By Jamie Schafer – White Hall, MD
One year ago today I didn’t know how I would ever recover. I had hit rock bottom and couldn’t see a way out. The emotional pain behind the mind-f**k I was experiencing at the time was too much, and I couldn’t wrap my mind around any of it. The beauty is that, now, here I am, a year later, and happier than I could have ever imagined.
If you’re wondering what I am referring to, click here. That’s the story of how I found out my boyfriend of four years was a married man. I wasn’t the other woman – he married the other woman – and tried to marry me too. I was lucky to get away.
I didn’t waste any time getting over him when I found out – that happened quite instantly to be honest. A betrayal like that caused instant loss of empathy and emotional connection. I looked him in the eyes an hour after I found out he was married and told him, “I forgive you – not because what you did was okay; because it’s not. But because I deserve better and I’m going to get better.”
Talk about letting God speak through my mouth, because, let’s be honest, there were quite a few other things I wanted to say to him.
The past year has been a whirlwind. I let myself really mourn the loss that first weekend; ever thankful for my family and friends who flocked to my side and helped lift me up. Then I spent a few months being reckless – going on dates three or four times a week (thanks, Tinder!); spent Thursday through Saturday nights out dancing and drinking with my friends and sorority sisters; bought my dream Jeep; ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and gained a few pounds.
I repainted my room. Spent a weekend in Atlanta because I could. Hopped on a plane to spend a weekend in Tampa. And was treated to my very first trip to Disney World!
Then I mellowed out a bit. I got rid of Tinder because it just wasn’t my scene. My confidence was at an all-time high as it truly sunk in that my ex had made a horrible mistake and his choices were not a reflection on me – they were a reflection on himself. I was back in sync with myself, what goals I wanted to accomplish, who my true friends were and just how good I had it. I finally found my groove in life and was happy with myself.
Then in June 2015, and I’m out with a friend celebrating our new found self love and I met this guy. I thought nothing of it – he’s from southern Maryland and finishing college in South Carolina while I’m in Hereford, Maryland. And then I run into him again, and then again while on vacation with my family. Third time’s the charm, right?
Come October I hop on a plane, terrified out of my mind that I’m actually doing this, and visit this guy I’ve been talking to non-stop for two months now. It was the most easy-going, fun weekend ever. Not to mention he treats me like a princess and is the most caring and considerate man I’ve ever met. I was completely myself, and we had a great time.
Opening myself to love was easy, but scary. Easy because I am truly myself with him and everything just clicks. Scary because I still get that voice that creeps in saying things like, “He’s going to cheat on you too. What makes you think this time is going to be different? You’re not good enough…”
So what am I supposed to do? Listen to this negative voice in my head that wants me to sit around and mope and be unhappy? Nope. I refuse. It’s hard work, but I choose to be happy. I make the conscious choice daily to refute this voice and trek on because I deserve to be happy.
Once I started caring about myself, everything fell into place. I was able to look back over the past four years and see just how truly unhappy I was and how much I was settling, and that made me even more thankful to be out. It sounds simple, but it was the hardest lesson to learn.
It is so much easier to stay complacent and in that “woe is me” mind frame. I face a mental struggle everyday trying to change my mindset – to be more positive, to focus on the future, not the past. I constantly had to repeat 2 Corinthians, “Satan you are a liar. I will not receive or believe your lifes in the Name of Jesus,” to that lying, negative voice in my head until one day I stopped trying to believe it and actually believed it.
This year has been the year of learning. Learning what I like and dislike; what things I want to do; about myself and what really makes me tick; more about my faith; who is there for me; to trust; about boundaries; about the kind of man I want to build a life with; my pitfalls and struggles; about love; how to overcome; what pushed my buttons; how strong I am and so much more.
I don’t want you to have to go through utter heartbreak to wake up and live your life for the best you possible. But damnit, if that’s what it takes, know that you will come out so much stronger on the other end. There are times I give into that voice and feel crappy about myself. Then I realize what I’m doing and dig myself out of that tiny hole. Life is too short and too precious not to go after everything you desire with a full heart.
“If we really love ourselves, everything in our lives works.” – Louise Hay