Updated: Aug 15, 2019
When I first decided to go out with David, I was NOT looking for anything serious. I had just broken it off with the married man and I was feeling raw. I assumed that we might hook up a few times and then we would go on with our separate lives. I had no idea that this would be the beginning of something totally unexpected and wonderful.
Let me backtrack about 18 years before our first date in late 2010. The last time I’d seen David was in 1992. I had recently stopped working at McDonald’s, but I still had a lot of friends there. He and I went to the same high school (I was a grade above him), and we had both worked at McDonald’s together. I was there one night with my oldest son, who was about 7 months old. I was talking to some of my friends, and David happened to be there. We weren’t close friends, but we got along okay. We got to talking, and I said that I did not want to go home because I couldn’t stand my mom’s boyfriend. David said that I could go to his house. I reminded him that I had my baby with me, but he said it was fine. I said, “Sure, why not?” and I followed him to his house. One thing led to another and, well, I’ll let you imagine what happened! It was happening a second time when my son started crying. I’ve never gotten dressed so fast in my life! I kissed David goodbye, high-tailed it out of there (he lived with his mom), and assumed I’d never see him again. I did see him once, about a month later, when I was out on a date. We said hello to each other, “awkward-hugged,” and we parted ways.
Fast forward to December 2010. We had chatted online and texted back and forth. We were supposed to see each other on Sunday, December 5, 2010. My kids would be with their father, so I was free to do whatever I wanted. I asked to see him sooner, but he was going on a snowboarding trip with his friends. He told me that the “anticipation would make it sweeter” when we did see each other.
On the day before we were supposed to get together, I was on my way to my daughter’s cheer competition. He texted me to say that we might be able to see each other earlier than we planned. He proceeded to tell me that his car was parked on what he thought was concrete but was in fact dirt with a bunch of snow on it. He left it idling while everyone was getting ready to hit the slopes, and the snow melted underneath his car. His vehicle rolled down an embankment. It was totaled, along with his snowboard. He asked me when I would be back from my daughter’s competition, and I told him it wouldn’t be until at least 10:00 p.m. He told me to text him when I was home and we would go from there.
I arrived home, took a shower, and sent David a text. We agreed that I would pick him up at his place after I was finished getting ready. Mind you, I had not laid eyes on him in over 18 years. I didn’t know what to expect. Would it be awkward? Had he turned into a weirdo? Would we have any chemistry?
When he got into my car, I felt very comfortable with him. It was as if we had just seen each other. It was late, so we decided to go to my house to watch a movie. I put on “The Hangover” and we sat close to each other on the couch. I could tell that he wanted to kiss me, and I wanted him to, but I waited for him to make the first move. He eventually did kiss me, and he ended up staying the weekend.
Right off the bat, I knew that we had something special, which scared the fuck out of me. I had spent 16 years building up walls to protect myself, and I was not ready to let anyone break them down. I wanted to keep him at arm’s length, but I found myself thinking about him all the time, not just sexually, but emotionally as well. I was so happy when we were together, and I really missed him when we were apart.
Everything was moving so quickly, even though it didn’t feel rushed. I felt cared for in a way that I’d never experienced in a romantic relationship. Still, I didn’t want to let him know the “real” me because I assumed that once he saw me stripped bare, he would run. I didn’t want him to know just how much I cared about him. I felt like that would make me appear “weak” and I didn’t want him to see any vulnerability.
I did feel strongly enough about where our relationship was headed that I allowed him to meet my kids. They were happy that I was happy, so they were very accepting of David. David was nice to them and showed them respect that they didn’t get from their own father.
I spent our first Christmas as a couple in Missouri, visiting my best friend. I had already made the arrangements before he and I started dating. I was glad to see her and her family, but I missed David so much while I was gone. I was surprised how much I missed him since our relationship was still in its early stage.
When I got back from Missouri, my oldest son brought David with him when he picked me up from the airport. We exchanged “I love yous” for the first time that night. Some people thought it was too soon, but my inner voice told me that the timing was right, and that what I was feeling was real. I decided to listen to it for once.
Our relationship was tested VERY early on. He had just been laid off his job of several years due to budget cuts; he told me about this when we first started seeing each other. When we started dating, he was living with his ex-wife’s brother. Their marriage ended when she decided that she didn’t want to be with him anymore, so she kicked him out of their apartment. He had nowhere to go, so his brother-in-law let him move into his apartment until he could figure out his living situation. When she found out that he and I were an item, she was able to convince her brother to throw him out if he didn’t break it off with me. She sprung this on him on New Year’s Eve; he only had three days to either break up with me or move out of his brother-in-law’s apartment. He told me about it, and I asked him what he was going to do. He said he had no idea, but that he refused to quit seeing me.
My kids were with us when he got the call (we were all at an amusement park with my sister and her kids). When they saw that we looked glum, they asked what was wrong. When they found out, they said that they would be okay with him staying with us because they didn’t want him to be homeless. I was apprehensive, but I made the offer (which I would have never done if my kids had been against it), and he accepted.
He moved in a couple of days after the new year. We had only been together for about a month, so we had to learn to live together at the same time we were basically learning about how we would function as a couple. But we settled into everything without any significant issues.
Even though things were going relatively smoothly, I kept my walls up around my heart. He treated me with respect, but I didn’t think it would last because my experience in my marriage was that the man just stays nice in the beginning. Anytime he did something nice for me, I looked for the ulterior motive. When we had an argument, I accused him of only being with me because I had a job and could pay for things on my own. I couldn’t fathom that he would want to be with me just because of myself. It HAD to be due to me having something he wanted or needed. Who would want to be with me for ME?
David’s patience was wearing thin. How could he convince me that he wanted to be with me when I doubted his every action? It was like he was always having to jump through hoops with me. I can’t imagine how frustrating that had to be for him.
Yet, he stuck with me. Through my doubts and insecurities regarding his true feelings for me, he stayed by me. He stood up to me when I was cruel or insensitive, but he didn’t leave me, or even threaten to leave.
I still kept my emotional distance from him, which was causing problems for us. My inability to take him at his word was hurting the relationship. I still could not believe that he loved me for myself; it had to be because of the financial benefits of being with me, or because I helped him to raise his daughter. No way could it be simply because he loved me.
The turning point for our relationship was in late summer 2012. I was hospitalized for not taking care of my diabetes. I had been feeling sick and ran down for a few weeks. I thought I had the flu. Eventually, I went to the ER, and discovered that my blood sugar was dangerously high. I was admitted to the hospital, where I stayed for almost a week. While in the hospital, I actually broke up with David.
Let me explain. David has a huge phobia about hospitals. The last time he was at a hospital was before we started seeing each other, when his mom was dying of cancer. After his mom died, he never went to one again for any reason at all. When I called him to tell him that I was in the ER, he told me that he had to work that night and couldn’t come to the hospital. When I talked to him the next day, I asked him to come see me before he had to work (he worked nights). He told me that he would probably not come to see me because of his issue with hospitals. In my mind, this proved that the only reason he was with me was due to what I was providing financially. I refused to see his side of things, and I told him we were finished. I told him I wanted him to move out of our house before I returned home. He begged me to reconsider, but I was adamant. He said I was asking something of him that he didn’t think he could offer, but I didn’t care.
The next day, I was sitting in my hospital bed. I’d been crying off and on since I broke it off with him. I was miserable at the thought of him being out of my life. I had never loved anyone like I loved him, and it was tearing me apart. I was reading a book, trying to get my mind off things, when suddenly he appeared at the foot of my bed. He had tears in his eyes and told me that he was so sorry that he didn’t come sooner. I could see the emotion in his eyes. This man loved me enough to push through his immense fear of hospitals to prove to me that he loved me. No one had ever done something like that for me before. My inner voice told me to give him a second chance, to not throw away our relationship. I told him I was sorry for pushing him, and we decided to stay together and work on better communication and openness.
This was a turning point in our relationship. I worked hard to open myself up emotionally. David had done everything he could to prove to me that he cared about me, even forcing himself to come to a hospital. This may not seem like much to most people, but I knew that it was significant for him. If he could push past a huge fear to prove that he loved me, then I needed to try to not be so closed off. I needed to work on taking his word on things instead of punishing him for the sins of my ex-husband.
He has really worked on himself as a man, as a romantic partner, as a father. I am so proud of what he’s accomplished in the time we’ve been together. I’ve never been with someone so willing to acknowledge his shortcomings and work to improve those shortcomings. When I asked him to go to couple’s therapy with me to make our relationship stronger, I expected him to refuse. I was wrong. Not only did he attend with me, but he really listened to the therapist’s advice and we implemented her suggestions. This just made our relationship even stronger.
Is our relationship perfect? Of course not, because there is no such thing. But it is perfect for me. I know that I can let him see the real me and that he will love me no matter what he discovers about me. I feel so safe with him, both physically and emotionally. I know that he will always have my back, just like he knows that I always have his. We are a team, and together we can face any challenge that life throws at us.
I’m so happy that I have this second chance at real love, and I’m so happy that I listened to my inner voice, which told me to give this man a chance to prove himself to me.