I’ve Got 99 Problems… & Finding True Love is Just One

Here are some of the things I’ve dealt with in my last few relationships. I will not use names or say who did what, I will just communicate some of the issues I’ve dealt with:

  • Stonewalling
  • Constant criticism
  • Attempts to control me
  • Shaming and blaming with patronizingly hostile sarcasm
  • Withholding affection
  • Gaslighting
  • Character assassination
  • Refusal to negotiate or compromise
  • Unpredictability, not keeping their word
  • Trivializing my feelings or disputing my feelings
  • Indifference
  • Stalking after I’ve ended the relationship

heartnoose

Seeing the patterns here, it really makes me wonder if what my former pastor told me is really true… that the one thing in common in all my relationships with emotionally and physically abusive men in my life… is me?

I know that isn’t true, but yet, why do I keep falling for these types of men? What am I doing that attracts these types of men? Why don’t I see warning signs in the beginning or why do I wave away the little red flags until they become big red flags?

The 7 Signs of Love Bombing is a good resource that lists behaviors to look out for so as to avoid someone who seems super excited about you in the beginning only to fizzle out or begin manipulating and controlling you.

I have decided that when I start dating again, I want to date someone BLISSFULLY BORING.

After much (over)thinking, it seems the thing in common with every man who ever broke my heart is that they were all extremely exciting, charming, bold, adventurous and sweep-you-off-your-feet romantic.

(And by boring I mean solid, stable, dependable, and emotionally healthy. Someone who does not reveal intimate details about themselves right away or become invested yet until I have earned their respect and trust. Which takes quality time.)

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Romance Fast

It has been a long time since I’ve updated Foundations of Sapphires. I am currently on a Romance Fast… indefinitely.

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I have heard the phrase, “You’re my dream woman” and “You’re the woman I’ve prayed to God for my whole life” more times than I would like to count. It seems I’ve found myself in an endless cycle of investing my heart, energy, and time in someone who seems crazy about me in the beginning and then loses interest in the relationship months later.

I need to take time to be alone and do some self discovery. Why do I keep falling for the same type of guy? It’s the same story: the guy begins by sweeping me off my feet in a whirlwind of passion and carries me away with exciting grand gestures and big promises, only for him to break my heart with passivity and complacency not long after. Every single time I think, “This time it will be different.” But it never is.

So… still single. Still trying to figure out why. Will keep you all updated.

Moving Forward

For those of you just now stumbling upon my blog, welcome! It’s nice to “meet” you!

Foundations of Sapphires 

I started this blogging journey to chronicle my personal struggles with separation and divorce. Over time, it became a place of lighthearted venting about my dating escapades. I haven’t updated since last September which is the month I met my boyfriend!

YES! I have found love! (But more about that later.) Lately I’ve been thinking about the fact that I’ve neglected this blog because I’m no longer grieving the loss of my marriage or dealing with difficult decisions regarding that. I’m also no longer involved in online dating shenanigans so I’ve stopped writing about that as well. What other purpose does this blog serve than as a record of a broken woman who climbed out of the pit of despair and allowed Jesus to put her back together again? Jesus bulldozed my old foundation of abuse and hopelessness, threw the wreckage away, and rebuilt my structure on a foundation of sapphires- the symbol of faithfulness, wisdom, virtue, and true love. I’ve decided that this may or may not be my last entry as I wrap up this chapter of my life and move on to new horizons. I hope the words I’ve left here over the course the past five years can be of some help to you if you are going through a tough time and faced with many difficult decisions.

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I’m so blessed that we found one another. He showers me with affection in just the right way that fills up my heart with love. He consistently puts me before himself and brings me closer to my Heavenly Father.  I thank Him that He brought us together.

Overcoming my Past

Nearly five years after my husband left, I still feel like the same old me, but in a way, I am a new and improved version of myself. Through this experience, I have changed negative attitudes and developed a positive outlook, gained new perspectives, set new goals for the future, grown stronger in my faith, and become an individual that has more love and respect for myself. After years of biblical counseling and personal study, I can smell bull crap from a mile away and I don’t put up with it now, no Sir-Ree-Bob!

What I Have Learned in Dating After Divorce

  • Your new partner is NOT your ex. Just because something seems familiar doesn’t mean the same patterns are going to repeat themselves. I’ll admit that things were pretty difficult in the beginning of my relationship due to the trauma, brainwashing, and various types of abuse I experienced in my marriage, but I’ve learned to give these fears and burdens to God, open up my heart to love, and let myself be vulnerable. It feels so good to trust again.
  • I’ve learned to avoid saying things like, “You’re doing ‘X’ just like so-and-so used to do.” It’s important to share your feelings about the past abuse with your new partner, but try not to compare them because they are two different people with different personalities, values, behaviors, and life experiences. If you are genuinely concerned about your new partner’s actions, speak with a trusted friend, family member, or elder at your church to gain insight from someone who is emotionally removed from the situation.
  • Do not rely on your feelings! Feelings change so you cannot trust them. Every day we must choose to love the person we picked for who he is, not for how he makes us feel.
  • I used to believe that leaving a marriage for any reason other than adultery was sinful, but now I believe that God wants you to be safe. Even though my ex-husband was cruel and frighteningly unpredictable, I remained patiently committed, naively believing that my persistent, undying love would conquer all and that if I just stuck with it, we would eventually reap the “happily ever after” outcome of a healthy, mutually respectful, and intimate partnership.  Boy, was I delusional!
  • The abuse was NOT my fault. I can be pretty hard on myself as I’m a perfectionist, so I blamed myself for years for what happened to me but I learned that there was nothing I could have done to make the abuse stop except get out sooner. I was never going to leave so God provided a way of escape, as He always does for those who love Him.
  • Above all, I have learned to let God write my love story. I’ve given Him the reigns of my relationship and let the Perfect Lover teach me how to love and be loved. It is the most freeing experience to trust God that my life is in His hands and He loves me with an everlasting love. When I put Him first, my joy and sense of security come first, too.

Tips If You’re at the Beginning of Your Journey

  • Sometimes it’s hard to recognize abuse in your own relationship. Being able to call it by its name is the first step to stopping it. Abusers can’t abuse if they don’t have a victim! Abuse can be so subtle that you don’t even realize it’s happening or perhaps it’s gone on so long that it has become normative. Here are two resources I’ve found to assess whether or not you’re being abused: [One] [Two] Once you are able to acknowledge your situation for what it is, educate yourself about it. Knowledge is power.
  • Find accountability. This is your support network. It’s important to have people you love and trust in your corner. Speak the truth, no matter how scary it is. Personally, I struggled between my need to speak out about what was happening and my perceived need to  protect my abuser’s reputation and integrity. After you share your burden with others, it will be such a relief! Validation will empower you as you take the steps to make positive changes in your life.
  • Time will bear witness of true, heartfelt change. Your abuser will try to get you to come back once you are safely at a distance but don’t put yourself back in harm’s way unless you and other witnesses have seen serious change over a period of time. Abuse is not normal and you shouldn’t have to accept it.
  • Remember that you can still be who you want to be apart from him. You are deeply cherished because you belong to God and He has prepared a beautiful purpose for you even before you were born. If your relationship doesn’t survive, you still have a bright future ahead.

For further reading, please visit this library of resources I put together that helped me transition into this new stage of my life.

Thank you for joining me on my road to healing! This is not the end but the beginning of something new and beautiful!

Loneliness

This song was one of my favorites as a little girl… I used to play this album on our vinyl record player over and over!

I love the line that sings, “I love a loney day, it chases me to You. Lets my very best part shine through, it’s You.”

It’s so important that your God needs are being met by God and not anyone else. He alone needs to be your priority. But we need people, too. God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” I am so ridiculously thankful for the friendships in my life because without them I would be so lost and alone. For the first time in my life I actually feel like I DON’T need a romantic relationship because I already have friends who intimately know me, love me through and through, and are not going anywhere. (Of course I still desire a healthy romantic relationship and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.)

Your support system is only as good as the people you choose to confide in and your openness to being vulnerable. In order to fully experience the fullness of joy in our relationships with others we need to be completely honest and vulnerable as we share with them. You have to allow yourself to be dependent on them (scary thought!) Yes, it opens you up to heartache and rejection but the benefits of having such faithful friends far outweighs the risk of anything that could go wrong.

The feeling of loneliness is pretty similar to the feeling of hunger. If you feel hungry, you go buy yourself a cheeseburger. If you feel lonely, you call your best friend and ask her to come over. We need to surround ourselves with loving, caring, supportive, trustworthy, committed people so that we aren’t so isolated. Isolation is what causes depression and feelings of emptiness. But sometimes you can be surrounded by loving people and still feel left out. It’s important to find someone who truly understands you and loves you unconditionally. Someone who isn’t going anywhere and will always stand by your side. You do not need to find this in a romantic partner, in fact, I would recommend you wait until you are no longer feeling needy and lonely before you commit to someone romantically. Loneliness can make us do almost anything just to fill that hole in our heart.

“When we are lonely, it’s a signal that we are alive. God created us with the drive to connect and be attached to Himself and others. It is a good thing, because loneliness leads us to relationship and that is where God wants all of us. We are all members of one body.” -Cloud and Townsend

Kindred Spirit

At the begining of August I was being pursued by seven different men. I went on at least one date with each of them and began slowly eliminating them. In one week, I went on a date with a different man every day for five days in a row. Then the last two days of that week I went on a second date with two of them.

I honestly like all of them. They are all great guys and I really can’t say anything bad about any of them. One of them was my mailman who has been leaving me thoughtful presents and notes in my mailbox for about a year and a half. Another one was a man I met online who came all the way down from Colorado just to spend the weekend with me.

As amazing as all these men are, none of them felt like I had met “the one…” except one. From this point forward I shall refer to him as “Kindred Spirit.”

From the moment I met Kindred Spirit, I felt as though I had known him my whole life. We immediately clicked in a deep way as if I were getting together with an old childhood friend and reconnecting after not seeing one another for ten years or more.

It sounds so ridiculous writing it down and putting my thoughts out into the world, but I was already excited about him after one date. We stayed up until 2 in the morning talking in a parking lot. I wanted to kiss him. KISS HIM, people! I NEVER want to kiss someone I’ve just met. I was already kind of crazy about him. I couldn’t wait to see him again and thought about him constantly. Being my Kindred Spirit, I somehow knew him just as well as I know myself. I knew that if I texted him too much or came on too strong it would turn him off. He’s an old-fashioned hopeless romantic and he wants to be the one in control who does the pursuing… so I kept praying and being patient and reminding myself not to get too excited.

patience

I have the tendancy to be a bit clingy. It’s mind over matter at this point.

He told me a few days later that there was another girl in the picture who he was also dating. I was immediately disappointed, but it’s only fair to mention I also had two other guys I was still dating at that point.

But I called them last night and told them my affections were with someone else. It’s a risky shot in the dark at this point because of what he told me on our third date two nights ago.

Me: I’m probably sabotaging our relationship by asking you this instead of just having fun, enjoying your company, and making the most of this moment together… but I can’t stop thinking about the “other girl.” How are things going with her?
Kindred Spirit: Really good actually.
Me: Oh. Do you like her romantically?
Kindred Spirit: Yes, I think so, I don’t know.
Me: You don’t know what you want, do you? I feel like you should have a pretty good idea at this point of what you want.
Kindred Spirit: I’ve been praying about it but God’s not answering my prayers.

Well, I just wanted to get back to enjoying our time together so we changed the subject and walked around the park again for a second time. Then we sat in my car and talked some more.

Kindred Spirit: Don’t look at me like that!
Me:
Like how?
Kindred Spirit: Longingly.
I immediately broke eye contact and became embarassed that my heart was dangling like that on my sleeve. He quickly pulled me in an embrace, I suppose out of compassion and empathy for my unrequited love. 
Me: There was a quote in chapter 8 of  “Boundaries in Dating” which I just read at the dentist office the other day which said, “Are you confusing longing for being in love? Remember, love satisfies. It does not leave you romantically pining.”

So that’s it. That’s all I have to say. We didn’t set another date and there might not ever be another date. My greatest fear came to fruition… that I would like him more than he likes me. My heart kind of hurts if I’m honest with you. My other greatest fear is that I won’t find anyone else like him. But at the same time, I completely trust God and I know that I can’t wreck up His beautiful plan for my life. I guess I dumped the other guys more for myself than for Kindred Spirit. It’s completely unfair to myself to have experienced a soul as beautiful as his and then settle for anything less than how I feel about him.

I would rather be single for the rest of my life than be stuck with someone I didn’t feel that with.

someday

I just feel absolutely blessed to even have met him. He raises the bar high for the next person who tries to pursue me.

My hands are open
Willing to receive
They are not resisting
or defending
My hands are open
Willing to give
No need to grab
or push or cling tightly
My hands are open
Ready to embrace
Ready to let go
Accepting

 

Serious Trust Issues

At long last, this blog entry unveils a message I have been endeavoring but have been unable to write for some time. I’m not sure where to begin so I’ll just dive in.

trustissues

In the beginning of March, I deleted my online dating profile for the first time after nearly a year of membership. This was to focus on someone who I believed had a lot of potential. After a month, we both agreed that we weren’t compatible. It was disappointing, but I was okay. For the first time since I started dating after my divorce, I didn’t go right back to seeing who else was out there. I decided to give online dating a break and focus on my relationship with God. I haven’t re-activated my profile since.

The month of April was pretty rough because my best friend died of cancer. However, April was also full of blessings because my youngest sister got married and I was able to spend time with family in Connecticut as her bridesmaid. I decided on the guest bed of my parent’s rental house (my childhood home burned down last August) that if I never get married again that I was content with that. That was the first time since my husband left me that I was able to say that and genuinely mean it. I wrote in my journal that night that I couldn’t picture my future wedding. All my life I had been planning my dream wedding and I got to see it unfold exactly how I imagined in 2009. (I even wrote a blog entry about how it still remains the best day of my life.) But now I couldn’t picture the dress, I couldn’t picture my bridesmaids, and most of all, I couldn’t picture falling in love again.


My heart was calloused and bruised from so many rejections and heartbreaks, I didn’t think my heart was capable of feeling anything for anyone ever again.


At the end of May, a very dear friend who I admire and deeply respect began pursuing me romantically. I’ve known him since October of last year, we have the same friend group, and we see each other on a weekly basis. I was unsure if taking our friendship to the next level was the best choice so I prayed about it every day, but I didn’t get an answer. Meanwhile, as I began praying about him, my feelings for him began to deepen as I thought about him in a new way that I hadn’t really let myself before. I became smitten with him, complete with the butterflies in my stomach when I thought about him and all the other clichés you can think of. But he flip-flopped back and forth every day about whether or not he wanted to commit to me. One day he would tell me, “I’m sure God brought you into my life for a reason and I believe that it’s because you’re the dream woman I’ve been praying for my whole life.” Then the next day he would tell me with worry in his voice, “Are we too similar to each other? Do our lifestyles coalesce? I’m just not sure if this is what God wants.” That very night he would apologize for doubting and say I was exactly what he needed and that he wanted to invest his time in me. “I’m sorry I did that to you, I have a fear of rejection. Please be patient with me.” He promised me he wouldn’t change his mind again but then of course the next day he would. My emotions were on a roller coaster with him and my heart was anxious and upset all the time. The feelings I felt surrounding his unpredictability were akin to those when I was I an abusive marriage. I knew I had to escape this cycle of pain but an unhealthy neediness had ravished my heart. I was addicted to this sick game. The next time he asked me to be his girlfriend, he said he had peace when he prayed about it and he was sure this time. I thought we were finally done riding the roller coaster so I said, “Yes.” That was a very good day. 🙂 The next day, however, he kissed me, and I wasn’t ready. I didn’t feel loved when he kissed me… I just felt kind of used. He assured me that his kiss meant something special and not to take it lightly because he hadn’t kissed anyone in seven years. That made me feel better. The next day we were holding hands while watching a movie in the theatre and he let go of my hand about fifteen minutes into the movie and said, “Holding your hand is distracting me. I can’t focus on the movie and I’ve been wanting to see it for a long time.” What he said was so shocking that I couldn’t believe my ears. “Really?” Was all I could reply. Not going to lie, this disturbed me more than anything else that had previously happened in our relationship. If you can’t hold your girlfriend’s hand, what’s the point of dating in the first place? You might as well just be friends. Physical touch is my love language and I definitely did not feel loved in that moment… I felt rejected, abandoned, and unwanted. Call me a drama queen if you wish, but this was the final straw. I did NOT want to be in a relationship with someone who didn’t want to be close to me in that way.

broken

That relationship messed me up big time and turned my world upside down. The sense of loss was so much deeper than any other because this was a trusted friend I had invested a lot of time and love into who was breaking my heart. I found myself crying all the time. Fear wracked my body that I would be alone forever and no one would ever love me. My own dear friend couldn’t even love me, what was wrong with me? The world swirled around me in a blur as loneliness hung over me like a dark cloud. I pulled my body out of bed every morning and went to work but inside I was thinking, “What’s the point?” I went from being content in my singleness to desperately, urgently needing someone to love me or else I would be miserable for the rest of my life.

This whole ordeal was God’s answer to my prayer a few weeks earlier. I asked God to break my heart because when I am broken, I am closest to Him (Psalm 34:18) and there is NOTHING I want more in this life than to be close to Him. Pain brings us to our knees and makes us cry out to Him because there is no where else to turn for peace and comfort.

I still long for someone I can come home to. Who will just let me cry on his shoulder if I had a bad day at work. Someone who won’t get tired of my presence or feel the need for space from me. Someone who will accept me and adore me, even if I’m feeling crappy.

Yes, yes, I know what you are thinking. GOD is that One who loves me with this kind of love. He is the One I should be running to at the end of a long, hard day.

But…

I still long for a man. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. I think God created me with a desire to be a wife and He wouldn’t give me that desire and not meet that need. I need to trust Him that He WILL provide the right person at the right time. And if there isn’t a person after all, I need to believe that is His very best plan for my life. His way is better than my way.

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I need to let go of this idea that my life will be better if I’m in a relationship.


All being in a relationship has brought me in the past is PAIN. If I never find a man who loves me the way I deserve to be loved… who wants to spend all his time with me, holding me tight and having deep conversations with me, that means I’ll do better with just me and God. If I never find this man, that means God has looked high and low all over planet Earth and has not found a single soul who will compliment me and make my life better. Maybe my life is better alone. I could choose to view this as a complete slap in the face or I could view it as a blessing. God knows exactly what my heart and soul need and He doesn’t want me to have anything less than that. It’s better to be alone than be in a frustrating relationship where my needs aren’t being met and let’s be honest… I’m a pretty needy person. 😉

Ask yourself these two questions:

  • Is God really good?
  • Do I trust God to be God?

Who do you say God is? Do you believe He sees you? Do you believe He will meet your needs? Does He not fill the Heavens and the Earth? (Jeremiah 23:24) Does anything escape His notice? (Psalm 139:7) Heaven is His throne and the earth is His footstool (Isaiah 66:1). He can do all things and no plan of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2). He knows everything from every hair on your head (Matthew 10:30) to every star in the sky and each one has a special name He’s given it (Psalm 147:4). Not a single sparrow falls to the ground without God’s allowance (Matthew 10:29). He is Sovereign over all. He has mighty power over all things at all times in all ways and His understanding is infinite.

“Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.” -Jeremiah 32:17

If you are struggling with pain today, please take comfort in knowing that God not only knows your situation but He deeply cares (1 Peter 5:7). He is holding you in the palm of His hand and He will never, ever let you go (Deuteronomy 31:6). If you worship a God who is somehow limited in His power then you do not worship the same God I do. If you worship a God who doesn’t care about you or isn’t capable of helping you, then you do not worship the same God I do. (Psalm 107:1) My God is mighty to save and He wants to fill up my cup til it overflows.

When it comes to trusting God’s goodness C. S. Lewis said it best, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”

The mind feasts on what it is focused on. If you keep thinking about what you don’t have, you’ll be miserable. If you count your blessings, you’ll have a thankful heart. What consumes your mind will be the making or breaking of your identity. Instead of thinking about how badly I need a relationship to be happy, I will replace those thoughts with this prayer, “God, I trust that you are good at being God. I trust you will take care of me and do what is best for me.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. -Isaiah 26:3

My whole life I’ve searched for a love that would fill me up.. a love in which I was known intimately and deeply treasured. The truth is, when God created me, His heart exploded with a tremendous love and He’s been pursuing me ever since, wooing me and whispering, “I love you. I will never let you go.” When I dwell on this truth, my heart is filled up with love. I have been desperately craving this affectionate embrace and I’ve been looking everywhere except up. If I live from this place of abundant love, I will stop begging men for scraps of love.

My feelings may shift when people I love are unpredictable, but the Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing. He quiets my heart with His love. He leads me besides quiet waters and refreshes my soul. When I am confused and hesitant, He is assurance. When I am hopeless, He is strength. When I depleated, He is fulfillment. When I am exhausted, He is rejuvination.

“The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

Every time I become enamored with something that I think will bring lasting fulfillment, I make room in my heart for it. I forget that I’m already complete in Christ and I don’t need anything else to make my happy (Colossians 2:10, Psalm 16:11). And every single time, the thing I am in love with proves its absolute inability to fulfill me and I feel even more empty than before.

“I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” -Philippians 3:8

Two Great Articles to Read

Here’s an article that proposes five possible reasons for why you might still be single. It’s non-threatening even though it’s challenging stuff.

Here’s another article entitled “Dump Your Dream Girl” about letting go of your unattainable expectations for your future spouse.  Extremely well-written, thought-provoking, and also non-threatening.

There’s a lot of garbage out there that points fingers at you for being the reason you’re still single but I like the way these two authors dealt with heavy subjects with such grace.