I don’t have a criminal record, but I guess I have something nearly as colorful: a relationship record. I’ve grown to be less ashamed, over time, about the fact that I have two major offenses on this record in the form of divorces. I’m not to the point of being proud of my divorces; but, at least I can accept that they’ve happened, I’m at peace with why they happened, and I can move on with my life in a productive way.
I guess that until society becomes less judgmental about the “D” word, some of the stigma of marriage failures will continue to stick like gum on the bottom of my shoe. Divorce is still a failure (at least of the marriage and the expectations for it) and an unwanted thing, even if the primary cause of the collapse of one’s marriage rests on the shoulders of one’s ex.
I didn’t ask for my first divorce.
Had I been more self-assured and wise to everything he was doing during our marriage, I would have probably been the one demanding it. Instead, he broke my heart and turned my life upside down when his multiple issues came crashing down around him. He caught me at a time when I was still young, naïve, and believed in fairy tales; so, I never saw the destruction he would bring to my life coming.
Divorce #2 was a personal failure of epic proportions. I was so blindsided and disoriented from divorce #1 that I allowed myself to latch onto the next guy who crossed my path. I was afraid, alone, and still not as confident in my abilities to be my own person as I needed to be.
I’ll claim full responsibility for picking the wrong person for me and allowing myself to get dragged into that mess. He is still responsible for chronic lapses in decency as a human being and duties as a husband and father; but, again, I picked the guy, so as lousy of a husband as he was, much of the blame is on me for rushing into something and choosing poorly.
Listening to the chorus of Halsey’s Bad at Love this morning on the radio prompted me to question if my whole problem hasn’t been just that: am I bad in love? As she repeats throughout her song “I always make the same mistakes…” and “lookin’ at my history I’m bad at love…”
I suppose, as the saying goes, those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. This is probably why the divorce rate for second and third marriages is so high. It’s like the definition of insanity: repeating the same behavior and somehow expecting things to be different the next time.
I don’t want to jinx myself and declare that I am completely reformed and recovered as a person with a bad love record. I’m human. I’m still going to make mistakes. I will say, however, that I’ve made tremendous strides in my awareness of myself and own needs as well as red flags to watch out for in others.
Unlike the weak and needy girl I used to be, I am now confident in my ability to survive, no thrive, on my own!
A time or two through the wringer of love disasters has opened my eyes to my mistakes, as well as what to avoid adding to my life.
Am I bad at love?
I think I have been very bad at love, mainly in the choices I made. My track record speaks for itself, but I won’t allow it to define me as a person or dictate where my life will go from here! I may have made bad mistakes, even repeated some, but I’m not a bad person. I have learned from my mistakes, and that learning and growing process will never stop until the day I die!
My divorces have left marks on me, some of them permanent. I cannot change the fact that I am a divorced woman or have had relationship felonies in my past. I can’t let what’s happened stand on my record without also making those experiences serve some kind of purpose in my life. My time in divorce purgatory will not be for nothing because I can use what I’ve gained to improve myself and also help others!
One might say this is a similar concept to not calling a child a “bad girl” when she misbehaves or fails.
An act is not synonymous with the character of the person. Instead, the child may have done a bad thing; but, she is allowed to fumble and falter because that’s part of the developmental process of maturing. Her act, alone, does not make her a bad person!
If Halsey, me, or anyone else who has screwed up or developed an unpleasant history has the consciousness to recognize that it wasn’t what it should have been, but we continue to repeat the same asinine behavior with no fear of the consequences, then we have truly failed! The reality is that I have not been bad at loving. I have loved devotedly and with all my heart. I made regrettable choices; but, my love story is not over!
I think that my divorces and the way each affected my life is punishment enough for my relationship failings. My heart was always in the right place, I was just misguided by youth, pain, foolish optimism, and a host of other things. The benefit of experience is the gift of wise eyes with which to review future choices. Maybe I’ve been a slow learner and too in love with love. I’ve been bad at love, but I won’t be bad at life!