I’m forever changed and always grateful for it. This is a growth opportunity, but one I didn’t see coming when I found out I was pregnant in September of 2018. See, I had lost my way. I was trying to pave my own path, only to be shown once again that my plan wasn’t written by me.
Once I became a mother, some things changed in my heart. One, I fell in love with my child. She was and still is my miracle baby. The baby that I was told would be very hard to have. The baby I will never take for granted after seeing so many others struggle through fertility and beyond. I can safely say I’ve never felt this type of love before and can’t imagine being able to replicate it ever again (unless there’s another child in my future). Two, I started feeling differently towards her father. This was the thing I didn’t see coming. I started imagining things differently from what was the harsh reality around me. I started dreaming and hoping. I fell in love with him. No, the idea of us working out. Of Aria having parents who loved each other and who could show her what love looks like.
I found myself yearning for the perfect family. The family that loved each other and loved others. The blended family that actually got along. The unusual story of it actually working out. My heart turned into a mother wanting to actually not be that stereotypical struggling single mom. My thought patterns changed and I started having massive anxiety. Sleepless nights, explosive moments, huge mood swings. I just wanted to have it all.
I got so wrapped up in my alternative reality that I didn’t see I was dying on the outside. Things weren’t working out. I was miserable, and I was trying to be someone I hated. Someone I didn’t recognize came out. I started drinking heavily, and using other coping mechanisms. It got so bad that the person I wanted so badly to want me was triggering memories of my ex husband and my failed marriage.
Thankfully, I was able to take a step back and make the healthiest decision. I chose to stop living in my fake world and finally wake up. I realized that being a struggling single mother isn’t half as bad as what I was doing to myself. And actually a lot healthier. Not just for me, but also for my daughter. She needs me to be happy and healthy, not destroying myself. She needs to see what wholesome, unconditional love is. Because she deserves it. And I deserve it. I am enough. I am purpose. I am love.
I’m going to be completely honest with you. 99% of my posts are geared towards women. No offense to the guys, I just relate better with those with ovaries. But someone I met and went on a handful of dates with last year has apologized to me and more recently after apologizing again has asked me to share some insights and tips to “not screw up like how I did with you.”
So all of you get to reap the benefits! By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it is definitely the things that keep me coming back. And I could totally tear this guy (and others) apart by listing what they’ve done wrong. But I like to keep things positive and suggest some simple things they can work towards in order to do everything to attract the next great person that they come across.
Next time you find yourself in the presence of someone awesome, focus on the following things:
- Be honest. Y’all don’t even know how many times a guy has lied to me. May it be a white lie to make himself look better, or a bigger lie because he’s guessing at what I like and what I want to hear. Guys, be honest and be yourself. I’m not going to fall for that fake guy you’re painting. I strive to be completely honest (minus the sarcasm) and I expect the same from you.
- Listen. Most girls love to learn about you, but also adore an active listener. I can’t tell you how often I sit down with someone and every time I’m talking they’re just thinking about what they want to say next. I know how it works, my mom was a master at not listening and just thinking about what she was going to say next (if she even let you talk in the first place!). Guys, I love it when you talk about yourself and I will listen carefully but I expect the same from you!
- Be a gentleman. This is a dying art. Holding a door for a girl goes a long way. The things I notice seem small but go a long way. Are you opening the car door for me, or the restaurant/building door wherever we’re going? Do you walk me to my car? Do you offer a hand when it’s slippery? Do you say please and thank you? It’s silly but these tiny things don’t go un-noticed.
- Be patient. Last but certainly not least, don’t pressure a girl into anything physical. Almost every guy I dated last year wanted to sleep with me ASAP. Like whoa boy, get to know me first. If you really do want to end up with a quality woman, you’ll be willing to wait and follow her rules. And it’ll be worth it.
What are some things you focus on when dating?
Last year I did an entire This is Thirty series where I looked back at my past and took you through the process of my life pre-marriage and eventually to where I was, or where I thought I was. Looking back over the past year has me seeing double. It’s hard to believe how far I’ve come, and I’m only getting started.
It feels like where I was at 30 is a completely different world and different life than where I am now. The crazy part is I thought I was in control of my life and thought I was mature. Thought my mom passing away and my dad starting a new family helped me grow, but little did I know I had no control and my marriage was already falling apart.
Today, as a single and independent woman, I am no longer in that fake-happy world I was stuck in. I’ve grown up and out of the “American dream” and I’ve found my own dreams. I not only was thoughtful, but also methodological in my choices and actions over the past 9 months. Moving to Oak Park wasn’t the easiest choice, but it was a no-brainer for me for several reasons. Reasons relating to my job, my friends, my sense of community, my safety, and my lifestyle. Above all, though, I feel like God called me here. And I listened.
In the middle of the storm of my previous life, I grew quiet and listened to God. He told me several things that still ring true today. He told me “He’s just a person” “I have someone better for you” and “I have something better for you.” I believe that something better was and is Oak Park, Free Church, and the community I’ve found here. I’ve moved on from the person who tried to control me, and find it surprising when people ask me about that old, long ago time and place.
I’m still growing and I’m still maturing. There won’t be a time where I will say I’m mature and I’ve grown, because there is always room to grow more. I learned that even when you think you’re in control, you never really are. And I’m learning to let go of that need to control and to let God. So far, he’s steered me into this new, wonderful life that I would’ve never imagined on my own. And I’m savoring every moment.