‘Promises’: Demi Lovato & what I wish I had known about my parents’ divorce

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For at least a month (up until last week) I was driving around with no radio. I know…the horror. My car radio (intelligently) locked me out after I had the battery replaced and even though I looked and looked, could not find the code for it. I finally called Honda a few weeks ago and they attempted to help but after a little bit on the phone were also unsuccessful.

Resigned to the worst, I was preparing myself to visit the Honda dealership in person when Nicholas rode with me one day and – as I was telling him the radio malfunction saga – he pressed a button that miraculously turned on the radio for the first time in weeks.

I wish I could say that I was surprised, but things like that happen to him all the time…and I’m not bitter about it at all.

Having had a fair break from the current radio stations, I was eager to catch up on the latest releases. One that stuck out to me was by Demi Lovato called ‘Promises.’ The gist of the song is that love is difficult and so even though I care about you, ‘promise me no promises.’

I was a little disappointed at this message, especially because it’s not the first or second or tenth time that I’ve heard it spoken to me from various sources recently. I think my generation has become very guarded and as I’ve gotten older I’m starting to understand why.

From 1960 to 1980, after the no-fault divorce bill was passed (saying that you could get a divorce without proving spousal wrongdoing), the divorce rate more than doubled.

A lot of us millennials and some from those in the previous generation (gen x) were born to those parents.

Ex: my mother and myself. We were both born into families whose parents went on to get divorced.

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What has occurred as a result of this breakdown in the family, is that we are terrified of making a promise that could later on be broken. What we have learned is that a vow doesn’t mean anything, it is unsafe. I can say ‘I love you’ and still walk away. Marriage, therefore, has lost it’s place in society as an outdated and ineffective tradition.

We treat relationships lightly and avoid getting attached at all costs.

The problem with this, is that family is the foundation of society. We learn to love in the home. The best example we’ll ever have of love is that which our parents show us through their love for each other. That is why we are falling short today, we don’t know how to love.  It is something we have to learn, we are not born on an island; our ability to love, our identity and sense of self are all things we develop in relation to others.

I wish I had known all of this earlier; my dating relationships have been made dramatically more difficult because of my own experience of what happens when we fail to keep our marital vows. We make a vow for a reason, it is not meant to be broken. Not merely because of the heartbreak that happens to the individuals who were married, but because of the damage it does to the children affected and society at large. The children of divorce live with that for the rest of their lives.

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Distrust, skepticism, and overwhelming fear often get the best of me, leading to strife between myself and the person I love. These thoughts and feelings aren’t things that come from nowhere, they are leftover from the reality that I’ve seen what happens when our love falls short and the pain that it causes. It honestly has gotten between us over and over again. I am constantly battling the voices in my head telling me to run…I am wary of being hurt and willing to do just about anything to avoid it. At times it is excruciating, exhausting and entirely discouraging for both me and my s/o. Experience and the fear it causes are powerful forces, more than I’d like to admit, however it is evident in myself and the culture around us.

This secondhand effect of divorce is rampant in people my age who refuse to ‘settle down’ and avoid family life altogether. We have, instead, become concerned with career achievement and having a good time. While these are good things, they are not the best things. The most convincing lie out there today is that you can’t have a good job, have fun and be married with children. It is either one or the other. If that were true, then I wouldn’t blame anyone for not ever wanting to get married, that sounds awful!

The reality, however, is that family life doesn’t steal our joy, it increases it. The studies concerning singles vs. married couples shows us that married couples tend to be happier.

This makes sense, because we are made to be in relation to others. We are born into families for a reason. Our deepest joy doesn’t come from getting drinks with friends (again, not a bad thing), it comes from loving and being loved deeply.

I know how discouraging it can be when people left and right are leaving their marriages. I know what it’s like to grow up convinced that family life is for the sitcoms and love doesn’t work. I know how hard it is to love when all you know is what happens when we don’t love.

However, Nicholas reminded me in a moment of frustration that hope is a virtue because it only makes sense in the context of hopelessness. If things are just fine, we have no need for hope. We need it when we are most tempted to despair.

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As millennials get older, I hope we realize the absolute necessity for family life. I hope we’re brave enough to give it our all, even if we’ve seen others who haven’t. I hope we learn to prioritize what is truly important and to overcome the fear that tells us to run the other way…because if we don’t, I guess I’m not sure who will.

It’s up to us to undo the cycle of broken promises and give the generations after us the opportunity to be learn what it means to love and to love others themselves.

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Monday 5: Relationships edition

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The first picture I ever posted of Nicholas and me was shortly after our first date when we met up in Raleigh, NC six months ago. It was a great date, especially considering we had only hung out a total of 3 or 4 times before then and hadn’t seen each other in three months.

While cute, the picture didn’t quite depict the whole…picture. On the way to the train station (where the pic was taken) I had broken down into tears when Nicholas told me he was excited about our relationship…#irrational. Moments after we took the pic, I got on the wrong train…oops.

As an avid social media user, I can be the first to admit that our Instagram or Facebook posts can make everything look so peachy and mysteriously leave out the messy or unpleasant parts of our lives. I don’t post photos of my crying when I take something Nicholas says or does the wrong way, there’s no Instagram story of the stony silences that occur when we’re upset with each other, no captions voice the concerns or doubts or disagreements we’ve had.

I say all this not to give the impression that our relationship is actually awful but because it’s real…warts and all (figurative warts of course…we both have perfect skin thankyouverymuch).

In celebration of the past six months, here are the top 5 things I’m excited about regarding our relationship (and relationships in general). Not all of it is ‘Instragram worthy’, but that’s kind of the point.

Forgiveness

At least four or five times a week I have to sincerely apologize to Nicholas for something. Whether it’s being too quick to judge, or not giving the benefit of the doubt, or assuming the worst, or being a little too brutally honest…there have been plenty of occasions for me to gulp down my humble pie and for Nicholas to practice the virtue of forgiveness. Similarly, I have had to forgive Nicholas when he makes a careless comment or hurts my feelings in some fashion which happens frequently since I am the most Sensitive Sally. It’s been cool to see us forgive each other over and over again. Reconciliation has become one of our strong suits and I have a feeling it will come in handy often.

Selflessness

‘You do you’ has become such a common saying today, and despite it’s casual nature, I think it can be a dangerous mindset. We really shouldn’t just do us. If love is willing the good of the other then there isn’t room for us to simply pick what we prefer…someone else’s well-being is at stake. There are so many times that I have to choose what is best for him over what I want in that particular moment. Whether it’s something trivial like talking to him in the car when I really want to just listen to music, or something more serious, I often have to give up what I want for him. As ‘woe is me’ as that may sound, where rubber meets the road in love is sacrifice and self gift…and I know he often has to do the same. I also think it comes more naturally over time…fingers crossed.

Celebrations

Each month Nicholas and I celebrate our ‘monthaversary’ as well as the day we became exclusive without having gone on any dates – we call it Charleston-Cleveland (or CC for short) Alliance Day. On those days we make sure to do something special, whether it’s wearing our Ohio Against the World t-shirts, or going to dinner or just grabbing a beer. I keep pictures of random days we spent together as well as special occasions in a scrapbook to commemorate our good times. I think celebrating these little, seemingly meaningless milestones adds so much joy to our lives and reminds us to focus on the good.

Growth

An important goal for the two of us from the beginning has been that of personal growth. It’s so easy to get comfortable and become complacent in our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual lives; so we try to avoid that by reading stimulating/inspiring books together, exercising, making time for prayer….things that are easy to let slide if we don’t hold each other accountable. When we have this goal that is bigger than ourselves, it adds meaning to our relationship and helps guide our decisions in a healthy way.

Sharing

One of my favorite parts of our relationship is our shared life together (in the context of what’s appropriate for dating). We started texting each other every couple of weeks or so when we first became friends, then texting every week, then almost every day. From there we moved to daily phone calls (often 2-3 a day) and Facetime sessions. Finally we got to visit each other and spend time together for days at a time. Now living in the same town, we aim to see each other every day; whether it’s visiting friends or family, working out, grabbing a beer, eating dinner…we strive to stick together. There are things we can’t do together (coffee dates with my girlfriends, tennis with his buddies) but generally we try to make each other a priority and share in our thoughts, memories, opinions, hopes and experiences.

I feel incredibly grateful for every minute of the past few months (even the painful, crying ones). The photogenic moments of our relationship are vastly outnumbered by the hard, painful, uncomfortable, tense, awkward and boring ones, but it brings me a lot of peace knowing that we are not choosing this because it is easy, but because we both genuinely hope it could be worth it.

Here’s to relationships that aren’t nearly as perfect as the pictures that depict them.

xo

Miranda

Monday 5: ‘Modern Romance’ & other things to be excited about this week

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I hope your Mother’s Day weekend was filled with quality family time and (if you’re a mom) some well-deserved rest. Friday night we met up with some friends at one of my favorite spots in Charleston, The Vendue Hotel, which has a sweet rooftop bar. My go-to drink there is called Takes Two to Mango which is yummy and just a little bit spicy.

Saturday entailed of some Mother’s Day preparation (and a long-awaited visit to the gym) as well as some volunteer work with the Charleston Food Bank.

Sunday was mostly dedicated to Mother’s Day celebrations, including waffles and a trip to the beach.

Regardless of whether you are ready for Monday or not, here are some things to be excited about this week.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Blue Away!

I borrowed this nail polish from my mom and loved it. The color is such a perfect summer shade and as someone who hates to sit around, I really appreciate the Insta-Dri part.

Article on self-compassion

One of my favorite sites for good reading is called Mind Spirit. Here they combine psychology with spirituality  with a really wholesome perspective. I get so much good advice and inspiration from this site and especially appreciated this recent article on self-compassion. As someone who can be pretty critical of myself (and sometimes others), I think this article really hit the nail on the head with the idea of self-compassion. It’s hard to extend kindness to others when you don’t show it to yourself first.

The Giver

This weekend we watched The Giver, a YA post-apocalyptic movie based on a book. It takes place in a ‘Utopian’ world where people can no longer experience emotions, see colors or have memories. I liked the movie because it depicted well the importance of accepting the good with the bad. With all the struggles, hardships, pain and suffering, there is also redemption, joy, beauty and of course, love. While sometimes not feeling anything seems preferable, life is good because it is an adventure, which includes adversity. I also appreciated that the hero was motivated by fatherly love for an infant he grew close to. He endured much suffering and gave up a lot to save the baby. This was a nice change from a lot of the other YA books/movies out there which focus on the romantic love a lot more. While not ground breaking cinematography, I thought the movie was well done and especially appreciated the message it conveyed.

White jeans

Saturday also included a trip to Goodwill during which I found a pair of white jeans which I’m really excited about. While I’m definitely more of a dress person, I think white jeans during the summer can be such a good look that is super versatile. You can easily dress them up or down depending on your top or shoes. And even more exciting is when they only cost you $5…right?!

Aziz Ansari’s ‘Modern Romance’

This book was loaned to me a while ago by a friend who suggested I might find it interesting (shout out to Mark if you’re reading this). He was right. Aziz poses a lot of good questions a lot of us have about dating today and his responses are definitely food for thought. While I don’t agree with some of his stances, I think he largely represents the average dating millennial today and it is always good to  know how people are thinking and feeling about a topic before confronting it.

What are you excited about this week?

xo

Miranda

 

 

 

 

 

What I’ve learned from my dating fast so far

What I've learned from my dating fast so farIn March I felt that I should go on a dating fast.

What is a dating fast? Well, its like when you give up a certain food or Netflix or makeup…except with dating.

Usually a fast is for a designated amount of time and has an underlying reason behind it. For example, you may fast from sweets to lose weight, you might fast from something else for religious reasons, or you may want to challenge yourself to give up something that you feel you have become dependent on/is preventing personal growth. (Like when I tried to give up coffee and then realized I was not interested in personal growth without caffeine).

To anyone who knows me well, a dating fast sounds like something of a joke. This is understandable as my dating life has essentially been nonexistent and the closest I’ve come to having a boyfriend is about as close as Pam Halpert came to dating Michael Scott. Not to say that I haven’t liked anyone, but only a handful of guys and it never worked out long-term. Being 20, this may surprise a lot of you, but the College Prepster didn’t have her first boyfriend until her twenties either, so I feel like I’m in good company.

Knowing my dating history, some people (and sometimes myself), questioned my decision. Isn’t my giving up boys for a year kind of like someone with celiac disease saying they’re giving up gluten? Well, yes. But also, no.

Here’s why: going on a dating fast wasn’t about giving up the (nonexistent) millions of boys that were lining up outside my door, it was about the position of my heart.

I felt that even though I didn’t have a boyfriend, I still let myself get too anxious about the guys I liked and it wasn’t healthy. Whenever I liked someone I felt stressed, insecure and consumed by the uncertainty of their feelings and by an urgency I felt that things had to work out.

I realized it wasn’t healthy and I didn’t want to enter a relationship with someone because I felt lonely or thinking that a boyfriend could solve all my problems. I wanted to be steadfast and confident in who I am before being with someone else.

But I also felt that it would be hard to focus on personal growth if I met someone I liked and became distracted (as I have repeatedly in the past) by the possibility of a relationship. On the other hand, if I knew I couldn’t date anyone, it would be easier for me to focus on things I want to work on. (Even if Zac Efron came knocking at my door).

It also seemed like a really good time to not be thinking about boys since I was in the middle of the super weird/scary/exciting transition from college to the real world. I had (still have) a lot of important decisions to make. The kind of decisions that shouldn’t be influenced by a cute guy.

Looking back over the past six months I feel extremely grateful that I made the decision to swear off guys for a year, I have learned a lot and grown from it. As I go through the second half of my dating fast I want to share some of the things I’ve learned so far.

Being friends with guys (even if you have crush on them) is a good thing.

To most people this is probably a no-brainer, but for me it wasn’t. I never had any interest in having anything to do with a boy unless I like liked him. I felt it would be dishonest and confusing to be friends with someone you wanted to date; and I thought that if you didn’t like them then they probably liked you and things could get awkward. But as I’ve gotten to know more decent guys, the more I’ve realized what I’ve missed out on. My guy friends are some of the funniest people I know and a joy to spend time with. Even more importantly, I’ve learned that its important to love men as brothers and let them respect you as a sister too. To see guys as just potential boyfriends is to sell them short.

They are people and not just a list of pros and cons. Not only that, but getting to know someone you like as a friend first can serve a firm foundation for a relationship or make you realize that an initial attraction doesn’t equal relationship material, avoiding a potentially messy and painful break-up later on. Of course it is never okay to lead someone on, it is important to set boundaries on friendships with guys and do what you can to avoid sending mixed signals. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to your feelings about someone. On the other hand, don’t put yourself in a painful situation either, if you like someone and know they just see you as a friend, take a step back if you need time to get over them or if it is too painful to try being friends.

Maybe you already have a bunch of good guy friends, or maybe you’re like I was and not interested unless they meet your dating standards. In any case I strongly advise you to value friendships with men as the joyful and educating experiences that they are. Of course, as with any relationship/friendship, the guys you spend time with should be the kind that respect, honor and value you as the incredible person that you are.

This is just one of the few things I’ve learned from my dating fast so far, over the next few weeks I will share other lessons I’ve come to understand!