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There’s a song that encompasses this wild roller coaster ride of a year that is soon drawing to a close. In fact, that song sums it all up too well.

But that second verse… That second verse is all him, almost to a T. I used to be a singer, and I used to sing this song every time I heard it, but now I get to that second verse and fall silent, because it hits a little too close to home.

One thing I heard repeatedly was your first post-divorce relationship will be a disaster. So when he reached out to me, I tried repeatedly to sidestep him. I knew I wasn’t ready. It was less than a month after my husband and I split, and I just didn’t have it in me. After more than 20 years of having my ego used as a punching bag, I was… empty. I’ve never in my life dated anyone younger than me, I wasn’t really interested in starting. I joke that I have daddy issues. It’s really no joke, it is probably true. I’ve dated (much) older men and never thought twice about it. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I have sons, and even thinking about some older woman preying on them sends my maternal instincts into overdrive, or just some cultural norm, but the idea made my skin crawl.

He was a persistent little shit, and my resistance was MIA. So I gave in. I figured having some fun wasn’t a bad idea. I am a firm believer that when you’re stuck the important thing is not simply to move forward, it’s to just get moving again. If you worry about moving in the right direction you’re likely to stay stuck. You can always correct your path, but you have to be moving to do it. So I did something I rarely do. I threw caution to the wind.

I miscalculated, on multiple counts. The worst of which was seeing a little too much of a me that no longer exists mirrored in him. Someone once believed in me before I could believe in myself, and I’ve always knew I’d pay that forward someday. I thought I could do the same for him, but you can’t help someone who thinks there is no downside to the choices they make. He always blames the fallout on the nearest target. I tell my kids all the time, people don’t change until change is the least painful option, but when you’ve convinced yourself that you aren’t the cause of your own pain, you’ve made yourself powerless to change it, to even connect the dots, to see the cause and effect.

I will probably be haunted by that realization for the rest of my life.

But as someone who is rather obsessed with cause and effect, I used the whole experience to learn, to connect some dots I’ve struggled with for years. It’s a strange thing to say, but couldn’t be more grateful. It could have been a disaster; but somehow I came out of it stronger, healthier. I’m ready to take these next steps I’ve been avoiding for years, because I was terrified of making the same old mistakes.

I’ve spent the last few months testing hypotheses and trying out some new skills. So far so good. If you can walk away relatively unscathed and with some new weapons in your arsenal, that’s a win.

But the feeling I can’t shake is I’ve seen this movie too many times, and I don’t like the ending. I had hoped I could help him rewrite it and then we could both go our separate ways, ready to own the future.

The kindest thing he’s ever done is shut me out of his life. I hate that ending and I hope I never have to watch it again. It’s too heartbreaking. There are no happy endings. Nobody makes it out alive.

Tragedy isn’t my genre of choice.

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