Have you ever gone to the animal shelter and felt a connection with the animals waiting to get adopted?
My daughter wanted a dog so bad and had literally been asking me for years. My usual answer was, “I can barely feed two children, what makes you think I can afford feeding a dog too?”
But after many years of pleading, the time had come, and I was ready to say yes. As we walked through the little concrete cubicles that housed dogs of all shapes and sizes, each one looked up at us with a longing in their eyes that said, “Hey pick me, I’ll be loyal!” Or, “Hey pick me, I will love you forever! I promise!”
What were their stories and why were they there?
Were they too old? Too fat?
Too crazy or too sick?
Or just too much?
Why would a family, give them away as if they never mattered? And how was it okay that they are relegated to leave their safe beds at home only to now sit in a cold concrete cubicle? How would they ever trust again?
I soon realized as I walked throughout the complex that I was filled with emotions. Perhaps, I had felt a kind of kinship to them. I knew what it felt like to expire your usage to someone you once trusted your life with. I too was discarded by a husband who no longer needed me. He literally said that to me.
So now the impetus of getting a dog had changed. Their plights resonated with me and I wanted to save them all. How would they ever trust again? I understood the looks in their eyes. I too asked, “How will I ever trust again?”
When Is It Time To Trust Again?
Starting the journey on the road to trust
How do I trust myself .and my choices? That is the first thing I said to myself when I started to think about dating again. I had obviously chosen very badly to have spent so many years with a man that never really wanted what I wanted. It wasn’t until we were all in and married for a few years that I started to see this.
He said all the right things and outwardly did all the right things. But inside I doubt that he wanted any part of it and I don’t think he ever wanted to be married to me. I honestly do not understand why he did. My gosh, I was young, cute and a new college graduate and I had plenty of options out there.
But for some reason, he couldn’t tell me. All along he just fooled himself and made me believe his lie. He had no intention of giving up his dating life and who better to marry than a stable, sweet girl who comes from a solid family and has a good soul. Oh, and did I mention, was kind of naive too?
The best way to cheat on your spouse is to marry someone who is naive. When he cheated on me the first time and my son was 2 years old, I forgave him and felt virtuous in saving my family. When he cheated on me the second time when our second child was only 4 weeks old, I felt like the Village Idiot. So onward I go to find the road back to trust.
The first man I dated was wonderful. He was tall and handsome and was a family man. He had four kids of his own and I saw every day what an amazing father he was. But he too was broken. He didn’t want his divorce either and so two broken people were attracted to each other with a common denominator that wasn’t solid. So, as the relationship started and stopped and started again over a period of 5 years, we both realized that as much as we cared for each other we were not, “the one”.
It was nice to be treated well in the start periods, but it didn’t feel so good in the stop periods. We were both veiled in insecurities that were planted and cultivated by our ex-spouses. When the day came that we finally parted our ways, we both had grown up in our divorced status and in that growth, we grew apart as well. He ended up marrying someone quite different than me, so I guess that confirmed my belief that we were not a good fit. He was a man for that time that it took me to a new knowing of myself. And I am grateful for that experience.
So, how do I trust another man?
The second man I dated, was also tall and handsome. He was fun too. But he too had stuff that needed to get worked out. We are all such broken toys after divorce, but this one had been through divorce twice already. I don’t know how anyone does it more than once.
For me, once was quite enough. He was sweet but had loads of insecurities that manifested itself in always needing to be validated by women. For example, he took me to a Christmas party. As soon as I walked in with him, he made a hasty left and next thing I know he is in the middle of a harem of women. He loved their adulation and it was a turn off to me I tend to be more intellectual, so I sought out the people who wanted to talk to me.
That was the ebb and flow of our relationship for a while. I kept stepping away and he kept drawing me back in. The reason I got drawn back in was because outside of his womanizing insecurities, he really was fun, he was romantic, and we would get into these deep conversations about life and it sort of fed my need for intellectual stimulation too. The experience brought me to the next step on my path and still a deeper connection to what I was looking for. But alas, he was not. “the one” either.
Third time is the charm?
The next man I dated was far more mature than both men put together. He was a smart C Suite Executive who had reached a place in his life that he wanted to feel joy which he said he hadn’t felt in forever. He was married for about 20 years and his sons were both finishing college. He was a class act. He knew he needed to step away from his marriage because he was not happy, but he didn’t do it with cruelty.
He supported his wife and sons and never made them move out of their home. He never asked her to pay for their tuition. He never treated her with disrespect and have his sons watch that from afar only to have that be part of their blueprints. No, he was a man of dignity, intelligence, and integrity. But he too was not, “the one”. It wasn’t that I thought we couldn’t make a go of it. I think we could have at some point. But he was too new into his separation and was not even officially divorced.
I had time to test the waters. He hadn’t, and I knew he needed to do this for himself. If we were going to ever be together it would have to be after he had the chance to sew his wild oats. But he wasn’t going to do it on my watch!
So, now I venture on to my quest to meet someone who I feel I can trust. I realize that the first person I need to trust though, is myself. I know that I am not willing to give up my integrity and self-worth to any man again. I also know that it’s time to let go of the fear and take a chance on someone.
He may be a bit broken too by virtue of the journey he has experienced and that’s okay. I have become reacquainted with my former self before marriage. I was cheerful and confident. I didn’t rage on worries year after year. I looked at life from a positive…anything is possible set of eyes. All of which were lost in my marriage. I see it now.
I may not be the new college graduate any longer, but the woman I am today has been shaped by the sum of all the experiences of the past. I am still the woman who deserves to trust and to be trusted.
I am still the woman who wants to have joy in her life and longs to share it with someone that is easy to be with and who can also challenge me.
And I am still the woman; naive as I still may be, accepts herself, flaws and all and deserves to be loved 100%! There are no rules for timing. It must happen when your own stars align. For me, it has taken many years to be ready. I may have dated, but in that time, I never really invited anyone into my life and into my family. I was too exhausted raising a family alone to really give it all of me.
And these men I dated didn’t jump up and down with their hands raised, telling me they were committed to me and ultimately to my children too. Because if you date me, you date the whole package. Maybe by not letting them all the way in, it precluded them from fully committing. I am okay with my decisions though. I was not ready. I am now. As the Nora Ephron line goes in, “When Harry Met Sally”…..”Somewhere out there is the man you are supposed to marry. And if you don’t get him first, somebody else will. And you’ll have to spend the rest of your life knowing that somebody else is married to your husband.”
So when the time is right, take the leap of faith and flex your trust muscles again and go for it!