By the time I was 35, I’d collected enough solid evidence to build a case against men. I could see myself as a victim, or I could learn how to make it on my own. In the process, I learned just how capable I was. Without a man in my life. But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
I’d been a stay-at-home mom for more than a decade.
Suddenly, my husband told me he didn’t think he wanted to be married anymore. He left me that same day. With no job, a high school diploma, and three boys to raise. I was a hot mess. I had very few close friends in the new city. We didn’t have cell phones back then, so I couldn’t keep in touch with my friends back home without creating an enormous phone bill. And since I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for everything, calling my friends just wasn’t an option.
I spent the first four months in unbelievable emotional pain and confusion.
I was constantly nauseated, but I forced myself to eat half a sandwich a day. I busied myself with yard work and housework. I had to keep my body moving to dissipate all my anxiety. When I ran out of things to do, I sat in my rocking chair and cried. Somehow, bit by bit, step by step, I figured out how to live again. I was a victim, but I did not embrace that identity.
The point isn’t what a jerk my husband was.
We were both incredibly immature. We married at 18, remember? My point is, by the time I was 35, I’d collected enough solid evidence to build a case against men. I could see myself as a victim, or I could learn how to make it on my own. In the process, I learned just how capable I was. I could find a job, raise kids, start and finish college. I could survive. Even thrive. Without a man in my life.
But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Unless you truly want to. Just make sure it’s what you want. You’re here on my channel for a reason. Figure out what your reason is. And never settle for less than your dream.
Twenty years after my husband left, I was asked to speak at an event in Los Angeles … as the relationship expert. Who saw that coming the day my husband left? Certainly not me. Or anyone who knew me back in the day.
I’ll never forget a young woman who approached me after my talk that Saturday morning in Beverly Hills. She told me she’d given up on men. She told me she wanted a family, but had not been successful in relationships. She didn’t care anymore. Her biological clock was ticking, so she decided to go ahead and have a baby on her own. With the medical technology available to her, she could become a single mom. She didn’t need a man. She had a great career, so money wasn’t a problem. She could provide for herself and a child.
In reality, she appeared to be working very hard to justify her decision, to convince me that she had indeed figured it out. But as I listened patiently to her story, she began to weep softly. Yes, she could get pregnant with sperm from an anonymous donor. Yes, she could provide for herself and her child financially. But she could not provide a father for her child, a husband for herself. She would have to do life alone. She didn’t really want to be a single mom. Yet she didn’t want to marry just anybody.
She wanted a hero.
A man who would come to know her better than anyone else. To partner with her. To be her companion and confidant. And she wanted to be that for him, too. They would be committed to one another for life. Safe and secure. Facing the world … and parenthood together.
Something in this woman knew a child could not and would not be the partner that she needed. The parent-child relationship is not based on adult equality. And eventual abandonment is embedded in this temporary and ever-changing dynamic. If it’s a healthy relationship, the child will move on to create a life of his or her own.
Then where would she be?
Back at square one. Sad. Alone. Longing for a partner. Wanting her own hero.
I never saw her after that. Sometimes I wonder how life is going for her a decade later. I hope she didn’t give up hope. I hope she found her hero. Or that her hero found her. And that they created a beautiful family together.
If you’re a single parent, you know it’s the toughest job in the world.
I’ve been there. It’s one of those things you cannot fully appreciate until you’ve done it. Yes, people do it. Many people. Some people do it really well. But it’s never ideal. Not that being married is easy or ideal. But it’s a start. Of course, there are different challenges in marriage. So much more to learn. But also, so much more to enjoy.