It's past my bed time. I want to sleep but, instead am listening to Sia writing on my couch. Lately, part of my heart has been heavy. This may not be what you want to hear from a dating coach. But, in a way, it's loosely related. It may not be "professional" or "polished". But, it is real. Every emotion, word, and feeling is real and, maybe, there's a client or reader in a similar situation. I don't usually talk about my faith outside of cultural aspects but, I just feel like someone needs to hear this. Disclaimer: this is the most vulnerable and terrifying blog post I could ever write. Why? I'm naturally as private and guarded as they come.
As some of you know, I converted to the Church of Latter Day Saints last February after being agnostic/atheist for a period of about seven years. Overall, it has been a blessing.
My conversion story is a complicated one in a lot of ways. I was raised by a Catholic father and Southern Baptist mother (who converted later). While both of my parents are awesome people, the Catholic Church never felt right for me. At the age of thirteen, my father became incredibly sick. Three years later, I was in the same room as him when he died. My once perfectly healthy, beloved Secret Service Agent father was gone. To make matters harder, I lost my grandfather the year prior.
A year after that at the age of seventeen, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease- a severe and potentially life-threatening autoimmune disease. I have to check everything I eat, put on my skin, in my hair, etc. for gluten because the smallest amount can make me deathly ill. I have to make sure dates drink enough water before they keep me and will likely have to keep a 100% gluten free household. There were two times when I got incredibly sick from this- at the ages of eighteen, twenty three, and twenty four. Why? I was exposed to gluten via cross contamination. I gained weight (in one case forty pounds) because my metabolism tanked, was constantly tired, had joint pain, was dangerously anemic, and had a multitude of other issues. The third time, I was knocking on death's door sick.
At nineteen, I survived a rape. Part of it was videotaped. The only solace I have is that I know that, if it was leaked, it was when I was (probably too) thin and pre-tattoos. A year later, I survived a stalker who sent me death threats (among other things). While he just had to transfer universities, my grades tanked and I had to return home ashamed and with a multitude of issues. I had nightmares of being choked, dragged, both men shaking my car, someone standing over my bed- things that are beyond terrifying. I was terrified to leave my apartment for a long time and couldn't get it together.
Case in point: if God was looking out for anyone, it wasn't me. I was angry and confused. If God loved his children, why me?
It took me a while but, I'm doing well now. I focused on self improvement and found a lot of things that helped me. Traveling, The Rules, and the Church of Latter Day Saints. Crazy how that works, huh? I'm still improving and am lately into the Law of Attraction. I've come to learn that you should always improve and, in a lot of ways, the church encourages that.
I remember sitting across from the two sister missionaries on a cold November afternoon. We were at a local frozen yogurt shop and I had a four page questionnaire with every question about the church. I knew about Mormon lifestyle choices but, not so much about the scripture. I knew Mormons were nice because our Mormon neighbors were some of the only ones who stuck around after my dad got sick. In all honesty, I was hesitant. Could I really give up things I loved- like coffee and sex? That sounds shallow and silly now, but, this was a legitimate concern.
Somehow, every question that I had about the scriptures had an answer that eighteen years in the Catholic Church never told me. I can tell when someone was full of it or just plain dumb. But, these sisters gave acceptable answers to every question. I found solace in knowing that I could be with my family for time and eternity and, if they didn't join the church during this lifetime, there would still be an opportunity for all of us to be an eternal family together. But, lately, that has brought a new set of questions.
When I joined the church, I assumed I would marry a Mormon man who came from a huge family. He probably served a mission for two years, was raised in the church, and would have enough nieces and nephews to field a soccer team. I figured that Atlanta is a diverse city and that there had to be an eternal companion from me who would be okay not having children. However, at twenty six, my options within the church are slim. Despite going to every singles event in a six hour radius, going on Mutual, and going to social events even when my schedule didn't really allow it. I did it all and have yet to meet my eternal companion. Finding a partner in an already small dating pool is hard enough. Throw in not being able to or wanting to have children and those odds are slim to none. Twenty six is also old as dirt in the Mormon singles world since most Mormons get married within a few years of serving a mission. Now, I'm still trying and enduring until the end. But, I came up with a practical solution: start dating nonmembers as well and hope for the best. At this point, I had been single for a year and knew I had to date again.
The last person I dated was Jewish. Was that ideal? Honestly, no. But, I knew I had to be realistic and broaden my horizons. It wasn't a long relationship but, there was a lot of promise. He did all of the right things and somehow everything seemed to fall into place. He had even mentioned spending Christmas and New Years with me and said that there was "no way" we wouldn't be together those two days. I wasn't in love but, I was getting there. He even dropped the l-bomb on the fourth date. I did The Rules and, for the most part, did everything right. However, two days after he dropped the l-bomb, we had our usual Saturday night date. I had three finals that Wednesday- including the account final from hell. I had gotten so stressed out that week that I broke out in Shingles all over one side of my torso due to stress. In case you were wondering, I didn't tell him. At all.
After our date, he blurted out "Do you just hate kids? You always talk about how you don't want them and I've always imagined living in a house with three to four kids." Great timing, right? Despite me telling him on our first date that kids weren't in the cards for me, he puts me in a pretty awful position right after he told me he loved me.
Out of pure stress, I started sobbing. Not The Rules but, I'm human. For the third time, I was about to take a huge final and was stressed. I was barely eating. I was having what would probably be described as anxiety/panic attacks and texting my best friend constantly who told me to breathe. My whole life was basically studying. On top of that, I'm getting questioned about why I "hate" kids so much. Through tears, I had to explain that children are not physically in the cards for me and that I don't hate kids at all. I mentioned that I'm not against potentially adopting in 10-15 years but, that even those fall through. My parents tried for years and it fell through every single time. I told him that I had never had a huge desire for a family and that I was terrified that having children would mean sacrificing my business, traveling, and having my own life. When life happens and you already sacrifice and push aside a lot, you don't want to delay on your dreams. So many moms I know sacrifice their time, money, and bodies for their children while their husbands seem to barely lift a finger. Now, they seem okay with this and, if they're happy, that's great. But, it's not for me. While I try to be a positive person, I'm also a realist and listed every logical reason why I wouldn't have them (as well as some illogical ones, like the fact that I'm convinced my children would end up in prison).
He held me and just let me cry. I told him about surviving a rape and stalker, as well as that I'm in the middle of losing sixty pounds and that I'm waiting until marriage. He told me that I was brave and that he still wanted to go out with me again. As usual, he was saying all of the right things. But, I felt so stupid and still do. Smart? Nope. I did everything I told a client not to do. I'm not proud of it but, I am human. He texted me with all of our pictures together and a sweet text the following Monday about my final. Then, nothing.
On Wednesday, I took all three finals (which I passed) and then crashed for about four hours when I came home. It's not a common thing for me but, I was exhausted. I was hoping for a text from him or something asking me how my finals went but, there was nothing. I woke up around 7:30 PM that evening and stumbled into the bathroom. I shuffled towards my bedroom- not sure how I was moving as I was barely coherent. I grabbed what I hoped was a temple-worthy outfit. I started moving quicker- I needed to get to the temple. I don't know how or why but, I needed to go. I grabbed a bottle of water, ran into my mom's room, and told her that I was heading to the temple and would explain later.
The drive to our temple is 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic. I was wondering what the heck I was wearing and just had this sense of urgency to go. So, I came running.
When I opened the door to the part of the temple where we perform baptisms, I hoped I wasn't too late. But, I lucked out: there was a whole ward performing baptisms! Lucky me! I looked the temple attendant in the eye, fumbling for my Temple Recommend and asked if they could squeeze me in.
"I'm really sorry- I know it's late and I don't even know what I'm wearing but, I need to be here," I explained. He was about my age and dressed in a white pant suit from head to toe.
"It's fine- don't worry about it," he replied with a smile.
I proceeded into the baptistry and got my baptismal clothing. A short, heavy set blonde woman was next to me. I turned and said "I don't know why but, I need to be here". Somehow, I sensed that she understood. I don't know her and I'm not generally one to talk to strangers. But, I did.
"Sometimes, you just have to come." She did get it.
I can't go into a ton of detail about what happens in the temple. It's seen as very sacred. But, for us, it's basically God's house. There's a pool on top of twelve bronze oxen where we perform baptisms for those that did not get the chance to be baptized during this life. That's the Cliffs Notes version and all I'm at liberty to say.
Anyway, going to the Temple brings us blessings and clarity. I aim to go monthly but, it usually ends up being once every few months. After I was done at the Temple, I had a prompting: give mom my phone through the weekend. I would make other plans since he was probably processing everything. My mom, best friend, and another coach all were certain that he would be fine with everything after he processed it. I felt an odd sense of peace after being in the Temple and drove home. The next day, I went about my business as usual. But, sensed I needed to go to the Temple. So, I did using my mom's Garmin.
It had been a while since I went without a cell phone. But, I did so voluntarily. When I got to the Temple, they had closed twenty minutes early. So, I killed time. I visited the Scientology Center out of curiosity. Then, went to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. When I returned to the Temple, I checked in, went to the Baptistry, and performed Baptisms. While I was showering, it hit me that there would be a chance that I probably couldn't take any of our potential children to the Temple and I would be lying if I said it didn't bother me. I had a dream the night prior that I was hugging my son/nephew/etc. who had just received a mission call and then when he came home. He was white with dark brown hair and wearing the standard missionary black and white name tag. I had the most immense sense of pride. After the Temple, I felt a sense of peace: it was all going to work out.
The next day, I woke up around 5:30. I'm up around six(ish) most mornings. So, even on a Saturday, this wasn't unusual. I snuck down and got my phone. I just knew it was going to work out and that this had to be meant to be...until it wasn't. I read through everything and couldn't believe it: we were done. A week after he told me he loved me, he dumped me because I wasn't willing to have children right off the bat. It made no sense: most men aren't desperate to have children. It's usually the other way around. But, here we were: done. It was one of those "I really enjoyed the time we spent together but, can't wait 10-15 years to have children" etc. messages. However, I was potentially willing to compromise whether or not I got into heaven with him. I mean, really? While I'm pretty sure God would let me in, I was making a huge sacrifice and thought he was worth that. But, to him, I wasn't a woman with goals, hopes, and dreams: I was just a baby factory (even if via adoption).
I didn't (and still don't) understand why God would bring someone into my life with so much promise then, end it in such a way. I felt manipulated that his "love" was conditional on my ability to have children or my potential timetable. If a man truly loved me, he would support my goals and dreams. He would have done his best to make it work. But, this one wasn't the right one. I can't put my finger on how but, God intervened because I was too weak to. He intervened before I ended up with Mr. Wrong. Will I figure it out when I'm still hurt? Will I ever know? Probably not. There's definitely speculation that he was so desperate since he was trying to immigrate to the U.S. and children can make a work visa become permanent. But, I have peace knowing that this one wasn't on me. It may take two to make or break a relationship most of the time but, this one wasn't really on me.
Within an hour, I messaged everyone I knew to set me up. I set up four online dating profiles and got asked out on FOUR dates that week! But, we had a freak snow storm so, no one was going anywhere. I had a date the next weekend too. It was awful and I got out of it by saying that I had to let out one of the dogs I'm dog sitting. But, there was also no chemistry and he had no job. I had wondered if this is what my life had become: the beginning of a series of bad dates with men who weren't up to par. FML.
The next day, I sat down with my bishop and had a very honest discussion. Parts were painful but, I told him I was between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, I could maybe find a nice Mormon guy but, was afraid I would be manipulated into having children that I would resent. I also felt like most men in our church want five to seven kids. But, he assured me that "I could compromise" and most would be willing to only have one or two. Well intentioned but, not ideal for someone who was planning on a party of two.
I informed him that, physically, mentally, and emotionally, that wasn't something I could compromise on. I also mentioned that I wasn't willing to be single my whole life waiting for a nice Mormon man. He mentioned that it could mean missing out on our version of heaven but, that I would have to decide if God would give me leeway there. I told him that I was praying for God to make it painfully obvious when I met Mr. Right and to lead me in the right direction. It's true: I am. I told him I would listen to him: member or nonmember.
I also mentioned that Relief Society, our women's group, had gotten hard to attend. Honestly, I stopped attending. Somehow, every lesson leads back to getting married in the temple or having children. Part of me wonders if I'll ever get married in the temple. I'm pretty sure I'll end up with someone- almost positive, honestly. I even had two psychics predict that it would happen within the next three years! So, I'm pretty sure I won't die alone. But, I wonder if I will get the temple marriage and all of the benefits wrapped up in a nice, neat Mormon package.
At twenty five, I figured that I would have to make up for lost time and be the "perfect Mormon". But, I've come to learn that there is no such thing. But, I'm not so sure anything comes in nice little packages. God doesn't make us that way. Does our Heavenly Father realize that we aren't perfect? I've come to be okay with the outcome and let God take care of it. At least, I'm trying to be.
Maybe, in a few weeks when our church schedule is back to normal, I'll try going back to Relief Society. It won't be easy but, it may be worth it. It will take an insane amount of bravery and courage. But, maybe. We'll see.
So, here we are: it's after one o'clock in the morning and I'm about to pass out. Willie Nelson is on in the background and I'm content that God works it out. I'm not sure who, what, where, when or why. But, he does. He wants the best for us and it works out. Life doesn't come in a nice, neat package. Mr. Right is out there and, if we want to find him, we will. It will involve heartache- bad dates, questioning if your faith is in the right place, and feeling like garbage after a break up. It will take a lot to remember we're a Creature Unlike Any Other. It may take listening to The Secret on Netflix daily and writing a blog post that lets down your vulnerability to a bunch of strangers (which is terrifying).
As for children, who knows. I'm at 90% no, 10% adopt. We'll see what happens. But, I do know that Mr. Right won't have ulterior motives and will accept my choice regardless. Are kids a dealbreaker? Sure. But, you work with the hand you're dealt and that may not be ideal. I know couples who desperately wand children, can't conceive and/or have lost a child. Neither side of the spectrum is fun. Sometimes, it feels like you can't win. But, even if we don't feel like it, we're all winners in God's eyes. We may feel like crap or hit a rough patch but, we just have to ride it out and trust that life works out.
After my break up, I had a lot of good happened. I'm booked solid pet sitting through New Year's Eve. I landed multiple collaborations- including one that's pretty big. My readers have increased and I'm sure those readers will turn into clients. I have friends and family who love me. After three tries, I finally passed accounting. As my bishop and missionaries advised, I'm getting my Patriarchal Blessing soon. I'm probably going on another date this weekend and I'm sure it will be better than the last one. Everything else is falling into place and Mr. Right will soon too. I discovered some awesome new Willie Nelson songs. God yanked me out of a relationship with someone who ended up being incredibly manipulative. It hurts, but, it's for the best. Life is good. It will work out somehow- even if I don't have that answer yet.
Honestly, this post had nothing to do with dating. I mean, it did but, it wasn't a how to. If you didn't get anything else, get this: it will work out. I don't know how and it's okay to question it. But, regardless of what you believe, it works out. Okay? It will be okay and we need to try to believe that.
On the bright side, I'm running a promo! Want your kiss under the mistletoe? I'm doing a promo for my coaching services to help you find Mr. Right! For 50% off, use the code "MISTLETOE" at check out!