One year ago today...
One year ago today was a Sunday.
One year ago today nothing would ever be the same.
One year ago today the man who would never leave me walked out the door.
One year ago today I literally came home from the grocery store to a “good-bye & good-luck” letter.
One year ago today I was abandoned, but I was not alone.
One year ago today, my sweet, sweet Savior, as gentle and loving as ever, was there.
One year ago today my family was there, my children near, and loved ones hundreds and thousands of miles away were just a phone call away.
One year ago today my friends, oh my amazing friends, were so there.
It would be a lie to say I wanted it to happen. It would be a lie to say I’m glad that it happened. It would also be a lie to say I wish it never happened. I’m grateful it happened. I don’t think there was anything so bad it couldn’t have been worked out. I think family and marriage are worth fighting for… but that’s not the way it played out, and it’s cool. I’m not one to grovel, or stay where I’m not wanted, or lay down and give up, play the victim, or wallow in a place of sadness for long.
Like King David did when his baby died and God did nothing to save it… I got up, washed my face, cut my hair and moved on from The Leaving to The Middle.
And here I wait, I heal, I laugh and live and make mistakes and try to be kind and honest and healthy and honor God with all I do and say. I embrace this crazy, amazing, lovely, absolutely wonderful life God has given me.
I love my life! My faith, family and friends are here for me. I am getting stronger every day and I like who I am becoming. My Middle is good! Settling down is on its way in due time. I can’t wait to find the church that I will be able to call “my” church. I can wait for the man I will call “my” man. I’m still too wounded to be a good partner in a relationship but I’m well enough to have great fun with real good guys! It’s nice even if my approach is … unconventional, and yes, I am staying pure and will remain that way! ;)
One year ago today started a year of firsts “without him.” I made it, not with as much grace as I would have liked but I made it.
Today I start a year of “just me” … and Jesus, and my family, and my friends, and my gym and handsome suitors, and who knows how My Middle will flow? I do not, but I am excited for it!
It’s no secret that I have been researching men and have a dating plan for My Middle. People have questioned it but I prayed about it and I feel at peace with my Maker about it… and on the off chance my plan is silly, God knows how to get me to reconsider. The plan was fine and good when dating was a theory and suitors were ideas. That’s part of the reason I made my plan before I started dating and getting to know anyone.
I knew the day would come when men became more than ideas and quaint coffee meetings turned into actual adventures to know each other better… and feelings started to muddle my sensibilities. Though I am careful and analytical I’m also a big old ball of emotional energy and knew it would behoove me to have a plan in place to keep my passions at bay and really, truly make sure the next time is the last time. Now that I've been dating for a while, I am more grateful than ever that I listened to wise counsel from friends and family and thought this through before getting wrapped up in feelings.
So the plan… what is my plan? Well in a nutshell: I'm not having sex and not falling in love and not dating exclusively at this time in My Middle...but am definitely investing focused time in getting to know good guys and doing fun stuff!
First of all, here’s the truth… I don’t want to be alone and certainly don’t want to be abstinent any longer than I need to. As much as I want to stop sexual offenses, I love good sex and I miss it dearly! I’ll be good until I’m married, but I’m not waiting years! I believe I’m a quality female with a personality, passion, body, soul, mind and spirit that is attractive to any number of good men (and all my single lady friends out there thinking they’re not… please, see the beauty within yourselves- we are beautiful, worthy of love and affection and worth a good man’s pursuit). I believe I shouldn’t have to search or wait for years for “the one” because, there are many high-quality men that I would partner well with. Instead of waiting and hoping for the perfect guy and time I’m condensing both into a short period. I don’t intend to be single much more than a year longer.
Feelings and signs failed me in the past it makes sense to me to meet good guys and do fun stuff and see who sticks, and who I’ll pair best with and then move on because as much fun as it is, dating is also time consuming and emotionally exhausting. I want to know the man I enter into a relationship with before we take that step. So I’m taking this time to learn about genuinely good men. Does my ‘plan’ reduce God’s ability to move in my life? No! I would say God knows me, He knows how passionate I am and will bring, (if He hasn’t already) the man that will be at the end into My Middle so that I can get to know him now.
I have been and will continue to be accountable and honest. I want this time to get to know good guys and do fun stuff not to fall in love or in bed with someone. God holds my heart safely in His hands and I have set conservative physical boundaries. I will only kiss while I’m dating because any more than that, in my opinion, dishonors God, myself, the men I’m seeing, and the man who will be the last lover of my life. I cannot see who is down the road, except to say he will be good, honorable, dignified, godly, fun and fit. I do not expect anyone to 'wait' for me... unless that is what they feel called to do. I know, as there are with me, there will be issues with every man, no one but Jesus was perfect. I'm not looking for the perfect guy, I'm looking to get to know good, normal men to know what they act like, to see what's typical and in due time take the next step into a relationship with someone I've become friends with, to know their character, habits and hang-ups, cause we all have them.
I don't know how it plays out, I just know my intention isn't to hurt anyone but to have fun right now. I’m afraid some men might get hurt because they want more emotionally or physically than what I am willing to give, but I also know I’m not hanging with poor quality guys, they’re good men and any number of good women are available to them. For me it’s all about time… taking time to have fun, to learn what makes the hearts, minds, souls and spirits of good men tick and … to see who sticks, because the thing is, it still all comes down to The Leaving. I’m more than OK with it now but I do not want to be left again, and if I choose wisely, I won’t be.
That’s my plan… I’m going to laugh, I’m going to have fun, I’m going to learn, I’m going to make quality friendships with honorable, high-quality men and I’m going to regret nothing!
And if you like my plan, do me a solid and buy Catching Tatum and check out her plan too!
When high school heartthrob and star athlete Cole Jackson breaks Tatum’s heart, she makes a pact with herself to never be hurt again. She turns love into a game modeled after her family’s favorite pastime: baseball. Anyone brave enough to date her must step up to plate and get to each base by following her rules – or they’re out.
Years later Cole, as handsome and charming as ever, makes an unexpected reappearance in her life with promises he’s a changed man. He’s got the story to prove it and says he’s willing to follow all of her rules just to have a second chance.
Complicating matters is the strong and steady Airman, Justin Parker, with a heartbreak story of his own. His friendship challenges all she ever knew of loving and being loved.
Will Tatum’s rules help her navigate two very different men, or will she strike out at her own game?
My dating plan is eccentric. Few get it but it was devised with much prayer and listening to the people in my life that I trust, respect and value the most. NO ONE has said their rebound relationship was a great idea. NO ONE has said to go fast, choose quickly, and fall in love while still sorting out the mess. Most people say they moved too fast (but some have said they waited too long). Science shows it takes 2-3 years to recover. The LORD, my God, my #1 has given examples through time of people jumping the gun and shooting themselves in the foot.
I’d like to think that I can do this dating thing better now than I did as an insecure, horny teenager. With all due respect and reverence to the Faith that is my Guiding Light in life, I’m tired of looking for signs. If I needed a sign, I got one with He Who Left. I was sure he was the one for life… I’m done with signs; I don’t care how many pop up. I’m done with feelings, I don’t’ care how strong they are.
I’m not done with love.
I’m a romance writer. I believe in love! I’d like to believe I’m worthy of love and that I can find One who will not leave. I believe the Bible, and believe it’s not good for me to be alone. But this time it won’t be a pressured, horny or emotional decision, it will be deliberate, intentional and calculated. I have purposed this time in my life to meet good guys and do fun stuff. I want a man that will not leave me, even when it’s hard. I want a man that I can respect and honor and compliment. I want a man who believes in me and loves me. I’m sensible enough to believe there isn’t just one man that fits this mold. I believe I’m not the only woman who fits any man’s mold. We are souls compatible and incompatible. We are bodies, minds, spirits, capable of coupling and partnering for life despite differences. It is my strategic plan to choose the man I partner with best and who is the best match for me, in the time I have to search. I’m not making a lifetime of looking, I’m gathering data, and in due time will see who sticks and who I partner with best. If I have to have fun dating, getting to know good guys and doing fun stuff that none of us will regret later to find a match, I will happily take on the task and do that!
So, I am dating online and in real life. I’m not one to keep it online so if they aren’t local and can’t hold my interest, meh… I bore easily and move on. I’m interested in meeting guys… to look at, touch, hear, talk to, smell and maybe taste every now and then… just being honest. (Don’t take that too far, I’m a good Christian woman and have conservative boundaries I DO NOT cross. I’ve trained my body not just to get fit but to prove that I have self- control over my urges)
I really like the online forum and wish that real-life worked the same way, because then it would be a more local pool of people. As it is, in real life, women are told, trained and believe that making the first move is fool-hearty. Men are, for all their bravado and big talk, scared to death to approach ladies with twinkling eyes and seductive smiles. I have no way of telling men my status. I have no way of saying what my interests, religious beliefs or family dynamic is. Online, the basics are right there. For all my convoluted conversations about absurd notions, I’m a direct person when it comes to how I want to live my life. I appreciate having stats right there.
Of course the hope would be people are honest and I can say the men I’ve actually met are genuinely good men that are, like me, looking to see what’s out there. Some say hi and quickly learn I’m not their cup of tea or vice versa. Some make it to coffee and no further. Exactly two in three months have made their way into real dates. One is a nice guy but not so bold as I like and won’t make the cut.
The other… well, I like him. He’s cool! He’s fit, he’s a man of God and action and yeah, I like him. Is he the one? Who knows!?!?! As much as I like him, I’m not ready to make that call. He’s definitely potential. But I’ve got plenty of time to see what else is out there. He’s definitely someone’s cup of tea. I’m not worried, either we’ll be together or we won’t. The beauty of it is… he’s an amazing guy and he won’t have any difficulty finding someone. I know whether it’s me or someone else he will be honored and loved and he will find what he’s looking for.
I didn’t expect to be an object of affection. It’s humbling and weighty. It’s easy to fall for the feelings. But I won’t. I’ll continue to look for good guys and do fun stuff. I’ll cultivate relationships full of fun but free of regret. I’ll get to know good men. I’ll get to do fun stuff. I’ll see who sticks. The Leaving almost killed me. If I have to take time now to shake out the leavers, I will, with no regrets.
The hard part is that this is real-life. This isn’t a story I’m creating, with paper characters that I can tear down to build up into a great story. These are real men with real bodies, minds, souls and spirits. They are taking time with me and I owe them gratitude and honor for considering me worthy of their time. These are good men I’m meeting. They are taking time with me. I don’t mean to hurt anyone. I mean to know what drives them, what wakes them up in the morning, why they would be interested in me, if our lives could blend for the rest of our lifetimes. I mean to make the wisest choice, for him and for me, in the time I have to choose.
All in all, over the last 3 months, dating has been fun, I look forward to the next part of my middle… and to the time and the man that I can intentionally fall in love with. Until then, this is fun!!! I will date as I live with chaos and irony and passion and pleasure and First things First. Someday I will love again, for now, it’s good guys and fun stuff!
Think my dating plan is eccentric? Check out Tatum's in Catching Tatum! She's made a game out of love!
It's been a while. Everything has changed and changed again, but such is life, right?!
I moved… again.
I'm settling in… again.
I like my neighbors… again.
I'm feeling more like me everyday.
Only not me… a new me, different me, changed me.
Me in the middle.
I am still alone but it's more palatable. I have a schedule, routine, and plan. I'm finding balance and structure which is a warm, fuzzy security blanket I can cuddle up inside. I can breathe, I can think, maybe I can even start to thrive again.
It is still painful to wake up everyday knowing I'm not worth fighting for or keeping. That'll sting for a while. Because of my faith in Christ I know am worthy of love and affection and, even though I'm eccentric and quirky, I like who I am and know other people find me endearing. Also, on a purely statistical level I know it won't be long until someone will be bold enough to risk putting in the time to earn my trust. I don't want “happily ever after.” I want “together forever, no matter what.” That takes time and risk to prove.
My current favorite country song is “Real Men Love Jesus” within it the line "They don't believe in leaving." I know there are plenty of guys out there who believe in sticking the tough stuff out. I know I only need one to see my value, and try for me... but I'm kind of afraid to trust again and just really want to get to know people right now. But after talking to some genuinely good guys I'm afraid what I want is different than them. I don't want an exclusive relationship but I do want to know their souls but that takes time and vulnerability and trust, none of which happens fast. I don't want to lead anyone on or give them false hope. I want a man who proves he'll stay no matter what. The way I see it, that happens by hanging with guys and seeing who sticks. There's hope for anyone who sticks around for a long time, but it seems kind of mean because what if they put in the time and it doesn't lead into a relationship. It makes being alone seem preferable to trusting too soon or hurting someone unintentionally while I take my time and they wait. The problem is the wondering, worrying, fantasizing and imagining how it'll all play out.
It drains my creative energy… I want that back!
But… that's not the only thing sucking my energy. I'm desperately trying to figure out this single mom thing. It's the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I wish I had a partner to balance and coordinate my thoughts, plans and emotions with but as it turns out… in this too, I am alone. I have counselors, friends, family and books to guide me but there is no one but me to do this day in and day out. The problem is I never know if what I'm doing is right. I am a learner, a direction seeker. I want advice, suggestions and people to be bold enough to tell me if I'm messing up. After I've learned then… I want to practice. It's not fair to my kids they have to be my guinea pigs, but that's the way it is.
My kids are cool kids, amazingly talented, smart and witty but also stubborn, strong-willed and hard to handle. I want to do right by them, and God and society. I want to raise them or support them in being productive citizens. I'm trying my best and hardest but it's so hard to know what's right in parenting them. And it's humiliating to have to deal with the hard things they, one in particular, throw at me. I feel incapable, but I won't give up.
I'm trying but I usually feel like such a failure. This last month has been wrought with tension, police and second-guessing everything I do or say in the realm of parenting. I try to compartmentalize and not talk about it much because I'm so embarrassed at how things were going (although we're on a good streak for the last few days). All I can say is #1: I'm tired but I'm not a quitter and I can stay the course and #2: this is hard but I'm doing my best, I'm trying my hardest, my intentions are good even if my words or actions miss the mark sometimes.
That's what I got this week.
This is my life.
I am alone, but I prefer it to trusting too soon.
I am a struggling single mother.
I am doing my best.
I am making it.
I am OK.
Eight months ago my life changed forever. I'm not gonna lie, it still hurts but there are precious days peppered here and there and coming with greater frequency that the pain doesn't catch in my throat or fall from my eyes. I am still confused but no longer raw. I'm adjusting and learning to navigate my new reality.
Every step from there to here has been uncertain. I hope I'm doing right by God and my fellow man in a situation that is anything but comprehensible. I pray I bring glory to Him with my words, actions and reactions but know I've fallen short because of my emotions, exhaustion and confusion. I have no handbook on how to navigate this, except the Handbook that said God allowed divorce due to the hardening of hearts but that it wasn't like that in the beginning. I try to learn from every situation, may what I learn help me be a voice of comfort, hand of support and shoulder to fall into for others who unfortunately find themselves here.
I have felt more unwanted, alone and abandoned than ever before in my life… but only by one person. One person left and a world of support came flooding into my life! When I consider all the blessings the LORD has provided for me I am overwhelmed with gratitude! By God's amazing grace all my needs have been provided for, not a bill has gone unpaid, not a belly empty for even a day. I've even had some wants tossed in the mix, silly things like make-up remover, tools of my own and headlight replacement tutorials. These little thing might seem insignificant but to me they were gifts from God, through man, at specific 'asked for' moments in time.
I have been well loved by friends and family, near and far. I've had people fly thousands of miles to surprise me at 6AM on a Sunday morning, drive hundreds of miles and leave motorcycles in my driveway to make someone wonder and make me laugh for the first time in a long time, walk dozens of miles asking leading questions and listening to me babble about the chaos that is my life. I've had people put their plans on hold to let me fall into their arms and onto their couches and cry like a baby. I've had people tell me the next right thing to do because I couldn't think straight or give me a plan for my day because I couldn't even remember to shower without a prompt. I've had help moving once and now for a second time to adjust my life to my new reality. I've been given books and advice and wisdom from fellow travelers on this troublesome trail. I've been enveloped in big strong arms that remind me I am still safe, cared for and being watched over even if it is a time for me to be alone. I've been blessed with a faithful mama mentor who sends me love and wisdom every morning. I have people at work who keep me from making foolish mistakes because I'm emotionally exhausted. Others keep me in their prayers and send financial assistance despite my pride.
No, never once have I been alone. I wish I could single out and thank each person who has been here for me but the list is too long and the gratitude too intimate. To each of you, and you know who you are, who have supported me, thank you!!!
And now … this new place; The Middle. The Leaving is behind me, the middle is here. The best analogy I can come up with is gross but it works. Bear with me... As most of you know I took a NASTY spill on a 12 mile training run a few weeks back, messed up my face, knees and apparently foot. I will heal but the open wound on my knee has taught me much about this time in my life. At first the thing was open, exposed raw flesh, the blood and puss seeped up and it stung and burned. My attempts to cleanse it actually made me feel worse but it was necessary to get the dirt and grime out so that my flesh could heal properly. And then the scab came, thin and malleable at first... fresh and easily broken with necessary day-to-day movements. I've had to modify my work-outs and sit at work (I'm a stander so sitting down is like being in prison). But now the scab is thick and solid. For the most part, I can move however I want and it doesn't hurt, but it's still there and it's itchy! Itching is good, it means I am healing, pulling in from the outside, mending slowly and when the time is right letting go of what was because the new, though sensitive and delicate, is no longer raw or infected … just new and ready to be exposed.
I am a thick, itchy scab right now. Not quite raw anymore, not quite whole yet. I am here, in The Middle, getting a little better every day. I'm OK here because I know this is only a transition, my job is to take the time to heal, to learn, to mend and to appreciate each moment and blessing along the way. Good people are in my way and statistics and faith promise me that love will find me again. I know it's coming but not too soon. If I peel off the scab too quickly, I don't just open old wounds, I make fresh ones that increase the healing time and leave worse scars. I will take time here, in the middle, to heal and when the scab is gone… well then, it'll be a whole new song, won't it? All I know now is that it's going to be a good transition. I will embrace The Middle.
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