As discussed in the previous post, I went through a divorce a few years ago. Eventually, I ended up in the dating world. I decided to jump into the land of Match.com and eHarmony and try the online dating thing. I hadn’t done much dating before my previous marriage. I’m fairly introverted, and I had trouble just putting myself out there and asking women out. In high school especially, I was constantly worried about what everyone else would think about who I was with. My best friend in high school was more or less the rock star of the school and he and I were inseperable. I had gone from being a complete unknown to someone recognizable seemingly overnight, and I had difficulty with this transition. Even after the divorce, I noticed some of these old feelings creeping up in me. I had to look myself in the eye and decide that I was finding the right person for me--not for those around me. At the same time, I knew that I needed wise counsel as I walked through the dating process. I needed someone who would tell me if I was going in the ditch or setting myself up for pain later on. And, I needed to commit to opening up to that person so they could help me do the right thing. This was not a difficult thing since a friend and I had been doing exactly that for each other since we met in 2000. So with wise counsel firmly in place, I started down the road called “Dating”.
I learned a lot about myself through this process, and I learned a lot about dating in general. The first lesson was that the divorce had completely screwed me up relationally in several ways. I discovered early on that I had abandonment issues and my self confidence had taken a nose dive from its earlier status of “abysmal”. I discovered this in my very first dating relationship which I managed to accidentally shoot in the head after the second date. NOTE: I accidentally killed the relationship--not the poor woman I was with. Anyway, the second date was very nice and I liked her a lot. I took her back home, gave her a kiss, got in the car, and drove home completely freaked out (about the kiss). When I got home I began to reprocess the events of the evening. I remembered showering, being unable to spray deodorant because my can was empty, realizing I had more in my gym bag in the car, and deciding to spray myself when I got in the car. So I finished getting dressed, walked to the car, and drove to her house.... Ruh roh. I had spent the entire night without deodorant!!! Eeek!!!
So I did what anyone with abandonment issues and low self confidence would do. I sent her an email apologizing profusely, explaining the situation to her and asking her to please give me one more chance. Yes, I did... The next day when I hadn’t heard from her, I called her on the phone and did it all over again on her voicemail. Three days later, she called to say hi having never heard the voicemail or read the email. It was a great conversation! And once again, I explained what happened. We laughed about it (which I was thankful for) and she explained that she hadn't noticed anything that night and had a great time. After the call, I breathed a sigh of relief. Two days later, I received an email saying that she didn’t feel that we were right for each other. I was shocked!!! We had such a great time on the phone! But then it dawned on me that she had finally read the email and heard the voicemail. I later called my wise counsel buddy and explained the entire story to him in between his insertions of “Oh no!!! You didn’t!!” and "Dude, she's gonna think you're nuts!". Clearly abandonment was something that needed focused attention if I was going to have healthy relationships.
It’s important to deal with your issues. Many of us have been negatively affected by events in our past, but our natural tendency is to bury those things and try to move on as if they never happened. It may feel too painful to actually deal with the pain directly, but if we don’t it can negatively affect every other relationship we have. Traumatic events in our lives don’t just cause pain. They also send messages to us subconsciously. In my case, there were messages like “you’re not worth keeping”, “you can’t survive on your own”, “women can’t be trusted”, “God can’t be trusted”, and “women will just up and leave any time without warning”. The thought of this poor woman walking away after date #2 conjured up the feelings from the divorce, as if the two events were the same! It produced a very unhealthy response in me and it was that response that caused her to walk away. Leaving our issues untreated can sabotage relationships we try to start, leaving us alone with even deeper wounds. It can also hurt those around us as the pain we’re suppressing finds other outlets.
Are there events in your past that are still negatively affecting your relationships here in the present? Now would be a great time to find a Christian counselor and spend the time necessary to get healing. A counselor doesn’t heal you, God does. But a counselor does help you think through your issues and help you see the “bad messages” for what they are. The best thing we can do is run to God instead of running away from the pain. There are some physical problems that don’t heal on their own and require a visit to the doctor. Emotional wounds are the same way. I urge you to trust God and take the next step on your road to healing. God will walk beside you and you will not be alone.