• Beth

Entering The School of Hard Knocks

Updated: Jan 3

My Journey... Part III

Oh yes, getting out into the real world… dating… I had never been allowed to date as a teenager and my mom even asked my older brother to spy on me and let her know if he sees me talking to any boys at school. Unbeknownst to her, he was my best friend and was truly not a fan of the Jehovah’s witness religion. The first man that I dated as a teen therefore, was the man I married from the Jehovah’s Witness Religion and they taught "You wives, be in submission to your husbands in union with the Lord". I heard those words hundreds of times since I was a child!


So out into that big scary world I go. I wasn’t really scared, but it did take me a long time to leave my marriage due to what I knew I would face. I found life to be an adventure and there were so many things to explore. It was truly a newfound freedom. In some ways, I was kind of like a teenager in my early 30’s… after all, what was it like to date? I must admit, given my upbringing, it was a big learning curve.

I was the main caregiver for our children, and they spent Tuesday and Thursday evenings with their dad to go the JW meetings and then we shared every other weekends. On the weekends I had the kids, we would go out on hikes, picnics and camping with new found friends and their children. I remember times with a very dear friend (now of over 30 years) where we laughed so hard, we literally fell down crying. She was my rock of Gibraltar! She was there for me no matter what. I am not sure what I would have done without her.

But on the other side of the coin, there was a lot of difficult things to learn… like the dating scene… I am sure the things that I went through were probably much easier as a teen than as a 30-year-old single mom. It was so different from anything I ever knew. I wish I had have read a book I came across years later - “Act like a Lady, Think Like a Man” by Steve Harvey. Probably the best book on dating ever! The author has an amazing and humorous writing style! I would suggest this book to any of you with a teenage daughter!

During the last few months of my marriage and the first 15 months of my newfound life, I was attending college getting all my administrative education. As this was my way to deal with the stresses I was going through, I pretty much buried myself into my schoolwork. When I was in college, we had a guy come to the college from Microsoft to show us this amazing internet thing that they were creating with and how incredible it was. Get this… it was a black screen with a list of words and amazingly enough, you could click on any of those words and… it would bring up another black screen with white writing and it would tell you all about the word you clicked on! It is actually quite funny when you think about where we are today! That was in 1994! How times have changed!

I finished my first year of college with the highest grade-point average of the department, but the second year, I finished with the second highest grade point average as I had been going through my child custody investigation, I had lost my grandfather, and my dad was having open heart surgery. Needless to say… there was a little stress during that year.


I finished college on Friday and had a part-time job to go to on Monday. During this time, I was also trying to get a mortgage as I wouldn’t have been able to afford to rent at that time and I knew a mortgage would be about $300 less per month. I did approach my dad to see if he would co-sign a mortgage for me, but to no avail (which didn’t surprise me at the time).

If there is a will, there is a way… and I did it… on my own and that was a blessing in disguise. You learn to become very independent in a big hurry. We lived on a very tight budget (about $100 less than what we would if we were on welfare) but I did it myself. I had to budget everything! Even if I wanted to go and see my parents (they did start talking to me after a couple of months) I had to budget that in, as I could only afford to go out there only once a month, as it was a whole 8 miles away. We always had everything we needed though, and we were together. We had what mattered the most.

Through this time, I felt so free. It was like a had a renewed energy flowing through my body! I was so happy (most of the time) and life was so exciting! There was a real world out there to explore. I had so much fun going out dancing with my girl friends on every other weekend. We all laughed and danced the night away, checking out and chatting about the boys. Yes… much like a teenager! But, it was fun and I could dance until the wee hours of the morning. I even had a guy I knew from school come up to me one night and started putting his hands on my back and I asked him what he was doing. His response was, “I am looking for the batteries. You are like a little energizer bunny.” If the music was going, I had a big smile on my face and I was on the dance floor. So much fun!


Yes, the school of hard knocks… it was for sure, but I opted not to go into the details of learning the dating scene, but to share the fun moments, but trust me, it was a big learning curve coming out of that plastic bubble I was raised in.

To this day, I still love Christmas just as much as I did when we celebrated our first Christmas in 1993. I get out my tree usually around mid November and start the decorating process. My house looks like it could belong in the North Pole! I still get just as excited decorating my tree as I did the first year and the picture above is my tree this year. I have different little scenes set up throughout the house and lights every where.



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