Originally posted on April 12, 2014
Last year, the day that would have been my 10th wedding anniversary totally slipped my mind. I guess I’d been so busy living life, that I hadn’t had time to even think about it. With the start of The Optimistic Divorcees blog, Cheryce and I had the idea to write letters to ourselves on our wedding day. What would we say to our “then” selves now that we’re no longer married? I must admit, I thought it would be a little scary. The book to that part of my life had been closed for a while now and opening it back up could bring up some old feelings. But, on the anniversary of what would have been 11 years of marriage, I’ve written a letter to myself on my wedding day. Writing the letter was therapeutic to say the least. It reminded me of what I’d gone through, but most of all, what I’d come out of and just how strong I am.
Can you believe it’s your wedding day? You were up bright and early after a restless night filled with nervousness and excitement. I know you can’t wait to take that trip down the aisle and marry the one you love. But first, there are some things I want to tell you. You might not like it, and I don’t want you to get mad at me, but I need to tell you because I love you and you deserve to know.
Remember when mama asked you about marrying him and said she didn’t have a good feeling about it? She was right. Remember the doubts you’ve had leading up to today? Wondering if he’s really the one? Well, he’s not. He’s not going to change because you both declared, “I do.”
Listen sweetie, these next few years are gonna be hell. Take a look in the mirror. Take a good look. Remember that face, because you’re going to forget who you are. Close your eyes and be present. Remember how you feel right now, because these feelings? They aren’t going to last forever. The years you’re anticipating wedded bliss? They’ll be short lived – just like your honeymoon phase. You’re going to forget you’re beautiful; you’re going to forget that your family and friends love you, all because you’ll be so caught up seeking the love you want from your husband. The dreams and goals you had for yourself will be forgotten and all you’ll care about is keeping up with your husband’s whereabouts.
Even though you’re married, you’ll never feel more alone. You’ll spend a lot of holidays without your husband by your side. He’ll be too busy doing his own thing and you’ll begin to question his love for you. Yes, he’ll pay the bills, but he won’t pay any emotional utilities. Your doubts about him will cause you have to doubts about yourself.
This marriage is going to have you down on your knees and at times, in a fetal position, feeling a pain you’ve never known before. A pain so deep, no medicine can alleviate, no doctor can cure. Depression will begin to set in and you’ll feel like you’re a nobody who has nothing to offer anyone. So, you’ll consider giving up your own life. But hang in there, Shari! Your family and friends will be there to pull you out of your darkness and remind you that God loves you so much and He’s never left your side. They’ll encourage you to pray and spend as much time with God as you can. And you will. You and God will become BFFs. You’ll really know what it means to have a prayer closet. Sometimes you’ll try to pray for yourself and you won’t have any words. Only sobs. Some days the sobs will turn into songs. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” will become your new anthem. Eventually, you’ll see a glimmer of light in the distance and you’ll keep pushing toward it. You’ll begin to realize that your pain is for a purpose greater than yourself; that you can’t fully empathize with someone else unless you’ve been there yourself.
Yes, there will be moments where you are embarrassed and ashamed because you made a wrong choice, a bad decision. There will be good days and other days it’ll hurt like hell. But you’ll still keep going. You’ll begin to see yourself clearly again. The face you originally saw in the mirror will return. People will remind you that you ARE worth it. And eventually, you’ll believe it.
I wish I could stop you from heading down that aisle, but it’s part of God’s amazing plan for your life and I can’t interfere with that. What you’ll discover about yourself and who you’ll become after this is all over will be well worth it in the end.
So go ahead, take a deep breath. Adjust your veil and take that first step down the aisle. I’ll see you on the other side.
P.S. I can’t wait to meet the stronger, more determined, courageous you.
If you could write a letter to yourself on your wedding day, what are some things you would you say? Share in the comments below!
Originally posted on September 9, 2014
Remember in April when Shari wrote that letter to herself on her wedding day? Well now it’s my turn. Today would have been my 17 year wedding anniversary! I remember MOST dates, so it’s not unusual for me to think about what this day used to be every year. What has changed is how feel when I think about it. For several years I would spend this day depressed and angry. Now it’s just a fleeting thought, like “oh today is the 9th”. So it felt really good to write this and just reflect on how far I’ve come, the innumerable lessons that I’ve learned, and the leaps and bounds in which I’ve grown. There was a time that I thought that I would never get over the things that transpired during the course of my marriage, but now not only am I over it, but I can use what I went through to help somebody else. I can even rely on the strength, courage, and wisdom (cue India) that I gained to make it through obstacles that I encounter in my life today. So here you go, from my heart to yours. Grab your coffee or get your tea and read the conversation that I have with me. (Dang I’m a poet and didn’t even know it…well unless you count the haiku, lol)
Hey girl! I hear that congratulations are in order. Yeah, I know. You’re getting married tonight. On a Tuesday night right after work though? You don’t think it’s strange that your pastor won’t perform the ceremony or that your future mother-in-law won’t be there? It doesn’t bother you that at 18 years old, all of your friends are going away to college while you’re staying to start a family?? Eh. Whatever floats your boat. I’m happy for you anyway. Oh you don’t recognize me? I figured you wouldn’t because you don’t even know me yet! I know right? That’s pretty funny, but trust me…once you get to know me you will love me! But enough about me, let’s get back to what I really came here for. Oh no no honey, I’m not congratulating you for becoming Mrs…um, what’s his name again? Yeah right, him. I’m not congratulating you for that. I’m giving you kudos and well wishes for the days to come AFTER you say “I do”. Yep. After. That’s when REAL life begins…
Congratulations to you for trying to make the best of your honeymoon, 6 months later, even though it will be known as the worst trip of your life.
Congratulations to you for fighting for your marriage and for standing up for what you believe to be true and good after your husband tells you that he doesn’t love you, even though you’re still in the “honeymoon” stage of your marriage.
Congratulations to you for not giving a few people the butt whippings that they may very well deserve, especially after finding out about your husband’s infidelities, some of the indiscretions being with people you KNOW, in your home and in your bed.
Congratulations to you for growing up during your marriage and not remaining the stifled, docile, little girl that you are as you enter your marriage. It’s really going to come in handy later when you discover that a divorce and full custody of your child is granted to your husband because of an unseen ad in a newspaper.
Congratulations to you for having friends that love you and have your back unconditionally, even though you kind of suck as a friend to them during your marriage. After the smoke clears they will pick you up, dust you off, and help you move on with open arms and hearts.
Congratulations to you for surviving your feeble suicide attempt. Your outcry for attention and love lands you a 24 hr stay in a mental health facility, but you come out with a testimony.
Congratulations to you for not having a child immediately. You wait 5 years and decide to procreate when things are SEEMINGLY turning around.
Congratulations to you for developing a deeper, more real, and intimate relationship with God. One of the worst pains that you will ever feel is inflicted upon you by a man of the cloth, but you still never lose your faith in Him. You question things, you cry, and at times you even have feelings of utter despair, loneliness, and hopelessness, but you always find your way back to the one whom gives you peace that surpasses your understanding.
No no no Cheryce. Don’t you cry. You go on and enjoy this day! Really, because this is where the start of your development begins! You can’t be the woman you are to become without today and the days hereafter. There are days that you will go to sleep crying and wake up with those same tears. There will be days where you have to remind yourself to eat. There will be days that you hate yourself because you think that there is something wrong with you or that you have done something wrong. There will be times when you wish that you could wake yourself up from this endless nightmare. But…congratulations to you because you are an overcomer! You conquer feelings of not being good enough, low self-esteem, rejection, betrayal, shame, and depression. Everything will work together for your good and in turn you will be able to help, encourage, and inspire others. You will find your voice and realize your self-worth. You will become a woman of courage, strength, resiliency, humor, compassion, and creativity. Huh? You say that I look familiar and you think that you know who I am now? Nah. Like I told you before, you don’t know me yet, but when you do get to know me, you will love me!
Originally posted on March 14, 2014. My post is first and Shari's is second.
At 18 years old, I wanted to be an adult and marry the love of my life. I didn’t know anything other than that. I didn’t know my likes or dislikes, what I wanted to do with my life, or where I wanted to be. All I know is that I loved this man, he loved me and that’s all that mattered.
Fast-forward 8 years after one child, large amounts of heartache, and innumerable disappointments. Now, I’m in my mid-twenties and I have a huge scroll of a “list”. Rich, tall, fine, no children (I had some nerve right?), no Christian (I was still bitter, lol) only a certain age, a certain this, a certain that.
We’re gonna hit that button one more time. I’m in my mid-thirties, I’ve been single for almost 9 years, and now my “list” is significantly shorter and of more substance. I’m not ready to settle for less, but I have definitely matured and am more open-minded when it comes to companionship. Here are the 5 non-negotiables for my future husband:
He has to be a Christian: This will be our number one point of compatibility. My faith is very important to me and I need someone who understands and relates to me on that level. Just like I haven’t lost faith in the possibility of a great marriage, I haven’t lost faith in God’s people. I want someone who TRULY loves God. I need someone who can pray with me and for me! I want someone who knows that he is not perfect but relies on God through his imperfections. Not to be all spooky spiritual and deep, but I need someone who truly understands the concept of loving me as Christ loves the church.
He has to understand that I come as a package deal: Whomever I end up with as a lifelong companion must not only love me, but also love my son. I expect for him to love and treat him as if he were his own flesh and blood. I intend to do the same if he has a child (ren). He also needs to understand that this package also includes my ex. My son has a father who is very much part of and active in his life. It’s inevitable that we will have some sort of contact for the rest of our lives. This means that we need to be open in our communication and secure in ourselves and in our relationship.
He has to be employed: I don’t think that needs too much of an explanation. I work hard and have goals. It makes sense to have that in common with my mate. Plus, man don’t work, don’t eat right?
He has to be smart and fun (ny): This doesn’t mean that he has to have multiple degrees and be in the middle of his dissertation. Neither am I looking for a stand up comic. I just want someone who can hold a decent conversation and construct a complete and proper sentence. Someone who I can have fun with and laugh with. Someone who can rap Outkast lyrics, jam to a Ricky Dillard tune, talk about global warming, discuss the state of the black man in our society, and then watch Pootie Tang with me. Lol!
He has to be honest: Be truthful. I cannot deal with another person who practices the art of lying. I need to be able to trust him as well as he needs to trust me.
Now is that too much to ask?
When I got married, I was 26 years old. I thought that my share of experiences when it came to guys was enough for me to know exactly what I wanted when it came to choosing a husband. I’d had a long-term relationship with my boyfriend from high school and I’d dated guys during and after college. From those experiences, I knew that I didn’t want a guy who smoked, a guy who didn’t know how to control his alcohol intake or a guy who cussed like a sailor to name a few. What I did want, was a guy who was fun to be around, whether we went out for dinner and a movie or just stayed in and played video games (yes, I played a lot of video games in college), a guy who paid attention to me when I rambled on and on about something that he was probably not the least bit interested in, like, why I chose to paint my nails Shangri La-La Lilac and a guy who liked and appreciated me for me. I also wanted him to be cute and smart and goal-oriented and funny and either athletic and/or musical and…you get the point. I didn’t think that was too much to ask.
When I met my ex, I thought that I’d gotten a guy who pretty much possessed the things that I was looking for. He was a nice guy, cool, funny, musically talented, and fun to be around. He didn’t smoke, drink and didn’t cuss (much, lol). He had goals and he was smart and we had certain things in common, among those, our love for music and God. AND my dad liked him…#winning, right? Well, not so much. I later came to the realization that there were other things I needed him to possess; traits and characteristics that were important to me, values that needed to align with mine. But back then I was in love. And he was talented and kinda cute. And he wanted to marry me! (And did I mention my dad liked him?)
Now, eleven years and a divorce later, I know what values and characteristics are truly important to me. And honestly, I have the experience of my now defunct marriage to thank for that. Divorce and everything that comes with it has a way of changing your views on relationships; what you expect from the relationship and what you will and won’t do “next time”.
What I’ve learned is that I need to know both my value AND my values. Understanding just how valuable I am won’t allow me to go down a path of accepting just anything from anyone. And, I need to know what I truly value and make sure that the guy I’m interested in has similar values. Is he loyal? Caring? Ambitious? Dependable? These are the things I need to focus on. Values are what will last in the long run – not looks.
I’ve also learned to take my time. It takes a little time to get to know someone once you make it past the stage of the representative (the person you meet initially when they’re trying to put their best foot forward). Is the person I met six months ago still the same person a year later? Are his actions consistent with his words? Does he act one way when he’s with me, and another when he’s with his family or friends? Time will tell.
I’ve learned to be upfront and honest with him and myself. If there’s something that is bothering me or makes me uncomfortable, I address it with him. But, I also have a little convo with myself where if for some reason things aren’t going where I’d like it to go or aren’t changing for the better, I’m prepared to let the relationship go. No use in wasting anyone’s time. Plus, I’ve driven past red flags before and I no longer want to go down that road. Does he get upset or overly sensitive when I express my feelings with him? Does he take my feelings into consideration concerning issues we may have discussed? If the first question yields a “yes” and the second a “no”, for me it indicates that there will be communication problems and he may lack empathy - both, necessary elements in a healthy relationship.
I’d be crazy not to take what I’ve learned from my past experiences and apply those lessons in my next relationship, as I’m liable to repeat the same mistakes and end up with another version of what I had previously. I’d also be crazy to drag baggage from one relationship to another. Instead, I choose to lighten my load and set out to create new experiences with a new him…whomever that may be. ;)
P.S. Cheryce and I will be heading to a speed-dating event this weekend. Stay tuned…I’m sure we’ll have some blog-worthy stories to share with you!
Have your experiences changed your thoughts about what you are looking for in a relationship?
Originally posted on September 2, 2014
Shari and I believe that we could have avoided some major heartache if we had just paid more attention. There was a certain hue smacking us both right in the face, but we chose to ignore it. We were seriously blinded by a naive idea of love. That bold crimson that we would normally recognize to mean halt, don’t go there, alert, stop…we mistook it for Cupid’s sweet shade of love. So since we care about our readers and want people to learn from our mistakes, we are going to share with you the 5 red flags that you should NEVER ignore in a relationship. Read on. Save yourself.
Originally posted on March 26, 2015
“I have to introduce you to my fiancé soon.” This is what I’m hearing on the other end of the phone as I’m finishing up a convo with my ex-husband about our son and how he’s being a typical pre-teen and I don’t like it. “Congrats”, I say. And I really mean it. For real. Hopefully the third time’s a charm. It wasn’t a surprise anyway since my boy usually keeps me abreast of these sorts of things without me even asking. He had already told me about a week prior that his dad was gonna propose soon, he had gotten the ring, she has a son, and yadda yadda yadda. I told my son that I was happy for his father and that my main concern is that the new Mrs. and her child, love him and treat him right.
Now I was fine with everything until the words came directly from his father’s lips to my ears into my consciousness, settling in the spot of my brain that causes me to envy, evaluate, and ponder my nonexistent love life. Not to mention that since we’re all cordial and “friends” and stuff for the sake of our son, we’re Facebook friends and now I get to see congrats and “likes” constantly pop up on my timeline because of course his status has changed to “engaged”…it was at 700 likes last I saw. Or how about the statuses that say, “out with my fiancé” or the picture collage for #WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday)?? You might be saying to yourself, “Does she want him back?!” or “You CAN’T be jealous of him having 2 failed marriages!” My answer is h-e-double hockey sticks NAW to both! I just can’t help but feel some type of way because I have not even had a BOYFRIEND in the last 11 years, heck I’ve BARELY even dated and here he is happily moving on to wife number 3. Talk about optimistic divorcee! He’s the ultimate. He told me before that he will keep getting married until he gets it right. I don’t know how healthy that is for him OR our son, but hey more power to him for keeping the faith and being persistent.
So guys, I don’t need y’all in the comments giving me the cliché advice or encouragement. I’ve heard it all anyway:
Cheryce you can have a man if you want, but you don’t want just ANY man.
Girl you will find someone when you’re not looking and you least expect it.
He’s not going to come to your doorstep, you need to get out more!
Don’t worry. Your husband is coming soon.
It will happen in God’s time. He’s preparing you/him for you now!
Have you tried online dating?
You’re too picky, you’ll stay single forever that way!
And the list goes on and on and on. I’m not depressed. This isn’t a cry out for any kind of help. It’s just a moment of transparency. I’m not tripping. At this point it is what it is and I’m fine with that. I will remain optimistic about life and love! I’m cute, smart, funny, ambitious, loving, and much more! My time is drawing near. I’m confident that the day will come where he will hear on the other end of the phone, “I have to introduce you to my fiancé soon.”
(Update: That didn't last too long. My ex did not marry that young lady, but he did get married for a third time, I think maybe the following year. I still reiterated that I hoped that the third time's a charm. Since this post, I have dated more and still am, but I'm still single and it's still all good.)
Originally posted on August 17, 2016
Funny story, to me at least, lol. At the church where I grew up, from my teens to young adult years, we would (and they still do) have a huge annual Christmas concert. I mean it was (is) a big deal. We would get new robes with doves or overlays with praying hands or blouses with fancy ruffles. We’d prepare special music, have guest soloists/groups/choirs/musicians/directors, have special marches, and even have funky choir choreography, lol! And every single year, like the last week, up until the day of the concert, our choir director would be on edge! Choir rehearsal was tense. He was not there for the talking, playing, or any other distraction or imperfection during rehearsal. When he was REALLY fed up, he’d start rubbing his head and then he would explode and yell, “I’M TEETERING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I’m chuckling to myself, even as I type. Now don’t get me wrong, the first time or two, we were kinda shook. Our director was not like that; he was usually easy-going and mild-mannered so we were caught off guard the first couple of times. Then, once we realized that’s just what he does when things didn’t seem to be going his way at concert time, it was just FUNNY!!!
I bet you’re saying to yourself, “What does this have to do with optimistic divorceeism?” Well, I’m glad you asked. It relates to how I feel about dating and being optimistic about love right now. I’ve had a few bad experiences in the last few months that have made me holla “I’M TEETERING!!!!!” Take a look.
Situation 1: I’ve mentioned before how I’ve tried various dating sites. Even though that is the case, I felt that I had never put any REAL effort into online dating. Meaning, I barely logged in and if I did end up exchanging numbers with someone, we usually didn’t get beyond a couple of texts, MAYBE a phone call or two AND out of all the sites I had been on over time, I only had interaction like that with 3 men, no actual dates. I wouldn’t have a profile up for long, I would get bored, and just delete. This year I decided that I would change that. I got back on OKCupid. I chose this particular site because several of my former co-workers had huge successes. I’m talking live-in boyfriends and husbands. Anyway, to not make a long story longer, this time around, after talking to about 3 guys on the phone, but none of them being able to hold my interest for very long to even make it to a first date, “he” inboxed me. It was the best message I had ever received. He literally had me at hello! We chatted for a while there, graduated to email, then text, then phone conversations, and then our first date. From there it was just lovely. He was handsome, chivalrous, smart, sweet, a hard worker, and a seemingly good father. He would send me sweet nothing texts and songs. After just a few weeks, he took his profile down and said that he hoped that this was it, he said that he felt that we could develop a “loving and lasting relationship”. We communicated all day every day in some form or another and managed to see each other about 2-3 times a week. But you know how Shari and I tell you to not ignore red flags? I did not practice what I preached. There were a few red flags. I actually confronted him about a couple and even though, in my gut, I felt that both answers were caca, I just ignored it because I was having such a good time. It had been so long and I just didn’t want to let go. All the sugary goodness lasted about six weeks. Then the communication slacked up, he told me that he was too busy with work so he could only commit to seeing me once a week, then about 2 weeks after that, the week of my birthday, he told me that he didn’t have time to date at all. Even after that we texted every now and then and hung out a couple of times. After the last time I saw him, I didn’t hear from him anymore. But guess who popped up in my new matches on OKC??!! Yep. You guessed it, Mr. I Don’t Have Time To Date. I saw that. It hurt my lil feelings, I texted him just a small piece of my mind and said no reply needed. I got mad at myself for knowing better and not doing better, but it’s cool. Lesson learned! (Update: I just saw on Instagram that he got engaged about 3 days ago! Congrats to him!!)
Situation 2: I met this guy at this big birthday party that this other I guy I know has every year for his birthday. He was younger, but he was nice, so I said, what the heck. We talked on the phone and texted for about a week. He seemed smart, sweet, and funny. We planned to go on a date. We were supposed to go to the movies and dinner, when the time came, he called me and asked me to go to his cousin’s wife’s birthday party because he hadn’t seen them in years and he stopped there before he got me and was having such a good time he didn’t want to have to leave since they hadn’t seen each other in 4 years, but he also really wanted to hang out with me. When he came to get me, he had 2 automatic strikes against him. 1. He had his younger brother in the back seat. On our FIRST date?! 2. He drove this ginormous pick-up truck. Do you think he helped me get in that boy?! So we go to the party which really wasn’t a party but just him, his cousins, and their women sitting around shooting the breeze. When he dropped me off, I told him that he owed me a real date. The next day we’re texting and he says, “I have a question for you”. I tell him that I may have an answer. He proceeds to ask me something sexual. I said, “Oh. So that’s all you’re on with me?” He’s all like “No, no…but I think that we should be able to talk about anything.” I advised him that I agree that a couple should be able to talk about anything, but they have to GET to that level and seeing as we had only been talking a week and hadn’t even been on a real date yet, we weren’t there. I didn’t hear from him anymore. (Update: A couple weeks ago, this fella's "wife" slid in my DMs, asking if I had slept with her husband...you know what? I'm gonna go ahead and let y'all see the screenshot...I just took so long trying to post a screenshot, but this lil site won't let me be great! Anyway, My answer was, "Girl, what?!" and she said something about not trying to come for me and seek revenge but that she was just checking with everybody because she knows that he lies. I told her, "Chile, naw. But, I hope you find what you're looking for." She just said, "Me too."
If I recall correctly, he told me that he was divorced. After she contacted me, I went to his page and that same day he posted that he was on vacation with some other woman who was his bae, so I don't know what's going on there...)
Situation 3: I met this other guy on OKCupid. We exchanged numbers and had little small talk texting convos. He seemed cool enough. The fella called me on two occasions, but I missed the call both times and never called him back. I finally decided to call and it was the most agonizing 6 minutes of my life. The conversation was totally disjointed, nonsensical, and contained the longest and most awkward silences I had ever experienced in my life. That was the first time we talked and the last time we had any type of communication.
These 3 scenarios that happened over a span of the last 5 months, along with reflection of my past love life (or the lack thereof) have had me TEETERING!! I have to be honest. It’s hard out here for singles and sometimes it just seems almost downright impossible to stay optimistic about finding love again. There have been times, when I had my first “teetering” experiences, where I teetered close to the edge and almost toppled over the cliff into the abyss of giving up. But now it passes, I can laugh, and thankfully I have some things in place to keep me upright when I find myself tottering, swaying, and staggering too close to the edge of being unoptimistic (Yes, I made this a word, lol).
I know it has been a long while, but I hope you didn’t forget, we have to end with a beat! India.Arie is always in order, lol. I may have used this before, but there can never be too many reminders telling us, There’s Hope. Enjoy! (We used to end all of our blog posts with a "beat" but with all of the copyright infringement scares, I won't be doing that here. Please go and look up the music though!)
Cheryce F. Thompson and Shari Anderson
The Optimistic Divorcees was a blog co-created by myself and Shari. It was established, not to promote divorce, but as a platform to promote strength, courage, and happiness. We wanted to let people who were experiencing divorce know that there is a fulfilling life after divorce. We needed them to understand that they could be happy and content in their state, and know that no matter what, they were going to make it, and that they would find their happily ever after! On this blog we shared stories related to our marriages and divorces, our dating experiences, and other elements pertaining to life after divorce. We also welcomed other divorcees as guest bloggers to share their stories.