Chapter 6 – Divorce & Dating

“Playing the Cards Life has Dealt”

Just when you think everything is good or things could not get worse something happens in your marriage.  Unfaithfulness, money problems, addiction, growing apart or getting scared.  When your spouse is unfaithful it hurts to the core.  You feel like you did something wrong all these years for them to do that to you.  Well that is what happened in my marriage, my husband of seven years was unfaithful.

I had to realize that I did nothing wrong and it was not my fault.  The first thing that I thought is that I will never be able to find someone who is going to want me or like me because of my “baggage (CF).”  The divorce was the hardest thing I have had to go through.  God did give me strength to deal with it but I still could not help but to think my life was over as I knew it.  I did not even want to think about dating because that is all I needed was another man who was going to treat me bad.

Why was my husband unfaithful?  Was it because of the CF?  Did he get scared?  I had to realize that I was much better off without him than to be in an unhappy marriage.

During the first few months after being separated I had a lot of questions that I wanted answered.  So after a few more months I decided it was time to ask the hard questions.  I had to hear it for myself that it was not my fault, I needed the conformation.  I learned that he indeed was scared and did not want to deal with the CF getting worse.  I did tell him that now it was going to bother him even more when he heard of me being sick or when I died just because of the way he went about it.  I had given him many chances to walk away with no questions asked and he never did.  The infidelity was not a shock to me.  I put up with a lot for many years and finally had enough.  I was pretty sick and in the hospital at the time of the last infidelity so that made it much harder but somewhat easier in the end.  I begged my doctor to let me out of the hospital in time for our 7 year anniversary.  I got out the day before our anniversary and came home to an empty house.  It was that day that I decided I was done living this way and allowing myself to be treated this way.  Happy anniversary to me!  The straw had finally broken the camels back and I was done tripping over all the things I had brushed under the rug.  I needed this weight lifted so I could breathe again.

Going through this has taught me many things, one being that people will fail you.  I know I did my best and loved the best I knew how, that is what mattered to me, I did not fail.

Now the thought of dating was scary but also exciting.  Remember I have never dated; I had been with my ex-husband since I was thirteen years old.  I did not know where to look for a man because I obviously cannot do the bar or club scene because of the smoke, not that I really wanted to meet someone in a bar anyway.  I felt like a looser because I could not work because of the CF and I am on disability.  One of the first questions someone is going to ask would be, “what do you do for a living and what do you do for fun?”  How do you answer that when you cannot work anymore and fun can be limited depending on how you are feeling.  Then when do you bring up that you have CF and how?

There are a few versions that you can tell people.  Once you decide you like someone and think they may be someone you would like to continue dating you tell them the short but sweet version.  My short but sweet version is that I have CF and I get sick easier than everyone else.  Then the more you get to know someone you keep throwing little tidbits in until they have the majority of the information.

Some people will not realize that they have a problem with you having CF until you have a stay in “Club Med” or you get sick with CF related things.  The one who truly loves you will be with you through it all and not be moved by fear.  Remember us with CF are going through it too but we do not have a choice in the matter like others in our life.  There is always an element of fear when dealing with someone with an incurable disease because of the unknown.

Then, the inevitable talk about dying.  My ex-husband NEVER wanted to talk about it not even jokingly; he would get mad at me when I brought it up.  If you cannot talk about death how do you think you will deal with it when it happens, you will not.  It is important to find someone who will help you live life, love life and not give up.  There were also some people who thought that I did too much, that I should not be going out and dating.  Well I have got news for you, I am not dead yet, I may have one foot in the grave but do not push me in.  I am going to keep living until I cannot live anymore.

Dating as an adult, a divorced adult at that is much different from when you are a teenager.  When you are an adult you know what you want or at least you should.  Someone like me who was married before and loved being a wife does not want to be single for the rest of my life.  I am not going to settle for less than the best.  I was not going to sit around and become an old maid.  I wanted to meet new people and experience life in a ne way.  I wanted to find someone not to take care of me but someone who loves me, cares for me, and respects me.  I just knew that there was someone if not more than one out there that CF would not send them running the other way and that they would love me for me and not what they can do for or to me.  A marriage needs to be one hundred percent participation by both parties.  There are days when you aren’t up to par and that is when your spouse helps hold you up.  You need to be able to give your all, not just half.  You should be there when your spouse falls to lift them up and encourage them.  Marriage is a partnership, not a dictatorship.

So the dating began but.  It was not like I had men knocking down my door or making the phone ring off the hook.  I met some very interesting men while dating and also met some real losers.  Every date I went on I would have my CF radar on.   CF radar is trying to decide if and when to tell them and how much.  I usually did not say anything on the first date because sometimes the first date was the only date so why waste my breath, I need it.  I have never wanted someone to stay with me because they felt bad for me.  Once I got to know them I would then let them into the world of CF.  I was trying to find out who I was in all of this since the divorce considering I had been with my ex for 13 total years.  I had always been identified as so and so’s girlfriend or wife so I had to find out who Shannon was.  That was a long hard journey of discovery.

If you are in a relationship and CF has not already come up in conversation you will have to tell them sooner or later.  You owe it to the other person to tell them about CF.  Once they know they then can make the decision to stick around and fall madly in love or they may realize it is too much for them to handle.  They are entitled to those feelings.  Like I said before us as the CFers have no choice whether or not we want to deal with CF.  If they choose that it is too much that is fine.  Some people are made for loving someone who has a disease/illness and some aren’t.  Do not say no to dating because you do not want to get hurt, remember that people are human and people make mistakes.  You may just have to have a bad experience to learn from it and allow it to make you a stronger person.  I would not change all the things that I have had to go through in life because it is those things that make me who I am today, a very strong, loving, caring, and giving person.  Of course they were not fun while going through them but I look back now and know that I can help others who will go through the things that I did because of it.

Trust me, take your time when dating there is someone out there for you that will love you with all your “baggage” you have.  Do not think there is no one out there or that there is no hope because there is.  I had all of those thoughts; “I will be miserable for the rest of my life, I’m going to die alone, no one will want me because they will not want to deal with all of the hospital stays, home I.V.’s, doctors appointments, medicines, and all the other excitement of CF!”  There is someone who will love you for who you are and not care about the CF.  First you need to be comfortable with yourself and be in tune with your CF.  You cannot look for someone to take care of you because people will let you down but you always have you, so be happy with who you are and what you are, which is not CF but just an added element in your life.  There are also people who relationships are not their thing and they prefer to be an independent person and that is great.

My family was shocked with the news of our separation and pending divorce.  They did not know we were having problems because I did not tell them.  I did not want to fail and thought just maybe things would turn around.  I did not tell anyone except immediate family and a few close friends.  Now, how did my friends deal with my divorce, they seemed to take it harder than we did.  People will tell you that you are making a mistake but they are not the ones living in the midst of the unhappy marriage.  People told me that I was moving too fast and that I needed time to grieve.  Well I followed my heart and yes I look back now and realize that some of my decisions were not the smartest but it got me where I am now.

I grieved the loss of my marriage for about six months before we even separated.  I knew what was going to happen, it was just a matter of time before it ended.  So I did a lot of my crying/grieving prior to the separation and then of course after.  The people giving me advice had never been in my shoes (unfaithful, addicted husband and divorced).  I did respect their opinions but I had to do what I thought was best.  I was ready to no longer be known as so and so’s wife, I was ready to be me and to live again.  It was a different way of life from what I was used to though.  I made sure that I set my standards, rules and goals in dating so that I was not going into it blindly and taking every compliment as though it was a marriage proposal.  I quickly learned what guys would do to get what they want.  Many women are the same way so I am not guy bashing by any means.

While dating I was able to go to places I had never gone before and try some new things.  I put myself out there with the expectations of meeting new people, making friends and doing new things.  I felt like I finally got to be myself and not be limited.  Marriage its self is not limiting but when your spouse does not put forth a lot of effort in the marriage, you are the one that feels the weight of it all.

What did I learn from being married?  I  married too young.  CF played a part in the reason we married so young.  I was getting pretty sick and it didn’t seem like there was an end in sight.  I thought if I didn’t get married then I may never get married.  You have to have trust in your relationship otherwise there is no point in being together.  There is no reason to be worrying what your spouse is doing all the time or to be hounded about what you are doing, that is no way to live.  Communication is key.  You should be able to talk to your significant other/spouse.  They should be one of your best friends.  You are with them because you liked them at least at one point.  You should be able to bring up issues with your significant other/spouse and not be scared.  Of course if it is a tough subject then you may be nervous as anyone would but you should still be able to spit the words out.  I also learned that you can only give your heart; you cannot make someone give theirs.  If you love someone you will do pretty much anything for them.  I learned to not lie for my spouse; it did not get me or us anywhere but closer to divorce.  I learned that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all even with the hurt.  That may sound silly to some but it is the truth even though it hurts to lose the one that you invested yourself in.  Going through the whole process defiantly makes a person stronger if the person does not get bitter from the situation.  Life happens.  You just have to go with the flow and learn from everything that you go through.  You also need to appreciate everything you have and the people in your life.

In October of 2006 while I was on MySpace I was reunited with a guy who grew up in my hometown and was a classmate of my brothers.  I hadn’t seen or talked to him in over 15 years.  He and I began talking a lot though email and webcam.  He was in Korea for a year with the Air Force.  We said that we would date when he got home and see how things went.  He arrived home in June of 2007.  We went on a few dates and that was pretty much the end of “seeing what happens,” we both realized that we liked what was happening.  He purposed to me on Thanksgiving Day of 2009 and we got married in May of 2010.   Our wedding was at a local winery with family and close family friends in attendance.  We really could not have asked for a better day.  I am so thankful that he sent that message to me on MySpace, who knows where we would be.  I don’t even want to think about that because where I am is all I hoped life could be.

After the wedding ceremony my husband’s daughter came over to me and was crying and hugged me.  I asked if she was ok and she nodded and then my tears started to fall, they were happy tears.  My husband and his son joined in the family hug.  It was a great moment and I will never forget it, thankfully we have a picture of the special moment.  We had everyone crying.  I just have to say, this relationship and marriage is more than I could have asked for.  We make a great family.

Dealing with your parents divorce is a whole other experience than dealing with your own divorce.  After 27.5 years of marriage my parents got a divorce.  I had been married for about 3 years at the time, so I was grown and out of the house.  I didn’t have to do the whole going to each parent’s house on alternating weeks/weekends which I can only imagine how hard it would have been with all the CF stuff going back and forth.  I remember asking my mom when I was about 12 or so when they were going to get divorced because “all parents got divorced.”  A lot of my friends parents had gotten divorced around that time so I assumed it was the inevitable.  She of course told me she hoped that didn’t happen and we went on with our day.  I’m glad that they were adults about it all and remain friends for their children’s sake.  I don’t feel like their divorce had any major effect on me or my decisions in life.  I attribute that to their divorce happening after I was grown and out of the house.  Parents are people too and they have to do what is best for them.

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