I first married at nineteen, two years after I left home, and many years before I’d developed into the woman I would later be. We separated before our second wedding anniversary.
Certain I was fatally flawed, I jumped at the next opportunity that came along – a relationship that would produce my three children and span seventeen years.
In the end, he confirmed what I secretly believed: I was not loveable.
I would prove that to myself again and again with poor choices, until finally, in my forties, I admitted I had a problem. My picker was broken. I was choosing mates based on the wrong assumption.
What, I asked myself, would a relationship look like if I was loveable? I decided that it needed to start with myself. So I started courting me. I bought myself flowers, just because I deserved them. I took myself out to eat and focused on what I liked. I visualized what it would feel like to be loved and I set five goals to achieve before I would re-enter relationship:
- To understand my needs
- To be able to identify my wants
- To establish healthy boundaries
- To believe myself worthy of love
- To be financially independent.
When I met Ric, I wasn’t ready. The fifth goal had not been reached. So, I told him: “I’m not ready for relationship right now. I am willing to hang out for a year, and then we can reassess.”
He agreed, and exactly one year later, picked me up from work and took me out to dinner, ordering a bottle of wine to celebrate.
“It’s been a year; we can talk about us!”
Six months later, he asked me to marry him. I made him wait another eighteen months.
The thing about Ric is that I know that he loves me. He would do anything for me. He values my wants and needs, and my boundaries. He listens to my fears. He is my best friend.
Third time has been a charm (he’d say for both of us). I am truly blessed.