Three weeks ago my teenager cajoled me into creating a dating profile on a well known dating site. It has been interesting to say the least! Also about three weeks ago, my sister in law met a new man while out dancing in a local bar.
I have trepidations regarding her new guy. I see potential red flags and feel like it’s too soon. But, she’s eager and ready to move on and away from my brother’s adultery and constant put downs. I, on the other hand, have needed a lot of time to recover from years of abuse and be ready to make myself vulnerable again.
In this three weeks, I’ve chatted on the phone with men, texted with men, and been to dinner with one. And, the entire time I’m like a hunter, stealthily tip toeing, quietly waiting for signs. Could he be controlling? Is he immature? Needy? Is he lying about his past? Is this image control?
Meanwhile, my sister in law is being wined and dined and having the time of her life, feeling like someone wants her and validates her. Whether or not he’s genuine doesn’t cross her mind.
Being a single survivor of domestic violence has been crippling for me. I just can’t seem to really forget. I can’t just let go.
I worry incessantly about my sister in law. MY KIDS DO, TOO. Post abuse, we’re all looking for the potential abuser behind every bush. We’re anticipating the worst because the worst has happened, and we know it’s real. It can always happen again.
It’s very difficult to get to know a new person when you’re not listening to what they say as a way to get to know them, but rather as a means of deciphering the hidden meaning behind their words. The distrust has been thick.
I can freely love new clients, homeless people, children my kids associate with, strangers on the street. I’m open to others. Unless they’re single men.
I’ve been so afraid.
The lingering question following me everywhere has been, “What if it happens again?” As much as I haven’t trusted the men I’ve met since the divorce, I think the biggest issue is, I haven’t trusted my own ability to discern. Nor have I trusted God to protect me.
I’m going to repeat that. I haven’t trusted my own ability to discern, nor have I trusted my God to protect me.
That’s the real issue.
I haven’t been on a New Year’s date since 1995. I’ve LOVED our family New Year’s parties and felt no need whatsoever to kiss someone when the ball dropped. This year was different though. It was suddenly critical to me that I have a date for New Year’s. I felt a desperate need, as though I’d be setting the tone for the entire New Year based on how I spent one silly evening.
So, without really any prior conversation, I made plans via messages to meet a younger and very attractive man from the dating site.
A part of me chastised myself for feeling so desperate. Another part was just incredibly relieved.
He did not seem like a safe bet. He only moved here four or five months ago from out of state. He’s younger. We hadn’t even talked or texted. And, did I mention he’s incredibly good looking? It seemed like a dangerous combination. But, at least I wouldn’t be alone on New Year’s. I’d take what I could get.
As the day wore on and I didn’t hear from him, I began to assume he was standing me up. Gah! Not only was I going to be alone, I was being stood up! What was I even thinking? And, then he texted and called while I was at dinner. I didn’t respond, so he thought he was being stood up!
But, at approximately 9:15 we both arrived at our planned destination. He brought me chocolate and a homemade card and was a complete gentleman the entire evening. We visited A LOT, danced very little, and he kissed me in a very platonic way at midnight. I forgot to judge him. I relaxed into his presence and just simply enjoyed his company and getting to know him.
When I got home I looked up the verses he referenced in his note to me. One was Proverbs 4:23, Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
In that sweet gesture, that sweet reminder, I relaxed again. How I’ve responded to men and even feared them these past six years has been okay. It’s helped me to guard me heart. I won’t ever have to look back and regret a string of men or any sinful behavior post divorce. My heart and my body have been preserved for that man God does bring me. And, perhaps that means God has been protecting me all of this time. Perhaps He’s used my past suffering as a gated wall to keep me in reserve for something better.