This Blog is Not for the Faint of Heart…

This blog post is rather morbid. and will probably be perceived as depressing – especially by those who love me dearly.  I am contemplating how I can convince my sweet husband and my parents not to read this.  I know it will make Joe sad because he doesn’t like thinking about all of the years I spent while waiting for him.  He doesn’t like to think of me as being afraid or sad.  But this is the truth, whether everyone enjoys hearing it or not.

A couple of weeks ago a single mother was murdered overnight while her 8 year old slept.  It was a random act of violence by three young people who were apparently looking to rob the home.  I’m not sure what happened, but we do know that the young mother was killed.

http://www.wral.com/three-charged-with-murder-in-north-raleigh-mom-s-death/12471595/

I ride by the scene of the crime daily because it is so near my home.  The part that haunts me every time I ride by is that her 8 year old daughter walked in her mother’s room the next morning to find her mother covered in blood and dead.  She went to find help for her mother, but obviously there was nothing that could be done. 

She can never “un-see” that. 

As a mother, it makes my heart ache terribly to think that this innocent child will never be able to erase what she faced that morning.  She probably woke up wondering why her mom had not come to wake her up for school yet.  Maybe she was hungry… maybe she wasn’t sure what to wear….  But now she will live the rest of her life with that vision.  I remember things from when I was 8 years old and I had a pretty simple childhood, so I am sure she will not forget something this horrific.

As a single mother for as long as I was, my heart aches to think how something like this really is possible.  Admittedly, I had that fear over the years that something would happen to me while I was asleep.  It wasn’t really that I worried about something happening TO ME, but I worried about my kids having to find me in whatever state I may be in.

Again, I recognize how awfully morbid this is, but it is a reality.  After I fainted last year, I was terrified that something was wrong with me.  They told me all of what it “could be,” but nothing was every really diagnosed.  The uncertainty of it all – not knowing what had really happened and worrying whether it would happen again – caused me a great deal of anxiety.

After I fainted, I woke up face down on the driveway in a pool of my own blood and walked inside to see one side of my face was barely recognizable and I was bleeding terribly. It makes me sad to think about my daughter’s face when she came down the hall looking for me and found me crying in the bathroom.  I know with certainty that she will never forget that moment. 

Following that day, I had an irrational fear that something could happen to me.  My feeling of invincibility was erased.  I faced a terrible Catch-22 of which would be worse – something happening while the kids were there to find me (and possibly help me by calling 911) or something happening while they were gone so they would not have to remember me like that (even if no one found me for days). 

Yes, it’s embarrassing to admit that I have had these thoughts over the years.  It sounds like I have watched extremely too much of the Lifetime Movie Network.  But I thought I should discuss it because I want other single mothers to know that this kind of fear is absolutely normal.  I talked to other single moms who also thought along these lines, even if it’s hard to admit. I almost decided not to post this, but the way that each friend looked at me while I discussed it made me realize that although no one likes to talk about it, it is obviously a fear that is felt by most.  As I said in a previous blog, sometimes the knowledge that we are not alone is enough to help us face our fears.  Knowing others think the same way can help us to not think we are crazy. 

One thing that I found to bring peace of mind to me was having a system in place of friends and/or family who check up on each other.  Whenever I know a friend is alone for the weekend, I always invite her over or call her to check on her.  My mother has always been the number one person to do this to me. Over the years, every weekend that I did not have the kids, my mother would call on Saturday morning and Sunday morning just to “check in.”  If I didn’t answer, she would leave messages and progressively the messages would get more frantic.  I would call her back as quickly as I could to ease her mind.  Those calls were comforting to both of us. 

The day after Joe and I got married my mother sent me an email that read, “I’ve been thinking all day that I don’t have to worry about you……..like I have for the last 8 years.  Now I have Joe to take care of you…” 

Those fears are finally gone… for both of us. 

It’s such a blessing how one man can come into my life and add so much comfort and peace and love and happiness.  Those nights of fear and loneliness are gone.  I thank God for bringing Joe to take care of us. It’s not that I believe that Joe can protect me from every bad thing that could happen to me, but I take comfort in knowing that IF something bad happens to me, at least Joe would do everything in his power to protect my children from being a witness to it. 

There are some things that children just don’t need to see…

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Hope for My Single Friends

I got a text from a dear friend last night who has been divorced as long as I have.  Over the years we have both dated our fair share of losers.  She was excited to tell me about the new guy she has been seeing.  Her text said, “He literally makes me think, ‘This is why I have been alone so long. I have been waiting for him.’”

Her text made my heart skip a beat because when Joe and I got married last week, the minister actually said that in our ceremony.  He said something along the lines of, “Valerie knows the reason she has been single so long is simple… she was waiting for Joe.”

Our wedding day....

Our wedding day….

And that is absolutely TRUE.

After separating almost nine years ago, I started going to see a therapist to help me know how to best get my kids through the divorce.   He was fabulous and after about six months of talking solely about the kids, we dove into dating.

He told me that I needed to make a list of all of the qualities that I wanted in a husband and to list them from most important to least important.  He said that while I will never find a man who has all of the qualities I desire, I can weigh the qualities he has to see if he is worth my time.  He may have the top two and not any more.  That would probably not be worth it.  Or he could have ten of the middle qualities… and I would have to decide if that is enough.

I went home and I made that list.  I used that list throughout my tenure as a single mom.  And it was ridiculous how few men had enough qualities on my list to make them worthy of my time…

Let me stick this plug in for marriage, because I can say without a doubt that until you have experienced the pure misery of the dating scene post-20’s, then you could erroneously believe that the grass is greener single.  Trust me when I say the grass is NOT greener as a single mom.  Because I was single so long I seemed to always be the “go to” who my friends would call when they were contemplating separating.   They would try to justify their reasoning to me when I would tell them how hard being a single mom is.  I cannot even tell you how often I heard, “He doesn’t do anything anyway, so I am basically a single mom.”

Every time I heard that statement I wanted to punch something.  It is NOT the same.  That’s like a fellow law student (I think she was maybe 22 and I was a 36 year old single mother of two) who said to me once, “I know what your life is like.  I have a dog.”  <insert incredulous, jaw on the ground look here> Really?  It was all I could do not to roundhouse kick her to the side of the head.

So with that being said, NO…. having a husband who is not home a lot is NOT the same as being a single mom.  You have another income in the house (even if he is not there) and you can get up and go work out in the morning while everyone is asleep or go to the grocery store after everyone goes to bed at night.  And no, having every other weekend “off” does not make the two weeks straight with kids any easier.

And the slim pickings in the dating scene when you are divorced is the icing on the pile of manure.  I went out with all different kinds of men to sample the waters – a nice divorced father, a med student, a rich guy who thought his money made him thirty years younger, a bar owner, quite a few 40 year olds who had never been married (which is a WHOLE OTHER blog topic I can reserve for later), and a football coach.  While some may judge me for dating a lot, I wanted to see what was out there so that I could know exactly what I wanted and exactly what I did NOT want in a man.  I also think it is important to date while single because even if nothing comes out of the date, he may have a friend who he could introduce you to!

But after being single for a lot of years, you start to wear blinders… you start to justify dating someone who is not really future material because you feel like you’ve been single too long.  You begin to look past major character flaws because you want to be hopeful.  You go out with someone you shouldn’t go out with because you think, “Well maybe I’ve been too picky.”   And most importantly, you forget about the importance of your list.

I had tucked my list away and pretty much given up on it when Joe entered the picture.  We had gone to high school together twenty years earlier and reconnected on Facebook.  We went to have lunch and immediately began spending as much time together as we were able.  I thought he was too good to be true… so I pulled out my list.

Joe had absolutely every quality.  Every single one.

After nine years of absolute misery and heart break in the dating scene, I found someone who had ALL of the qualities on my list.  I am so thankful for every broken road that led me here.  Neither one of us proclaims to be perfect, but we are definitely perfect for each other.  It may have taken many years in the desert to get us here, but we have arrived and it sure does feel good…

And I know in my heart that this was His plan all along.

Someone has definitely being watching out for me...

Someone has definitely being watching out for me…