When he first asked, I actually thought he was kidding. I mean, he had just found out I was recently divorced (actually in process), that I have two kids, and that I am just starting out with a new job. What in the world would he want to take me to dinner for? Obviously it was a joke.
But it wasn't. When we parted for the night, he explained he'd be down in my area again in a couple weeks. He asked me to reconsider because he did, in fact, want to take me to dinner.
Because seriously - what the heck?!
For those of you who are newly single (or in process, like me), this is going to be something that happens. It might happen right away - it might take a while - but eventually, you're going to be faced with the reality that you are no longer part of a pair and someone, somewhere, is going to want to rectify that.
To be honest, I wasn't expecting this to ever happen. Barring catcalls, the last time I was legitimately hit on was years ago. I don't typically dress up and go out, and when I have, it's been on the arm of my (soon-to-be-ex) husband. Thus, the opportunity to find myself in the above situation hasn't really presented itself until recently.
Now, it's sorta my job to dress up and attend social events. I no longer skate by with jeans, t-shirts and messy buns. I actually have to put on dresses, wear jewelry and *gasp of horror* smack on some makeup. God help me, I'm turning into a proper woman.
In all seriousness, though, this experience made me realize that not only am I on the cusp of being divorced; I am possibly on the cusp of being able to go on dates!
Here's where we all need to learn from Bryce Harper's mistake...
Because seriously. This has got to be one of the biggest temptations / pitfalls for the newly divorced: rushing head first into a new relationship NOT because we're looking forward, but because we're looking backwards and trying to catch the broken heart that's hurtling towards the ground at a bazillion miles a minute.
The worst part though, is that this terrible idea is supported by everyone because folks seem to think the best way to heal a broken heart is to hand it to a stranger.
"Rebound!" they say.
"Get back in the saddle!" they suggest.
And to this, I have to say "No."
First of all, I'm not even legally divorced yet. And even if I were, the annulment takes another year or so to complete. So canonically speaking, I would be committing adultery if I even attempted to date anyone before the Church grants me the decree (if I'm granted one at all).
Secondly, and this from a purely psychological standpoint, I've spent the last 12 years in a committed relationship - 8 of them married. To shift from that sort of paradigm to one of being single is a HUGE shift that deserves a good amount of time to process. I should be focusing on finding stability for myself and my children, not looking to rock the boat with a new relationship and all the drama that goes along with it.
But the temptation is there, especially when an attractive man sweet talks you and presses you for dinner in Philly's theater district. The temptation comes again when your friends tell you that they know of so-and-so who would be perfect for you. The temptation comes when you see commercials for dating sites that promise you the perfect relationship you always knew you deserved!
And while I was able to fight the temptation when it surprised me out of nowhere, I fell victim to it on a gray and rainy afternoon after both of the kids had stretched into an unheard of synchronized nap.
Yup. I fell. Harder than Bryce Harper hit that wall up there!
I signed up for a free trial of a popular dating site "just to see what's out there" I told myself.
Within the hour, I closed the account because I got over 3 dozen messages from men I wanted no parts of.
Why am I sharing this?
Because should you find yourself in a similar situation, you are going to be faced with the same temptations (yes, that's plural).
Temptations? Yes. Temptations.
When you are struggling through a divorce, especially a divorce which you did not initiate, you are tempted with self-doubt. You are tempted with despair. Then, as you seek to allay those fears, you are tempted to heal them with temporary fluffs to your pride. Messages from online folks who are chomping at the bit to tell you how beautiful, funny, sweet and incredible you are (not really making that decision based on anything but a profile picture and a Robert Frost quote you vaguely remember from high school) is basically instant gratification. Agreeing to a date with a friend of a friend's cousin might help you focus on something new for a short time before your present reality reminds you it exists. Even flirting with the coffee barista who knows your favorite drink (and the drinks of every other customer who walks through the door, remember) seems appealing.
Fight the temptation. Don't give in. Not until you have given yourself enough time to find happiness for yourself. Not until you know who YOU are and what YOU want.
And certainly not until you are both divorced AND have the marriage annulled by the Church. Heaven forbid you start something that can't actually be finished on account of that whole "Crap, I'm still married in the eyes of God" business. That's not fair to you, and it's certainly not fair to the person you'd be pursuing.
So I know how easy it is to mess up. If messing up were an Olympic sport, I'd be a platinum medalist with my own cereal and legions of adoring fans. Thank God for Confession.
Anyway, the point is, the temptation to get involved with dating before your marriage is properly annulled is a very real danger. However, it's symptomatic of the feelings of worthlessness / despair / frustration you feel as a result of the trauma of having your heart smashed into a billion pieces.
Don't compound the issue by pulling a Harper and diving into a wall. Not only will your heart continue breaking - the rest of you will, too.