I didn’t know what I was missing
I got married when I was 20 to a man that by all accounts wasn’t bad , but he wasn’t good for me. Long story short, I was married to a loser. He didn’t necessarily do anything wrong, he just didn’t do anything at all. Now, I am not a “typical woman” if there even is such a thing. I love myself. Sure, there are things I want to improve, but I don’t have a problem with my age, or intelligence, or what my body looks like, or my personality- those things that seem to stereotypically plague women just don’t bother me for whatever reason. I have a career where I make more than enough money on my own to live comfortably. I know how to use power tools, fix my own car, and google the shit out of anything else that needs to be done. I say what I mean, and expect others to do the same, none of this passive-aggressive nonsense. But I’m stubborn as a mule, and marriages are supposed to last, so even though I was the primary breadwinner, and did most of the things around the house, and raised my kids mostly on my own, I still spent 13 years in that worthless marriage. At the end of the day, my husband felt like I didn’t need him, because I am very capable. But he was wrong. I needed support. I needed a partner, a friend. Even someone who would see how hard I was working to just keep my head above water. I couldn’t manage EVERYTHING on my own; and I still can’t.
For some perspective at how emotionally isolated I was, I struggled with infertility for three years; I had to take tons of medications & shots that made me sick, tired, have hot flashes, body aches, and migraines for those years; not to mention the emotional drain of every month without fail seeing a single pink line on that damn stick. The emotion of going through a bulk pack of pregnancy tests, or taking photos of your cousin’s child’s first birthday (for the child they conceived after you started trying), is just… a lot to bear; I was very open with my struggles, because I think it helped other people too. Somehow, my husband wasn’t even aware this was a thing that I was in need of support for. He had no idea. And it’s not because I didn’t tell him or directly ask him. He just was that thick and lost. He was a five-year old trapped as an adult- lacking the ability to give support in that way.
And once I had kids, he was actually more of a burden than a help. I spent most of my time walking on eggshells, trying to balance being exhausted from a high-demand job, making dinner, and praying the kids (who are all-around good kids) didn’t do anything to “poke the bear” while my husband played games on his phone and mostly ignored them. I spent more time trying to keep them from upsetting him than anything else.
When I finally asked him to please leave, everything improved immediately. I could breathe again. I was free of so much dead weight. Was so happy to just not-have-him around. It was so much better, I never looked back, and I was ok on my own. Sure, I crawled in to bed every night, feeling ready to collapse at the end of the day. Kids are demanding, after all. But I was free. And I was happy.
But it wears on you. I have an unfair amount of help in my life, I have a six-figure salary and live well within my means. I’ve family that watches my children when I need. I have amazing neighbors and a church family that pitches in often whenever I need a hand, and still, I had many, many, days when I was so tired from thinking all day, coming home to my screaming 4-year-old, and my 10-year-old yammering about a TV show, and the dog yapping at the door and the cat under my feet crying, and it’s so much. Everything needs me, all the time. Notice, I didn’t say want. They needed me. Feeling needed is great, but most days I was a mostly empty cup that was trying to wring out every last drop to pour into my little family, and there simply wasn’t enough to go around.
Did I ever think of dating? Lol, no. Who has time for that? I sure didn’t. I was busy enough, and I clearly was ok on my own. Besides, who would want to date a woman who had little kids, and was by all accounts completely independent and very successful? I was sure as hell not ever looking to date for “fun”- ain’t anyone got time fo dat! Not to mention, I’m not going to go out of my way to meet anyone, my standards were WAY high after my ex, and again, that’s just time I don’t have for something I didn’t see any particular need for.
So that’s when God said “Hold my beer” and cracked his knuckles.
He was an intern that summer; an absolutely brilliant one. Good-looking, hard-working, personable, did crazy things like fix his own car, and budget. But there was an over 10-year age gap, and there surely wasn’t a chance in hell this guy would want to chill out with (much older) me and my kids in our simple suburban lives. Summer flew by, and before I knew it, he was gone back to school. But he happened to be back for the weekend, and much to our mutual surprise, he kissed me… and we’ve been a thing ever since.
Oh. My. God. If I knew this was what healthy relationships were… Y’all. I can’t even with this guy. He uses his words to tell me what he’s thinking and feeling, even if he is pretty sure I’m not gonna like it. You GUYS. I don’t have to guess what he’s thinking! He just tells me! What a gift. He budgets, he watches his money. This man is 22 years old and has a credit score over 800! I can talk to him for an entire day about deep stuff, like existential things, or science, movies, TV shows, or books with actual plot lines and not just explosions. He asks me about my day, every day, and when I tell him, he actually remembers and cares. I don’t have a single fuck to give about getting flowers or jewelry or any of that other crap, I just want a companion, ya know? So for Valentine’s Day, he flooded my inboxes on every possible channel he has to contact me with everything he could think of to make me smile– memes, sweet love notes, pictures of cats, whatever. The first time I went to his apartment (he’s got several roommates), I was DEAD TIRED from the day, and pretty much passed out on his bed. I woke up like 2-3 hours later and was talking with one of his roommates and found out that he had gone around to all the doors close by and wd-40’d them while I slept to make sure the squeaking didn’t wake me up.
He cleans up. He cooks, he wants to try new things and do new things. So appreciative! OMG you guys! He actually says things like “wow, this dinner is amazing, thank you so much for cooking!” or “wow, you are wonderful at x, that is so cool!” get this you guys- this is crazy.
There was this one day I had gone pretty far out of my way to do him a favor, (very happily), but he was weirdly short when I got there to deliver the items to him. Very uncharacteristic. After I left I was thinking I should probably call and tell him I didn’t appreciate that very much, but was everything ok?– when the phone rang. He was calling to apologize for being so short with me, he realized after I left he was being rude, and he was very, very appreciative. This man OWNED his mistake and APOLOGIZED immediately! WHAT. IS. THIS?! Shut the front door!
And he calls me on my bullshit. God, I love that. If I’m being ridiculous, I want to know it– and he tells me! He does not let me get away with it. And damned if he’s not the same way– I don’t even know how to handle a mature adult… it’s so wonderfully.
He leaned in to the kids’ thing. Last week he came over for dinner. My four-year old was in a special mood. Usually she’s the spunkiest kid around, but she was being a grade-a turd that night. I was already about to breakdown when he got there with some dinner food. He took one look at me, gave me a quick hug, and said he’d take my daughter out in the backyard for a minute if that was ok… OK?! Hell yes, please take it! And he took the dog too. Are you kidding me, I can cook dinner without things yapping at me?! I about cried. He came in after a few minutes and asked me if I was ok, and what he could do to help. I was still pretty frazzled, and just muttered “yeah I’m frazzled, I don’t really even know…” he just gave me a long hug, and said he was there for me, and it’d be ok. gave me a peck on the forehead and took off to play with the kids again outside. Then he brought them in and got them to help set the table. He did everything, I have never in my entire adult life gotten to sit down for dinner while everyone else gets the table set and food ready and drinks etc. After dinner, he made a point of telling the kids he couldn’t play till he helped me clean up. and by helped, he meant do everything for me. I literally didn’t know what to do with myself you guys. I didn’t have anything to do… it was… so… nice. I tell my man all the time how appreciative I am of him, and he feels uncomfortable about it because he doesn’t think he’s doing anything special. Guys, he thinks this is normal and everyone is like that. What?! False. These men are few and far between from what I’ve seen.
The craziest thing to me here is he wants me. He wants me. What in the ever living hell is wrong with this man?? He is in his senior year of college, he could do anything he wants, the world is his oyster. Oh sure, he could have tumble’d his way through a gazillion hot college girls his own age; that weren’t long-distance, that didn’t have kids, but no. He picked me. Me, with my baggage, and my kids, and my stretch marks, and my sarcasm for days. Me, that is hard-headed and opinionated, and can barely hold it together every day. I don’t know what I did to get this guy, but I’m sure as hell gonna do everything I can to make him as happy as he makes me every day. My heart didn’t even know I needed him…
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