Saturday, January 11, 2014

The voice inside that never lies, and is never wrong.

Photo attribution here

Do you remember a few entries back where I illuminated the benefits of breaking all contact with ones ex if at all possible? And then a couple entries later The Mr. called me just to see how I was doing? It was almost like God was testing my ability to walk the walk of all the talk I do. Well, my time with Captain Amazing has reached its end. We are broken up once and for all, and in grand summation of the whole situation, I would say that I'm pretty sure this, like the phone call, was one big test/chance to grow from God to me--like a Christmas present. A painful, excruciating, disorienting, soul stretching Christmas present from God to me. Refresher:

On August 16, 2013 I wrote the following:

There's a voice inside me that never lies and is never wrong. When I met The Mr. that voice said, "No thank you." But I kissed him anyway--a lot. When he proposed that voice said, "You do not know this man. How can you marry someone you don't know if you can trust?" But I told the voice to be quiet or we'd never find love. When The Mr. and I would sit in a room together, 15 months into our mistake that voice would say, "He's not here in the room with you. He's already gone." I would tell the voice, "No. He's the one who loves me."

I met Captain Amazing the day before classes began, the beginning of September. The voice kicked in about a week into our time together. I was waiting for him to stop by to pick me up for what I knew would be a very romantic evening on a Hawaiian moonlit beach. I was sitting in the courtyard of my dorm, chatting with him on the phone, arranging the final details of where to meet and when. The voice said, "Don't you go with him. Stay home. I mean it," but having been completely alone for the last 10 months and desperate (key word there) for some kind of something to take my mind off my past, infatuated with the exoticness of the potential of dating a tall, handsome African man, and with a soul so parched for affection the substance with which it would be quenched made little difference to me, I went anyway. I did not listen to the voice.

The next morning I awoke with memories of what I can only, in all honesty, confess to be among the most romantic nights of my life, I went outside to the Hawaiian sun and started reading my scriptures in preparation for church. I picked up my patriarchal blessing with a secret hope that maybe this gentleman could put an end to the eternally daunting task that is once more before me of dating and being single. Again, the voice was clear--this time almost fierce. "Let me be perfectly clear. Captain Amazing is not the one for you." But desperation dies hard.

I spent the next three months trying every angle I could think of to convince myself that this upset stomach was a result of my scrambled egg divorce brain. I was being overly cautious, defensive, unwilling to relax and neurotic. I told myself these things again and again and again. Why? Because I hate being alone. I hate being alone, and Captain Amazing was cute, romantic, funny, scholarly, devoted, a convert, a psychology major, an AP in his mission, a temple worker, a Sunday School President, was the CEO of a nonprofit for crying out loud, and a damn good kisser. But the voice was right all along. He is not the one for me. The voice inside me never lies and is never wrong.

After at least four attempts at breaking up the voice adopted subversive tactics, embedding herself into a muscle on the left side of my neck 'till it began to spasm. I'd gotten to a place where my brain was 68% devoted to anticipating and meeting his needs, which were often cryptic and unmeetable. I was eating too much, sleeping too little, not making time for myself and, by the end, incapable of holding a fully upright posture. Every day I wondered what I could do to make it better. I was apologetic, open, eternally available and losing myself bit by bit by bit...again, till the moment came where I'd had enough.

Breaking it off for good was hard because I, like my father, am intensely uncomfortable inconveniencing anyone. I didn't want to hurt his feelings, but once things got bad enough that I no longer could see the situation for anything other than what it was, I couldn't go back anymore. He was determined not to end it, and I had to become even more firm. It wasn't pretty, but it was the right thing to do, and there is a peace in that.

Lessons to extract from this experience? Red flags:

1. If the person you are with makes you feel less like yourself they don't love you for who you are.
2. If you feel like your partner can't live without your help. Walk away from projects, no excuses, no exceptions.
3. If you cannot tell what you want, how you feel or what you think in the presence of another, you are having enmeshment issues and the relationship is not a healthy one.
4. If the person you are dating makes you feel bad on a regular basis -- bad about yourself, bad about your values, bad about your body, your taste in movies, your job, your major, you passions, your friends, anything really-- no good.
5. If your relationship with God suffers because of your devotion to your partner, run.
6. If you find yourself saying, "Things will get better when..." They won't. People have patterns. They can be broken, but usually are not.
7. If fighting with the person is overly dramatic, childish, or immature leave them in the past. You both have some growing up to do.
8. If the relationship feels unbalanced--like one of you is investing significantly more time, attention, effort and love into the relationship, it will not get better. It will get worse.
9. If you find yourself continually lowering your expectations, week after week after week. Some compromise is necessary, but we've all got to draw the line somewhere before we become shadows of ourselves and what we once were and wanted.
10. Just because a person looks amazing on paper, it doesn't mean you have the right to stifle the voice inside. I'm telling you, guys. She never lies and is never wrong.


  1. I'm sorry your time with Capt. Amazing has ended. Just because breaking up sucks bad, whether it's the right thing or not.

    I like your list of red flags. But one thing I would add to a few items on it is: "And your partner is not willing to talk about it with you and work it out." Jacob and I have been married for a little over 3 years, and there have been several patches during those three years when both of us have thought, "I think I married the wrong person. I don't know if this is going to work. I'm afraid I want out." And it's painful and terrifying and awful. There HAVE been times when our relationship was unbalanced. When we both think "Things will be better when..." But I think the reason our marriage has survived is because we were both willing to talk about it, to work something out, to have patience. For us, it was the right thing to just sort of power through the survive until we could figure out how to thrive. It worked for us. We got through the red flags. I know stuff like this can sound like, "Well, FrowFrow, if you had just TRIED HARDER, your marriage would have survived." Which is TOTALLY not what I mean at all. Every marriage is different, and for you, divorce was the right choice. But sometimes those red flags you mentioned can be lowered and torn up by just talking.

  2. Liz,

    You bring up a very valid point, and that point is: these red flags are intended for people who are DATING. I did not specify that and really should have. While some of them carry over into the marriage world, it is a whole different ballgame once you are bonded for eternity, or even till death do you part. One of the big mistakes I made with The Mr. is that I was nowhere NEAR discerning enough while I was dating him. These red flags are an effort to promote objective thought while in the grips of young love and raging hormones. Once a couple is married there is a whole world of flabby underbelly that can no longer be disguised. That's part of the deal and that's okay, and serious kudos to you two for sticking it out. That is what I tried for till the bitter end with The Mr., but your suggestion for an addition is perfect. Both parties have got to be willing to talk about it and work it out. THAT was the ultimate fatal flaw in my marriage. Thanks for chiming in!

  3. Thank you again for some sage words of advice. Just coming off a long and mostly committed marriage, the feelings of loneliness are palpable. My voice keeps telling me to "slow down!" and wait and tread water for a while, learning more about myself and building some good casual relationships first, my heart wants so bad to jump right into another close relationship. I am slowly realizing that I must be patient, and look for for many of the red flags that may come up. Thanks again for the good advice!!

    1. I'm glad it's helpful for you. I know the feeling you're talking about well. There are times I miss being a wife so intensely, and I'm a sucker for emotional intimacy in any form. Some of the best advice I ever received was from the one good therapist I ever had. He told me second marriages have a higher divorce rate than first, and third marriage is even higher than that. This terrified me. I assumed that after running the gauntlet of my first marriage I would know exactly what to avoid, but turns out we are highly emotional, volatile and (at least in my case) irrational coming out of an unhealthy marriage. He told me not to date for at least a full year. I waited ten months and then dove back in. It was disastrous and I lost a lot of the healthy momentum I'd built up in those 10 months of healing. I learned a lot, but the main thing I learned is that my issues with choosing a mate remain. Give it time. We need time. When things get so black and painful and unbearable, just notice what you feel. Observe it and let it be. It's a moment in time we cannot change. We have to just get out of its way and let it be. It won't last forever, I promise.

      Hang tight! And keep up those bike rides and prayers. Healing comes in so many ways.