My dark side

by mssinglemama on June 30, 2009

There’s another thing about being a single mom, or is it just about being me…

Love actually hurts me.

The feeling of feeling (again) raises some kind of pain up inside of me that I can’t shake. And then I start lashing out, sabotaging my relationships, wishing away these butterflies for fear that they will turn into gray, evil moths.

Then I say things I don’t mean.

I hear them coming out of my mouth and I suddenly want to take them back. Rather than learning how to control this it seems to get worse as I age, as I become more cynical, as I become more accustomed to being single and as relationships seem more foreign, more complex and distant than ever.

I can blame that or pms or this awful, awful stress headache I can’t seem to shake but the words are still out there now – in the air, on his mind. I am just hoping he can forgive me or at the very least learn to recognize that like any animal, I may not be wounded anymore but the scars are still there.

The things I have experienced, are fortunately, like nothing he’s ever even had to taste and every once in a while they are right there, fresh again. On top of the deep scarring and baggage I’m hauling around there’s also the pressure.

There are always so many emotions I’m balancing while also trying to make sure everyone in the room walks out of it with warm fuzzy happy family feelings. It can be tiring as hell.

Sometimes I just want to be a bitch and moan and groan until the cows come home. But I can’t. I am the head of my household. I am the person my son’s world revolves around and now I am the one who holds a man’s heart in my hands, one I am so grateful to have, as he holds mine.

The balancing act must be maintained. If not, if I do lose my temper or snap and say something rash, the person on the receiving end is most likely someone who does not deserve to hear it.

So one question.

How do married moms do it? Please, enlighten me.

Because Mrs. Cleaver I am definitely not. Did you take some kind of mind numbing medicine? Or is there some special yoga pose I need to learn?

Perhaps this is why I run away from feeling because being single is easier for me. I don’t want to raise these skeletons from the dead and I’ve never liked cleaning out empty, dark basement corners.

But this time I am going in but I’ll bring a flash light, maybe you guys can hold it and show me the way.

He’s worth it.

And besides, what fun would life be if I didn’t scare myself every once in a while?

Related posts:

  1. One side effect of being a dating single mama…my baby is trying to make out with me.
  2. A love song?

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When you know
July 8, 2009 at 6:08 am
How do you work it?
November 7, 2009 at 12:45 pm

{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrew July 1, 2009 at 4:50 am

Love is all you need.

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Lucy McBees October 16, 2011 at 7:32 pm

I agree with you… Just LOVE nothing more….

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Jocelyn July 1, 2009 at 5:05 am

I don't know much, but as a married mom, I can testify: the meaner and more frank I am, the bigger kick my husband gets out of me; when I roll my eyes at a cranky son and mutter, "I'm ready to throttle The Butthead," my husband gives me a marital high five. And, okay, here's a benefit of couplehood: when it's really bad, and I really can't handle it, my husband tells me to go away, take my laptop, write, drink coffee, go hike–whatever–until I can play nice again.

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mssinglemama July 1, 2009 at 12:02 pm

I love this, that he can tell when you need a break. I definitely need my own time outs sometimes.

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Nicole July 1, 2009 at 6:58 am

In the first few months that Jamie and I started dating this happened a lot.
I would hear the words come out of my mouth while simultaneously thinking, "why am I even saying this. I can't believe I'm saying this."

Each and every time his response was the same.

He understood that sometimes it hurts to love someone and to have someone love you back.
Because it's scary.
Especially when you've gone through it before and lost it.
It hurts.

He gives me my space when I need it.
But he never fails to tell me how much he loves me and my son and how much we mean to him.
He assures me that he's not going to hurt either one of us — he cares for us too much.

For some reason, when I'm feeling insecure our (read: my) default argument always comes back to me being a single mom.
Back to my fear that he's going to find someone better and he's just killing time until he does.

A fear that still has never really gone away.
But over time it's diminished. Slowly, but surely.
It's been months since it's even been brought up and until I read this right now I'd almost forgotten about all of those arguments..

And he's still here.

It takes a strong man to date a strong woman.

"I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I'm out of control, and at times, a little hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best." — Marilyn Monroe.

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mssinglemama July 1, 2009 at 12:02 pm

This quote is amazing and so is your story. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. Really, really, really helpful.

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Katherine SOLOdotMOM July 1, 2009 at 2:20 pm

This is an awesome story Nicole. Alaina…. I can relate to your situation.. I too find myself at that point and catch myself being cynical and overbearing… and sometimes want to put the words back after they have been said.

I consider myself a strong woman, but I have had to be. With two little people counting on me and an irrational X, I had no choice. So I love her statement here… It takes a strong man to date a strong woman. Profound.

Mr. M. puts up with a lot of "crap" from me as well because of my mental block as a single mom, a single woman… I always think I have to do it for myself… so I have a hard time… becoming the "half" of a couple in a lot of things. But I know I can do this, because I want this… I want to be a part of a healthy relationship… and so working on who I am in the midst with all my baggage and scars included… is what I intend and strive to do.

Thanks for your transparency in this post today. Great info.

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Danielle B July 1, 2009 at 3:21 pm

I do all of the above also and I am slowly but surely destroying my marriage with my controlling insecure ways. I would love to keep blaming him, but this won't be the first time I have done this in a relationship and the common demoninator is always me. It would help to have a man that would communicate and listen to my fears but again it is me that needs to trust that I am good enough for LOVE. From what I just read below from the Bear, you have that man! You are worthy and he knows it.
Give him a chance to listen since he is willing.
I wish I had that, someone other than a shrink to really listen and push past my bitchy shell. I know that somewhere in me, I am loveable. I just need someone to beliebe in me and stand by me through my destructive behavior.

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Kathleen July 3, 2009 at 12:10 pm

You said it better than me… what you say rings true. That is how my new relationship is. I think it's just because we are human. We don't want to get hurt, yet, again. My sweetie has his moments, too. However, he's the opposite of me and gets very quiet. To me, it's passive-aggressive. But, we always apologize for our behavior and just recommit to being open and honest. Although, I keep telling him if he goes anywhere, I will kick his ass to the moon. Humor, love, respect… that's the way to keep it all together. It's okay to be scared… We all have a dark side that can't be ever pushed to the side (at least, I don't think so – it depends on what you have been through in the past) that's when you lean on others and especially your honey!!!!

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Lisa July 12, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Thank you so much for the Marilyn quote. It brought me to tears. Some very needed shedding of some very heavy tears. I am fairly new at this single mom gig and learning as I go along. Not dating yet but looking forward to being in love with someone deserving of my best… and strong and compassionate enough for my 'worst.' So happy to have found this blog. It definitely helps me feel less alone.
♥♥♥

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Bear July 1, 2009 at 11:08 am

I haven't figured out everything — far from it. But I've come to realize that, if you keep the lines of communication open, and you own up to your mistakes, you can get through a lot.

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GracePlz July 1, 2009 at 11:22 am

Totally agree, stay honest and open…when a bitchy comment or snarky reply escapes our lips, we own it, apologize and then move forward.

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Mikaela July 1, 2009 at 3:10 pm

My sentiments exactly!! Everything is about communicating. My husband and I have been together 9 years. We have good times and bad times, but the one thing we can always count on is the fact that we'll talk it out and figure out what's really at the bottom of why we're pissed.

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Lauren July 1, 2009 at 11:20 am

I haven't done any lashing out, etc (yet)…. but I definitely get scared. Very VERY scared. Having an amazing man in my life is a foreign concept to me, and I have occasionally thought, "Well, if I run away from it now, I can't get hurt, right?" I feel like it's a crazy thing to be scared of something wonderful, but when you're used to encountering douchebags, it can be difficult to adjust to a man who is the complete opposite.

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shannon July 1, 2009 at 12:37 pm

It's so hard. This past year being married and not technically a single mom anymore, after five years of being one and defining myself as one has been a roller coaster ride! I do the lashing out too, but like GracePlz says above, apologies, and "owning" your mistakes goes far. I tend to find that some days I just want to run, but then I push the whole thing out of my head and move forward. We're not used to this life and having someone there, and it's hard to learn how to relate again and let those defenses down. But I have found that Buddhist teachings have helped me here…I try to "live in the present". It really works for me. I've been able to let the old mistrust go. Besides, I now have the strength to know that if ever I had to be on my own again, I could!!! I did it, and chose to be where I am…now it's all about pushing forward and working on being the best wife, mom, stepmom and person I can be. Good luck Alaina, and you aren't alone. I really related to this post.

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bird July 1, 2009 at 12:49 pm

"Keep the fights clean and the sex dirty." My parents mantra. They have been married 47 years. No name calling, keep it to the facts and feelings, tell each other what you need. It sounds simple, but it is the ultimate communication test. Can you turn your "mean" words in a conversation about what you need to be happy or how you feel? I have been trying this with my new man and it is the first relationship in a long time that I have had where I feel comfortable saying what I need and it is respected. He also taught me that is not my job to make sure everyone leaves the room feeling happy all the time. He owns and shares that responsibility too. He can take of us sometimes. That has been the hardest for me to adjust to. I am used to being the caretaker all by myself.

And the truth is unless you are in someone else's shoes they don't know your experience. This goes for single childless men and single moms. So we have to become really good communicators which so HARD. I swear men are from Mars and we are from Venus. Try asking John Bear sometime what he heard you say and then you tell him what you heard him say. EYE OPENING!

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won July 1, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Hmmm…what timing.

Who would I be to have words of advice on this for you? Certainly not. Your timing however is uncanny.

If you've been reading along, you know I am seriously contemplating acting on these butterflies I'm feeling in my stomach – something I haven't felt in over five years. Nor have I had a relationship in as long.

It is definitely just easier to be single, you're right. I find comfort knowing someone else (you) is walking the path ahead of me. I guess all we can ever do is stay in the moment, take a deep breath and try like heck to keep ourselves centered?

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Tanya Garrett July 1, 2009 at 1:41 pm

I was a single mom for 12 years before marrying my husband. I nearly destroyed our relationship pushing him away. In fact, we spent three months apart before getting back together and getting married. I don't recommend doing what I've done. I made a mess of things. I couldn't make that leap of faith. I couldn't trust that he wouldn't cheat, that he wouldn't leave me. He had his share of scars too. Two cheaters, three children. But I couldn't let go and trust him. I couldn't believe that I could say something mean, apologize for it, and be forgiven. And I almost lost him. Now I wake up every day and make a choice to trust him. He knows who I am and married me anyway. He knows I say mean things when I'm hurt, and he knows to keep his distance until the storm passes. He's gotten very good at finding excuses for him and my daughter to find somewhere else to be. He's also right there waiting when my defense break down, and I'm ready to let him in. My only advice is keep trying. What's on the other side is well worth it.

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Jillian July 1, 2009 at 1:42 pm

The biggest thing to learn how to do is apologize. Everyone loses their temper, everyone gets overwhelmed and everyone snaps. Once you say something you don't mean or as soon as you realize you were a bit too harsh, the first thing to do is apologize. You don't even have to explain or continue the conversation just call him up or pull him aside and say "I'm sorry about what I said earlier. I didn't mean it." or if you did mean it just say "I didn't mean for it to sound as mean or hurtful as it did." Just knowing that you realize that you were harsh or hurtful can really help assuage the other person's feelings of guilt or anger.

It's okay to snap, it happens. It's a way to vent. But you absolutely must apologize for it later.

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Jami July 1, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Aw, I think what you're feeling is totally normal. It's unfortunate that our new mates have to deal with the fallout from our old mates, but it is what it is.

Give yourself some grace here, friend. You were in a gloriously fucked situation and you had the strength to leave it. That takes a helluva woman. And sometimes, becoming that strong woman, we put of walls and defenses. It takes a while to learn which people we don't need to protect ourselves from. You're doing the right thing, guarding your heart, but only you can decide when to stop fighting the world and just let the comfort of that man wash over you.

((hugs))

I was expecting something really dark here, man! Your title was totally misleading, haha. This ain't nuffin'! ;)

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Valorei Estevane July 1, 2009 at 1:48 pm

I have been married for only 3 months, and unfortunately i married someone a very complicated man, who had been extremely hurt in the past. It has been very hard on both of us because we have both been in the same situation and were both have battle scars. My issue is my fear of belonging to someone and I struggle with leaving him. But thats a personal issue that I have to work through and we all have our issues. An important thing that we have both discovered is that were gonna fight, that is inevitable. But as long as we know that we both love each other its all that matters. We have learned to listen to each other completely. We have learned that during a fight or a weak moment things that are being said are being said by a person who is hurt and angry and it shouldn't be taken personally. We learned to disccuss what was said and then move on. So far it has worked.

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Heather, TMH July 1, 2009 at 2:14 pm

As a married mom, I actually do both. I have a very special yoga pose I use called Martini Shake & Pour Pose, which also has a mind-numbing affect. Really, efficiency is the key.

I don't worry about my kids and husband walking out of the room with warm, fuzzy family feelings every time. That's not real life and my job as a mom is to prepare them for real life. Sometimes it sucks and you walk away feeling like crap. Other times you ride a unicorn. For me, the true balance is making sure they walk away feeling good more times than not, not every time.

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Brittni July 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Justin and I are not married, but honestly we might as well be. We both definitly have a dark side. We have insecurities and we both worry about everything under the sun. I can't describe how our relationship works. Sometimes it is dysfunctional but he is the only one I would ver want to be dysfunctional with. Even though we have our disagreements, we understand that about each other and we try to make the best of it. Sometimes arguing can be fun because it leads to…well you know.

Hang in there! That quote by Marilyn that was posted above really says it all. The Bear seems to care about you enough to appreciate that you have a dark side.

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cristeen July 1, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Wow….its not just you momma….apparently its not just me either!
Ive revoked my own rights to date out of FEAR! LOVE LOVE LOVE this post

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Bec July 1, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Even after seven years, I'm still learning how to fight fairly and say "I'm sorry." It's a process of evolution and if you're not moving forward, you're not going to survive.

Parenting (single or dual) and relationships are both HARD WORK. There are certainly times that we all throw our hands in the air and say things that we don't mean. They're often aimed that those we love the most because that's who is most likely to tolerate it. "I'm sorry" goes a long way.

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abrookshire July 1, 2009 at 2:34 pm

I've been told that the healing process is never truly over, there's always a scar and it's always a little more tender than the skin around it. And scars always have this way of reminding you that your past was real. I, too, struggle with my scars and so far it's ruined every chance of a relationship that I've had in the past three years. But at some point I need to accept that these are my battle wounds, these are my lessons learned and proof that I have given what I had to give, I have been hurt, and I have survived.

So scars, for me, aren't so much about being hurt anymore. They're about surviving. About getting past the hurt and letting go of the pain. I like to consider them proof of my strength and my courage instead of proof that I cared enough about someone that they had the ability to hurt me. And even though it's natural to want to protect myself again, even though it's natural to want to use those scars as a reminder of how bad you can hurt….I like to think of them as proof that–worst case scenario–I'll survive. I'll endure. And I'll come out a better and stronger person as I have before.

But I have faith that, someday, some man will see me and my scars and the fear behind my smile and he'll think I'm absolutely beautiful and worth enduring the hard and difficult times for. I think that he'll understand that when I lash out and when I withdraw, that it's just a part of me that I need to work through and that I need to deal with. And I have faith that, even though it might hurt him, he'll understand and he'll be there to hold my hand again when I let him.

I have a quote, too, that I love.

"Find a person who loves you for exactly who you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome…the right person is still going to think the sun shines out of your back-side. That’s the kind of person worth sticking with."

I think that John Bear is that kind of person for you, and even though he's hurt and you're hurt for him by your words, I think that he cares deeply for you and that he'll continue to, no matter what.

Hope things work out and resolve themselves quickly.

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Kathleen July 3, 2009 at 12:17 pm

wow! you are so right! It sounds like you have found peace. I think that's the key… find peace in who you were, are, will be and things will come to you.

I felt like I would be single forever, but I think I was finally at peace with the cards that were dealt to me and so my fear subsided long enough to open my heart again.

I am speachless… you post touched me. Thank you!

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SimplygCleaners July 1, 2009 at 7:37 am

After a horrific first marriage ie. All forms of abuse, lies, manipulation, adultery ect. I was a single mom to two small boys for four years.

Now happily married to wonderful man…but sometimes I have my moments of madness where I say mean nasty things. Those moments are usually preceeded by “flat tires” and this is how I explained it to the hubby:

You ever purchased a lemon ( car ) that is just a big pile of crap? Like the darn thing ran great for a year till the warranty runs out then the shit hits the fan. The brakes lock up, tie rod ends break, transmision drops out, muffler and all attached parts rust and fall out of the bottom then to top it of the engine blows twice. Well I was married to one of those. So now when we get “a flat” I am ready to call it quits. I throw out the D word I kick the bumper and some times scream obsenities at it. All because I see my car falling apart like the last one even though it’s an entirely diff make and model. It’s hard to shake the feeling of wanting to drive it back to the car lot to trade it in!

Thankfully that analogy worked and he better understands my baggage and is willing to take the meltdowns. Of course I have some things to deal with my self like – Why is lemonaid so hard for him to make???….yeah he’s pretty much perfect…

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busymomma66 July 1, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Not that I'm married anymore, but… I think you have to really face up to what you are afraid of and why you are afraid of it–I don't mean the going into the basement, but going into the basement that is 10 stories down. The deepest root cellar you have. And not only a flashlight dear, you need to drag this screaming and thrashing into the sun and hug the hell out of it. And then when you are done loving and dealing with it, hug it some more. And then again, and then again. And when it limps away to the basement come up with a plan of some statements that will put it in it's place, counteracting it's evil words. Good luck!!

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jen_k_ July 1, 2009 at 2:58 pm

Alaina, this is my favorite post. Really. And the comments are a goldmine too.

It is so worth slaying those old dragons for a man like John Bear – the kind of man who's probably already got a back-up stock of batteries for that flashlight of yours when you need them.

I've sucked at my relationships. But I've learned that being super self-aware of my shortcomings and being quick to apologize for them has always been appreciated, as well as releasing my need to always be right.

Another little kernel from my therapist that has worked wonders: Stop talking. Stop talking. Stop talking. Seek first to understand. Then say what you have to say in as few words as possible.

@bird, thanks for the new mantra – Keep the fights clean and the sex dirty. Filing that wisdom away in the relationship index.

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Andy July 1, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Is it really a dark side? Perhaps it's more a damaged side.

As someone who will soon be a single dad, I've found that I've had to be really aware of what I'm feeling. Saying things I don't mean can happen in sometimes small, but insidious ways. Working through it has been hard but remarkably helpful. Otherwise I would just be covering it up. Having a significant other who is understanding is a start, but I think the work is on you.

Also I think you are really hard on yourself for making sure that everyone in the room walks out of it with warm fuzzy happy family feelings. Your love for them isn't the same as being responsible for their feelings. It's obvious that you are accountable for your actions and feelings. Let the same thing go for them. Don't worry, they will still love you.

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Kat July 1, 2009 at 8:24 am

I was a single mom for…ten plus years. This is what I’ve learned.

Every guy is not the one(s) that hurt you, so don’t take your shit out on them. Learned the hard way, of course.

There are WAY worse things than being alone, so stop worrying whether it will work out or not.

Don’t even attempt perfection, so not worth it.

I could go on for a long time, so feel free to email me if you want more. :)

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TsQuest July 1, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Whew! I did this exact same thing last week with Rascal. And it was PMS plus other scars… He told me honestly how it made him feel and I had to apologize. It was pure fear talking.

All I can say is what has been said so far: Own it.

The only way to get rid of your fear is to look at it. Shine that light on it Alaina! It isn't going to be pretty but once you see it for what it is, then you'll be able to let it go.

And now, as you can plainly see, you are not alone. We all do this. You're resisting because you're scared. You'll get used to it, you'll relax and it will get much easier.

Yes, indeed, it does take a strong man but mostly, it takes a STRONG LOVE.

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Kyla July 1, 2009 at 3:42 pm

I am a married woman with two girls 4 yrs and 2 yrs. And run two small businesses from home. I feel like a single mom a lot because my husband is on business trips 2 weeks of every month and when he is here, he is, in the nicest terms, unavailable to me and the kids. I used to have a lot of anger. I would lash out at the kids and say really mean things to my husband. But I realized I just felt overtired, stressed and mainly really unhappy with myself. I have started being more kind to myself, telling myself I am doing the best I can, trying really hard, and that I have worth because I am a child of God, not because I checked off a huge checklist of things to do that day. Now when I remind myself that I am doing the best I can, I feel much more peaceful and hopeful that things are going to work out and that things are going to be okay. Even if my relationship doesn't turn out great, I know I put my whole heart into it. Things work out and knowing that really makes me have a lot less anxiety about the future. Which for me translates into less freak outs.

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Violet July 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm

I'm going through the same thing right now! Having finally ended things with my ex about a year ago and meeting my Mr. Wonderful 6 months ago, we have finally decided to take the next step and move in together and once we started to take that step I started to freak out and question whether I was doing the right thing and it brought up alot of old feelings from my past relationships and it has been very scary and painful, but he is learning to be patient and understanding and we are working through the rough parts and I'm I keep reminding myself that he is not my ex and not all men will hurt me.
I really enjoy reading your blog and it is nice to know that I'm not the only one going through these changes and transitions and feeling these feelings.

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Hanna July 1, 2009 at 4:17 pm

Thanks Alaina. "Getting accustomed" I think is the key word here. We get accustomed to being single, like you said, and it becomes our life. Its not easy at first, but we get used to it. Maybe you have to get accustomed to being with someone too? The process of coupling maybe is more complex and harder than separating, because instead of tearing something apart, you are trying to put it back together.

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alice July 1, 2009 at 4:17 pm

this is me. i woke up this morning thinking these very thoughts, so reading this has made me cry. how do i stop making the same mistake? i'm so scared everyone will treat me the way my ex did these last 14 years that i push them all away. but i don't really want to or mean to. i've just become suspicious of any man who wants to be nice to me. why?? how do i stop taking my shit out on other men? i'm so not ready for this. i haven't read all the comments yet, but i think there are some gems in them that will help. thanks for writing this because it sucks going through this alone.

as for what i can add, all i can say is trust yourself enough to be open and honest in your communication. that's all you can do. and hold your breath. i find there are men who appreciate that. but if you're like me and start not believing in yourself, but what maybe that ex-husband says about you, you'll let things fall apart. stop. admit your dark side and trust that you're still the same wonderful person you know you are. fear doesn't make us unlovable, what we do to hide it does. and any man worth your heart knows that.

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mssinglemama July 1, 2009 at 4:57 pm

For someone so confused by your own sabatoging your advice is SPOT on. Read your last paragraph again – that's beautiful and very true stuff. Thank you so much for sharing. SO glad I'm not alone in this either. And yes, read through the comments they are awesome.

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Wendy July 1, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Wow, I stumbled onto your site last week and this post is amazing. As a single mom of a 10 month old who has been out of a relationship with the abusive father for over 2 years, I know what you're talking about when you say feeling hurts and any skeletons in the closet scare you. Your writing has purity and reading your post makes me feel not so alone anymore. Thankfully even though the years are behind me and I couldn't seem to shake loose the skeletons and fear of feeling, I have and know God and also a great community (and yes I do sabotage things with them sometimes. I also sabotage any place where I have to trust or am about to be trusted). Thanks for sharing and letting me share. Much love as you walk on into the light..

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Wendy July 1, 2009 at 4:50 pm

p.s. Happy you found someone …and you both hold each other's hearts. I'm not there. To be so vulnerable yet. That's somethign to be proud about. Right?

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mssinglemama July 1, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Yes it is. So proud to have come this far even. Proud to keep going forward. Thank you for this beautiful comment and I'm so glad you're here.

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Liz July 1, 2009 at 5:03 pm

My husband and I have an unspoken agreement – we never EVER say deliberately hurtful things to each other out of anger, spite, frustration, etc. He is the one that started it – he's never done it – and after knowing him for 11 years, being married for 6 – I realize he's not going to start – it's not his way. It isn't a fluke – he's very mindful. Where I am quick and often rash, he is calm and deliberate. Where I am sharp tounged, he is careful with his words. Where my temper flares, his is even. When frustration or stress turn me into a pessimist, he is the person who believes that it will all always turn out ok.

I have no choice – I follow his lead because his example is so beautiful. Before him, it was not my way. But I have learned this new way and if feels…safe. I follow his lead because his example never leaves me feeling that should I expose myself I risk hurt. I would not say something deliberately hurtful to him because we have a mutual trust. I want to build him up, not tear him down in every thing I do and say. Because by building him up – we're really building each other up – both as individuals and as a couple.

Do I get angry, frustrated, stressed out, annoyed, overwhelmed and need to get it out? Yes. But I've learned to rant about whatever the issue is TO him, not AT him. If it's ABOUT him, then I let it sit (and perhaps complain to my sister-friends) and then when I'm not emotional about it, I bring it up in a constructive manner and we talk it thru.

I was in a relationship before him that my ex always wanted to pick fights. One time he said to me about his previous, very volitile relationship: "at least she cared enough to fight and to have that passion". I thought – "how ridiculous." You are not showing you care about someone by picking petty fights so you can make up. Love and passion don't have to mean yelling, pouting, storming out. You are not showing you care about someone by making their footing feel unstable.

I've learned slow down and ask myself: if these were the last words he heard from my lips, would I be ok with that?

But I can only do this because we're in it together. He taught me. I learned that it's not scary to hand your heart to another when you're each treating the gift you've been given with kidd gloves.

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mssinglemama July 1, 2009 at 6:33 pm

This is so insightful, thank you. Your husband and John have a lot in common.

Sent from my iPhone

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Hef July 1, 2009 at 5:25 pm

This post and these comments have been incredibly helpful to me today.

I'm dealing with this as well and I sometimes worry that I'm seriously insane.

I wish I had words to help (although these comments are great). Just know that you're no alone (obviously). I suddenly feel less insane, for sure.

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Heidi July 1, 2009 at 5:38 pm

I'm a married mom; my husband and I have been married for 12 years. Over the years, I have learned to pick my battles. When I'm feeling particularly mean, I try to remove myself from the situation before I say something I'll regret. I would rather walk away from the situation, have some alone time where I can curse at the wall, and then return to the situation when I can be saner. When I do say something I wish I hadn't, I apologize.

I agree with what Heather TMH said above — it's not my job to give everyone warm and fuzzy feelings. And it's OK for kids to sometimes see my husband and I fight and then make up. I don't want my kids growing up thinking people always have to get along and things need to be perfect all the time.

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Bobbi Janay July 1, 2009 at 6:06 pm

Breathe Girl Breathe!

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Momma Sunshine July 1, 2009 at 6:09 pm

We've all got a dark side, you know. Love is about learning to love each other through them.

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Barry July 1, 2009 at 6:17 pm

Nobody ever claimed relationships would be easy. Especially for those that sport battle scars from the past. If we were all perfect, this world of blogging would be so boring!!! Working it out, learning about each other is what makes the relationship real and worth fighting for.

If you disagree and fight, well, the make up sex can be pretty fun!!

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linda July 1, 2009 at 7:48 pm

I am going through the exact thing right now!! CRAZY and I just cant accept happiness and a great man for some reason! I try to sabotage things and push him away and its terrible. We havent fought and I haven't said bad things yet.But everyday these last two weeks I think "I need to tell him today that we need to slow down or see other people this is too much too soon" I don't say it…. but I think it and its crazy. I want to question him to death to see how he feels, how his kids are adjusting to our dating etc..I just keep waiting for the shoe to drop because its almost too good to be true.. I know I do this..I hate it but its hard to just relax and go with the flow and enjoy the happiness …He seems too perfect and I know NO ONE IS!! Its sucks ass but you are not alone..Crazy that you wrote this today when I have been struggling with the same thing!!! Crazy….

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arscuore July 1, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Everyone has already said what I would say — really, really good comments. At the heart of most of our dark emotions is fear. Take heart in the fact that you are Superwoman, and even if the worst were to happen, you would be OK. I love the quote from Marilyn Monroe, too. I may just have to make a bumper sticker of that or something! I know! T-Shirts, Alaina!!

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cjp628 July 1, 2009 at 3:34 pm

My relationship with Nick came 3 years after my divorce. I tried so hard to find something wrong with him, and when I found nothing I was stumped. I was a total rag as often as I could be because I was afraid. Once I realized he is in this with me for the long haul I let my scaredy cat guard down and our relationship went to a whole new and exciting level. I never allowed myself to put that guard down with anyone and 4 months into our relationship I did. He is wonderful with my daughter and just an amazing man.
I feel so comforted by your blog because I always thought that something was wrong with me. My feelings and thoughts seemed so crazy to most people…Reading your thoughts helps make me realize that what I was doing and thinking were totally normal and I thank you for that!!!

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untyingtheknot July 1, 2009 at 10:58 pm

"There are always so many emotions I’m balancing while also trying to make sure everyone in the room walks out of it with warm fuzzy happy family feelings."
This is the phrase that stands out in my mind. I'm no longer a married mom (well, technicalities aside I'm not anyway) but I was for almost 12 years and for most of that I too was trying hard to make sure everyone was happy and feeling fuzzy.
Then, a few years ago I heard someone somewhere (probably on Oprah) say that what kids want and need from a parent is a person not a role. That is to say, not just someone who is playing the part of 'mom', trying to be all that their own ideal of that title is, but someone who is an authentic person as well as a mom. It was real 'ah ha' moment for me. Realizing this helped me to let go of the responsibility to control how everyone else was feeling.

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untyingtheknot July 1, 2009 at 10:59 pm

I think the same thing applies to other relationships as well. Do men want a girlfriend, fiancee, or wife who is playing that role, or do they want the real person? I'm placing my bets on the real person.
So lay off yourself, sit back and watch them enjoy themselves. You don't have to make that happen.

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Mamafeelgood July 1, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Two words…"fuck it"
seriously….if it's only bothering you then change your attitude. Now I'm not saying that you should just be a giant pushover but remember how sometimes you just let your kid run and play and get dirty and you don't care? That's the beauty of "fuck it". Just remember that your man wakes up every single morning and chooses to be with you. Just remember that you wake up every single morning and choose to be with him. Who cares if his dish gets to the sink but never makes it into the dishwasher if he's massaging your feet after a long day? Who cares that men in your past have not lived up to your expectations. This one shouldn't have to pay for that. "fuck it."
My floors are dirty, "fuck it." I can clean them later. Dishes need to be washed, "fuck it". I want to take my kid to the park. I have 1,000,000 other things to do but "fuck it" right now I want to be in the bedroom swinging like a monkey….
That's all I gotta say about that.

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Kathleen July 3, 2009 at 6:25 pm

love that!!!! I think I have absolutely adapted that attitude, as I kick the fur ball under my feet instead of picking it up or god forbid bring out the vacuum. I know it's just going to get dirty again. I love this post!

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CME July 1, 2009 at 11:17 pm

Ahhh…yes, the walls are going up. The fear is setting in…a case of the "what ifs?" I am going through the exact same thing and was wreck last week. We had this amazing weekend together and it scared the sh!t out of me. How does that make sense? Because I am/was in fear and I didnt' have trust. Trust that the universe or god or whatever you may subscribe to will work it out. It's so much easier said then done. I'm so glad you posted about this…what great comments from everyone. And stop being so hard on yourself. As someone elluded to above, you arent' responsible for others' feelings, including John Bear's. Take care of Alaina and Benjamin and the rest will fall into place as its meant to be.

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WineCountryMom July 2, 2009 at 1:27 am

I've always done this, pushed away men as they got close to me. I found myself chasing the ones that didn't want me, but fighting against the ones that did. When I was single, I would wish desperately for that one special someone to be in my life, help me raise my family, and be my love and support. But as soon as someone like that entered my life, I got scared. I think that's the biggest reason: FEAR. It's the fear of getting hurt, it's the fear that he's the wrong one, it's the fear that there's someone out there that's meant for you and you are missing it because you're with someone else, it's the fear of the effect it will have on the balance you have created in your life….. Too many reasons to list. But when it's right, the fear disappears and you suddenly wonder why you ever questioned this love in the first place.

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angela July 2, 2009 at 2:08 am

agree w/mama sunshine!!! and breath, enjoy relax…. it is sooo hard. reminds me of wyclef.. 911 w/mary j blige..

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amy July 2, 2009 at 3:18 am

When I was 22 or so and living with someone who I had been with for a year or so I said something very awful. I don't know why but for some reason I said "How could you be so STUPID!!" and then rambled on a few more sentences. The look on his face was crushing and I knew the rage came from me, because of me and really had nothing to do about him.

From then on I vowed never to consciously hurt ANYONE with words. Attack their character. Because you just can never take those hurtful words back.

With hubby I try to discuss my 'concerns' when the time is right without attacking him or his beliefs. Same with the kids. Have no idea what happened with you and your guy but I hope it was nothing serious.

Let him into your heart and trust. What is the worst thing that can happen really? If it does not work out it was not meant to be. If it does then I am so happy for you both :)

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Rebecca K. July 2, 2009 at 7:41 am

Hey girl – Thanks for sharing your fears. I'm currently in a 2 year plus relationship since separating from my ex. My first 6 months in this relationship, we had so many fights … arguments … etc. It always started with me … something got "triggered" emotionally … like he hit an emotional " land mine" and I would explode / lash out at him. After settling down, I'd come to realize that most of that "explosion" was actually directed at my ex; not my bf. My bf realized this too and now he knows not to take these things personally … and to allow me to "leave" when I'm feeling this way. I think one of the triggering points is when I'm feeling overwelmed with being a working single mom, ie. when my work and parenting life goes off balance and I'm feeling overloaded. After 2 years, it's not as bad as it was the first year and I'm starting to recognize the "triggers" and dissipating them before they "explode". My bf sees the warning signs and knows to let me go at these moments as well. I don't get as "angry" as I used to anymore … I think it has passed.

Anyways, I think it's a process that one goes through when one's been in unhealthy relationships. It's perhaps a healing process … it takes time to recognize and to get control over / get it out of your system. I'm still working on it myself … and my bf is still around … and I am grateful to him for that fact.

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ali July 2, 2009 at 8:22 am

Ok – I swear I am not beng judgemental or making a suggestion or presumption. I learned in therapy. No joke. It wasn’t something I could just ‘do’ but had to be taught how to allow myself the love of a great man AND how to be ok with all the baggage when it bubbles up. Just what worked for me.

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Rebecca K. July 2, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Hey girl – Thanks for sharing your fears. I'm currently in a 2 year plus relationship since separating from my ex. My first 6 months in this relationship, we had so many fights … arguments … etc. It always started with me … something got "triggered" emotionally … like he hit an emotional " land mine" and I would explode / lash out at him. After settling down, I'd come to realize that most of that "explosion" was actually directed at my ex

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littlemansmom July 2, 2009 at 7:35 pm

So….basically what you are saying here is that you are…..HUMAN! How shocking! LOL….come on kiddo, cut yourself a break! Everything has it's moments and certainly no one can be expected to be perfect. Hugs babydoll…and take it one step at a time.

You say that he's worth it and I've got a secret for you….so are you! ;)

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cathy July 3, 2009 at 4:27 am

very good post, very good writing. you nailed this one!
this is me right now, single – albeit widowed; young mom, trying to raise three boys under 10. in a new great relationship. scared with reality and what the future will bring.

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Grey July 3, 2009 at 5:49 pm

This is a beautiful post, and I can definitely relate to it. I've been in a healthy relationship for nearly three years, and I still have times where I just want to run like hell, for fear of getting hurt. It makes me afraid that I will never be able to "settle", because I'm so fearful of that rejection. The downside it that sometimes that same fear makes it hard for me to speak up when I have desires or needs that I feel aren't being met – I don't want to rock the boat and lose a good thing…but then I find myself unhappy and somewhat passive-aggressively dealing with my issues. I'm trying to work through it – they are MY issues, and my lover isn't really the one at fault here. I'm afraid that my fears and my pain have kept us more distant, I'm afraid that I push us apart b/c of fears I can't even articulate…. and sometimes I just feel like a total mess. Even worse, sometimes it all comes out and I lose it, yelling at my kids (which is unfair to them).

The best I can do is keep trying. The best I can do is to try to be a better individual every day, to try to be a better parent and partner, to try to change my old habits, and to speak my feelings instead of let it all build up and explode. Having a relationship with children is so hard. I can't say that I've ever done it very well – my marriage crumbled, after all – and I always feel like I'm shortchanging someone.

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Rachel July 4, 2009 at 1:22 pm

I think this idea "make sure everyone in the room walks out of it with warm fuzzy happy family feelings" has to go out the window. You can only control your own feelings, not anyone else's. By showing all your feelings, even the rough ones, you are showing Benjamin that it's OK to feel angry, frustrated, tired, etc. It's a great myth us moms face that happy kids are good kids. Good kids are in touch with all their emotions.

Even in my 8.5 year old marriage, I still lash out inappropriately. At this point my husband realizes when I'm doing it and he doesn't buy in. He points out that I'm out of line, and then helps me try to find the root of the issue – usually something that has nothing to do with him.

After apologizing, maybe you and John can talk about a way you can work together to stop before you go to far again. Maybe it's simple words John says like "I'm a different man." Or maybe you can write your feelings first and reread yourself.

At any rate, if love is there, forgiveness and new found depths of your relationship will follow the tiffs.

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julie July 4, 2009 at 2:00 pm

I just got out of a relationship where things were going good, until I would open my big mouth and say something totally without thinking, then later go why would I say that? But in my case, deep down I knew he was not marriage material and that was my unconscious subconscious if there is such a think. We would be doing fine and then have this huge argument because I made some comment totally without thinking that made him go "wooah, why would she say that" So in my case i think i did it to slowly help myself and him come to the realization that If I truly loved him, and if he was the right one for me, I would have not said things like that. All though no one is perfect, you could just be saying things, cause you are use to doing everything yourself, and moms get cranky and sometimes things just slip out. I know Its scary when things come out of your mouth, and you go "WHY did i just say that?"

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wyliekat July 6, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Honestly, I'd say you're dealing less with the concept of being a married mother than you are being a remarried mother. The stakes are so much higher the second time around. You've got the fear of committing and finding out after the fact that it's all wrong, or it's gone sideways or he becomes someone else. You have these fears because you've experienced it. You can understand that love is risky in an intellectual way, but this? This is visceral. The fear, the love, the wanting, the denial of want – all of it is based on your prior experience of going from family of three to family of two, with you at it's head. It's a nightmarish struggle to get used to being the head of the household, and once you've succeeded, you're reluctant to get into anything that means you may have to learn it again.

But love is, like anything, a leap of faith. You are either in it with both feet and your whole heart, or you're not. There is no straddling both worlds, and trying will only hurt everyone involved. Leaps of faith are about doing things or believing in things that are against reason, against rational logic and against what you've learned in the past about pain and risk. That's why it's a leap, and that's really what faith is. Do, or do not – there is no try. (Thank thee, yoda)

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Kathleen July 7, 2009 at 5:21 am

First and foremost, everyone owns their own feelings, especially the adults. When my husband and I had our son, I started a bad habit of making sure they were both okay before I took care of other things. My husband finally said to me, "You're mothering me and I don't need it." He was right.

In my story, I intuitively knew how to keep my child safe from the outside world but I had to learn how to keep my family protected from my anger about things in the past. I never hit or even yelled very much but the anger would come out and the time to recover from it was time I was stealing from our lives.

Therapy is part of the answer for me. Both to deal with the toxic stuff and to learn how to be the woman I want to be, including being a wife and a mom. We've done couples counseling for a few short stints as well. We've developed a low tolerance for not being at peace with each other as a couple and as a family. I think that's good.

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Kathleen July 7, 2009 at 5:24 am

continued…

I want my son to go out into the world knowing that being part of a couple means being a sheltering tree for each other. That when love makes a family, you are on sacred ground. As his mother, I have no choice but to be the example. It's the hardest thing I've ever done, I don't know if this work ever ends because we are human and so often our best intentions run up against the reality of everday stressors.

The reward is being married for over 20 years and finding no safer space than with each other. The reward is that everytime we think we truly know each other, another mask comes off. I didn't know I could be this naked. It's a gift, this binding of my life with another, and then to our chid, that has set me free.

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mssinglemama July 7, 2009 at 12:04 pm

This is so beautiful. Thank you, really, you all have no idea how much these comments have helped me. I also called my therapist because I have health insurance again and will be going next week.

Thanks again and I'm so happy for you… here's to those masks coming off!

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Jessica July 8, 2009 at 12:20 am

This is an awesome post … don't have anything to add, just had to say that. And the comments just add to the whole thing. I am amazed at how much I can relate. Thanks to everyone for sharing.

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Cyndi July 8, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Honesty is the best policy in any relationship, even if that means that not everyone feels warm and fuzzy. Their feelings aren't your responsibility, only yours are. I'm not suggesting we should all fly off the handle and start yelling at whoever happens to be in the room every time we experience a negative emotion. What I am suggesting is that after a lifetime of stuffing my own feelings, making sure everyone else felt warm and fuzzy and completely losing "me", it all came back to haunt me. Be honest but calm. We all have a dark side. Great post!

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famejane July 13, 2009 at 2:42 am

Everyone has a dark side sweety. It's important to accept this fact. It's also important to not take it out on those you love. It sounds like your dark side might contain an element of self-sabotage. Now that you've found the love of your life, you need to protect it. Certainly, if he is everything you say he is, he'll learn to understand you and he'll learn not to take things personally, but men are sensitive animals. More importantly, you must protect Benjamin from it, for he is not able to understand it. I had a mother with an extremely dark side and I still struggle to not blame myself for things that have happened throughout our lives.

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Courtney July 14, 2009 at 3:21 pm

I’m a married mom and it is hard. There is no secret fix. For my hubbie and I the only thing that really makes it work is knowing that no matter how bad things get neither of us is budging. We are in this for the long haul. If neither of us is leaving we better figure it out so it can be good again. Between that commitment, prayers, and a lot of grace we get through and, more often than not, it is amazing.

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Gina July 15, 2009 at 7:45 pm

I’m a widow with 2 boys aged 8 and 6, my problem is I still love my beloved hubby who past away 2 1/2 yrs ago, there are few guys that I have met but the problem is I still can’t let go the relationship that I had with my hubby, this has blocked me from being closer to other man, I feel really lonely at times. I know I have to move on but I don’t know how and the man that I have met are not the type that i want to be with, I really hope to let go my past and hope to find the right partner soon.

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