and not give up.
True strength goes hand in hand with courage and being able to face your fears head on and using it as a catalyst to push you forward rather than letting it break you down. Someone once said that courage is looking fear in the eye and telling it to get the hell out of your way because you have better things to do!
Inspirations come in all shapes, sizes and forms. Everyone is different and what inspires them is also as different and diverse as people themselves are. What I perceive is something little and insignificant to me may not be perceived the same way by someone else who might be touched by the same event/gesture.
And ultimately, it’s the inner strength and courage that I never realized I’ve had throughout this ongoing journey known as MY single parenthood, and the many obstacles and challenges I’ve faced along the way, that makes MY story unique and worth telling and sharing.
dear dumbass who ran the red light and almost plowed into my kid as he is walking to work and crossing the intersection at a GREEN light…last time I checked, drivers are supposed to cross the intersection only when it is GREEN for them, not RED and whatever happened to pedestrians always having the right of way? what an asshole! I’m glad that even though my kid is a bit shaken, he is okay!
‘success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that matters.’ — Winston Churchill
“a long, long time ago, (cue Star Wars theme music)…in a galaxy far, far away”…okay, okay, it was 16 years ago across the bay (in the *BEST* city in the world) my young Jedi, you were born and my life changed forever…for the better!
I can’t believe how fast time has flown by as I realize that today, at 16, you are old enough to work *and* to drive! mind blowing!
I’m truly blessed and proud as I watched you grow from the precocious toddler to happy, joyful little boy into the confident, sweet-natured and kind young man that you are.
I know when you put your mind to it, along with your never say die attitude, the sky’s the limit…so dream big and reach for the stars! Happy 16th teenager! I love you all my world teenager and thank you for making the last 16 years one zany misadventure after another!