For a long time, I was adamant that I wasn’t going to get married again. After the first experience ended in separation after all of eight months and divorce in 20 months, I wanted no part of another one.
In the pre-Shana era (2003-2011), I had two serious relationships. Neither came close to marriage. Even if I thought about it early on, that faded fairly quickly for various reasons. I see now that those were the seeds of doubt, and I should have pulled the cord.
That’s a mistake a lot of people make – hanging on. It’s understandable. Everybody wants to be loved. Almost all of us need that special someone. Unfortunately, a lot of people choose the wrong person and end up unhappy.
From 2000 to 2011, I moved 13 times and lived in 14 residences. I started in Kansas in 2000, moved to Texas in 2002, moved back to Kansas in 2003, then to Virginia in 2007, Oklahoma in 2009 and Kansas in 2010.
Much of that can be attributed to my career in newspapers. I knew I’d have to move around to climb the ladder, and I did. Career-wise it paid off. I went from a 7,000-circulation afternoon daily to interviewing at the Virginian-Pilot (one of the best papers in the country) in the span of 6½ years. I had my choice of two of the biggest papers in the region (the VP and Daily Press).
I’m proud of that run in newspapers. There were tons of highs and I met some fine folks, many of whom are friends to this day.
But I moved because I wasn’t happy. I was lost and searching. I had my family, but that wasn’t enough. I wanted that special somebody. So much so that I dropped my column at the Topeka Capital-Journal, a gig I absolutely adored, to move to the mid-Atlantic for a girl. And so much so a few years later that I left another damn good (and large) paper in Tulsa for another girl.
The latter move I made despite not having a job lined up. That, my friends, is pure desperation.
I’ve written about 2010 a few times. It was brutal for the most part. Essentially, I had a mid-life crisis at age 33. I wanted to try a different career, wanted to settle down with the right girl and wanted to be home again.
To get there, I gambled. And I gambled big. The first six months, from May through November 2010, it felt like I was all-in with 2-7 off suit. Nothing went right.
Ironically enough, a breakup proved to be the turning point. The last pre-Shana relationship, the one that brought me home, finally ended in early December.
It was at that point that I finally decided I wasn’t going to settle anymore. No more trying to make it work. That’s not how relationships, good ones, should be. They should be natural.
I remember telling myself that day that I was never going to put up with bullshit again. I even looked in the mirror, a little like Stuart Smalley: “You are a good man with plenty to offer. You deserve the best.”
About a month later, Shana and I went on our first date. Seven months later, I moved because I was in love, not because I wanted to be in love. Eleven months later, I proposed to my soul mate.
I think about the last few years often and how quickly things changed once I decided to demand more from myself. This would be a lot happier planet if more folks stopped settling.