My mother always told me that a good man was hard to find, that all men were dogs and that I would probably never find anyone that wanted to marry me.
I believe that this is one of the reasons that I married the first man that I got into a serious relationship with. I was 19 and he was 26. He couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle and I was so flattered. I had proved my mother wrong! Someone wanted to marry me and take me away from all of her nonsense. I was all for it.
Unfortunately, my husband was extremely jealous and insecure from day one. He undermined my efforts at modeling, interfered with any friendships that I tried to cultivate, and basically made my life miserable. When I made the decision to go back to school, he berated me for holding on to the dream of obtaining my degree, calling it stupid and selfish.
I knew in my gut that this relationship wasn’t a good one even before we said ‘I Do’ back in 1990, but I naively thought that things would get better once we were married. And then once we began to have kids, I just hoped that if I continued to show my husband what true love looked like, he would learn how to be the man he was meant to be in our marriage. I was young and ignorant about these things and I didn’t know that I had gone about it all the wrong way. You don’t accept poor treatment in a relationship and just hope that if you keep loving the man, he’ll do better. And you also don’t allow this type of man to set the pace in the relationship. I went along with a multitude of bad decisions, believing that my husband should be treated like the leader and man of the house the way my father had been. But, there was a big difference between the type of man my father was and the type my husband was. My husband’s decisions got us evicted from just about every place we lived, sued by creditors, and every car we had either got repossessed or broke down to the point that it wasn’t worth us getting fixed.
After 10 years and 3 failed attempts to leave, I had finally had enough. After one particularly bad argument that had gotten physical, I took my kids and went to a shelter in Indiana for battered women. When I had previously tried to talk to my husband about ending our relationship, he loved telling me that nobody would want me and my 3 kids. He told me that NO man would be interested in dating me and accepting all of the baggage that was likely to come along with a woman that had 3 sons that were 4, 7 and 9 at the time I left him. He also told me that I was a worthless slut and he was the only one that would ever really love me.
When his abuse started to include him sharing those types of opinions with my sons, I really knew it was time to go. I had made a choice to be with this man, my children had not. They were innocent and I couldn’t allow him to taint their childhood.
Once I was out of that relationship, I really began to see life differently. I was so proud of myself. I had gotten my degree against just about every odd there was. I got up at 4am every morning, took my kids to daycare, attended classes from 7am – 1 and then worked at the school from 2-6, picked up the kids, then drove back to the shelter in Crown Pointe, IN every day for months. I was finally able to get my own place after a while and we began our new lives. My children and their happiness and well-being were my first priority and even so, a strange thing happened. Men practically came out of the woodwork to date me.
They didn’t care if I had 3 kids or 10. They just saw me. I had an air of self-confidence and I had set the bar for myself and my kids that we wouldn’t allow any substandard relationships into our lives.
First of all, I had to get to know a man for awhile before he was even allowed to meet my children. I had only been single for about 4 months when I met a man who ran a mentorship program for young boys on the West side of Chicago. I was just finishing up my degree at the time and focused on creating a great life for myself and my sons. This guy seemed to sense that I was on a mission and not impressed by his Mercedes and attempts to wine and dine me. Because I had set my bar high, he knew what I expected in a relationship and he did everything in his power to accommodate that. I was just a single mom, living in a 1 bedroom apartment and putting myself through school, yet this successful business man was determined to make me his woman. I eventually gave him a chance and we ended up spending 12 years together in a wonderful relationship. He treated me like a queen the entire time and was a father to my sons from day one.
Because I did not allow myself to settle… or believe that I wasn’t good enough to have the love that I desired, I not only got that kind of love, but I got much more. There is not a shortage of good men out there; but I believe there is a shortage of women that demand to be treated well. As a woman, you’ve got to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you attract to you what you believe you deserve. If you believe you deserve to be treated like a queen, then the only men that will blip on your radar are the ones that are ready, willing and able to do just that.