Sometimes I envision myself having a heart-to-heart with my late twenty-something-year-old self and offering her words of wisdom. The time and advice I would give her would be heartfelt and meaningful. We sit, sipping hot tea, and I ask her questions that seem mundane but speak volumes.
Did you meet his family? Why was he divorced? Remember, there are always two sides to the pancake.
What does he do for a living? What is his relationship with his siblings and parents? Have you met his friends?
Have you done a background check on him? (Is that going a bit too far?)
As I snap out of it and realize that I am having a "would've, should've, could've" moment, I am flooded with regrets.
Why did I rush into this relationship? Why didn't I ever meet his family or his friends? Why didn't I see the signs?
I am, as some people say, living in the land of the gray. I am not in the black or white; I am in the murky waters of "stagnant." I don't like being here. In fact, it is uncomfortable and prevents life from unfolding for all involved.
My marriage is in bad shape. After years of little white lies that added up to a bunch of giant ones, I have come to realize that if I stay, this is what my life will look like forever. I am lonely and unhappy and feel betrayed.
Then what keeps me from signing those divorce papers that sit on my desk? Could it be that fairytale princess who has burrowed herself deep in the fantasy part of my brain? Is it her that keeps whispering, "Give it another chance, he can change."
Perhaps, it is my fear that my children will resent me for breaking up their home. Maybe I have been stagnant for so long that I have paralyzed myself.
I desperately wish someone would magically appear, force my hand, and tell me what to do.
Well, that's not happening anytime soon. I've come to realize that people do listen and offer support. However, no one will tell me straight out to divorce him. No one wants that hanging over their head. And who can blame them? This is on my plate and no one else's. I jumped without looking.
When is enough finally enough? Do people ever truly change? Does that man who can't find consistent work ever find a job? Do the lies ever stop or the sneaky behavior fade?
My children watch me work three jobs in addition to being their mom. I know they understand what it means to be a survivor and have an appreciation for the "do whatever it takes" mentality. In my heart, I know they will be alright, and I know that sooner or later I will put pen to paper.
But a bit of advice to those who are so eager to get married again or for the first time: Stop... look... and listen.
It's okay to be wary and to ask questions. It's also more than okay to do some research and find out about "prince charming" and the horse he rode up on. More times than not, we are smitten by kind gestures and too busy swinging from the chandeliers to take notice. Life happens, and falling in love is a remarkable part of the unfolding. Love is powerful, passionate, and life-affirming. But please, a word from the not so wise: remember and make note-to-self.
Look before you cross. Read the labels and fine print. We do it at the pharmacy, why not do it with our hearts?
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