“The question isn’t who is going to let me. It’s who is going to stop me.” —Ayn Rand
As I faced social media friends and others who personally made it a point to let me know how they felt about me moving on and dating, I thought it was hilarious more so than anything. Luckily, I had a very strong network of supportive people around telling me to live my life the way I see fit. Whenever I come across people who are so quick to jump to assumptions and conclusions, I always want to ask, “What insecurities are plaguing you?” Because at the end of the day, it’s their own reflective journey that will heal them from their hurt; not lashing out at others who are already feeling disheartened and defeated.
In continuing my journey, I learned from a friend of the colorful array of dating apps that she was struggling with. As she shared her many dating mishaps and adventures, I learned of the fateful app called Bumble. Apparently, boys can swipe right if they want to make a connection but they are unable to message you before the girl does. Once you both have made a connection, the girl has the power to message first.
I remember having to get permission to join the app. I had to fill out a questionnaire with my educational background. I made sure to include the fact that I already had a son. When I made the decision to start dating, I didn’t want any boys with the wrong mindset bombarding my messages. I wanted to call the shots this time. I remember being so fed up with boys giving me trouble about my son. I listed that my son was my moral compass and that he was my everything, hoping that this would deter any immature boys. See the problem is this: I feel like boys see my son as a burden while men consider him an asset. Boys made me feel bad about something so out of my control – being a single mother and a divorcee. It wasn’t my fault that my marriage ended because of an abuser. On my 28th birthday, because I wasn’t acting the way he wanted, a boy I was dating at the time distinctly told me, “You will never find a boy who will fall in love with you because you have a son. And if you do somehow find a boy who will overlook that you are a single mom, his mama won’t allow it.” My jaw dropped to the floor. I recall telling him, fighting tears, that he was a cancerous person and hung up.
Am I at fault for my situation? Am I responsible for the things that are out of my control? Are we blaming the victim yet again? Is it wrong to fall in love, get married, and have a baby and have it not work out? Was it wrong for me to walk away from a violent relationship? Why do I have to pay for what my ex-husband did to me? How is this fair? Anyone who judges single moms as defective must be put to shame. Speaking to all single parents out there with absolutely no support: you rock. You are amazing. You deserve the best. You are worthy. There is nothing wrong with you or your children. For everything that you have been through, you are strong and beautiful. Our children do not deserve to be labeled as baggage and anyone who does so needs to re-evaluate their own lives and values. Our children deserve men; not boys. Fortunately, I can reassure you that men do exist.
The day that I met my fiancé, I was convinced that there is indeed hope. They are out there, friends. We just have to make sure we know, first, who we are and then look for the person who compliments us the best. Everything you go through helps define who you are. The bad, the good, and the ugly experiences, surprisingly, all help us. Perhaps, as someone told me, every douche bag you meet is helping chiseling you more in the image of Jesus. If you’re not religious, the bad and the ugly really help us figure out what we want and don’t want in a companion and in life. For that, I embrace my life and the bad experiences that come with it.
Speaking of embracing all of life’s challenges, my first date with my fiancé was a story in and of itself.
I remember telling my mom the day before our first date, “I just have a good feeling about this one.” His profile was decorated with his accomplishments. He posted many pictures that really displayed his personality. His picture of himself jumping in midair while speaking at his cousin’s wedding showed a fun and silly side that I liked. His picture of him finishing a marathon showed me that he was serious about his health. His picture of him being a Shiseido model brought many questions to my mind. Among other things, he never mentioned my son while we were texting. He never made me feel bad about my single parent status. He took the time to first get to know me. Because at the end of the day, I am a person of worth. My value is not determined by societal constructs or generalizations. I know this but it’s refreshing when you meet someone who also knows this and helps remind you of that.
The fateful first date came. My mom insisted on dropping me off. Can you imagine the horror that filled my soul? I dodged her as much as I could, almost running away from her to the farthest corners of the house to get ready, but somehow she would find me! I mean, the house isn’t big enough to hide from someone, but I really needed her to stop from having me experience the most embarrassing moment of my life: my date observing me getting out of my mom’s car.
All jokes aside, I truly believed that my mom was more excited than I was and really wanted to get a glimpse of this guy taking her little girl out. We argued through all the make-up applying, hair curling, and multiple outfit changes. Her nagging became too much for me. Our arguing was causing me to be late to my date! So I gave in and reluctantly got into the car with my mom.
My mother (my relationship with her will be coming in another series), bless her heart, has horrible night vision (is that even a thing?). This means that in the daylight, she will be able to find her way to any location, but during the night, she panics and even gets lost getting back home with GPS. We are all made in God’s image and we are all beautiful but this part of my mom I don’t get and will never get. Knowing this, I was nervous about her dropping me off but since I was already 40 minutes late, I had no choice but to get into her car.
When I got to Highland Park, we met at a brewery called Hermasillo. My mother insisted on dropping me off at the entrance and I countered with her dropping me off a block away. Thankfully, I won. It was so busy in there I couldn’t find him for a good 5 minutes. Apparently, he was calling for me right in front of me, but I just couldn’t hear anything. He reached out his hand and that’s how we started our first date.
Friends, you don’t understand how relieved I was that he looked exactly like his pictures. I mean, those of you who have not tried online dating, you just don’t understand the struggle with that. I swear some men need to update their pictures and not post ones that are of them 20 years ago. Two words come to mind with people like that: False advertisement. Nobody has the time or the energy for that.
You can only imagine how electric the chemistry was when I tell you the date lasted all night. We talked and laughed and danced. It was surprisingly easy and warm, and I thought, if magic existed, this was it. All I could think of was that I wanted to see him again and again.
We went to 3 different locations, nothing planned, all spontaneous because the both of us did not want the date to end. Hermasillo in Highland Park, Karaoke in Koreatown and Lock & Key. But here is where I knew he was the one. When my mom dropped me off, she, of course, got lost on her way back home and called me frantically. When I picked up, she was at home, perfectly fine, and laying in bed. She was telling me to come back home because she “almost” got into an accident. I responded no and continued on with the date.
When we went to our second location, I saw my fiancé grinning from ear to ear when I had gotten back from the bathroom. I quickly knew why. My dad called him and left a message. Shut. The. Front. Door. My dad apparently had gotten his number from my mom. I left her his full name and phone number in case he was a complete psycho and I didn’t make it back home. It was a safety measure not a free for all to call my date and leave a message. My dad was polite, introduced himself and asked where I was.
Geez Louise. Can I just mention that I am a grown woman?
My fiancé was too busy smiling and putting me at ease to even care about what my dad did. I frantically started to tell him about my life story (the brief version) in order to give him context about why my parents were acting so crazy. My fiancé’s smile never fizzled out. His demeanor never changed. He sat there and listened attentively to my long winded story in the small karaoke room. I felt no judgement. I felt warmth and validation. We continued our date like nothing had happened.
I had never met anyone like him before. He is truly an amazing man. I couldn’t wait to see how our story would unfold.
If you are hurting right now, it’s ok to be feeling like that. You are allowed to feel exactly the way you feel. Just keep pushing and you will eventually see the light at the end of the tunnel, all the while becoming an even more full and interesting person. After all, we are all better off healed than we ever were unbroken, right, friends?