*I’m second from the right, and about 3 months pregnant in that picture.
Some of you may remember when I read from my childhood journals. I stopped when I came to my teen years and things got a little trashier and a little too personal to share. However, in reading them now I’ve come to several realizations.
1. I was naive and ignorant, as most young girls are.
2. I was headed straight for a baby farm in rural Indiana where girls go after they get married at seventeen and are too proud to acknowledge that doing so might have been a mistake.
3. I spent maybe HUNDREDS of dollars over the course of a year on Camel Lights without realizing that I was not inhaling. When I finally did inhale correctly (by accident), I finished the cigarette giddy with the buzz of nicotine and promptly threw up. This was just one of many instances in which I did something solely for how I thought it made me look in other people’s eyes.
4. Writing, “I can’t believe this is my life” more than six times in your journal might mean that you should get a new one (life, that is).
5. I am thankful every day that I didn’t discover Facebook until after this part of my life was over.
So, although I’m not going to read you my journals I am going to share with you what I learned on my journey from white trash teen mom to a semi-respectable lady. Be warned, I’m not editing anything out, because if there’s someone reading this who was in my situation I want them to know that I get it. And for those of you who have been cheated on and managed to salvage your relationships, no judgment. Each situation is unique. This is mine.
When people meet me they see me as I am now. I have an amazing husband and two beautiful boys. I am happy, fairly confident and have learned from my many mistakes. But when I was sixteen I just wanted to be wanted. I wanted someone to be completely obsessed with me. As the second-youngest of seven kids, it was rare to ever be the center of attention and I craved it. When I found someone who gave that to me I completely ignored his character flaws and all the warning signs that were so obvious to everyone else. I was stupid from the high of being desired. I was so totally out of touch with reality, it’s not even funny. Reality didn’t set in for me until my son was born. That was when I started to see that he was not ready for the responsibility of having a family. But even then, my pride wouldn’t let me quit. Everyone had told me it wouldn’t work, that he was not good for me, and that made me try even harder to make it work. In the end, if everyone in your life is saying something, they’re probably right.
What I did not see coming (but should have) was how it ended.
Being cheated on is like being stabbed in the heart. Being left for someone else is the twisting of the knife.
It takes your self-esteem and throws it under an overpass, where a homeless man high on bath salts eats most of it. It makes you feel like someone has broken into your home, taken everything and stolen your future. It doesn’t matter if that future sucked. It doesn’t matter if it’s for the best or if the guy was a loser anyway. You can’t see any of that yet. You’re in a haze of hurt and desperation where you alternate between pathetic sobbing and seething rage. Eventually, you settle into a numb bubble of quiet, with no appetite but a gnawing hole in the pit of your stomach.
In my case the ex went straight from our home to live with the girl he was sleeping with. Within two weeks of learning that he was leaving, she had called me at work to hurry the divorce proceedings, her ex (a cop) emailed me trying to get information about my ex and I got into a screaming match with her mom (“YOU PEOPLE ARE PENTECOSTAL!!! ISN’T THIS, LIKE, A SIN?!”). I was trapped in a six-month long episode of Jerry Springer and when I look back on that time I am so embarrassed. I basically did everything wrong.
Have a little dignity and grace under fire and you will have fewer regrets when the smoke clears.
1.Don’t be a hacker. (This is way easier said than done.) Once an admission has been made or it’s become clear that he’s been unfaithful, use all your self-control to avoid hacking his life to find every dirty detail and devastating clue to his deception. All the credit card receipts, emails, and texts will only tell you what you already know. Don’t make a scene. It does nothing but makes you look insane. Don’t call him. Don’t call her. Don’t call her mom either. *Ahem.
2. Mourn alone. You cannot mourn the end of a relationship with the person who destroyed it. You KNOW what I mean. Cut him off entirely.
3. During my ordeal someone told me “success is the best revenge” and I grasped that like a lifeline. However, the truth is that you don’t need to get revenge. You need to get a life. A life that he’s not part of. Pretty soon you’ll realize that you don’t want revenge because you don’t care enough and that is the BEST feeling after a breakup. It’s freedom.
4. Rebound with yourself. Err, what I mean is take some time before you rebound date. So many times I see girls jump from one crappy relationship to another, never really taking a break to be alone. Being alone is SO important after the end of a serious relationship because your identity has been so defined by that person. Don’t ever feel bad about being alone just because your ex isn’t. Focus on yourself and your life and when you reach that point I talked about in #3, then you’re ready to start casually dating.
5. If (this is really more of a “when”) your ex tries to come back into your life, be able to see him for who he is. More often than not men who cheat are of the “grass is always greener” variety and are only interested in what they don’t have.
6. Put yourself first and everything else falls into place. When you’re over the breakup when your self-esteem has been pieced back together and when you can be happy being alone you’ll start to notice that the world becomes a better place. Good things start happening.
So yeah, I have a trashy past, but “trashy” isn’t how you were raised, how much money you make, where you’re from or how you talk. It’s a suspension of common sense. It’s not wanting more for yourself. And also it’s holding a baby on your hip while you fake smoke and scream profanities at an elderly Pentecostal woman.
But mostly the first two.
So when you meet someone who seems to have it all together, don’t lose heart. We all have a history.