Things I Wish I Had Known Ten Years Ago: Relationships
Sorry for the delay in my next topic, but I wanted to research and seek input about topics you all would want to hear. One of my pharmacy interns suggested that I do a series on things I wish I had known ten years ago. I loved it, so I’ve been thinking seriously about what to write about first. I was also super concerned about how personal this topic is, but hey, who cares! It happened! It is what it is, and hopefully you can learn from mistakes I have made. With that said, I chose to write about relationships and marriage, especially since people like to ask me about why I’m not married and why I don’t have kids. This will probably clear some things up.
I started researching this weeks ago, and I was laughing at the statistics I found about the divorce rate in the United States. Without quoting a bunch of sources and wasting our time, if you get married, you will probably end up divorced. Then I thought ok, what are some risk factors to ending up divorced? I was also amused at what I found. In a nut shell, if you have had anything happen to you that’s been challenging or tragic, you’re going to end up divorced! Now, I guess I see why less people are getting married. To be honest, I haven’t had the best experience with marriage or relationships, but I have learned a lot. It’s a little embarrassing to be so transparent about this subject, but I’m going to because people need to hear it.
Growing up in the heart of the Bible Belt in a small southern town, the plan is to graduate high school, maybe go to college, meet someone and get married and pop out kids. That’s just what you do. Lots of people date through high school and end up getting married. Most people never leave and stay friends with the same people they sat with at the high school football games. Guess what? Some people are happy that way and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Looking back I realize that was never me at all, and I was never built to stay in my hometown and should’ve been just having fun with my friends and focusing on building my music career throughout school. That leads me into my first huge relationship mistake.
Everyone does it. We date that one wrong person in high school and try to make it work because it’s the first time you fall in love and become attached to the other person’s family. You want to believe that you’re one of those lucky people who marries your high school sweetheart and lives happily ever after. You don’t realize that the person you are becoming will develop so much over the next decade, and if you have dreams and aspirations outside of a small town box, you’re going to outgrow the other person. My high school relationship was not healthy and filled with far too much drama, especially given the challenges I had already faced growing up. It wasn’t a relationship that helped me better myself, and I made some stupid decisions because of it. I tried to fix him to be what I wanted, and that’s a mistake I have been guilty of making with people my whole life. I take responsibility for my stupidity, and realize that’s what probably led to a lot of relationship issues down the road in early adulthood because I kept making mistakes to fix the last mistake instead of dealing with some issues I had.
When I figured out that my high school boyfriend and I were never going to be on the same page, I was ready to spread my wings and go….I met an attractive, put together, older guy and fell so hard. I ended up staying close to home and not reaching my full potential because I thought I had met the love of my life. I had just met someone better than before. Big difference. That leads me to relationship mistake number 2, don’t jump immediately into a serious relationship right after a very tumultuous one. It would take me a long time to go through all the wrong over the next 8 years so I’ll just hit the high points. When you get out of a bad relationship and go into one that is exponentially better, it doesn’t always mean your current relationship is healthy. It also doesn’t mean that person is the one for you. Oftentimes, people who are desperate for love or change will fall hard for everyone they meet and date…this means they don’t see red flags when they are obvious to everyone else. As my mom would say, I was wearing rose colored glasses. I was also very busy with school, pageants, domestic violence prevention, work, and music. I didn’t see that he was living a totally different life without me, and when I was faced with the truth, I chose to just keep pursuing my career and believing that he would one day want to marry me.
Years went by and many red flags later, I wondered why he didn’t want to marry me. So I went out with someone else and told him to hit the road in order to get a ring. So many people make this mistake! I got a ring, but wedding planning sucked because of pettiness between our families over stupid drama at the local Baptist Church and his disdain for my parents. There were other issues that came up and decisions that had to be made, but that was the biggest red flag. You shouldn’t have to change yourself or goals or give someone an ultimatum to marry you! Furthermore, just because you’ve been with someone forever, doesn’t mean you should marry them. If there are issues there that have never been addressed before and you honestly think marriage and then kids will help your situation, you’re very wrong. In fact, I chose not to have a child because of this when I was engaged…that should’ve been when I walked away, but I didn’t. Neither of us needed to get married. I wanted to pursue my dreams and he didn’t want that. He wanted to be married to work and his separate life from me, and that’s not what I wanted. When I got out of school, life changed and I began to see the issues we had would never change. I started traveling to Nashville, met a lot of musicians and writers, and it was clear I had to move there. In fact, I should’ve moved there years ago, but I was told by my husband I didn’t need to (he knew nothing about the music business).
Never, and I repeat never, make huge life decisions when you are emotionally distraught….like packing up all your shit, divorcing, buying a house in Nashville and allowing a man you hardly knew move into your house. Don’t ever allow a man to be a band aid. Don’t ever think that amazing attraction will solve all your problems. If you’re not on the same page in life, don’t have trust, don’t have the same work ethic, it just ain’t gonna work. Notice a pattern here, if you are in a bad relationship, you aren’t going to make good life choices. If you don’t get yourself together and realize what YOU want, you will continue to search but have no idea what you’re searching for. When I moved to Nashville, I had huge family drama, work drama, relationship drama….all this was too much. To summarize the last three years, I married again, he got a DUI, my aunt lost her kids for no good reason, I had an affair, was shunned by my church, was blamed for a person taking their life, and got another divorce because I had married a band-aid that didn’t fix my problems. I had a nervous breakdown in the midst of this and seriously contemplated suicide many times. It’s taken me years to begin recovery from this, so I urge you to learn early! And if you don’t, know that you can always fix it…it may take time and be painful, but it’s never so bad that you should take your own life. You mean something to the world, each and every one of us do.
What’s the moral of the story?
1. Who you choose to love and marry is very important.
2. Who you choose to have children with is very important.
3. YOU DON’T HAVE TO GET MARRIED.
4. YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE KIDS.
5. Learn from the mistakes you make instead of repeating them.
6. Never stay in a relationship where someone tries to stifle your hopes and dreams. I realize that you must be responsible in life, but if you can pursue your dreams and take care of adult duties, do it!
7. If your gut tells you not to do something, DON’T.
8. You cannot save someone who doesn’t see an issue with his or her actions. It will only change you.
9. Don’t stay with someone out of pity, obligation, or fear.
10. Reconciliation is possible, but only when two people are willing to compromise and respect one another.
11. Just because you don’t make it work with someone, doesn’t mean he or she is bad. You guys just weren’t a good pair. Some people just don’t mesh…that happens in every facet of life.
12. You can’t blame your decisions on someone else. Even if another party impacted it, you still made the decision yourself.
13. Keep your circle full of people who support you and don’t judge you. Friends should never be in competition with each other and jealous of each other. Most of the time that means your circle is small. That’s ok!
14. Your partner should also be your friend.. You should be able to open up and be honest. It shouldn’t be that hard. Life will throw enough at you without the stresses of a relationship too!
15. Be happy! Life is way too short not to be!