It’s February!! We are in the month of love and black history. I want to focus on the love side of the month. Every week I will discuss an aspect of love and this week it is jaded love.
If you follow my Instagram, last week I shared about the 10 year anniversary of my divorce. A decade is a long time, but it’s also…not. After all, you’re still a kid after a decade of living, but a computer from a decade ago couldn’t run a program from just last year. I was married for 14 years, five of them while my ex was in prison. I wasn’t happy in those years. My ex was emotionally manipulative, and I lost myself over the course of the marriage. I was lost despite him not being around.
Let me share a quick story. I would take our sons to visit him every week. One day during a visit, the oldest was talking about the new house we bought. His father looked at me and asked, “Can I have the basement?” I said no. When he asked why not, the eldest said, “Where would we play?” Soon after the visit was over. In the car on the way home, the two oldest were offended their father would ask such a question. He had made our happy news all about him. He wasn’t there when we searched for a house, he didn’t stress about qualifying for a loan, he didn’t sign any paperwork at closing. Yet he felt entitled to an entire area of a house he hadn’t even seen.
At my part time job days later, I realized that when he returned from prison it would be the same as before he went in. It wouldn’t matter that I learned how to drive. He wouldn’t care that I got a car on my own. He’d repeat what he always said – he’d get me a bucket that I could bang up and the car I bought would be for his use. The only change would be the location. He would camp himself in the basement with his friends, playing video games and smoking until whenever and expect me to be the good, quiet wife once more. I decided I couldn’t do it. On our wedding anniversary I put the ball in motion to take back my independence fully.
The Love I Want
I like to use the anniversary to reflect on how I feel – as a person and as a woman. I check in with my feelings on relationships in general and marriage in particular. I assess what I do and don’t want. What I found is that I am not interested in being married again. It’s a day 1 decision that as of today I haven’t budged on. For a few years after the divorce I wanted to date so I could continue to be a part of a couple. The idea that I wasn’t complete unless I was with someone disturbed me. I choose not to date and find wholeness in remaining single. If I ever decide to give dating a shot, my marriage has taught me that I want:
- Respect – During the course of my marriage, my opinions were ignored, and my feelings invalidated. If a man cannot respect me or my boundaries, then he doesn’t need to be around.
- Emotional Availability – I don’t want someone who cries at the drop of a hat – friend or lover. It would be annoying and kind of weird. I do want someone who recognizes that men are more than mindless, angry dude bros. God made it possible for all humans to cry and it’s strange there are men who insist on not doing so. Stop it.
- Thoughtfulness – Putting a little extra effort for someone goes a long way. Whether it’s picking up my favorite snack or remembering to ask about a project or interview shows that I am important in some way. Acknowledging and appreciating opinions and experiences and wanting to express your feelings means a lot.
- Intelligent Conversation – You don’t need a PhD, but you should have interests outside of television.
During the course of my marriage, I became less vocal and more withdrawn. My ex loved to ask hypothetical relationship questions and then used my answers against me in an argument. He would state an idea that I would object to, usually because we couldn’t afford it, and he’d do it anyway. So the first lesson I learned from my divorce was:
- Find your voice – I gave up my voice every time I didn’t share an idea, counterpoint or opinion. My insecurities made room for the emotional breakdown that silenced me. Once divorced, I had to build myself back up. My sons needed an advocate and that was me. Even so, it took a few years to really speak up. Speaking for them first was easier than speaking for myself.
Perception is funny. When you are with someone who convinces you they are better, you take on the idea you have no useful knowledge. Once you are free of their influence you discover that isn’t true. It took my ex-husband going to prison before I started standing on the knowledge I already possessed. And it took the divorce 5 years later for me to rely on that knowledge as I gained more. The next lesson divorce taught me was:
- You know more than you think – Knowledge is power and power builds confidence. Once you realize how powerful you are, you pull away from notions that tell you otherwise.
The final lesson I learned from divorce was:
- It’s okay to be alone – This is a hard lesson. Everyone and everything pushes you to be in a relationship. There is nothing wrong with staying single and working on yourself. It is helpful for you and those you will be involved with in the future. You do not need to be perpetually single like I plan to if that’s not what you want. You should be single until you dust yourself off and get back on track.
Am I Jaded?
Merriam Webster defines jaded as “made dull, apathetic, or cynical by experience or by having or seeing too much of something.” A jaded love wears you down and hardens your heart. It makes you angry towards happy couples minding their business. Jaded love bleeds negativity throughout every aspect of your life. You won’t even notice until someone calls you out, stating you’re bitter. If you’re mature enough or already doing the work to be a better person this will cause pause.
It takes a lot to reflect and find where you took a wrong turn to be so cynical. Maybe you’re mad your ex is already in a new relationship and seemingly happy. Maybe you are shouldering the burden of single parenthood instead of co-parenting as agreed. Whatever it is, find it, examine it and then let it go. That cynicism and negativity is hindering you from you. It is affecting the good relationships with family and friends that you already have. It is giving your ex power over your emotions and actions. Break free from the cycle so you can move on.
Moving past being jaded can be a long process. This process is almost entirely internal. You are using external means to resolve an internal issue. These external methods aren’t bad or should be avoided. I want you to view them as a tool to help you get to the emotional root of the problem. For instance, I wrote letters, read them, and then burned them in the fireplace. I talked to a therapist for a short time. I shared with a friend. And as time goes by, your heart gets better. You are able to put your past relationships in perspective and not feel emotional about them.
The largest aspect of healing from a jaded love is finding those relationships that help you. As an introvert, I find relationships online easier to manage. As a result, I can search for the things that interest me and then awkwardly ease my way into the group. I can share without the anxiety of people staring at me. People can receive my opinions and I don’t have to worry about being judged. For some, face to face interactions work best. The point is to find a tribe that will push you and support you. They offer a different kind of love and care, which is the balm you need.
That’s all I have for today. Let me know your jaded love stories. Did you overcome them? How? Love and light until next week.