This is part twenty-three of the Homey and Me Love Story. It is when I was living life as a divorced mom – a little while before I met Homey – but an important part of the story, nonetheless. (I promise we’ll be getting to Homey very, very soon!!!!)
Even after dating Odriew, I was undeterred in my “quest” to date. My kids were still out of town, and I wanted to use my time wisely. I liked having the chance to be social, and I truly hoped that I would find myself married again one day.
Too Much Drama
For a few months, I spent time dating a guy, Roger, that brought way too much drama into my life. I spent a lot of time daydreaming, listening to too much Coldplay, I drove down to see him (he was 5 hours away from me) once, and I racked up a huge phone bill.
I’m still not sure why I pursued that relationship. It was completely insane. Up and down.
Wait, no…I know why I pursued it. When I started dating Roger, he was living in PA, and I met him at a party thrown by a mutual friend. He was interesting and cute. You know. The usual thing. He was funny. Etc. He was also quiet, which made him very mysterious and attractive to me.
As luck would have it, he also found me attractive, and before you know it, we were dating. It was fun. He was smart and introspective. Every time we got together our conversations were interesting. He was artistic and thoughtful. We’d go for walks and talk, or we’d go into Philly and spend the time taking pictures. Roger helped me to renew my love for creative endeavors.
Of course, this guy was still in college, and when the end of the summer came, he was leaving. By then, we were in some kind of “relationship”, and we kept talking even when he moved away. I was very interested in following this relationship through–to see where it would lead.
It turns out that it led on a sort of emotional wild goose chase that ended very sourly.
I don’t want to get into the details, but essentially, I exerted way too much energy. I spent hours crying and hours rejoicing. I felt like I was being jolted between ups and downs, and I had no control. In all honestly, I think that this guy was experiencing some depression issues, but he didn’t want to get help, and I went along for his ride. For the most part it was painful, but it had started so well, that I had gotten stuck in this trap – the I know his potential, and I can help him trap that so many women get caught up in.
You just can’t “fix” another person.
The bottom line, after I “dated” (or whatever it is we did) this guy, I felt pretty defeated. I felt pretty sure that I didn’t want to date anymore. I didn’t like the way that it would affect my emotions. I hated how things could start so swell, then end so poorly. It was way too exhausting, and I had two kids.
Not enough drama
While I was spending so much time on the afore-mentioned long-distance relationship (which was just wrong, wrong, wrong), I was blind to what was right in front of me.
I had become pretty good friends with this guy, Matt. He lived relatively close to me, had grown up in Texas, and was just…cool.
When we first started getting to know each other, he was dating some girl and I was dating Markus. Matt and Markus were home teaching companions.* We would do stuff together every so often, and we all became friends.
I continued to be friends with Matt. He would date other girls, and I dated other guys. We would talk to each other as we dated, comparing notes, as it were, talking through things. I’d give him “girl” secrets and pointers; he’d give me “guy” secrets and pointers. It was a really convenient friendship.
Over time, we started hanging out more often.
When things started getting hairy with Roger (after he moved to VA for college), I wanted advice from Matt.
“I don’t understand guys at all!” I texted to him.
“Let’s go to the batting cages.”
Matt picked me up, we headed out to Wawa, and then we went to the batting cages where we could talk, and unleash our fury (ha!…I unleashed my fury against the slow-pitched soft-balls…really scary…). Soon enough, we’d be having a great time, joking, laughing, quoting movies and comedians. He always tried to give me good advice, and I know this in hindsight, but I was a “stupid girl,” and had trouble seeing what was right in front of my face. Our conversations went something like this:
“I don’t know. I just don’t understand guys. And now I’m getting frustrated.”
“What’s going on?”
“Well, it’s just Roger.”
“He’s the guy in Virginia, right?”
“What’s with you and long-distance relationships?”
“I don’t know…I’m sure it says something about me, though.” I’d say, chuckling.
“So, what’s up then?”
“I don’t get it. One day, he’s like, ‘We need to break up. I don’t want to talk to you anymore.’ So I say, okay. Then, like at two AM, he calls me saying that he can’t sleep, and I make him ‘feel safe’ and he loves me, and he likes to think that we could get married.”
“I know. I just feel like I’m getting yanked left and right. When he says break-up stuff, I think, Ok. I can get along without Roger. I cry for a second, then determine to put my feet in front of one another. Just as I get myself feeling “ok”, He calls and it’s 2AM. He’s professing his love and need for me, and I’m reeled right back in.”
“Just when I thought I was out…they keep pulling me back in…”
“Then, after I talk to him all night, calming him down, and I get back to bed, I’ll get a text or email or something the next day saying, ‘I can’t be with you anymore. I can’t date or marry a woman who has already been married and has kids.'”
Matt just looked at me, dumbfounded.
I continued, “And that really gets me because I understand. I know that I have kids. I know that I’ve been married. I know that it is probably a huge turn-off for most guys, especially Mormon guys. But I…I just don’t know what…Oh I freaking hate this.”
“Catania, don’t say that. Trust me. You’re fine.”
“What? I’m not fine. I’m going crazy!…I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” we both start laughing.
“Todd, are you not aware that I get farty and bloated with a foamy latte?!” more laughter.
“Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?” even more laughing…but then a pause…back to the conversation, sadly.
“Catania, that’s not what I meant. I know that you feel crazy. What I mean to say is that I honestly don’t understand Roger. What he’s doing and saying isn’t normal. Guys don’t usually do that, or at least I don’t think they do. And you–you are fine. It doesn’t matter that you have had kids or that you have been married. Any guy would want to date you or marry you.”
“Thanks.” I said, and as we reached the batting cages, I gestured to the building asking, “What is this? A center for ants?” The tension broke, and we went inside, laughing.
Matt took me to baseball games, batting cages, and Wawa on more than one occasion. We golfed at a little 3 par golf course and ate at Zwahlen’s for ice cream. When Matt didn’t have anything to do, (I never had anything to do), he’d give a call or write a text saying that he’d be setting up the projector and watching Talladega Nights. I’d head over to his house with the kids in tow.
At Christmas time, Tiger, Panda, and I took cookies over to Matt and his family. They were great people. Seriously. We always felt like we were welcome and at home when we were over at their house. A few minutes after I arrived with cookies, Matt’s dad said he had to run to Lowe’s really fast. We all protested, but he insisted. About ten minutes later, the doorbell rang. It was “Santa” (Matt’s dad in a Santa costume, complete with stuffed animals for the kids).
One night, Matt helped me do one of the strangest things I’d ever done in my life. I was looking for someone (my brother, actually If you’re interested in that story, read about it here.) who had been missing from our family for about three years. I told Matt that my sister googled my brother’s name, and we had reason to believe that he’d be competing in a dart tournament in Doylestown. Matt agreed to drive me to Doylestown to see if we could find my brother. We went, and it turned out another PJ was competing. But Matt and another friend helped me to feel better about the entire situation.
And the thing is, when I type this part of the story, I realize what a huge, stupid idiot I was.
Actually, even when I started to get to know Matt and eventually stop dating Roger, I began to realize I was an idiot. But, to me, Mark always seemed like a “friend” like a “brother.” I don’t know what my problem was. Whatever. It doesn’t matter because it wasn’t meant to be anyways. I’m just annoyed with myself because I did the typical “girl” thing – I dated a jerk, cried over/about a total meanie-head. While the nice guy was there, listening, waiting.
All throughout this time, I was seeing my Bishop* on a regular basis. I’d say about 1-2 times a month. He was my cheerleader; my champion. He’d give me words of encouragement, advice, and warning. He’d also give me Priesthood Blessings* when I needed them. He tried to help me to have clarity as I navigated this world of single-motherhood, dating, working, and all of that other stuff.
Usually when I met with him, he’d tell me to read something–a talk or a scripture. Or he’d tell me to do something–go to the temple, attend Institute classes, etc. And, typically, I did what he had advised. I usually tried to do it in a timely manner. One time, I visited him, and he gave me the talk Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence by Jeffrey R. Holland* (Read it!). I planned on reading it the night that the Bishop had given it to me, really – I did. But I hadn’t gotten around to it.
About a week and a half later, I had another meeting with my Bishop. I hadn’t really planned on it, but he wanted to tell me something.
“I know this is going to sound strange Catania, but I’ve been thinking about you, and I keep having this feeling that there is something you need to do – to give the Lord something to work with.”
“I mean, I know that you’re working hard. You’re doing an amazing job, Catania. You are a wonderful mother. You are a righteous woman. I know that God wants to bless you. I don’t think that you’re not doing enough. It’s just that…well, maybe you could do something different.”
“I can’t believe I’m going to say this, because I don’t actually believe in it, but…what if you signed up on a website somewhere online.”
“I know! I can’t believe I’m saying this! I think that you kids need to get off the computer! But this isn’t me. I feel like the Spirit is prompting me to tell you to go online.”
I kind of stared at the Bishop.
He continued, “I know. I know. It sounds crazy, Catania. But the thing is, I wouldn’t be bringing it up to you if I wasn’t sure that the Spirit prompted me to tell you this.”
“You know the freaks I’ve met in real life, right?” I said with a chuckle.
“Yes. I know. Catania, pray about it. Think about it. I’m not going to tell you that you must make an online profile. I’ve done my job. The Spirit prompted me to tell you this information. It is up to you to do whatever you want with this idea.”
“Okay, Bishop. I’ll pray about it.”
The idea of setting up an online profile was…intriguing. Several of my friends were on MySpace and Facebook, but I wasn’t into that kind of thing yet. (Remember…this was 2006!) I had become weary of dating and everything related to dating. Online dating, in some ways, seemed like more work with less reward.
A few days later, I was sitting at my desk during a lunch break – finally reading the article that the Bishop had given me a few weeks before. As I read this article, I had the thought, I wish I would have read this article when the Bishop had given it to me! I realized that if I had read it a few weeks before, then I would have made a better decision regarding Roger and his drama. I had good intentions. I meant to read the article. But I had put it off, and missed some knowledge that would have directed me in the right place.
I could see that the Lord indeed was trying to help me, but if I wasn’t obeying with exactness; if I wasn’t staying tuned into the very still, small whisperings of the Spirit, then I’d miss the direction that the Lord was trying to give me!
I thought about my prayers; my hope and desire to find a person to date and eventually marry. And I thought to myself, Am I obeying with exactness? Am I really doing everything that is required for this blessing? Or am I stopping myself short from a blessing that the Lord is willing to give?
I could imagine, in my mind’s eye, a divide of land and a bridge connecting them. I stood on one side of the bridge. On the other side of the bridge was the blessing I wanted. The Lord had provided a blessing and a bridge, but I was the one who would have to walk across it. In my mind’s eye, I could see that though bridge was a bit rickety, it was sure. It would be scary to cross. I’d have to leave a safe place, but if I was steadfast, then I’d arrive at the blessing that the Lord had in store for me, and was willing to give.
As I thought about the blessings, this “bridge”, and my willingness to obey with exactness, I thought to myself, Is there anything else I can do right now that I’ve put off?”
That’s when I remembered my Bishop’s counsel to go online. Inwardly I protested.
“This seems strange!” I said in a silent-prayer/tempting God fashion.
“I don’t know. I don’t even know where to start.”
I googled LDS dating sites, and several options came up. I sat, staring at the computer. Trying to decide what to do.
I did a little more bargaining with God, “Okay…I’ll check out one site. If it is full of freaky-dudes, then I’m not joining because this is crazy. But if it seems like the guys are okay, I’ll just join.”
So, I clicked on one of the sites, then I clicked a button that said, “Find 18-30 year old men.”
The very first profile listed was Snoopy’s!!!!
I think that I laughed out loud! Inwardly, I relented, “Thank you, Heavenly Father. I get it. I’m sorry for doubting, I’ll sign up.”
A part of me wanted to take this as a “sign.” But that thought was dismissed almost immediately.
“No, Catania, this is not a sign. But do say hi because it is funny.”
So I did. I wrote Snoopy an email (to his regular email) telling him how I had serendipitously come across his profile.
I was officially doing this internet thing…
*Home Teachers – In the Mormon Church, we have “home teachers.” A home teacher is a man in the congregation who is assigned to watch over and help fellow members of his congregation. Everyone in a congregation has a home-teacher. Home teachers visit monthly to deliver a spiritual message and offer (and give) service needed to the family. Often, Home Teaching assignments are given to companions – two men who go together to visit families. Matt and Markus were home teaching companions, and served other families in their congregation together. You can find out more about home teaching here.
*Bishop – The Bishop is the ecclesiastical leader of a Mormon congregation. In the Mormon church, the clergy is made up of volunteers who are members of the congregation. Mormon clergy are not paid and do not make church leadership their career. Find more information here.
*Priesthood Blessing A Priesthood blessing is a special blessing from God given by a worthy priesthood holder. Anyone (Mormon or not) can ask for and receive a Priesthood blessing. Often, these blessings are given when people are sick or are in need of spiritual counsel, comfort or healing. See here for a better explanation. I often received Priesthood blessings from my bishop and my home teachers. I still receive priesthood blessings (now from my husband). They always bring added clarity and comfort into my life.
*Jeffrey R. Holland is a living Apostle. In the Mormon church, we believe in the same organization that existed when Christ set up His church. We have prophets and apostles, and we believe that they are spokesmen for the Lord in our modern day. We believe that they receive revelation and are special witnesses of Christ–just as Peter, James, John, and all of the other “original” 12 apostles did.