Baggage check: I won’t let myself fall in love.

by mssinglemama on July 12, 2008

I left my phone charger in California. And after one day with no interruptions and no friends to run my emotions by … I realized how nice it is to be disconnected. So I didn’t buy a new one. Now it’s been five days of phone free bliss and a lot of time to reflect. In one of my many quiet moments I had an epiphany – I am scared to death of falling in love again.

I have done it before, been completely swept away. At the time it seemed clear. He was the one. We could make it work. Til death do us part. But something had severely clouded my judgment and by the time I realized my mistake – it was too late – we were married.

Now my ex-husband is a walking, talking example of how blinded I can be by love. So, I don’t trust myself. There it is. Simple as that. And it doesn’t help that every Monday I get to see that shining example pull up into my driveway to take our son for 36 hours.

But what if my fear of falling for the wrong guy keeps me from falling for the right guy? When love does show up will I be brave enough to let myself fall? I hope so, for Benjamin’s sake. I would hate for the kid to miss out on having brothers and sisters or a full-time dad because “Mommy has baggage.”

So here’s my baggage dumping plan, effective immediately (because this shit has got to go):

Step 1: Identify Baggage

My ex-husband broke my heart. What if it happens again? Benjamin would be hurt and so would I … I’m protecting myself and Benjamin from my own silly heart that (in the past) has always fallen for the wrong guy. And what about the financial fall out? Divorce sucks. I also fear losing my freedom again to marriage (i.e. prison). Yeah, I know – that’s why they call it baggage. I have issues.

Step 2: Identify Effects of Baggage

I have fallen in love since becoming a single mother, with Kris … in the end neither one of us could take the big plunge into a deeper love. I kept him at a safe distance from my heart, didn’t grow too attached for fear of a painful break … and it worked. When we split it was painless. But we both lost something that had the potentional to be something. Two relationship phobes equals no relationship. But I learned from that experience. I also learned that I can fall in love and keep my head on my shoulders at the same time. So that’s the good news!

Step 3: Eliminate Baggage (the hard part)

I’m taking baby steps. I am. But … it could be a while. And I need to give myself that time. In the meantime I’m looking at each of my experiences with men with open eyes. Striping it down, recognizing when I’m pushing them away and when I’m just listening to obvious red flags. I have also realized that falling in love as a single mother will be different. (That was a huge step). That’s all I’ve got … clearly still working on this part. If you have any advice – please, by all means … help a single mama out.

What’s your baggage? Do you think my baggage is manageable? Any of this sound familiar?

[Photo: San Francisco beach]

Related posts:

  1. Can single moms really “fall in love”?
  2. Love vs. Lust
  3. Polka dot love.
  4. I LOVE being a single mom.
  5. Single moms and the men who love us.

{ 10 trackbacks }

How to Date a Single Mom, Part 4 « Ms. Single Mama
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A letter to my future husband. « Ms. Single Mama
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Just when I thought I was safe… « Ms. Single Mama
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How to date a single mom, part 4 | Ms. Single Mama
August 12, 2008 at 7:02 pm
A love song?
August 29, 2008 at 4:32 pm
A new frontier.
November 9, 2008 at 8:16 pm
A new frontier. | better-dating.org
November 10, 2008 at 7:18 am
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A Single Mom’s Guide to Finding a Manperson | Ms. Single Mama
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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn July 12, 2008 at 10:20 pm

Ohhh do I have baggage. My baggage is that I have become the extreme opposite that I was with my ex. At one time I was extremely needy and required a lot of attention.

But now I am totally opposite.

Yes your baggage sounds familiar. I think your plan is the best way to get rid of it. Take time, and take smaller steps.

Good luck!

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McSwain July 13, 2008 at 12:17 am

Sounds very familiar. My ex broke my heart in a big way–was living a double life worthy of a 60 Minutes episode that I knew nothing about. Until I found out. I now feel like my radar is broken–I’ve said that so many times. I’m scared to death to trust anyone. But still… I have hope. And so should you.

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modernsinglemomma July 13, 2008 at 1:15 am

This is a beautiful, real, and very relevant post. Thank you for it!

This week, I am also seeing my own freight-train sized baggage loud and clear.
I think I’m afraid not necessarily to fall in love (thats the joyful, mindless, life-is-a-full-blown ecstasy-trip part ) but to WORK on that love.

I’m scared to for the everyday love, to bring someone close enough to see me when I’m not full of sunshine. I know myself and I know there are times when I am severely UNloveable.

I probably should right a post about self-sabatoge. You’ve inspired me. Its time to throw these dirty 10 ton duffle bags to the road.

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pisceshanna July 13, 2008 at 1:29 am

I totally feel you. Heart breakage is not something I want to experience again. Sometimes I feel like that quote in “Sideways”….I just don’t have the stomach to go for another round. Maybe one day when I’m completely whole again.

Thanks for this! You’ll get there!

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J-Fo July 13, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Ooh, very well put. I’m alike in a lot of ways. I actually sometimes wonder if I shouldn’t date the guys who are more the OPPOSITE of what I’d normally fall head over heels for in order to find success. You know, the “safe” ones?

But then I think, ick.

And so I keep being a single parent and keep keeping the faith that I’m on this earth for a purpose, and that over the space of my lifetime, this purpose will become clear. Right guy, wrong guy, no guy. So long as I live with purpose…it’s bound to turn out OK, right?

Geez, I hope so! ;)

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mssinglemama July 13, 2008 at 10:52 pm

I hear you guys.

Thanks for making me not feel so alone in this …

And J-Fo – awesome point, this post was originally twice as long because I was trying to explain that man or no man – Benjamin will be fine and so will I. But if one comes along, I want to be open to it.

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michinmiahsmommy September 30, 2010 at 11:57 am

I THINK THE HARDEST PART TO THIS WHOLE THING IS TO BE OPEN TO THINGS. I HAVE BEEN A SINGLE MOM FOR ABOUT 6 MONTHS AND I HAVE MET THE GOOD THE BAD AND THEE UGLIEST OF MEN. I AM NOT JUST TALKING LOOKS EITHER. SOME HAVE TRIED TO SWEEP ME OFF MY FEET AND SOME JUST THOUGHT THEY COULD TALK ME OFF MY FEET. I HAVE SEEN AND HEARD A LOT OF GAME IN MY LIFE MY X HUSBAND WAS THE VERY BEST AT THE GAMES. SO THERE IS NOT TOO MUCH THAT GETS PASS ME. BUT I JUST WISH I WERE MORE OPEN. A LIFE LONG FRIEND OF MINES WANTS TO TRY AND HAVE AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP BUT I JUST THINK “GROSS, U WANT TO BUY A HOUSE AND MOVE ME AND THE KIDS CLOSER TO YOUR WORK” I DONT THINK SO. I CAN NOT SEE MYSELF BEING A WIFE AGAIN EVEN THOUGH I REALLY WANT TO BE A WIFE AGAIN ONE DAY.BUT COOKING AND CLEANING FOR ANOTHER MAN AND BELIEVING IN HIS DREAMS AND TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH MINES IS NOT WHAT I AM ON RIGHT NOW. I WISH ALL THE MR. RIGHTS WOULD JUST SLOW DOWN BECAUSE AS FAR AS RELATIONSHIPS GO I AM NOT READY TO COMMIT AND I DO NOT THINK ANYONE SHOULD TRY TO CHANGE THAT.

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goin-crazy July 14, 2008 at 10:38 am

Gosh, I don’t think I have enough space or time to write about all my baggage.

It is almost easier to stay single. There is no fear of the unknown, there is no fear that you might be single AGAIN, there is no fear that he will leave, break your heart, break your kids’ hearts.

I hear where you are coming from and while I think it is a very common theme amongst single parents, I find mine completely unmanageable.

I don’t have the time or the patience for relationship games. Don’t I have enough to do already?!?! I have a hard time believing that I am going to find someone who will put up with my crap.

I have tried guys that have a lot in common with me, guys who are the complete opposite and each time it has been a bitter failure. I just don’t think my poor little heart can take it anymore! Each time becomes harder than the last. And here I thought explaining to the kids that dad left and doesn’t live here anymore was the hardest thing I would have to deal with.

Who knew it would get harder everyday???

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littlemansmom July 14, 2008 at 11:23 am

My ex did not break my heart…I was too numb for too long for that to be the case. But the baggage I now have is more along the lines of not being able to believe that there is actually someting out there called romantic love for me. I thought I had it, I was wrong. I thought I knew what it was, I was wrong. I have no idea what it is, what it’s like or if I’d ever actually be able to identify it. For a long time I thought I wasn’t worth it, but I know better now (thanks to a few years of healing) I am deserving…now if I could just figure out what it actually IS! LOL

That is my baggage…I carry it every day and can’t wait for it to get lost in flight….if it DOES get lost and then found, I think I’ll leave it at the baggage claim department.

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Domestic Diva July 14, 2008 at 12:43 pm

exes can do a lot of damage. I have major trust issues thanks to my cheating ex. It will never be the same but with each passing day I learn to trust just a little bit more.

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Iz's_Momma July 14, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Oh wow, can I relate to this!
It’s so nice to know that there are others in the same boat.
I want to fall in love, but dating as a single mom sucks and there is baggage with my ex that needs to be resolved and not to mention I am scared to death of being hurt once again. It’s quite a predicament… but I still have some kind of hope.

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Kori July 14, 2008 at 1:18 pm

This ALL sounds totally familiar; one of the luxuries that we no longer have as single moms is to be swept away by love and romance and all that jazz-because we have to take into account the little lives that will be affected by it. And dating as a single mom totally bites because men see you have kids and they either run screaming in the other direction or date you because they like your kids WAY too much. Baggage? You betcha; I am SO over the wight limit, I tell you. :)

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Maeve July 14, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Hi. I’m about to stick my foot in my mouth. Ready? Here goes.

After my divorce, I found htat I was not ready to move on and be with someone else until I had figured out why I kept making such poor relationship choices. My ex-husband is a sex addict, and up until the divorce–and for about a year afterwards–it was very easy to claim victim status. He lied to me, he manipulated me, etc. Which was all true, but it wasn’t the only truth. It was about a year after I left him that I was able to start seeing the ways I had contributed to the situation, for instance, feeling like it was my job to control his behaviour/acting out by doing or saying certain things. Not being able to talk about how I felt, not being able to enforce boundaries, kept giving him more and more chances–and so on. After I’d done a lot of this, and was able to see what kind of person I would have to learn how to be in order to have a good relationship, I felt a lot better about entering into a new one. (Which so far is way, way better, and very different.) That’s not to say it’s all fixed and better, I still struggle with a lot of it, but at least now I know what I’m aiming for and what to watch out for, in ME, not just in my partner.

Anyway. I’m going to suggest this because after my history and a lot of the reading I’ve done lately, this sounds very familiar. Have you done any reading on addictive relationships?

I say this only because your characterization of your marriage sounds very much like an addictive relationship (I don’t particularly like the language myself, but there you have it). Replacing intimacy with drama, tolerating abuse and hurtful behaviour (btw, it’s very common for physical abuse to begin during a pregnancy), whirlwind relationships/love at first sight, having difficulty ending it, etc. Even if you find the descriptions ultimately aren’t useful, the comparisons between unhealthy and healthy relationships were really eye-opening for me.

Being married to a sex addict for a long time will leave you with serious baggage, believe me. I thought it might take me years before I would be able to trust anyone again, or even want to be in a relationship. It’s taking a lot of really hard work but the baggage is diminishing, and it’s worth it.

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jonb July 14, 2008 at 2:48 pm

My prettier half has some baggage as well. I totally understand though. He cheated on her the whole time together, broke up, left, came back, you know the drill. She felt because of their child she had to make it work, and I think a part of her feels guilty. She does have trust issues because of the past and we have had several fights over it. It has taken time for her to start calming down and letting me get close to her. Something that strikes me is not only the fear of cheating, but the lack of trust in men with regard to handling the responsibility that comes with being a parent. It must be hard to reconcile someone walking out when you need them most.

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QTMama July 14, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Sometimes I think my baggage is the hope I have for something that I can’t have anymore. :(

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Katherine July 14, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Once again, I can very much relate to your thoughts here. But we all can embrace the reality that everyone has baggage, i.e. issues about love and relationships; and hopefully in accepting and owning what’s ours and identifying them, we will become open to accepting that guy that comes along with his baggage as well someday.

At least it’s supposed to happen…. again… someday…. right?
;)

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goin-crazy July 14, 2008 at 4:50 pm
bird July 14, 2008 at 5:44 pm

I want to echo Maeve’s words on healing. It has been critical to me being able to have good relationships again. I was married to an alcoholic. Healing my whole self was my recovery from the experience. There is a book by Hay called Healing Yourself that is pretty good and I don’t even like self-help books. But going to counseling was life changing because she worked on helping me find my voice and power again. Learning to tune into my inner voice has been fantastic. I now have my first great dating situation started in my grown up life on my terms.

BTW: I know what I want now and all the sudden its like I’m a magnet of attraction. I met a guy in Trader Joe’s parking lot the other day and randomly on the street the next-both told me they thought I had a fantastic smile and neither freaked that I was a mom.

And I didn’t play any games or rules which has made him not play them either. For the first time I didn’t ask my girlfriends what to do when ___. I followed my inner voice’s guidance. We both have kids. Usually I never introduce my seven year old to guys I date. He wanted to do something with our kids together, just as friends, after a month of light dating. His son stays with him for one month a year, besides the usual every other weekend thing. So we would not have seen each other for that whole month otherwise. It was great to be just friends with our kids for a month and get to know each other just as friends-no romance, no games, no nothing.

The old me would not have done this b/c all my girlfriends would have advised me not to. And I am historically so scared. But this has been actually a fantastic way for me to trust again and remember that friendship is the tie that binds the love. And I adore knowing that we are friends and we have so much fun together without all the ridiculous stuff that goes with trying to start a new relationship. Now we are back to being more than just friends and the old tension that I felt is gone. We talk when we want to and don’t when we can’t/need space. There is a calmness that I have never felt in my dating life before.

So i say heal yourself, you know what you want, tune in to that gut and then it will come your way and you’ll be open to it.

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Ms. Single Mama July 14, 2008 at 8:13 pm

Maeve …

This line is also true for me … “After my divorce, I found htat I was not ready to move on and be with someone else until I had figured out why I kept making such poor relationship choices.” and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do as well. I think I’m just taking my first steps toward realizing this and asking myself why I always fall for the wrong guys. I don’t know if I was in an addictive relationship b/c I got out quickly … but I’ll definitely look into that.

So many good responses … no strength to respond to all of you but I’ve read everyone and I’m nodding my head. You’re all right.

1. We all have baggage – to some degree
2. We need to heal and find the source before we can move on
3. We all have hope!!! Yes!!!

Good stuff my friends.

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Katie July 14, 2008 at 9:18 pm

See, I think after experiencing real love, that I never really loved my ex. He was a high school boyfriend, and we got back together at a time when I was vulnerable and lonely, and I loved the familarity of him and his family and everything was fun and games till I got pregnant. He was/is an alcoholic, he was/is irresponsible, self-centered, etc. He put poker and drinking and his family above our family. I couldn’t and didn’t trust him, we stayed together for the sake of our son. Now, I have met someone who makes love seem easy. Yes, I know that relationships are hard work and that you have to work at them, but he makes me feel like I have a soft place to land, he sees me, flaws and insecurities and loves me still, he knows that my son and I are a package deal. He knows I have baggage and he has it too. He was married to the first woman he seriously dated after college, they had three kids, he thinks I am a hot chick and he doesn’t get to date the hot girls. He is wonderful and I wake up every day knowing that loving him is a choice, not an emotion. So, please MsSingleMama don’t be afraid to fall in love again. You have a precious little boy now, you will make better choices and you will find someone who will make it easy, who will break down those walls, who will love you and your son without condition.

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mommatrip July 14, 2008 at 9:30 pm

The baggage I carry is similar to it all….I am afraid to even attempt to fall in love because I do not like who I have chosen in the past- and I don’t really trust myself either. I am currently in the process of figuring out some of this and realizing that I need to heal from some events from the past. Dating seems super difficult being a single mama. I’ve gone on a few, but would rather be home with my little boy. I’m going to order one of the I heart t-shirts for him to wear…maybe that will help- healing and a t-shirt…and btw- this is Alexis.

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T July 15, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Oh yeah. Been there and BLOGGED about it many times. I once wrote: During my marriage, I was afraid of losing my husband. Now I’ve noticed I’m more scared of losing myself!

I think its perfectly natural to feel this way. But, as you’ve learned its not good to keep everyone at arms length. Unless, that’s what you want. Me? I want to fall deeply and carelessly again. If it doesn’t work out again, it will SUCK big time but I’d rather feel it again than worry about it. I’ve learned that these “growth opportunities” are always preparing me for bigger and better things! Enjoy the plunge!

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Erin July 15, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Let me go ahead and unload my baggage for a minute as well. It’s been on my mind quite a bit lately.

My ex broke me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I won’t go into dirty details but you can gather from that what you will. I am absolutely terrified that he left me so effed up that I’ll never be able to “let myself go” ever again. I’ll always be looking over my shoulder and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Not only in relationships, but in every part of my life.

So now, not only did he keep me in prison while we were together, but I’m still there because of my own fear.

Not sure where I’m going with this exactly, but it’s all a lot clearer when it’s written down. My baggage is identified. Now I just have to figure out how to fix it! That’s the hard part!

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T July 16, 2008 at 10:54 am

I saw this today and thought of this post:

From Neale Donald Walsch (author of Conversations with God) in his “I Believe God Wants You To Know” email notes:

I believe God wants you to know …that there are no guarantees in life…except that all things happen for God’s best reason.

If you need to know in advance that everything will “work out” before you jump in, you’ll never jump into anything.

Yet “jumping in” is life’s greatest excitement, its grandest adventure. Don’t deny yourself that. Just go for it. Trust that Life will bring you benefit no matter what happens.

Wow. It was just what I needed to hear today.

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mssinglemama July 21, 2008 at 11:21 pm

I love you all. Just read through these comments again…

Yes, let’s all figure it out together – shall we? Piece by piece, we’ll put our hearts back together again. Learn how to trust and love again. It’s possible. Hell, we’re single moms – we can do anything.

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isis July 16, 2009 at 5:15 pm

What is my Babbage? what that hell is that.
Babbage is a person last name.
My simple understanding with love is that .
IF it hurt it isn’t LOVE.
YOU HEART NEVER BREAK BUT YOUR EGO DOES.
All the love is available to us right now.
BECOME WHAT YOU LOOKING FOR : IF YOU WANT LOVE, BECOME LOVING.
WE ARE THE RESULT OF WHAT WE LOOKING FOR.. YEAH
HOW POWERFUL IS THAT.
Every men/women that you ever met were a preparation for the next one.
cheers !

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Precious68 August 19, 2009 at 1:11 am

It was a loveless marriage, married for the wrong reasons which result to abusive and unhealthy marriage for me … I have lost 8 years of my life having sexless nights close to life span I never had perfect ‘O’ in my life. Only consolation was i had a child in my second year of marriage. There were no affection, hugs or even kisses in the marriage – ok so this is a weird marriage made in hell… so there you go… we are from Asean country the east and generally traditional and enclosed society…which only makes it worst. So coming out from the marriage elevate my self worth and values not to mention it really safe me and my daughter from such detrimental situation.. I am so liberated and truly happy… I am FREE!!! I have not missed anything in the past yet now in need for someone special to make me a complete woman!

But first, I am enjoying my singlehood and dating few men online from all four corners of the world lol … Looking back, what baggage do you carry? I never exposed this to my online dates… Though I am financially independent but I have mortgage, credit cards and debts to settle in many more moons to come… I am also taking care of my aging parent living with me. Without their love and support I wouldn’t be where I am today… My daughter 7 yo, has grown to be matured young lady always keeps me grounded. Finally little must I say, my ex does gives a hell of shocker or two each time his turn on visitation every week…. These are the baggages I am facing till the day I drop… My only hope if there is anyone who loves me he has better be fully aware and understand my standing and hopefully able to help me reduce my load (emotionally, morally and financially it will be a bonus) … high tolerances, respect and love are must in sustaining a relationship.

Seriously I really think I need to drop one or two if not all baggage I am carrying now before engaging into new relationship, I just have no idea how to do it?

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hope13 November 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Is it too late to respond to this. how do you find out why you are falling for the wrong guy? I tend to go for the alpha male, very confident, somewhat controlling, strong willed, strong physically, strong personality. What gives. these guys aren’t gentle in relationships, communication, control is no fun… how do you get to the bottom of your baggage?

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