Surely you’ve heard the analogy between the airplane oxygen mask and taking care of yourself. Put the mask on yourself first. A passed-out passenger is no help to the people sitting around her. So the lesson goes, it’s the same for a mom, especially a single mom who needs healing after divorce. You’ve got to take time for yourself if you’re gonna take care of others.
But what happens when you don’t even know what an oxygen mask is? If you’re on a flight, the masks drop, and you reach for the airsick bag, you’re in trouble. As a single mom, it can be tricky to know what will provide the oxygen that can keep us strong and what is a shallow breath of something toxic. Here’s the mistake I made that sabotaged my efforts toward healing after divorce.
A big mistake single moms make is thinking that caring for ourselves equals dating.
Thinking I was making myself a priority, I “put myself out there.” I was so hurt and confused about my worthiness that I kept fantasizing a new relationship would fill that void. So I reached for the airsick bag in the form of a guy who was completely wrong for me.
The Big Date
Preparing for our date, I shopped for the perfect outfit, thought about all the great conversations we would have, and made sure my hair was perfect. My plan was to let him kiss me at the end of the night. About two hours before our planned meet-up time, he still hadn’t called to confirm. I texted. He wrote back about getting tied up with work and maybe needing to cancel. In blind desperation, I offered to drive in his direction and told him to keep me posted.
Meanwhile, I met up with a girlfriend. She probably saw it for what it was and was just ready to pick up the pieces when I broke. The date was supposed to start at 5. By 9 p.m., when I still hadn’t heard from him, I just looked at her and said, “I’ve been stood up.”
This was my first date after my divorce, and I was stood up for the first time in my life. The next morning I walked out into the kitchen, saw my dad/temporary landlord, and started crying. He told me the guy was a fool.
Have you made the mistake of thinking you were taking care of yourself when you were really allowing someone else to determine your self-worth?
I was looking for him to heal something he couldn’t heal and to fill a void he couldn’t fill. In hindsight, and boy, was my sight cleared very quickly, I realized God was stepping in and protecting me from a relationship I was not supposed to be in.
So what IS good self-care?
Fortunately, months earlier, when I was going through the divorce process and dealing with questions of worthiness, I knew I had to talk to someone. I sought out a good counselor and made it a priority. I had to make room in the budget and I had to impose upon my parents to watch my sons. It wasn’t convenient for any of us, but I had to take my well-being seriously if I was going to be the mom my kids needed. So take a breath of what will really help you find healing after divorce and let go of the things that might be holding you back from the wholeness God wants you to have.
Let’s help each other! What wrong ways have you tried to handle being single and what did you learn?