My mother, bless her heart, dates men way beneath what she deserves. She knows this, both of us daughters know this, her siblings know it. But she keeps dating them because it’s hard to be an attractive, fun loving widow in their 60s. We cut her some slack for that, but we still hold out hope that there are men like my father out there and looking for someone like my mom.
She dates these men that are not good enough for her and she dates them for far too long. We believe it’s because she thinks she can change them. (Sidebar: Mom, please, please know that you can never change a man no matter how hard you try.) So these men have ranged from cheaters, men with restraining orders from an ex-wife (that he violated more than once and went to jail for it), alcoholics, and men that drive pick up trucks. Sorry to pickup truck men, we’re just not that outdoorsy, roughin’ it, off-roading, country-loving kind of family.
So she was dating this one guy for a little while. He seemed nice when I met him. I hadn’t heard any major red flags when she talked about him. (Hadn’t heard any red flags yet, one eventually shows up) And when those red flags started to wave my mom didn’t ignore them. She dumped him and said “good riddance.”
Honestly, she didn’t even tell me what they were. She sort of glazed over them as things she wouldn’t tolerate and accept in her life and said “I sure dodged a bullet, I’ll say that!”
And it felt like a weight lifted off my chest. My mom is growing up! She can see the red flags for herself.
So my mom and I had this conversation about how relationships ending means that we the women dodged a bullet and are given the opportunity to seek happiness elsewhere. I haven’t heard such wise relationship words from my mom in a long time.
My mom wants to see me coupled up more than anything else. I think this is because she assumes a woman is happiest in a couple and will be taken care of by her husband. I think she worries about me, and having a man in my life means someone is going to look after me and make sure I don’t fall off the face of the earth.
And this is despite all my reassurance that I am happy alone. I am happy as a single woman. I am strong and capable of taking care of myself. While I would love to be in a couple because sometimes that is easier, I am not willing to make big compromises to who I am and what I want just to be settled down with some guy. I would rather be strong standing on my own.
She sees things differently. But that’s ok, to each their own. And mom and I are learning to agree to disagree.
So I think that is why I felt so relieved to hear her say she wasn’t willing to compromise herself and her values just to have a date on Saturday nights.
And I believe I also dodged a bullet. This relationship that ended recently was not without my share of hesitation. Sure, he pulled the trigger to end things but I was going to open up the conversation about the same thing. He just beat me to it.
He even acknowledged that I sometimes know him better than he knows himself. I know all his dark secrets and many of the skeletons in his closet. I listened patiently and with an open mind and an open heart when he told me about them. I accepted him as a whole person.
But that doesn’t mean that I asked myself often if I wanted to invite those skeletons into my life. Do I want to attach myself to a person that has to deal with all of that? It is a fair question. I have the power to chose who I welcome into my life, what I will and will not allow. Someone else’s demons do not have to be a part of my life. I can love someone but keep a boundary.
And when he chose to walk away, I can’t say that I felt immediately relieved. But it is nice to know that I can maintain a boundary and I do not have to make a life with those problems.
I dodged a bullet.
I wish I felt a bit better about that. But time heals all wounds, and this too shall pass. Another wisdom nugget that my mother tells me in tough times.
Those feelings will fade away. I have bigger and better things coming into my life, and if I had to cope with someone else’s problems maybe I wouldn’t be available. So I’m going to say it now and I will believe it sooner or later.
I dodged a bullet.