Cheers To Saying “I Don’t”

Last Saturday was a day like any other. Nothing special about it whatsoever. I had a long work shift; nothing out of the ordinary.

On the other side of town, on the same day, my ex husband was saying “I Do”, for the second time. During this past week I’ve been asked my thoughts on this subject. How do you feel about it? That sort of thing. And honestly, the only general feeling that I’ve had was this…relief! That’s the only thing that really goes through my mind about the subject. Relief that it’s not me. Relief that I’m not the one walking down the aisle towards him this time. Relief that that part of my life is over and has been for years. Relief that the past is the past and I never have to go back there again. Just absolute relief!

And while I haven’t given it any more thought, other than the relief part, it does make one contemplate perhaps as to the “why”. Why do I feel so much relief you may ask? Why doesn’t it bother me? Why does it feel like a chapter in my life is finally closing? Why does it feel like a new beginning and NOT like it’s the end of the world as I once knew it? Here’s why I’m completely and more than okay with my ex saying “I Do”:

I Know Better Now
I think it’s safe to say that we change as we get older. Or at least we should. It’s the natural way of things. I can tell you with 100% certainty that I am nowhere near the same person that I was when I got married. And that’s a good thing.

My ex husband and I met in Bible College, if you can believe that? He was a year ahead of me and in his final year was elected student body president of that college. Which in hindsight is a tad humorous give the fact that he is now a full out Atheist. We started dating after he already graduated and I was in my second and final year, near the end of the final term. Once I graduated as well he asked me to move to the city where he was living. I moved in with his sister, at first. Sometime soon after the move, I got myself pregnant. Which was soon to be followed by a shotgun wedding. (Does my life sound like a country song yet??)

I couldn’t see it then but our relationship had “doomed” written all over it from the get go. I don’t recall us ever having any real conversations about our future, plans, goals or anything practical that would have helped us to navigate this any better. I don’t remember asking any of the crucially important questions that one should ask when in a relationship with someone. Especially one that is headed for marriage. I was so naive and immature that I just moved out of my parents house and in with his sister so that I could be closer to him and adoringly assumed because I met him at church and his parents were pastors that this would automatically work out. I never noticed any of the red flags that looking back now are so blatantly flashy and beet red. All I knew was that some guy was paying attention to me and liked me enough to move me out of my parents house…and right into his (as in his parents house. Not his own. Red flag much?).

The woman I am today would have had questions. A LOT of questions. So what’s the plan here Stan? Tell me about your goals for the future? How do you plan on supporting a family? Why are you still living with your parents? Why can’t you afford your own place? Maybe gimme a call when you’ve cut the chord from your parents and are capable of standing on your own two feet. If I’m being honest, I wouldn’t have even gone on a date with him let alone marry him. Over our 5 1/2 year marriage we moved 6 times. Jumping from family member to family member, and apartment to apartment. Mostly because we couldn’t afford anything. It was really stressful. All the time. Neither of us were mature enough or equipped to handle the responsibility that comes with marriage. He wasn’t ready. I definitely wasn’t ready. But I know much better now. And that is something. It’s wisdom and experience that I can take into a future, healthy relationship, if God wills it.

The only thing that I managed to salvage from the wreckage that was our marriage are my beautiful boys. They’re the only good thing to come from it. My prayer is always the same for them, that they would recognize their God given potential and calling on their life and that they would run hard towards that all of their lives. Living long enough to see my two world changers lead their lives with integrity, honour, hard work ethic and having empathy and compassion for others is reason enough for me to have gone through everything that I’ve gone through.

I’m Not In A Rush To Make Another Mistake
“Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

We’ve all heard this phrase and for me I take it a lot more seriously now. We all tend to make a lot of mistakes, especially when we’re young. It’s expected. We think we know it all, or so it seems. No one can tell us what to do. We don’t listen to reason. We make decisions based on our feelings rather than using our head. I wasted a lot of years going by feelings rather than reason. I swore to myself I would never be gullible like that again. And while that may have resulted in building up certain walls around myself (my heart in particular), that isolation has actually been used to do some serious pruning and healing that was so desperately needed over the years.

I know what it’s like to wish I could’ve done things differently. I know what it’s like to have regrets. I know what it’s like to wish to God that I would’ve known better. Which is why when I see any couple saying “I Do”, I don’t get envious or wish it was me up there saying my vows all over again. I know what it feels like to be in a marriage that’s a sinking ship. I know what it feels like to feel trapped. I know what it feels like to be married and lonely. And let me tell you something, I would take single and lonely, over married and lonely any day of the week. The loneliness passes. It comes and goes in small spurts but it doesn’t last long. And once it passes I am relieved once again that in the ten years that I’ve been single that I haven’t settled for saying I Do for a second time. Because none of it would have been right.

Being married won’t heal you and being single won’t kill you.

Remember that the next time Mr. Smoothtalker tries to shimmy his way into your emotions. Use your head. Ask the right questions. Get the answers. Make a plan. Set goals. As the CEO of a thriving business, you would never think about merging with another business unless you first sat down with them and put all your cards out on the table. Until you were absolutely sure that this merger made sense going forward. That you both knew what you each had to bring to the table. That it benefited both businesses to merge together rather than be apart. It’s a partnership. Relationships are no different, especially when it’s a lifetime commitment. Laying the ground work beforehand is the most crucial part. Without the ground work, the foundation, the entire thing eventually crumbles.

At the end of the day, I know enough couples that make me thankful that I’m single. But I also know enough couples that make me think that with the right person, it’s worth all the waiting in the world. And I’m not about to rush into anything less than that.

Singleness Isn’t A Dirty Word
I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve been asked, poked, prodded and misunderstood about my single status. I suppose going on a decade now it sort of involuntarily begs the questions. Do you think you’ll ever get married again? Why don’t you date? How do you expect to meet someone if you never leave your house? Get out there and mingle! Do you even like men? (No, seriously I’ve been asked that last question on more than one occasion and the answer is YES! While I’ve definitely gone through seasons in my life of hating the male species in general and purely for spite, yes I ‘like’ men. Can we move on now?)

Even my ex husband has chimed in from time to time with his own explanation as to why he thinks I’m still single. Things like “You should go find some joy and move on. You’re still in love with me…” and other obscenities of which I won’t mention here. After an entire decade I can assure you my feelings for him hover somewhere around a minus “No Thanks!” Even the sheer arrogance of this line of thinking is mind boggling to me. Because God forbid that a woman could be happy and fulfilled without a string of relationships consistently lined up behind her. Because I don’t go out and party and hang out at the clubs trying to pick men up, there must be something wrong with me. Because I don’t say yes to every invitation that I get, I’m weird. So therefore that must mean that I’m still pining after my ex husband or not interested in the opposite sex or I’m a man hating feminist. Seriously? Those are the only choices I get?

Being single is not a disease that I need to be cured from.

People are so quick to celebrate when people say “I Do”. They throw parties and spend lavish amounts of money on gifts and well wishes. But for some reason, when you’ve chosen to say “I Don’t”, even for a season, when you’ve made the conscious decision to not jump off the deep end with just anybody and be smart about it the next time around and wait, people look at you like your dog just died. Where are the gifts and the money and the cards for “Congratulations you didn’t settle and marry the wrong guy!” or “Way to go! You’re standing on your own two feet!” Instead, they give you puppy eyes and say things like “oh don’t worry, he’s out there…somewhere”.

For starters, I’m not worried. And number two, where is this “somewhere”? It’s as if there’s this magical place where all the single people dwell. A land far far away called “Somewhere”. Nobody knows where it is…nobody knows how to get there….it’s just out there…somewhere. And one day he’ll escape from the land of Somewhere and ride up on his white horse and fight the evil dragon thats holding me hostage and keeping me from a lifetime of wedded bliss! Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? That’s because it is.

I’m at a place in my life now where I know myself better. I know what works for me and what doesn’t. I know what I want in life and what I don’t want. I know what I want/need from my partner and what I don’t want/need from him. I know what to look for and say yes to and I know what to avoid and say no to. And no amount of loneliness or pressure from other people is ever going to cause me to force my way into something simply out of convenience. It’s far too big of a price to pay. There are very few things that are worse than being married and wishing you were single. When the time is right, and when it’s the right person I’ll know. And when it’s right, I won’t be wishing I was single. I’ll be thankful that now I get a lifetime to discover exactly why I had to wait so long. And why it was so damn worth it. All of it.

So, am I happy for them?
There are seemingly two sides to this. On the one hand these 2 individuals have caused me an enormous amount of pain over the past year. If you were to ask the parts of me that still ache I would answer, no. I hope they rot. They don’t deserve any form of happiness whatsoever after what they’ve done.
However, on the other hand, if you were to remove the parts of me that ache and pull back the curtain to the inner most parts of me; where Christ dwells, as a Christian woman then I am compelled to answer, yes and I wish them well.

As much as I may hate to admit it, and although I don’t see us being “bestie’s” any time soon, Jesus died for them too. He longs for a relationship with them just as much as He longs for a relationship with me. We were bought with the same price. And while they start off on their new life together in one direction, I feel like I am on the cusp of my own journey. I feel like I’m just getting started. And that’s not something to be mad at. That’s something to get excited about! Single? Yes, at the moment. But that doesn’t mean that my story can’t be just as glorious or even more so. Who knows what the future holds…I’m open to it all. Only God knows…Cheers to that!