Welcome back to another installment of 17 & Married! Happy Monday yall! I'm glad you could join me today as we transition into a new part of my story.
In our last session 17 & Married Part 3: Golden Goose, I told you what it was like being married into a family who didn't particularly like me. Over the years, their disdain infiltrated our marriage and threw things out of balance. That along with manipulation and church hurt contributed to the breakdown of our unit.
Of course, I won't put it all on B's family, they were just one part of a bigger picture. If I had to choose one reason for our separation, I'd say, we outgrew each other. It was time to move to the next stage of life and that's okay.
After the divorce, there were some especially difficult hurdles to overcome with co-parenting. We're still working out the kinks, but it's getting better as time passes. I wouldn't say that we've made it to the friendship stage just yet, but I'm hopeful for the future.
I was speaking to a friend about the blog, and she questioned why I keep referring to B as a good man even though she knows how difficult things have been. Two reasons:
I can see the root of all his faults. I knew him very well, so I understand why he behaves the way he does. He is very much a product of his environment. Would you fault a lion for hunting? No, because he's just doing what he was designed to do. I can't get mad at B for behaving how he was raised to behave. I can only pray that one day, he'll realize his full potential.
He is the father of my children. No matter how angry he makes me, or how out of line I think his actions are, I will never publicly call him anything other than a good man. I have children who will read my words one day. I never want to paint a picture of their father that is unsavory. I want them to experience him for themselves. It's not my place to create a narrative of who he is for them.
I would caution all parents to be careful of what you say about the other parent to, or in front of your children. Though they may not say it, they internalize what you think of their parent, to be what you think of them. Whatever names you give their father/mother, you're saying it about them.
The kids love you both. They don't want to be in the middle. I try my hardest to ensure I keep their father's image untainted in my kid's eyes. Don't get me wrong, I haven't been perfect. I've slipped up in a moment (maybe a few moments lol) of frustration and had to apologize. As I said, we're all just doing the best we can with what we have.
The power is in realizing exactly where you are in your journey. Acknowledge that hurt, identify those triggers, and begin the healing process. If you're having trouble getting started, I recommend my e-book Become the Best Version of Yourself. You'll learn how to get to the root of your pain so that you can hold yourself accountable and work through it. And of course, therapy! I can't emphasize it enough.
And that's pretty much it yall! You're officially caught up on the rise and fall of B and Dina Shanae. It was a wild ride, and I'm happy to be on the other side of it.
Now I want to spend some time telling you all about post-divorce dating! Strap in loves, this part of the journey gets especially fun.
If you're getting out of a serious relationship be careful not to jump right back into one. Take the time to date yourself. Find out what you like, and don't like. Eat your favorite foods, listen to music, work out, feel the emotions you need to feel and get help when you need it. You must heal. Then once you do start dating, you are empowered. You won't just accept anything because you're bored or lonely.
So there I was, single and living alone for the first time in my adult life. I was scared out of my mind. I'd never had the responsibility of financing a household by myself before. I worried if I would be able to do it on my own, but I knew I had no choice but to succeed. I had three kids depending on me to make it, and I needed to prove to myself that I could stand on my own two feet. Turns out I can, and figuring that out was a serious win for my self-image.
Once I had my own space I began dating. I had no idea what I was doing, I had never dated before! So I dipped a toe into online dating. Yes, yall. I made a Tinder account. Jumping into the Tinderverse was exhilarating. You see I wasn't looking for anything serious so I could just be myself. I didn't care what anyone thought. I had spent so many years trying to fit into a skin that didn't belong to me, that once I was free, I held nothing back. I was direct, upfront, and I didn't play games. You didn't have to guess what I was thinking because I was finally saying what was on my mind. Dating was fun.
I got my swipe on! I had so many matches I couldn't respond to everyone. I had to figure out a way to filter through the many messages blowing up the inbox. For any fellas reading, here's a little free game.
I didn't respond to guys who sent emojis as a hello. If you're too lazy to use words, I'm not responding.
I only responded to guys who had interesting bios. I eventually got to the point where I didn't swipe right on anyone without a good bio.
The guys that had funny and conversational introductions got my attention. If they called me baby or any pet names I chalked them. The ones who made me laugh got the conversation, and possibly my number after a while.
If a guy pushed too quickly for my number I ghosted. But if the conversation was nice, and it had been consistent for a couple of days, I was willing to exchange numbers.
Ladies, if you're getting back out there, there is no ego boost like a packed inbox. Go ahead and let them remind you that you still got it, sis!
After talking to a few potential candidates, I got my first date. We'll call him the landscaper. He was mad cool, sweet, and funny. We started hanging out a couple of weeks before my birthday, so when my birthday came around, he treated me to a night out and some really cute gifts. He was a great guy but we fizzled out after about a month of dating.
We couldn't get on the same page about how things should run during the talking stage. We weren't committed and I had no intentions of being in a relationship anytime soon. We respected each other's positions and we're still cool to this day. Hey landscaper! *Wink wink.
Then I met another cool guy. We'll call him the photographer. Now he and I were on the same page. We had similar goals and aspirations, neither of us was ready for a serious relationship, and we just clicked.
From the moment we met, I felt like I'd known him before. I liked him instantly and things only built from there. We got each other's humor, we liked the same things, we seemed to be a match made in heaven. The best thing about getting to know him was there was no pressure. I had the space to do what I wanted, and so did he. Our time spent together wasn't out of obligation, but because we truly wanted to be with each other. We took trips together, we had date nights, chill nights, and enjoyed our honeymoon stage.
But beware of the honeymoon stage yall. Every relationship has that sweet spot when you know a person enough to like them, but not enough to have seen their problem pieces. He and I stayed in the honeymoon stage for a good three months before we had our first issue. He was moving away!
It was the first time I'd felt a pull of heartache for anyone besides B, and it scared the heck out of me. I didn't want to care for anyone so soon, and he came out of nowhere, long before I was ready to love again. That pain made me run away from him as fast as I could.
Once he told me he was moving, I began to distance myself. I couldn't imagine allowing someone close enough to hurt me again. It was a confusing time because we'd built a great friendship. He was like a mirror. Knowing him, helped me experience myself through his eyes. I learned so much about who I am through our relationship. I didn't want to lose his friendship, but I didn't want to lose myself either.
I was faced with a choice. Choose him and take a risk, or choose me and stay safe. We weren't in a committed relationship, so I chose me. I had to take a step back from him so that he could become who he was meant to be, and give myself the space to become my best self as well.
I said it before and I'll say it again. Always choose you. What's meant to be will happen in the proper time. You won't have to force it, it'll just make sense.
So we took a step back. We didn't completely stop talking to each other, but we found focus in other areas of our lives and opened up the door to date other people. It was a hard but necessary step as we still had a lot of work to do as individuals. And you know what yall? It all worked out.
Remember my Q & A: Would you get married again? Well, there's a reason my answer has changed.
So if you're feeling like you'll never find love again, or if you're like me and aren't even interested in falling in love again; just know, it's out there, and it CAN happen for you again. Be sure to start with that self-love first though. As my little sis would put it: self-love is the best love, and that's the real tea!
As always, thank you for reading! I hope you take with you exactly what you needed from today's session. If you're on your path to self-discovery and you're looking for some resources, be sure to stop in the store and check out the self-empowerment books available for purchase.
Take care of yourselves! Until next time, stay blessed!