As I recreate my new life, I often have flashbacks. Weird, bothersome, flashbacks from my marriage. Most people who know me see my as a self-confident woman. Whenever I have been interviewed on FOX News, CNN, or local channels, they tell me, “You do such a great job! You don’t even look nervous!” I am told this when I speak in front of groups, as well. If they only knew! After a 24 year marriage to a narcissist, I question my ability to use words constantly!
What many people don’t know is that behind my calm appearance, I am always a nervous wreck and very unsure of myself before and during interviews! My husband would critique my every word. Upon returning home, I would hear, “WHY did you say it THAT way?” or “You should have used a different word!” I often asked flippantly, “Have you ever been on LIVE TV!? It’s not as easy as it seems!” Despite his criticism, my confidence has grown a bit with each public speaking event and TV interview. I give ALL credit to God for any successful interview . Before any speaking, I ask Him to send forth His Holy Spirit to guide me. So far, God has never let me down! (But, I am still nervous!) I can’t always shake my self-esteem issues, though, it is a struggle.
I’ve recently become interested in dating again and wow, is it ever nerve wracking. More nerve wracking than a live TV interview! My first ever date post-divorce was an epic fail, in my opinion. I was SO awful, nervous, self-conscious and everything a person shouldn’t be on a first date. I have only gone out on dates a few more times, so I haven’t improved that much! <laughter> All kidding aside, y’all, dating has changed in the 28 years I’ve been out of the dating scene. We didn’t have cell phones or Facebook! Online dating wasn’t a thing! Selfies weren’t invented yet, so there was no awkwardness about saying, “Um, I don’t send photos to guys I don’t really know.” We have more to be self conscious about these days, it seems. “How do I look in this picture?” “What will he say about my hair?” I actually feel very awkward about sending pictures because 1) my husband of 24 years never even asked me for one and 2) my husband tried to blackmail me with videos he took. In that area, I definitely proceed with caution!
Which brings me to my recent flashback: texting. It is so hard to forget all the bad things the narcissist has told me that I am and all the things I do wrong–especially when it goes on for so many years. Texting is part of this new world of “dating” that I find myself in. As a friend calls it the world of “virtual relationships” –because people get to know each other via email or texting before they actually meet. At first, I was a bit nervous and self-conscious about texting guys because I had been told by my husband for so long that I texted the wrong way! I knew that my girlfriends didn’t have a problem with they way I texted, but, as they say, once bitten, twice shy. Anytime I texted an emoticon to my ex, I would later hear, “WHY do you send me those stupid emoticons!?” I would reply, “I don’t know, I think they are cute!?” He would always scowl, “I can’t even see what they ARE on the damn screen, so I don’t know why you bother sending them!” I always thought it was guy vs girl thing, but have come to learn the last several months that some guys actually LIKE emoticons! Imagine that!!!!?
My girlfriends had never complained that I was texting improperly, but my husband constantly chastised me. One time, I was at the doctor with my son and pilot boy texted me a question. I got the first part of the answer typed in just as the doctor walked in and I hit send. After the doctor walked out, I texted the second half of the answer. He got mad and told me that I needed to send it all in ONE text. “Okay,” I thought, not quite sure it was as big a deal as he always made it out to be. I had texted back what I could when I was able. What on earth is wrong with that!? I would often forget that I was texting HIM and not a girlfriend. Oops…a two text answer! This always made him angry. I would sometimes cry, “I can’t even text the right way!? What’s wrong with me?”
Being a pilot, my husband was away from home quite a bit. I would text a question or something in the morning and not hear a thing back all day. One particular time comes to mind as I write this. I waited until almost midnight that night to ask, “Hey, I texted you at 9 am this morning, did you get the text?” Y’all, my heart was crushed when he replied back telling me that he had received the text, but as my texts were always bullshit he didn’t see the need to reply. He considered my texting him several times a day to be TOO much. He was never someone I could just text a funny meme or some random funny thought I had. There were no sweet nothings exchanged via text. I rarely received an “I love you, too” in return to my texting, “I love you”. He NEVER texted the latter to me, of course. Secretly, I was always jealous of those cute little couples who had sweet conversations over text. 24 years of marriage and I really longed to be cherished……even cherished enough just to be able to text emoticons to him.
It became normal to me. As I have been getting to know a couple of different guys, I am slowly learning that the ex’s behavior was, without a doubt, abnormal. I’ve been able to laugh at my awkward missteps and learn from my mistakes. The first guy who started texting me thought I was really weird when I asked him if emoticons bothered him. I mean, I really thought it was just a guy thing not to like emoticons. After asking a second guy the same question, I realized that most normal people must not care two shakes about those cute little guys we text back and forth! What a pleasant surprise! It’s kind of freeing to be myself and text my favorite emoticons. Here I am at my age finally getting the hang of this whole text thing. 😂❤️😉😲😇