You Can’t Force Love

Once again he thought he’d finally met the right girl. So pretty. Great personality. They liked the same things; the same music, same type of movies. The same types of food. She enjoyed cooking and he liked helping her in the kitchen. They had similar life goals.

But there was a problem. Every time he approached the subject of making their relationship more permanent, more serious, she pulled away, changed the subject. Then he wouldn’t see her for days.

But each time they finally saw each again after such an absence she seemed fine; happy to be with him again…until he brought that subject up and he wouldn’t see her again for a while.

But he didn’t give up. He continued to call and they’d talk, and then get together. But when he eventually brought up the subject again, after each of those conversations it seemed she had excuses why she couldn’t see him for a while. They were good reasons though, and he believed her…wanted to believe her.

Until he saw her one night having dinner with another guy, sitting really close to him, smiling and laughing like he’d never seen her do, and a huge diamond sparkling on her left hand.

This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened to him.

But why???? He had no idea. What was he doing wrong? Too much too quickly? Too desperate? Too pushy?

All he wanted was for someone to love him….

She kept thinking of every man she met as a potential husband, thinking he was going to be The One. She was lonely and tired of being by herself.

After one or two dates, she always thought she was falling in love.

Even though in their conversations they’d tell her things that she really had issues with. One told her he left both of his wives because they hit him. Really? Could be, but what are the chances?

Another said he left his wife because she gained weight and wouldn’t lose it. She stopped wearing the type of clothes he liked, and let her hair go to its natural gray. “She just wasn’t attractive like she used to be. I couldn’t deal with it.” Really? How a woman looks is the most important thing in a relationship? How shallow is that?

Another kept telling her about all the other women he’d dated, and what was wrong with each of them, and warning her if she did this or that, he’d stop seeing her, too. Another told her he liked her and they had fun together, but he didn’t want a long term relationship again, and if she did, well, she’d better look elsewhere.

Another told her she was exactly what he’d been looking for…on the first date. He pushed and pushed for her to commit. Until she did. And then found out all he was looking for was someone to take care of him, do everything HE wanted, WHEN he wanted, and HOW he wanted. Suddenly her opinions didn’t matter at all, Thankfully, she was able to get away before they got married.

And so it went.

“I just want to be loved….”

But at what price?

Love is not settling. Love is not overlooking and ignoring someone’s warning signs just because you’re lonesome and don’t think you can get anyone else.

Love does not require you or the other person to change your thoughts, ideas, values, appearance, or your total way of life in order to be loved. You are both who you are, complete with your faults. It’s a package deal.

Love is not conditional. It cannot be turned on and off because of someone’s physical appearance. True love looks at the heart, the whole person; not just the outward appearance.

Love doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen because you want it to. It happens because it’s right. For both people. And it’s not in YOUR timing.

You cannot force someone to love you, any more than you can force yourself to fall in love with someone you’re not attracted to, just because you’re alone. You should never mistake curing your loneliness for love. Because eventually you’ll realize that’s not what it was, and by then it may be too late.

Love is always worth waiting for. Even if we don’t like having to do it.

Because when that right one comes along, you won’t have to force it to happen.

Is Jealousy Ruling Your Life?

Yesterday morning we woke up to the news that our Olympic skier won her medal! Congratulations to her! Well deserved! Yes, she wanted the gold, but bronze is certainly nothing to scoff about!

Or is it?

The same people who were commenting all over social media about how much she deserved to lose because she didn’t have the same political ideas as they have are now talking about her being a loser because she lost the gold and only got bronze!

Seriously? Talk about people who have nothing better to do with their life!

But these people are not only haters, they’re jealous. And jealous people will sometimes go out of their way to put people down because they envy them so much. Their jealousy takes over and begins to consume them.

In this particular case, they’re jealous of a young woman who has worked almost all her life at a sport she loves, becoming without a doubt one of the best in her field. Like other Olympians, she trains hard, fights through pain and injury, and continues to work at what she loves to become the very best she can be. She’s won countless awards for skiing during her career, and this Olympics is most likely her last one before she retires.

And she won a bronze medal! Yes, she trained and wanted the gold so bad she could taste it, but she WON, not the prize she aspired, but she’s still a winner!

To her detractors, could YOU do that? Let’s see you try! I know I certainly couldn’t do it. But I enjoyed watching her live her dream. Not many of us get that same opportunity.

Jealousy is a powerful human emotion. It’s also a negative emotion, and very often aligns itself with its best friend Hate to take out its wrath of envy on those that are successful in doing something they love.

Why? Are they that insecure? That they have to put others down to make themselves look better, look more important? It does just the opposite, you know.

Jealousy can be all-consuming, if we allow it. That’s not healthy. It can totally ruin our lives. And sometimes other people’s lives.

It’s not referred to as “the green-eyed monster” for no reason.

All of us at one time or another have been a bit envious, a bit jealous of other people for one reason or another.

Jealous of the one who gets a promotion we think is undeserved. How do we know it’s undeserved? Obviously the supervisor thought it was deserved.

Jealous of someone selected for a position we don’t think they’re qualified for or don’t deserve. And they may not; but someone thought they did.

Or maybe you’re jealous that someone you know just bought a home, or a car, like you want, but can’t afford. “Why them?” you ask. “Why not me?” Maybe they’ve worked harder, saved more money than you. Maybe you should adjust things you’re doing to be able to do the same.

Maybe you’re jealous that friends are taking a vacation to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, but you’re staying home.

Or you’re secretly jealous of your best friend who’s getting married…and you’re not even dating anyone. You put on a good show, but down inside that green eyed monster is clawing at your insides, just waiting to jump out and strike.

Or you’re jealous of someone you think is prettier than you are, has better hair, a nicer body, etc.

Yes, jealousy happens all the time. In both big and small ways.

But when taken to the extreme, it can become debilitating. It can turn into depression. Anger. Or if left unchecked, even violence.

Jealousy can happen when we don’t feel good about ourselves, for any number of reasons. Or when we think we’re owed something in life that others seem to be getting and we’re not.

It’s a natural human emotion. But certainly not a healthy one. And when that jealousy turns into hate towards others, you start to lose yourself, your sense of reality, and enter into a dark place that’s definitely not where you want to be.

And jealousy leads you nowhere. It holds you back from becoming what you want to be, who you want to be, because your energy is so focused on someone else and what they have, you lose sight of what you have, and what you want to be.

Jealousy is a green eyed monster that can devour you, if you’re not careful.

Are you going to let that happen, or are you going to tell that green eyed monster to go away? And concentrate on making yourself into the person you want to be.

Not someone you’re jealous of.

An Epidemic of Hate

This has to stop. It has to stop now.

Our country is being torn apart by it. More and more every day. Our very way of life is being threatened by it.

And before you start saying, “That’s right! They have to stop!” you’d better read the rest of this blog.

I seldom write about politics. My political positions are my own personal business. Everyone has a right to their own political leanings, whether I agree or not, just as you may not agree with mine. Our country is thankfully guaranteed freedom of speech in the Constitution.

But that freedom should not be confused with the hate-speak that is becoming so rampant in this country.

Friends are turning against friends because they don’t agree with their political or social views. Whatever happened to agreeing to disagree?

Families are divided because of it as well, with parents and children refusing to speak to each other because of their differing views. In many cases they’re unable to even have a simple conversation without it turning mean and hateful.

Many of us, like myself, refrain from even mentioning certain subjects in order to avoid potential arguments which in today’s times can escalate to not speaking to each other for a few days or even longer.

Why write this now? Because I’m sickened at heart with what has been happening in this country. Threats against an attorney doing her job as a public defender of the latest school shooter, and yes, I know he has rights to a defense, but personally I would have resigned my job before taking on that case. But that’s my opinion, and I’m entitled to it.

Now we have people across our country tweeting and posting how they hope a very talented and popular skier loses out in the Olympics because she said she won’t go to the White House to meet the president because she’s not a supporter.

Really, people? You’re that petty? This is an athlete representing our country in a foreign country!

This has got to stop.

And it’s both sides. BOTH SIDES. From all levels. I’m not even sure at this point which side is worse; which is more embarrassing.

When did it become so popular – and so acceptable – to speak hate against each other; and against our own country?

When did it become acceptable to mock someone, make fun of them, belittle them, because of their faith? Are they not entitled to their personal beliefs? Are they trying to force them on others?

Why is it acceptable to hate an entire group of people because of their sexual orientation? Unfortunately I’ve even heard pastors say privately how they hate gay people, when they are the very ones who should be offering them a hand of love and grace. Didn’t Jesus say to love each other? He didn’t make exceptions. Why do they?

Why is it acceptable to hate someone because their skin is black? Or brown? Or white? When are we going to get past that? And when are we going to stop the derogatory name calling of others who are a different nationality or ethnic group?

Why do so many people say it’s justified to shoot policemen because they believe some of them are bad? And they may be, but there is never a reason to shoot someone just because of their job.

Why is it acceptable for some of our news media to adjust the news to their own political beliefs? And yes this happens on BOTH SIDES! And why is it acceptable for our president to keep using the term “fake news” all the time, which further exacerbates what I’m talking about? Yes, we have freedom of the press, but does it encompass slanting news in one way or another?

When did it become acceptable to have a double standard of conduct for public figures and political leaders? That it’s ok for one person to have done something wrong because he apologized for it, or it hasn’t been proven yet, when leaders on the other side are condemned by the same people for the exact same behavior, the exact same allegations?

And when did it become acceptable for pastors and other religious leaders to condemn certain groups of people because they don’t agree with their views? Once again both sides are guilty. And that is not the definition of preaching love; condemnation is the same as hate. Our Lord told us to love each other as ourselves. He didn’t add “except for these people….” I don’t get it.

I could go on and on, but it still won’t change anything. In fact, nothing will change until each and every one of us realize that our views, our ideas, our standards, are not the only ones that can ever be right. Until each of us realize that we are all entitled to our own opinions.

What we should not be entitled to is hate. Hate towards those who have opposing views. Hate towards those who are trying to live their lives the same as we are.

There’s an epidemic in this country. And it’s not the flu. Unfortunately there’s no vaccine against it. It strikes each and every one of us at least at one point in our life.

I’m tired of hearing all the hate. It has to stop. It needs to stop now. Before even more people become victims of those who think they’re the only ones entitled to their opinion.

And as for our Olympian, I hope she scores the gold! No matter what her political views!

Cupid, Don’t Remind Me…

When I was single I have to admit I didn’t like Valentine’s Day. In fact I hated it! It was just another reminder that I was alone.

No boyfriend; not even anyone I was remotely interested in. No husband. Just me and my dogs. And they didn’t send flowers or candy. I’m sure they would’ve if they’d known about it, and had any money, but they were…well, dogs.

I dreaded it. Every store I went in was decorated with hearts and Cupids and valentine balloons. Valentine cards were everywhere. Cute-sy sayings, rhymes, valentine cartoons….ugh. And all kinds of valentine decorations for that “someone special.”

Restaurants advertised special meals for couples. Florists advertised flower deliveries by tuxedo-wearing delivery men in limousines. Jewelry stores advertised special deals on diamond engagement rings, or other diamond jewelry as a valentine gift for your wife or sweetheart.

It just got to be too much sometimes.

Until I wanted to scream. Run away and not come back until February 15. When it was all over.

Which would’ve accomplished absolutely nothing except running away. Nothing would’ve changed except the date on the calendar.

At least by then Cupid would have already taken his arrows and flown away, and been replaced by a smiling drunken leprechaun. Who fortunately doesn’t remind anyone of their being alone.

Still….who wants to be reminded of how single they are? How no one seems to care for them? It causes us to lose hope, feel sorry for ourselves, and give up on our dream of ever having that special person in our life.

Cupid, please stop reminding those who aren’t in a relationship how much they’re missing out on. Because as we know, romantic relationships aren’t all romance 24/7.

Yes, it’s wonderful to have someone you love to share your life. And the ups and the downs as well. It’s great to have someone to go out to dinner with, to a movie, or to any number of places. To be with you when you don’t feel good, and support you when you’ve had a bad day.

There are also the times you neither one want to talk to each other, much less be in the same room, or even the same house; the times you just want to be by yourself and not have to entertain anyone else. When you don’t feel like eating dinner at all, much less cooking it for someone else. When you just want to look comfortable in your grubbiest, most comfortable clothes, not caring how you look; not wanting to have to impress anyone.

Then there are the times as parents when the kids are irritable, crying, argumentative, and just downright rude, and neither you or your spouse has the energy to deal with it. But one of you has to, and whoever ends up being “the bad guy” gets not only a set of frayed nerves, but sometimes has to listen to your spouse telling you how you handled it all wrong….

Cupid, are you listening?

This is what love really is.

These are the real life issues involved in a loving relationship. The issues that aren’t a part of Valentine’s Day, because they’re not the romantic ideal that this day celebrating love and romance, flowers and candy and candlelight dinners, is all about.

These are the real life loving situations, the ones that Cupid disappears from when they start to happen.

Because Cupid only shoots the love arrows into hearts; he doesn’t stick around to watch that love mature into a lasting relationship, with all the ups and downs; the good and the bad; the fun and the not-so-fun.

Cupid doesn’t mention the parts of a relationship that are real, and not the romantic idealized Valentine’s Day promoted by card stores, jewelry stores, florists, and restaurants. That’s not his job.

Those difficult parts of a relationship which make that relationship endure, are yours. There’s romance, which is certainly important, and there’s also the reality of day to day life. Which is the largest and most important part of that relationship.

So when Cupid keeps reminding you what you’re missing, just remember that what he’s promoting is only a tiny part of the story. A story that’s not for the faint of heart, and a story you have to be ready for.

It’s not all romance with candlelight dinners and walks in the moonlight. In fact, it’s the everyday routine, coupled with the reality of life, which makes those candlelight dinners and moonlight walks all the more special. They really don’t happen that often, but when they do, you both really appreciate it.

Cupid, you’re good at what you do. But maybe you should stick around a bit longer once your arrow has found its mark, to help your couples through the really tough times that are part of every relationship.

And please stop reminding those who haven’t yet been hit by one your arrows; who haven’t yet found that relationship, that they’re missing out. The right relationship is worth waiting for, and sometimes the longer it takes, the more lasting it will be.

And by the way, Cupid, where’s your special someone? I’ve never seen you with anyone. So maybe you actually know what we’re talking about here!

When the Valentines Don’t Come

How many times have you seen February 14 referred to as “Single Awareness Day”?

How many times have you gone in a store when it’s getting close to Valentine’s Day and wanted to turn around and leave because all it did was remind you that you’re not part of a couple? That you have no one to buy those mushy, sugary cards for? That you have no one to give you candy or flowers or even a card on Valentine’s Day?

How many times have you wanted to take that silly Cupid and just throw him against the wall, or maybe even run him over with your car? Because his bow and arrow haven’t been working for you, and at this point you’re not sure they ever will.

How many times do you feel like calling out sick from work on that day, because you just know all the other women will have flowers, or candy, or balloons, or other reminders delivered to them at work, and you won’t?! And you’ll feel like everyone is waiting for something to be delivered for you, and when it doesn’t you can just imagine what they’re thinking.

“What’s wrong with her?”

“Why doesn’t she have a boyfriend/husband?”

“Poor thing, I feel bad for her….”

How many of you have felt like that? How many of you still do? How many of you feel like having flowers sent to yourself, just so you can fit in with everyone else?

Surprisingly, our daughter never liked Valentine’s Day since about the time she entered high school. She always said, and still does, that Valentine’s Day is just a day designed for card stores and flower shops to make money. “Why should we have to have a day for everyone to remind someone they love them? They should do that every day.” And she didn’t say that because she didn’t have a boyfriend at the time. Because she did.

She’s even told her husband that same thing, ever since they started dating over ten years ago. She means it. And no matter what her dad and I tell her, she won’t change her mind.

However she has a good point. Why do we concentrate on showing how much we love someone just one day each year?

What about the other days? They don’t count?

Don’t get me wrong. I like Valentine’s Day. But there were many years I was that woman who felt out of place on February 14 because I didn’t have a special relationship in my life. I was one of those who dreaded the day and was glad to see it over.

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be a day that reminds those who are not in a relationship that they’re alone. But unfortunately it does.

So for this upcoming Valentine’s Day, instead of hiding or feeling depressed, make an effort to show your love to someone who’s important to you. I don’t mean try to enter into a romantic relationship; that’s something that just happens on its own, and usually when you least expect it. I’m talking about good friends, family members.

Why not reach out to someone else who may be feeling the way you do.

You may actually brighten each other’s day in ways you never imagined. Send a card to a neighbor or someone else you know who’s lost a loved one recently; Valentine’s Day is hard for them as well, perhaps even harder than it is for you, because there are so many reminders of what they’ve lost.

Give a card to someone who’s going through a tough time. It’ll brighten their day and remind them someone really does care!

Buy a valentine card for yourself…one that speaks to your heart. It’s not as crazy an idea as you may think. After all, who knows you better than you know yourself? And aren’t you worth it? If you don’t really love yourself, how can you expect someone else to?

And remember, Valentine’s Day is just that. A day. One day. The year has 364 more days in it. Even though you may think love has passed you by, believe me, it hasn’t.

The best is yet to come. It will come in its own time, and its own way. It will come when you’re not looking, and when you’re not expecting it. It’s not something you can rush, or force to happen.

Cupid works all year long. Not just on Valentine’s Day. Just because he doesn’t show up on February 14 doesn’t mean he’s forgotten you. He’s just waiting for the perfect time.

And then the Valentines will come.

And on more than just one day of the year.

Your Personal Jigsaw Puzzle

I’ve always enjoyed jigsaw puzzles. There’s something about putting all the pieces together that just intrigues me. It’s somewhat of a challenge, but when I connect the right piece to the inside of the puzzle I just feel a sense of accomplishment. Then I move on to looking for the next one.

Over the years I’ve done a lot of them, but never knew what to do with them after they were completed. After all, it just isn’t right to tear them apart again and put them back in the box, all disconnected again.

And for my fellow jigsaw puzzle fanatics, don’t you just hate it when you get near the end and discover there’s a piece or two MISSING!? For a true puzzle fan, that’s the worst!

Fortunately I’ve discovered there are jigsaw puzzle apps for my iPad, and I can even upload my own pictures on them. It’s actually like jigsaw puzzle heaven…and there are never any pieces getting lost. And you can work them as many times as you like, and in any number of combinations of pieces, depending on how much of a challenge you want to give yourself; how complex you want your puzzle to be.

What does this have to do with today’s blog you may ask?

Well…..

One evening when I was working on a puzzle it occurred to me that we can easily be compared to one of these jigsaw puzzles. A very complex one, especially the older we get.

We’re each a very complex being, made up of a lot of individual parts that have to fit together. And fit perfectly. We cannot be complete without missing even one part, no matter now tiny that part may be. Just like a jigsaw puzzle when there’s just one more part to insert in place; without that part correctly in place there’s a glaring hole that prevents our work from becoming a finished project.

But we usually don’t realize we have all the pieces we need to be complete. We always seem to think we need just one more thing to make us complete, a finished product. A different job. A different house. A new car. A new love interest because the current one is getting boring. Another pair of shoes when our closet is already full. A new cell phone even though the one we have is only a year old, because we have to have the latest and greatest.

And that will make our puzzle complete.

Until we actually get that thing we just had to have. And discover there’s still a piece missing. Or so we think. And the search begins again.

But even though we think there’s something missing, the Master Puzzlemaker who designed us didn’t leave even one part out. Not even a tiny one. The parts are all there, and not able to be lost; we just may not have them arranged together just right.

When you’re working that jigsaw puzzle there are a lot of possible places to put the pieces. You may think you’ve found just the right place, but that piece just won’t quite fit properly. You try to force it, but what happens? It pops right out.

Puzzle shapes are similar in every puzzle. It’s the image on them that’s different; that makes it even more difficult to figure out where they go, because sometimes those images on those pieces seem to fit in several places.

In our own situation, we can change what we look like, how we dress, or where we live. But all of the pieces of our lives still have to fit together.

There’s only one way to make all the pieces fit together; to make that puzzle into YOU. And that’s by looking at yourself…really looking. Looking at who you are as a person, and not at the things you possess. Your material possessions are not who you are.

You may think there are pieces of your life that are missing, fallen out of that puzzle box, but those pieces are what’s found inside of you. They aren’t material possessions that can get lost or stolen, but who you really are. Your faith, your beliefs. How you treat people; your care and concern for others; setting an example for those around you by your actions and how you live your life. Those actions and similar traits are the most important pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that is your life.

You may not even know all of the pieces are there; you may not recognize them. They may even be somewhat out of place. But without them being where they belong your puzzle isn’t complete.

But how do you figure out where those puzzle pieces are supposed to go?

That’s where it gets tricky; a lot trickier than those actual jigsaw puzzles. Because it requires looking inside yourself and doing some soul searching. Asking yourself what that misplaced piece is, and then looking for it and putting it where it should be. Where it makes everything complete.

Chances are the hardest part will be figuring out what’s really misplaced in your life, in yourself. That, unfortunately, I can’t help you with.

Only you can answer that question.

But when you do, the puzzle that is you will come together beautifully.

So what does your personal jigsaw puzzle look like?

It All Begins with a Step

“But Lord my problems are way, way too big for me to handle. I just can’t do it.”

Have you ever felt that way? I know I have. Many times.

But I still got up every morning and tried. Sometimes it was all I could to to get my head off the pillow, sit up, and put one foot on the floor in front of the other.

Sometimes it felt like my feet were stuck in molasses, and just the act of pulling one out of that sticky mess in order to put it down a few inches ahead took more effort than I thought it was worth.

But every day is a step towards your goal. It may be a tiny step, and you may not even begin to see where that step takes you, but it’s a step forward.

Each day you take another one, and another.

The trick is not to take one backwards. Which can be very tempting, especially when you don’t see those steps taking you anywhere.

Think about what happens when a child starts walking. They try, very tentatively at first, holding on to something, and try to put that little foot in front of the other. It’s only a half step, but they try. And usually fall.

But they keep trying. Half steps. Tiny little steps. Not getting very far at first. But they keep trying. Because they don’t ever think they can’t do it. They just keep trying because instinctively they know it’s how to get ahead and make their lives better!

They keep trying, a few steps at a time. And when they fall, they get back up and keep on trying. They have no preconceived idea that they can’t do it.

And one day all their hard work pays off as they stand up, take those steps, and not only walk, but run!

They never look back. They don’t go back to crawling again instead of walking or running. Because they know the best way to get where they’re going is putting one foot in front of the other and plunging ahead.

So what about us? Why is it so hard for us to sometimes put that one foot in front of the other? So hard to start moving ahead to where we’re going? Or where we want to go.

Like the toddler starting out walking for the first time, we fall down. But sometimes instead of getting back up we decide to just stay where we fall. Because it’s easier than putting forth the effort it takes to get moving again.

We say we want to, but it’s just so much effort. It’s easier to stay stuck in that molasses and go no further. And watch everyone else move on; move ahead with their lives.

It’s easy to think that, “They don’t know all the struggles I’ve had. How hard it’s been. How difficult life has been these past few weeks/months/years. They haven’t had to go through all that….”

Really? Ah, but how do you know? You just didn’t see their struggles, their battles to put one foot in front of the other and start moving ahead again. You didn’t see them falling down time after time and fighting to get back up and keep on going.

You see, we all have our struggles. From time to time we’ve all gone though those individual battles, and some of us probably will again.

But we all come through it the same way. By getting up each morning and putting that one foot in front of the other, and forging ahead. It may not be a quick journey, but as long as we keep moving forward, nothing can stop us.

Nothing can stop you. Tomorrow morning, get up. Put your feet on the floor and put one foot in front of the other. And keep walking.

The journey of a thousand miles always starts with a single step.

Where is your journey going to take you?

There Are Worse Things Than Being Alone

“I’m so tired of seeing couples together. Everyone seems to have someone and I’m all alone. It’s not fair.”

“I’m so tired of being by myself. All my friends have a husband or at least a boyfriend, and I have no one. I’m so tired of being alone.”

“I’m over 30 now and there’s no one in sight who I can love, much less want to marry. This is awful. I need someone to care about me. I’m tired of this single life.”

“I don’t like being alone. Before the divorce I had a husband and a home. Sure, it wasn’t always great, but at least I had someone. Now I’m by myself almost all the time and I hate it!”

“I finally met someone. Thank goodness. He’s not the guy I had in mind, but at least he seems to care about me. I’m not sure I’d really want him for a husband, but he’s all I’ve met so far, and at my age, I guess I’m lucky to just find anybody that wants me. And I don’t want to hurt his feelings by not seeing him any more. Maybe I can learn to like – or love – him. If I just ignore the things I’m not finding attractive with him…”

Hmmmmm. Not exactly how you want to feel, is it? Not how you pictured your life being.

And it’s not always women who feel this way. Loneliness can strike anyone. At any age. Particularly when you’re divorced. And you’re having a difficult time dealing with all the changes that happen all at once.

One day you have a home and someone you’re sharing it with. You have plans for the future. Dreams and goals. Things may not be perfect, but together you can do anything, work everything out.

Six months (or even less) later, your life is totally different. Your spouse is gone, and now referred to as “your Ex”. He/she has someone else. Maybe they’re even on their second or third “someone else.”

And you don’t.

You’re starting over. Totally. It’s not fair, no. But it’s also not all your fault. And spending your days thinking it is and wondering what you could’ve done different isn’t going to help either.

Quickly trying to find a new partner, a future husband or wife, won’t magically make it all better right away. It’s not a cure-all for everything in your life.

I know. From experience, and from friends’ experiences. There are worse things than being alone.

And that prolonged loneliness can cause someone to make bad mistakes.

“I thought he was wonderful. Just the perfect guy. He gave me flowers and little gifts all the time. I knew our life together was going to be everything I’d ever wanted. Unfortunately all he’d wanted was my money…what little I’d inherited from my father. I had no idea until it was too late. Now I’m not only alone…again. I’m totally broke. And he’s nowhere to be found.”

“She was so nice. So caring. She said all she wanted to do was take care of me. I’d had an awful divorce, so she was perfect. Or so I thought. But her jealousy was off the charts. As soon as we were married she started accusing me of sleeping with every woman I worked with; every friend’s wife; and even got mad at me for talking too much to our servers at restaurants. Why? Because she was doing exactly what she accused me of doing. I had no idea.”

“I thought it was really nice when he’d make suggestions to me about certain things. Like my clothes, my hair style, and suggested little changes here and there. He always said he liked the “new me”, whether I did or not. But then he tried to get me to stop going to my favorite places, stop seeing certain friends, saying they weren’t good for me. Like a fool I listened. Until I realized all he was doing was trying to change me into something I wasn’t, and make me totally dependent on him. Someone he wanted me to be. When I finally started trying to be myself again, he left me. And of course said it was all my fault….”

“I thought he was a good man. No, he wasn’t everything I’d dreamed of, but he seemed to love me, and I wasn’t getting any younger. And I figured it would work out. Well, it didn’t. How did I know I was marrying a violent man? There’d been no signs of it when we were dating. But after 9 months and a sprained wrist, a black eye, various pieces of furniture thrown at me, he pushed me down the stairs and broke my arm. He told me, as always, that I made him do it, and left me lying there while he went out with his friends.”

“My friends warned me about him. There’s something not right about him, they said. He makes me really uncomfortable, another said. He’s too smooth, another friend said; almost like he’s acting. I didn’t listen; I was too ready to get out of the dating game; I wanted to be married again. Until I found him cheating on me in our own bed! And telling me it was no big deal and asking me to join them!”

Yes, there are worse things than being alone.

The bottom line…before you even start a new relationship be sure you’re comfortable with who you are; with who you’ve become since your divorce. Know who you are now and what you want. Be sure you’re ready to take on another commitment, and that the other person is ready as well.

Don’t rush into a relationship because you think he/she is the only one out there, and you may not get another chance. Don’t settle. Because as soon as you do, you’re giving up, when that right one may be waiting just around the corner. You’re never too old to find happiness. And you have a lot to offer. Don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Or you may find yourself with a similar story to tell. And find yourself even lonelier than you were before that disastrous relationship.

There really are worse things than being alone.