Wayback Wednesday- Mission To Marry (Part One)

This begins a two-part essay that will be the last in my “Wayback Wednesday” series.  In full disclosure, I wrote this essay 10 years ago, so specific facts (for instance, ages, shared life experiences, etc.) are no longer accurate.

After my husband dumped me (or, as I prefer to think of it now, “released me for good behavior”) nearly seven years into a bad marriage, I stumbled through a serious of unfortunate relationships.  I was engaged for about half an hour to a lithium-resistant fellow on disability for his bipolar disorder.  I spent several years dating a guy whose idea of a romantic birthday gift was a rain gage.  I had dinner with a thrice married man and his young daughter nearly every night for a couple of years.  I was imagining a married life in which our little threesome would be a happy family.  He was imagining me babysitting his daughter while he dated other women. 

Eventually, I came to the same sad conclusion that women have been coming to for centuries.  There’s gotta be a better way to run a love life. 

Although I never would have admitted it, I was always one of those women who defines herself too much by her relationship status.  Oh, in the light of the “real world,” I said all the right things.  I grew up in the first blush of the modern feminism movement.  I graduated college in the eighties and went blithely into the workforce, wearing shoulder pads in my polyester business suits.  I knew that my happiness and power were supposed to come from within me and they were within my control.  I knew a modern woman was supposed to concentrate on her own career, her own interests, and her own personal growth.  I knew I was supposed to believe that, if I did all those things, love and marriage would take care of themselves.

However, in the darkest part of my soul, I doubted.  I doubted so loudly, I could not hear all the wise, conventional axioms about modern womanhood I knew I was supposed to believe.  No matter how strongly a voice inside me tried to insist, “you should be yourself and make your own happiness” and “when the time is right and you are ready for it, love will find you,” an uglier voice rebutted vociferously.  That ugly voice said, “no one will ever fall in love with you” and “you are not normal or adequate enough to find a husband and have children.” That ugly voice won the shouting match, I am sorry to say.

Therefore, when a boy I met in high school asked me to marry him (largely because he wanted sex and good Catholic girls didn’t put out without at least an engagement ring,) I accepted.  My acceptance of his proposal mystified everyone who knew me.  The common opinion was that me getting engaged to this guy defied all logic.  It did not defy logic at all.  When you are certain that no one will ever want you and you are sure that the only way to be happy is to get married, it is perfectly logical to accept a proposal from pretty much anyone.

As you might imagine, given its genesis, the marriage did not work.  Eventually, my husband left me and I was again alone.  His departure convinced me that the secret was out that I was “too” something or “not enough” something to enter that “young girls club” of marriage and family that I read about and saw on television.  I was too ugly or too inept or not sexy enough or not nurturing enough or something.  I did not know how to fix any of those things.  I also did not understand that the only way to fix them was within myself and not by snaring another man.  My campaign began in earnest.  I was on a mission to marry. 

For the next several years of my life, I tried numerous techniques to find love.  I tried personal ads in the newspaper.  For all you youngsters out there, this was the primeval equivalent of internet dating.  I tried joining clubs.  As it turns out, all the clubs I chose seemed to be already populated by many single women.  Not that there aren’t men out there who enjoy ceramics-painting and small art house theater, but it seems clubs centered around these pursuits are often magnets for desperate women who just need to get out more.  I tried going to singles dances.  I experience some success with this activity because the venues were usually dimly lit.  I am sure I would have fared better in that environment if my appearance did not so readily remind single men of the “before” pictures in TV commercials for various self-improvement products.  I tried hanging out at church after services.  Shame on me for using the House of the Lord as a spiritual singles bar!  It didn’t work, anyway.  I tried flirting with men at work, which was just plain terrifying.  I even tried joining a professional video dating service.  I do plead a certain amount of innocence on that one.  I won the membership in a drawing.  It would have been gut-wrenching to actually pay for something so unsuccessful.

I remember going to one singles dance sponsored by a club at a church.  I found myself to be the belle of the ball that night.  I danced constantly and had masculine company at every turn.  Several asked for my phone number.  One invited himself to my upcoming 35th birthday celebrations.  I had a line of admirers to walk me to my car at the evening’s end.

The next day my mother called me.  “So, how did it go?” she asked.  I paused and asked tentatively, “Does Daddy like me?”  “What?!” she replied, “Of course he likes you.”  “Well, so does every other 70-year-old man in the country,” I replied.  It says something about my state of mind that I was considering trying to lure one of these lovely gentlemen twice my age down the aisle. 

This incident highlights a hallmark of that place in my life.  I thought I was taking control of my own fate and doing things that would get me what I wanted with such single-minded ferocity… a husband.  How could I look slimmer?  How could I present as sexier? How could I make small talk more easily and breezily? How could I appear more “normal” and subdue my naturally childlike (and now, can I say… charming?) personality?  And, above all, how could I hide my addiction to all things Tinker Bell?

The real story is that I never really did think about what I wanted.  I was always too busy plotting to figure out how I could present the traits the single men out there wanted and how to hide the parts of me that I suspected would be unappealing to a prospective husband, I never bothered to evaluate the men who I were so sure were evaluating me and finding me wanting. 

When I hit my wall after parting company with the guy who bought me a rain gage for a birthday present, I realized there had to be a better way.  I realized that, while the break-up with Mr. Rain Gage had been mutual, it was I who initiated it.  Why did I initiate it?  He was a perfectly nice man.  It just occurred to me that he wasn’t what I wanted! It was a novel concept.  I was alone, not because I was somehow lacking or because the potential husband saw past my façade and realized I wasn’t what he wants.  I was alone because the man I was seeing wasn’t what I needed.  I realized it was okay.

To be continued….

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Giving Is FUN-damental!

Many of us grew up hearing the slogan “Reading Is FUN-damental,” meaning that being able to read is key to success in life. Being able to read allows us to learn all kinds of things and contribute to the world in many ways. The slogan also reminds us how much pleasure reading can give us and how much fun it is to explore new worlds and ideas through the written page.  As a lifelong reader, I embrace this philosophy.  I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without literacy.

However, there is something that is even more FUN-damental- giving.  To me, the gift of being able to give is something that brings me a lot of joy.  It also allows me to practice grace and contribute to many people in many ways.  I would venture to say that God blesses what little I do and multiplies it so that I will never even know the full impact of my giving.  I certainly hope that is the case when I read Matthew 22:36-39:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.”

In the act of true giving, we show love for the God who first loved us and for our neighbors.  I also submit to you that giving is a whole lot of fun.

I met a lady at our church recently who is a great example of how giving can be fun, as well as charitable.  She did not want to draw attention to herself or appear to be bragging about her giving, so was reluctant for me to mention what she has been doing since the start of the pandemic to increase her charitable giving.  I thought her story was so interesting, I believed it would help others to hear it.  She agreed to let me tell her story if I did not identify her. I will respect her wishes. 

When the pandemic started, she wanted to do something to help others who were having a more difficult time, as many of us did.  She ended up working with a few immune-compromised people, doing their marketing and running some errands.  She had no intention of taking money for these tasks, as she wanted to simply give of what she had- her time and relative good health.  It did not feel like it would be much of a gift if people paid her to do it.  On the other hand, the people she was helping felt extremely awkward about allowing her to assist them if she did not allow them to pay her.  Since they were so insistent, she agreed, thinking the situation would only go on for a few weeks. 

My church friend told me that she still wanted what she considered to be a minor sacrifice to be a gift, so she decided that she would give the money to others who needed help. 

“It is like having my own private mini-foundation,” she told me.  “Every month, I get to decide how to distribute the money.  Sometimes, I add a little to my church pledge.  Sometimes, I give money to the food bank.  Sometimes, I buy supermarket gift cards and send them anonymously to people I know may be struggling.  At Christmas time, I made it a point to eat at various small restaurants that I frequent and gave the servers $20 tips on a $10 check.  It is so fun!  Giving is a great hobby!”

Her enthusiasm for giving was infectious. She seemed to get so much satisfaction out of helping people.  I think she especially got a charge out of doing it in surprising situations and doing it anonymously.  She told me her goal was to create delight… both for the recipients and for God. She intends to continue, even if it needs to be to a lesser extent once she is no longer getting the extra money for running errands.  She wonders, too, if God will continue to lead her to opportunities to find that extra money so that she need not decrease her giving.

I agree with her.  Giving is a great hobby.  I am going to take a page from her book and begin my own campaign of random acts of giving.  Let the delightfulness begin!

How do you best enjoy giving to others?  Do you have particular strategies for deciding how and to whom you give?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a loving day!

Terri/Dorry 😊


Sunrise… cool, heavy, haunted morning…

Air heavy with grief and fear…

Women crying, numb-minded and shatter-hearted.

Yesterday, our Morningstar destroyed.  We are lost.

Hiding, not shining.

Scampering, not singing.

Huddled, not journeying.

Yesterday, the sky went black when our Master died.

Today- the world still black and dank.

The sun is opening the day, but the light lacks life… flat, stagnant, polluted.

We can no longer see the Light.

Our hearts, so recently expanding and uncontainable with joy

Now feel stunted and hollow.

Was Love just an echo?

Is that an angel or a man or several men waiting in the garden?

We barely register the landscape through fuzzy eyes, not caring what we see

In a world that now seems blind and dark- Lightless.

Does light ever truly disappear?

He told us it will not, as long as we believe.

Believe in Him…

He left us with love and faith and joy.

He is gone, but they remain…

Maybe He remains, as well. 

The tomb is empty but filled with hope.

Happy Resurrection! He is not gone!  May the risen Christ be with you always. 

Terri/Dorry 😊