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How do you trust yourself to pick a winner after picking up two back to back duds? This was the question I asked myself every time I contemplated dating again. Maybe I was the problem? Maybe I had some flawed DNA that made me a target?

You don’t really get over abuse, just through it. I was left no longer trusting myself or my ability to judge a man’s character. I knew good men existed, I had fantastic male friends. I just doubted my ability to pick a good man for myself.

It took me two years to muster the courage to actively go out and seek companionship. For two years, I refused to give anyone my number, scowled at anyone that smiled at me and told the very persistent ones I had a boyfriend. I was not ready to try again. I was scared. Not only of getting abused again, but of placing myself in a situation where I knew I was the problem. Picking a dud once or twice may be fine. Three times though? It stops being an unfortunate coincidence and becomes a pattern. One that would partly place the blame for abuse squarely on me. While I did not make them hit or insult me, I was instinctively attracted to abusive men. I didn’t want that for myself.

One day, a friend of mine told me she was worried about me ending up alone and lonely. She set up a blind date for me and I went, just to make her happy. I was scared the whole time that I had some indiscernible scar that would let him know I was a victim or worse still that I could be victimized. It would make a great story if I say we hit it off and are now engaged. We didn’t, but he was a great reintroduction into dating. I kept going on dates and finally found someone I liked.

Here is where it got tricky. I had every sort of defense up. I was always on guard to see if he displayed any warning signs, if he was just waiting to become an abuser. I nearly drove both of us crazy with my analysis of every word, every action, every look. I asked “What does that mean exactly?” very many times. Like a champ though, he stuck it out. Every time I tried to run or shutdown, or blew a situation out of proportion, he explained it to me, reassured me. He was determined to show me not every guy came into a situation wanting to hurt me. There were guys out there who wanted to be with me genuinely. Color me surprised!

He didn’t heal me or put me back together. I did that myself. He was just patient enough to wait as the glue dried and to blow on the parts that took too long to dry. I began to trust my judgment again. The hardest part though was accepting my part; having picked these men all the while realizing that this mistake didn’t define me. I am more than one bad decision, especially as I try my hardest to not make it again.

I am dating again. I trust myself again to pick a winner. I am happy again. I survived and I am starting to thrive. What more could I ask for?

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