Separated at 32.
Divorced at 33.
Dating at 34.
Not really how I imagined my life going. Toss in single motherhood, trauma, PTSD, and overwhelming grief. I stood staring ahead at my new life wondering how I got here and where I am going to go. In the beginning, I was optimistic. Reading others stories and believing it would be mine. My rose colored glasses on yet slowly slipping off. Soon I crashed and burned. Realizing the after part is much more complicated, conflicting, and heartbreaking.
Dating after divorce in the modern world is weird. No longer are you meeting people in bars but online. No longer are you seeing someone face to face but swiping through the best photos. No longer grilling your friends about him but searching social media high and low to make sure it isn’t a scam.
It wasn’t all bad. It was convenient. Really fun at times. I was able to chat with men that I would never have met if connected through friends or work. It built my self esteem up when I needed it. It also tore me down when I didn’t. A few years of this and I really learned what I really wanted in a relationship and in my romantic life. I wasn’t going to compromise on certain things and found my voice in saying bye, see ya later.
It was the Holidays 2020 and I found myself burned once again and lonely. Bored. I hopped back on a dating app and did some swiping after the boys went to bed. A man caught my eye with a mutual match. I reached out and hoped he would message back. The convo started off easy and fun. A thrill going through me every time I got the notification he messaged. I knew this feeling. I was cautious.
Chatting turned into a scheduled first date. A first date turned into four hours of chatting, flirting, and oh my gosh this is making me soooo nervous and giddy and what am I doing?! I knew I wanted to approach it differently with him. Because it felt different. I wanted it to be different with him.
As we settled into dating and getting to know one another, I found it easy. Frighteningly so. I expected hard. The back and forth game that seems to come with dating. Wondering what he will do next or if he is interested. My trust in men was shot due to infidelity trauma and other lies. I figured I would keep quiet about me and my past. Only showing the pretty, the appealing. He showed me early on that he didn’t want that. He wanted all of it. And I believed him.
I was scared. Terrified really. I was falling in love again. I wanted to. I really did. And once it was happening, panic set it. Can I open myself up again? To all the hurt and suffering that comes with love? Can I show up for another person day after day? Forcing me to be a better person for him. Can I risk being left again? Can I do this? Am I through the ugly fog of divorce to move forward? Can I see that the past is not my present or future? Can I share this with him or will it send him running for the nearest exit?
My therapist would chuckle at me. Telling me I needed to breathe and keep trying. I may be surprised that yes a good healthy relationship is easy.
And it is. Easy. And hard. Two hearts mending together. Two lives meshed together.
We focused on us. Building our foundation.
Me panicking every few weeks. Him laughing and holding me close.
Kids add a complicated element to our relationship. Yet, we fit together. I was in awe how quickly my boys took to him. Never showing him their on display acting. They jumped right in with who they are and all that wonderfulness. He is the first and only man my children have met. And everyday I fall in love with him a little more watching him love my sons.
A blended family. Him. Me. Two boys. A dog.
It’s loud and chaotic. It’s frustrating and worthwhile. It’s difficult and easy. It’s laughter and tears.
Him with an instant family. Me sharing my boys. Becoming a parenting team. While walking a fine line that has no clear directive.
Love after divorce.
I didn’t think it possible. Not for me. I figured I would settle. With a relationship that was lacking. With someone that didn’t quite fill me up with what I need. I figured it would take me months and years to feel safe with someone. After all I had been through, my heart wouldn’t trust. I figured I wouldn’t want a man involved with my sons until much further down the road. I figured I would once again change who I was to be loved by a man.
Everything I imagined would happen didn’t.
I couldn’t imagine any of what is happening to happen because I didn’t know it existed. And now that it is, I can’t believe it. I am waiting for it to all fall apart and disappear. This is mostly due to my past. Continued healing and therapy is required for me personally and in my relationship. Him and I. We know what it takes to be in a marriage. We know the hard work. We know that we won’t always like each other. We know we will fight, annoy, and be angry. It is part of a relationship. We also know that we need to show up. Every day. We must communicate. Honestly.
Him and I.
We are learning to love again.
We are learning about love after divorce.
It is ours.
And with everything else in our lives, it is messy. Loud. Fun. Full. Beautiful. Lovely.
Here I am.
In love at 37.
Engaged at 38.
Getting married at 39.
Not how I imaged my life going.
Me getting a second chance.