Bachelor #14 was a nice, normal, successful businessman I met online. He lived several hours away from me. And broke one of his “cardinal rules” to date me: he didn’t drive distances for women or to date them. Yet he drove them for me.
As Katharine Hepburn said, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” And as he said, “I can’t believe how many ‘rules’ I’ve broken for you.”
Although we laughed a lot and had a lot of fun, Bachelor #14 isn’t memorable to me because of any particular weird thing he did (he didn’t do any, like I said, he was totally nice and normal!) He is memorable to me because I learned something from him that literally changed my life.
Thank goodness he broke the rules! “If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere.” (Marilyn Monroe)
I have learned a couple of things from certain men I’ve dated. One that stands out in my mind occurred while dating Bachelor #1.
At some point in dating, when things get to a certain “stage,” every man has asked me if I really, truly am “over” my former spouse. They say, “I know you’ve said you are, I know you act like you are, but are you REALLY? How can you be over Him so quickly after being married for 20 years?”
I never know what to say to that, other than the truth: I am over Him. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, I just know that I am. I always assumed it was because the lies, the betrayal, and the deception were so deep, so complete and so thorough (into every aspect of our life, our faith, our friends and family, and his career.) I assumed all of that was what had helped the love die so quickly and the tie fade so fast after I had the rug of my entire existence ripped out from under me in that one fateful moment on that one terrible day: March 18, 2009.
But I learned there was probably more to it than that. Bachelor #1 pointed it out.
He told me I was missing something important. That I’d received a blessing I didn’t even realize. He had known people married only 3-4 years and unable to move on after their divorce. He said I had received a huge blessing that I was able to get over something so huge and to move on so “quickly.” He said it really was a blessing to me.
I believe in counting your blessings, looking for the good, acknowledging the tender mercies you receive each day and living your life with gratitude every day in all things. So I was thankful that although I’d been too clueless to see it, someone else had seen it and pointed it out to me so I could realize it. So I could acknowledge a miracle, a blessing, in my life.
I realized, “When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.” (C.S. Lewis)
That was certainly true for me.
Bachelor #14 taught me something different: “You don’t have to tell your story any more.”
It was a moment for me. An absolute epiphany.
I looked at him in shock. “What? Not tell my story? But how? Everyone always wants to know why you divorced, what dysfunctional tendencies you have that led to something so terrible. I can’t lie!” I said.
Bachelor #14 replied, “I’m not telling you to lie. I’m telling you that you don’t have to tell your story any more to anyone. You don’t have to tell it to the people you date. Of anyone I’ve met, your story really isn’t your story–it isn’t what you did; it’s what someone else did. You did nothing wrong or criminal, you were not involved, it has nothing to do with you other than it completely changed your life and you ended up with a new and different one in Utah. But you don’t have to tell your story to any one any more.”
It was one of those things that had been right in front of me all along, yet I had never seen it! However, as soon as I saw it, it made perfect sense to me and I wondered how I’d never realized it before.
I clarified, “Well, what do I say to people who asked me why I got divorced? Everyone always asks that.”
Bachelor #14 had a good sense of humor. He laughed and said, “There are so many things to choose from in your case, can’t you pick just one?”
That made me laugh. What he said was totally true. There were SO many reasons I got divorced. I seriously could pick just one “little” one from the plethora of reasons I’d had and it would be a big enough reason for any normal person to understand!
Bachelor #14 encouraged, “You CAN do that! Just tell one little reason and the rest is nobody’s business.”
That conversation changed my life.
It allowed me to separate myself from everything my former spouse had done. In that moment, I was able to let it all go. I had known all along my former spouse’s actions weren’t mine, but because I had been married to him, they were a burden I carried to some degree–as I lived each day with the consequences His choices had thrust upon me and as I felt shame not only for knowing someone who had done such terrible things but for having been married to him while he did them.
But in an instant, I wasn’t ashamed any more. I wasn’t humiliated any more. I wasn’t trying to hide any more. I wasn’t worried about living a life of anonymity or about trying to hide who I was and what I had come from.
I was free to be me, and only me, again.
Why had it taken me so many months to realize that? I’d had good friends who had told me that over and over, but somehow I hadn’t been able to see it or believe it before. But in that moment, I finally did.
Like that old game “Red Light, Green Light” where you take baby steps at first so you don’t get caught by the “it” person, but the closer you get to the end and to winning, your steps get bigger and bigger until the last one or two steps are giant, almost reckless leaps…THAT is what that conversation and the realization it led me to were for me.
Prior to that, I’d felt almost completely healed. Thanks to Bachelor #14, the remaining gap narrowed considerably. In fact, was there even a gap any more?
Things with Bachelor #14 were perfect while it lasted, but it wasn’t meant to be. There were some core values we differed on. So goodbye Bachelor #14, but I’ll never forget you.
“You are remembered for the rules you break.” (Douglas MacArthur)
I’m so grateful he did.