Being Single · Breakups · Divorce · Life · Memories · Music · Recovery Help · Relationships · The Evacuation

Find your own theme song

In 2009 I left my abusive husband after he went off for a weekend of hunting. After I settled in my new apartment and the weeks passed, every now and then I would feel overwhelmed with what the future held.

So while I held my 2yo in my arms, we would gently dance around the living room to this song. My son would giggle as I bounced and dipped his tiny baby body, and it would help remind me that I did the right thing – no matter what my toxic parents said – I saved both my son and myself from a life of abuse.

This is the song I would play for my son. So when times are stressed and I get a little worried, I still play this song.

Whether you’re female or male, remember you are not alone. Find your own theme song and hold it tight.


Alcoholics · Being Single · Dating · Dysfunctional · Dysfunctional Mother · Life · Marriage · Memories · Parents · Red Flags · Relationships · The Evacuation

12 Lessons I Learned From My Ex-Men

Lately I’ve been wondering exactly how many life lessons I have to learn before I’m rewarded. If you compare life to school, we should get payouts every few weeks or so. But unfortunately life isn’t the same as school. Can you imagine paying tuition, attending classes and studying for a final exam without ever receiving a final grade, or worse — a diploma? And yet that’s what life offers us: Endless exams without the benefit of a final review.

For some, a lack of final review offers a comforting sigh of relief. But for Capricorns such as myself, it’s like fully stretching a rubber band without ever allowing the Snap!

Considering the lack of Snap!, I started reviewing previous relationships and constructed a list that I could consider Lessons Learned, hoping it’ll soon produce a positive payout. They are:

1.) Innocent Faces Don’t Represent the Innocent 
I dated one guy who I would consider an “All American Pie Boy.” His visual presentation stirred mental images of warm apple pies sitting on window sills while young boys play baseball in woolen trousers all across midwestern Americana. Safe, comforting and honest.

Unfortunately his outer presentation of honesty and integrity belied his deep-seeded affection for a toxic relationship. Thankfully I wasn’t the toxic relationship – but that in itself was a problem. I spent close to a year watching him implode, addicted to an unstable ex with whom he continually played childish mind and manipulation games like they never left high school. It was exhausting and I thankfully realized after connecting too many dots that he was already spinning a web of lies for me. I cut him loose.

2.) Couples Breakup For A Reason
I was like the fly that repeatedly smacked against the same spot on the window pane, hoping for better results with each head whack. Giving men multiple chances has been one of the stupidest repeated mistakes in my dating career. Cheaters, liars, alcoholics. The one lesson I’ve learned: What they had no problem doing once, they did again. There’s a reason why phrases like “Zebras don’t change their stripes,” “Leopards don’t change their spots” and “History repeats itself,” exist.

3.) They Don’t Automatically Know Better
If you’ve read “How My Mother Made Me Desperate,” you’ll understand the devaluing of my intelligence by my parents and how it caused me to question all my decisions. This, in turn, caused me to rely heavily on the opinions of the men I dated — alcoholics and all. Thankfully, because of praise from countless teachers and coaches, I was able to grab hold of the glimmer of hope in myself, get therapy, and eventually see that most of the putzes that I dated were even less informed than I was. I realized I replaced my parents with men — or even friends — allowing them to approve of my choices or tell me how to live my life based on the little facts that I was willing to relay.

4.) Dating Exists so We Can Get to Know Someone
My mother had a way of making me feel like I always had to take any offer that was given. From colleges to jobs to men. And not only did I have to consider the “generous” offer to date, but I also had to consider it may be my only option to wed, as well. I wasn’t taught to go on dates as a casual way of getting to know someone. It was subtly and continuously drilled into me that if I accepted one date, I was locked-in. So if I said yes to the first date, there was already talk by my mother of life integration.

Half the time this sent me running from the good guys — primarily because I wasn’t ready to marry. So I spent years distracting myself with sub-par men out of fear. And since I was brainwashed to believe I wasn’t worth a good man and that he’d eventually cheat, I grew to believe I also couldn’t handle one and was drawn more toward the not-so-good man. Unfortunately in doing so I learned:

5.) Ugly Slobs Screw Up Too
There’s a misnomer that ugly men treat women better because they’re so appreciative of having a good woman. Not so.

In a futile effort to impress my dysfunctional, negative parents, I gained countless scholastic and athletic awards and accolades. But after years of unsuccessful attempts to impress them — due to the changing tides of their expectations — I was still unable to extract the proper parental love based on my own merits. It was at this point that I gave up and accepted being offered-up like a sacrificial lamb to the (alcoholic) son of my parents’ friends. I was exhausted waiting for the right guy to come along.

“At least if he’s not really put-together — no one else will want him and he won’t cheat,” I found myself thinking, not even realizing that he was a serious alcoholic. My thought process focused on my mother’s insistence that all men eventually cheat. Pathetic, I’ll admit. But when you’re riding someone else’s train to Crazy Town you don’t really take full inventory of the passengers. And so I wed.

Four years later I left him, ala Sleeping With the Enemy style. And to this day I feel like I was never a bride, never married and never lived through a honeymoon phase. What I did live through was toxic and terrifying, but without it I would never have awoken to a few much-needed, life altering revelations.

6.) Good Guys Can’t Handle My History & Bad Guys Try to Compete
This is by far the most difficult thing I’ve discovered in the last few years, and I’m hoping that it was only because of how I introduced my history into relationships that sent the good guys running.

I’ve known many good guys in my life. I’ve been in love with them and they loved me. But at those times, because of the mental torment from my parents, I couldn’t handle dating. I’d either retreat completely or reveal too much too soon, thereby overloading them with grisly facts about my home life. They couldn’t handle it because they had never been exposed to that type of dysfunction. Total overload.

In contrast, psychopaths had no problem hearing the dysfunctional details of my life and sometimes even attempted to extend an honest hand of help. Unfortunately their own demons eventually surfaced and we’d always be left in a proverbial “Who’s Life Is Worse” match.

To this day I’m not sure where that leaves me — other than that I need to be friends with someone before dating. But at least I’m now aware.

7.) I Need to Acknowledge My Good Decisions and Stick to Them
Alcoholics. Thieves. Druggies. Cheaters. Thankfully after years of praying and practice I’ve gotten better at accepting the things I can not change, changing the things I can, and recognizing the difference. Ironically most of my bad decisions were second-guesses brought on by parental pre-conditioning. The good decisions? I’m finally starting to roll around in those — beginning with the choice to leave my alcoholic husband without telling my mother of the plan.

8.) Only I Know the Whole Story
After years of being taught that I couldn’t make a correct decision on my own, I started to believe that I couldn’t date on my own as well. And it opened the floodgates for both solicited and unsolicited advice in relationships. Only I knew all the details of situations, but I continually asked for advice from friends. This changed drastically the moment I decided to cut my mother from The Evacuation plans. It was the best decision I ever made.

9.) Compatibility is Always Important
I’ve dated everything from suits to surfers. It took a few years to realize I leaned more toward the “suit who wouldn’t mind surfing,” type of guy, but before that ever happened I was testing the waters in all things coastal.

It’s funny what can happen after graduating college. I went from being well-known in a school of 16 thousand students to a small group of my friends. And because of their new careers and availabilities — and my unwillingness to venture out alone — the pool of potential boyfriends dried up like a maple leaf on a sunny fall day.

Enter one dorky surf guy looking for direction and you’ve entered my alternate dating universe. It was only after we broke up and he kept giving me pitiful looks that I realized I never really wanted to marry the guy anyway. We were ridiculously incompatible. He had no direction, no backbone nor the mental capacity to earn himself either one. I didn’t realize I needed more of a suit — not someone who folds under pressure like a wet Baja Hoodie.

You’d think the major incompatibilities I found in this one fried fellow would deter me from a few more years of aimlessly dating in the wrong genre, but it didn’t. With my mother constantly introducing me as “The last one left [to get married],” and subtly devaluing my personal accomplishments, it’s no wonder I was ready to form a lifelong partnership with just about anyone remotely tolerable.

But dating someone who’s incompatible is like trying to blend oil and water. Only after disowning my mother and starting a year free from dating did I finally accept that dating is just a way to get to know someone, and if you find yourself incompatible, you can go your separate  ways. And most importantly — it’s not an absolutely mandatory part of life.

10.) If He’s More Interested in His Toxic Ex, She Can Have Him
“You can’t save everyone,” I’ve been told multiple times. I’ve witnessed countless men (and women) try to please dysfunctional partners and in the end they always — always — breakup. Whether it takes a few weeks or the couple is able to drag it out to 20 years.

Because no one tried to save me from the toxic relationship with my mother, I feel compelled to help men who had toxic relationships with their ex. I literally thought if they had a good love, it would turn on a light and they’d not only realize, but be strong enough to save themselves. Ridiculous.

They don’t want to be saved. I’m floored by the countless excuses men make in order to stay with someone who’s destroying both their physical and mental health. And what makes it more difficult for me is knowing that their future guarantees one of two things: the end of their relationship anyway, or the end of their life. Instead of seeking happiness, love, peace and partnership, they’re willing to go to the grave in misery. These men  literally do not want to be happy because they choose suffering over love. You can’t save a masochist.

11.) Love Only Works If Both Parties Want a Partnership
I’ve lived at both ends of this spectrum and can attest to how good a relationship can be if both people continually work to keep the relationship a partnership. And yes, this does incorporate respect. Someone who “allows” you to do something isn’t respecting you just as you’re not garnering respect by constantly seeking someone’s authoritative approval.

12.) The First 3-12 Months of Dating is The Honeymoon Phase 
If he can’t pull it out for you during the honeymoon phase (no pun intended!) then the relationship is not worth keeping. Men will work for women they love and if they love them enough it won’t be work. So if you feel like you’re sucking a relationship out of a man (no pun intended!) it’s time to call it quits.

How awesome would it be if life was like the Nickleback song, “Saving Me,” but instead of a death ticker floating over your head, it’s a When You’re Lessons Will Start Paying Off ticker?

Or maybe they are already and we just don’t know it…



Being Single · Breakups · Dating · Dating Tips · Follow Me! · Funny! · Life · Quotes · Relationships · The Evacuation

My Art of Letting Go: How to Recover After a Breakup

There are suggestions all over the internet on how to get over someone. Well, after decades of falling through the cracks, I’m going to tell you how I recover. In no specific order (actually, the last one is my favorite):

Don’t Look!
Let’s say you were like me and were too stupid to not “shit where you eat.” My first suggestion is to “not look.” Don’t look for him (or her). Don’t look down the hall, toward his office, around the lunch room, at the nearby deli, by the water cooler or the coffee press. Before you leave your office, arm yourself with thoughts of your current project. Talk to yourself if you have to. Don’t look for him — because, Honey, he ain’t lookin’ for you!

One of the smartest things my friend, Jen,  said was – when I asked her, “What do you think he’s thinking?” – she said, “Nothing. He’s not thinking anything.”And there’s a huge possibility he’s not looking either. If your ex was looking at you or for you, you would know. The last thing you want is to repeatedly feel your heart break every time he’s not looking.

Strike Out!
For some reason I continuously have a problem with this one, but it still holds true: strike him off every list you’ve got – delete him. Remove his numbers from your cell phone, remove his email addresses so he doesn’t pop up on iMessage, G-chat, y-mail or Instant Messenger. Remove him from Favorite lists and “important” tags. If you’re not important to him, he should not be important to you. This goes back to one of my Lessons Learned: Don’t invest any time in someone who’s unwilling to invest time in you. The simple act of removing him from sight will help you forget him.

Tally Ho!
You’d be surprised how much it helps when you keep a list of things that pissed you off about your ex. Remember, the relationship didn’t work for a reason! When you feel yourself getting weak, whip out the list and read it again. Suddenly it’s, “OMG that’s right! I can’t believe he did that to me!” Tally the things you aren’t willing to let-go and let the dirty Ho go!

Do the Laundry, List
Your laundry is stacked high, the closet door is falling off the rails, your car needs to be detailed… How much had been delayed while you waited for Mr Ex to pull his head out of his butt? I can guarantee that tackling the laundry-list of chores will not only keep your mind off him, but it’ll help you feel more in-control. And once each task is finished, you’ll feel renewed and refreshed!

Stop Refreshing
Speaking of refreshing — stop it! Stop checking messages and texts, and definitely stop compulsively refreshing email to make sure his lame excuses didn’t download after turning your head. If you need a cell for work, make sure to look only at your work account.

Once the messaging is organized, remove all notification pop-ups for any social account that Mr Ex may have. So if a message does come in, it’ll be hours before you realize it. If he doesn’t make you a priority, don’t make him one!

Sight Seeing & Site Seeing
The classic definition of this phrase – Sight Seeing – is still a great way to spend your time when Mr Ex has left you high and dry. Make a list of places you always wanted to go, and go. If you find yourself stalling, think about this: what if you meet a real dreamboat while you’re sight seeing? So put on those walking shoes and go!

If you’re a real homebody: Site Seeing. Remember all those websites you bookmarked? All those magazines piled high at home? Now’s the time to blow off the dust and dig in. Make yourself a steaming cup of coffee, put on your favorite feety pajamas and read. There’s nothing that will stimulate and tantalize you better than education.

Bucket List
I want to rock climb. I want to scare the hell out of myself while folks cheer me on – even if it is in downtown New York City on a fake wall while there’s a line of wannabe climbers waiting. What’s on your bucket list? Are you tired of waiting for the right partner to join you in memory making? Don’t wait! Make the list! Start the research! Then schedule the day and go. For all you know, the experience may open another world for you. A new world equals new people. New people… you get the idea!

Host a Party
My parents never hosted parties. They didn’t have barbecues and they never had bags of wine bottles to recycle the next day. What kind of world is that? I’m not suggesting alcoholism – Lord knows I’m not – but whats wrong with getting together with friends and family? There’s no better time to catch up than when you’re willing to absorb the love from loved ones!

Your closet is overflowing, food in the fridge has expired, the garbage under your desk still has last year’s receipts… Now’s the time to clean out the old and welcome in fresh air and clean spaces. Figuratively speaking, removing the old, useless or rotting elements from your life sure does feel good, doesn’t it? And if you’ve made the move to discard the dating trash from your life, you may as well go the full gamut and clean your home as well.

After The Evacuation, my apartment contained piles of boxes and bags of useful goods that I didn’t want or need. It took months, but I donated and sold until my apartment was relatively clutter free. So forget the crazy hair cut after a breakup – get yourself to Target or IKEA and organize!

Medical Mental Dental Vision
There’s no better validation for your mental state after a breakup than to have trained medical professionals tell you, “There’s nothing wrong with you. You’ll be fine.” Only recently did I realize that I make multiple medical appointments after breakups. Whether the symptoms are scary or not, it’s good to have an intelligent professional care and – quite frankly – tell me I’m normal. (Almost like an indirect, “It’s not you, it’s him.”)

Now, I’m not suggesting you waste time with fake problems. I’m saying if you’ve been putting off those heart palpitations or your eyesight is starting to fade, now’s the best time to take care of you.

Dating Sites eHarmony. Plenty Of Fish. I’ve had friends meet and move in with folks they’ve met online – it’s no longer tabu. From what I hear – and what I’ve been witnessing firsthand – you’ve got to stick it out for a while.

My babysitter, a 26-year-old introvert from Long Island, gave me her notice one fall day in 2013. When I asked her plan she said, “I’m moving in with my boyfriend, and he lives 30 minutes east of here.” Clearly her traveling would increase and she was looking forward to endless boinkfests, but I was shocked because she had never mentioned a boyfriend, let-alone moving in with him. But the need to research prompted my next question, “Where did you meet?”, she admitted. I was dumbfounded. I thought was a “meat market,” but apparently it still makes some worthy connections. If you can work around emails from questionable profiles, you may just meet your match.

Professional Profiles
Speaking of profiles. What about yours? LinkedIn. Naymz. I dont even know what other professional sites exist because I’ve been neglectful. But it’s good to get professional profiles up to par now – Lord knows you won’t want to do it when your own boinkfest* comes to town.

* Remind me to add “Boinkfest” to my own 1YearOfSingle Glossary.

You Better Work! Workout Girl!
There’s nothing more addictive than looking hot so your ex chokes on his own tongue that dangles from his slobbering mouth when he sees you walk by in that smokin’ hot new outfit. Don’t go for just a head turn. Don’t go for a measly stutter. I want you to raise the bar – hundreds of times in the gym – and make him choke on his own stupidity till everyone around him notices that he’s speechless and immobile. Yeah. That’s it.

Clean Out Your Closets
I would have put this with the “Organize” entry, but it’s got a little zest to it. You need to comb through your closets and remove everything that doesn’t make you feel like a million bucks. Chuck it. I don’t care if you’re down to one thong and a pair of heels from * insert designer name brand here * – because right now we need to bolster your ego, and yesterday’s period panties aren’t going to cut it.

The first time I traveled by myself I was scared to death. Sadly, it was only to Pennsylvania and I was driving an old Ford, but when I arrived at my destination I felt like I owned the world.

Two years ago, one of my commuter friends (we’ll call her Mary) came to me with a problem. She was alone for the weekend, her kids were away at camp and her husband didn’t want to travel. He had sunken into a slight case of depression from losing his job and was currently majoring in Couch Potatoing 101. From her description of the tension caused by his job loss, I could tell Mary really needed to get out. And away. She told me that she was supposed to attend a friend’s wedding upstate New York, but was afraid to go by herself. After describing my trips to Pennsylvania, she decided to take a chance and drive herself upstate – without her couch potato husband.

Weeks later I saw Mary during our commute and asked if she took the trip. “I did,” she beamed. “And I left my husband at home. I was scared at first, but I did it.” She explained that all her girl friends gathered, drank wine and laughed – all without their couch potato husbands. Apparently Mary had such a good time that she returns every few months with a bottle of wine so that she and her friends can have a weekend without the entire Couch Potato class.

Serious Series
Does your brain burn with questions after a breakup? Do you wish you could spoon-out your cerebrum and fill it with Silly Putty, just so you don’t have to think about what the hell happened to your relationship? Enter: Netflix and Hulu Plus. I felt like my brain was on fire after discovering McDreamy was really married. But Netflix and Hulu Plus allowed the derailing of my thought process. I’m not talking cheesy romance movies – I’m talking full-scale television series like Desperate Housewives, Gossip Girl, Glee, Mob Wives, The Walking Dead, Grey’s Anatomy, White Collar, and even Downton Abbey. No no – don’t just sit there and watch! I watched these shows while I cleaned, so my mind didn’t wander to Mr Ex. (The last thing you want is to obsess over an ex while organizing a lingerie drawer.)

Serenity Now! (Therapy)
God bless her little PhD soul. My therapist has worked through issues and is now helping me feel normal in serenity. Millions of us are raised in drama and chaos, so when our lives finally settle, the calm feels unnatural. Gone untreated, we recreate drama in order to feel “normal” again. If you feel like there’s an endless, uncontrollable amount of drama happening in your life, I suggest therapy.

Job Hunt
There’s nothing you can do if Mr Ex dumped you on the side of the relationship road, but don’t let your boss treat you like trash as well. Are you getting the salary that reflects your worth? Are you doing the job you were promised? If not, pull out the proverbial pencil, redo the resume and latch-on to LinkedIn, because you deserve more.

Journaling is the best way to say what you want to the dirty man whore without looking like a loser. Write it all down, let yourself go. Nothing is off limits and it will ultimately drain it from your cerebrum so you don’t have to think about him anymore. Did he get a lap dance from your sister? Journal it. Did you catch him licking the neck of a shot girl? Journal it. Is his dick the size of the score card pencil at the neighborhood miniature golf? Journal that shit. I’d say Blog it, but that’s my job.

I actually find myself accessorizing more after a breakup. I’m sure there’s some kind of psychological meaning to this, but I couldn’t care less. Just accessorize. And all that dangling and sparkling draws attention, and attention is what you need after attending a dry toast dinner in Splittsville. 

Hair and nails
So many of us cut our hair after a breakup. I’m not sure if that’s the way to go because after a few weeks I miss my locks. Better to get color and a trim, and spend the rest on a mani-pedi. The more “put together” you feel after a breakup, the more you’ll feel empowered. And the attention you’ll get from friends, family and co-workers tends to fill some of the void left by the ex.

Let the Music Play
Years ago I called this “Purging” because listening to sad music after a breakup would force me to cry, and crying would flush my system of negative hormones. Yeah, it’s actually a scientific theory. But it’s now 2014 and I refuse to give more time to any ahole who doesn’t give time to me. And for that reason I stock my iTunes with “F-U” playlists after breakups. Songs should empower you to feel better, not drag you down and feel sorry for yourself. And since this is one of my favorite breakup-recovery pastimes, I’ve dedicated space here on 1 Year Of Single just for F-U songs. Check it out… 

Alcoholics · Breakups · Dysfunctional · Life · Marriage · Memories · Relationships · The Evacuation

The Pre-Thanksgiving Alcoholic

I can smell an alcoholic from a mile away. Unfortunately – in this case – there’s one right next to me on my commuter train home.

Alcoholics think that no one knows they’re alcoholics. I know this guy’s an alcoholic. There’s a way alcoholics process alcohol – the smell of it hovers near their skin with a stale, sweet, fermenting, rotting essence. It permeates the area like old tobacco does after seeping into walls for years.

Whenever an alcoholic sits next to me, my skin crawls. My senses go on high alert because my ex-husband was an alcoholic.

I was home making stuffed mushrooms on Thanksgiving Eve, 2006, when my husband [at the time] came home after drinking all day. He was so inebriated it was like a stranger had entered the apartment. It was a violating feeling, having my husband’s body – with a stranger’s personality – enter my home, and the worst part about it is that I couldn’t do anything about it like I could if it really was a stranger. When he harassed me or dumped an entire container of spice into my recipe, all I could do was gently plead for him to stop, hoping by some miracle something I said would snap him out of it.

Nothing ever did.

There were times when he’d come home at 3am after being unreachable all day. One night I used my laptop as a shield as I ran through the apartment with my husband throwing things at me. Another night I shut myself in the closet, but he opened it, smashed it closed, opened it and smashed it again – all the while screaming, “What did I do wrong!? What did I do wrong?!”

I was terrified. He was a hunter and although still new at the sport, he had knives, bows and a rifle. There were times while I waited for him to come home at night that I considered sleeping on the floor beside the bed just so I wasn’t vulnerable when sleeping.

Those times made me realize that I had to make a choice: I could fall into the dramatic cinematic B.S. that a lot of women fall into and potentially have people pitying me for the rest of my life like a piece of worthless trash, or i could do something about it.

Neither of my parents were alcoholics, but they were both physically abusive and emotionally abandoned me. And no one had ever saved me from them. So I thought about my baby boy, “I have to save his life like no one saved mine.” I had to save his life like no one saved mine.

My ex-husband still tries to get me into fights even to this day. But it’s completely different now because I have my own safe haven. My home is an oasis because it’s just my son and me who live there. I no longer have to peep around the door when I come home at night to see if my ex is drunk, passed out or dead. I know my son is safe and happy in our home. And my stuffed mushrooms on Thanksgiving are perfect.

I hate alcoholics. I’m sorry, I do. And I hate when they sit next to me on my commuter train home.

But I love myself for being brave enough to save myself and my son. Its made all the difference.

Alcoholics · Being Single · Dating · Dating Tips · Life · Quotes · Relationships · The Evacuation


No, it’s not a new toy. When I was married and realized my husband was a serious alcoholic, I kept thinking, “This won’t be forever. God won’t leave me in this.” The fear of being killed was overwhelming. My husband had a shotgun, knives. I had to plot my evacuation with hair raising awareness, hoping my husband wouldn’t discover my plot, hoping that what I knew of him was correct – that he wasn’t up to actually killing me. So while being single isn’t nearly as life threatening, I’m still seeing a lot of single folks on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and other social media focusing on Singledom as if it’s the end of their lives. If you really think Singledom is that horrendous, just keep thinking, “GWLMIT.” And feel free to substitute whatever higher power it is that you believe in even if it’s not God. Because you won’t be in this forever. Just do yourselves a favor: Instead of concentrating on what you don’t want in a partner, concentrate on what you do want. Positive. Always.


Alcoholics · Being Single · Breakups · Marriage · Quotes · Relationships · The Evacuation


Sometimes (all the time) I look at my ex-husband and I think,
“The thousands that I spend on therapy were well worth it.”

Alcoholics · Being Single · Bitches · Breakups · Dysfunctional · Dysfunctional Mother · Marriage · Parents · Relationships · The Evacuation

How My Mother Made Me Desperate

We often wonder why some girls are desperate and needy. You would think it’s an inherent need, but sometimes it comes from the folks who are supposed to protect them the most. Case in point:

“We’re going to marry you off to the old widower down the road,” my parents would joke, adding, “Except, we’ll have to throw in some chickens as well” – a clear sign that they didn’t think I was worth anything; they had to “sweeten the pot” with a farm animal. So essentially I was worth less than a farm animal.

This was just one of the many not-so-subtle ways that my parents expressed their view of my value. I had to be married to be worth something, and that no one would want me as I was. I wasn’t good enough.

Eventually all my sisters “found someone,” and I was “left.” I dated here and there, but as nothing panned out, my mother would ask in horrified voice if I was a lesbian, and would introduce me as “the last one left.” Imagine how I felt when – in social circles – she would say, “Oh, and here’s my daughter, Kate. She’s the last one left.”

The last one left? It indicated that I was – in her eyes – the last one of her daughters to do the right thing: obtain the golden ticket and get married. So to my mother, all my other achievements – Deans List, MVP, Captain, Who’s Who of Junior Colleges – twice, Editor In Chief of the college newspaper and Student of the Year – all paled in comparison to being someone’s wife. It was another statement that pissed me off – but being a dutiful daughter, I let it slide. Why? Because my other sisters had issues with my mother! My mother also very artfully manipulated me by saying, “It doesn’t matter what we do to you, Kate, you’ll always come back to us. You’re the good one.” She was a master manipulator.

So those statements, along with dozens of other similar messages, created a need for me to find a husband – even before carrying out my own dreams. But ironically I didn’t radiate desperateness. I wasn’t a slut. I wasn’t “with” every guy I met, and I didn’t want every guy to marry me. I actually had some discrimination. Some.

Sadly, when my dysfunctional mother introduced me to her friend’s equally dysfunctional son, I went for it – hook line and sinker – because of a few things: 1.) I was tired of waiting for a quality guy that I actually wanted to spend the rest of my life with 2.) I was completely intimidated by quality guys 3.) It was a preordained match made by my dysfunctional mother 4.) I was taught my entire life to think that my parents had all the correct answers, and wasn’t ever allowed to question them. So if this guy was my perfect match, I wasn’t about to question it.

Thankfully, the story gets better.

A foundation of years of therapy enabled me to eventually leave my alcoholic husband in a somewhat “Sleeping With the Enemy” style. I call it “The Evacuation.” After my husband left for a long weekend with the boys, I gathered friends at my home to pack my things. Did I tell my mother? No way in hell – I was a clam in the months leading to the evacuation. Twice prior she had convinced me to stay with the alcoholic, so I knew that it was a turning point in my life – she wouldn’t be making any more decisions for me, and I didn’t tell her anything about the evacuation. Needless to say, when I did inform her of the move, she was shocked and tried to convince me to return to him.

I feel like 1 Year of Single is my final phase of the evacuation. Since leaving my ex-husband, I’ve had to completely sever ties with my mother – and I want to rip the control completely out of her hands by not dating for one year. I want to do it on my own terms. And I want to take everything back from the Mother who made me desperate.