If you haven't read Part One of this post, I highly, highly suggest clicking here and doing so first, as this is the second half of a story that really needs the first half in order to make sense!
If that just seems like much too much work, the super quick synopsis is that shortly after my ex left, another man came into my life and "married" me in a wedding that was not even legal.
And I, maybe for the first time, truly found my voice, when I put my foot down and said “no.”
The next night, while I was at work, I got a call from my babysitter who was concerned because The Helper was “moving a lot of stuff out of your house.” I raced home to find him loading his car with not only his belongings, but also mine, my children’s, and the wedding gifts that we had received the week before.
I fell to the grass on my knees and begged him not to go.
It’s one of the most shameful moments of my life, and one that haunted my dreams for years to come; the moment I graveled at the feet of the man who had been scamming me.
He laughed at me and told me that I had to be kidding myself if I thought that he was going to take care of a wife and two kids who were thrown out like trash.
As it turns out, living in his uncle's guest room while working a low paying job, wasn't the life that he had wanted for himself and his daughter, and when I came into his life, he saw an opportunity to move him and his daughter into a bigger house, have a real family, and hopefully father some more “genetic offspring,” all while I paid all the bills because it wasn’t his house.
And when I said no, he knew the gig was up, and since we weren’t legally married, there was nothing saying that he couldn’t leave.
Mr. Attorney Man once again had to step in and clean everything up for me, and suddenly all the damage that my ex had done to me became insignificant to the damage The Helper had done.
I had never felt like a worse woman, mother, or human being in my entire life, because I had now put my children through this twice.
The next day found me writing a Facebook message to my friends that started out with “I’m about to tell you something, and in the process, eat a lot of dirt…”
I was ashamed and I was broken, and if you ask my best friend, I was left crying and screaming that my children would be better off without me. Her, in her infinite compassion for me — even during the constant chaos and destruction that I seemed to bring into my life — yelled at me on the other side of my locked bedroom door and begged me to think of what it would do to my children if they lost yet another parent.
And thankfully, I did.
I knew that if my kids were going to lead the life that they deserved and that I wanted them to have, that they needed to be mothered by a mother who was capable of leading them to that life.
And I was not that mother.
Which meant that I needed to make some serious changes that fell beyond simply promising that I was going to do better for myself and my kids; I needed to seek help that would assist me outside of my own failing capabilities.
That was the point where I completely stopped talking to my family, and where I took a year off from dating. That was the week when I really threw myself into counseling, and it was also the time when I sought out, and began attending multiple support groups.
It was the time in my life when I learned that it was OK to be “alone.”
For the next two and a half years, I cycled between choosing to date no one, and choosing to date many people all at once. I learned to set boundaries and at the same time learned to take down a bit of my wall. I transitioned from attending support groups to leading support groups, and took all that I was learning and rolled it into a nonprofit that I’m passionate about, and a writing career that ignites my soul. I went from being terrified to parent alone, to rejoicing in the strength I found to overcome those challenges.
I learned to be the mother that I always wanted for myself, and I thrived on finding my independence.
I became who I am today, and who I am proud to be.
And then The Guy came along, and as I said in the post “Words I Never Thought I'd Say” I wasn’t so sure that I was ready for him, until I realized that I was.
That realization opened my eyes to how much value he brings to my life, and how his presence simply makes everything better.
People often say that their significant others make them better people, and I’m not sure that I ever really understood that until now. I think, at first, that I didn’t understand that, because my partners always seemed to make me worse, and then I didn’t understand because I hold so much value in my independence, that it was hard for me to understand why “needing someone” would make me a better version of myself.
But I completely missed the point.
I was doing fine on my own, but then he came along, and suddenly I was doing better. Not because I needed him, but because I wanted him.
I want him, because he takes everything that I’ve worked so hard to be, and he makes me better at it. He didn’t fix me — and that will never be his job — but he supports me in ways that make me better able to fix myself.
He makes me happy in ways that I never knew existed. And for the first time ever, I was the one wanting someone by my side, and also for the first time ever, someone was wanting me back in the most selfless of ways.
I love him.
My children love him.
So not too long ago, I married him.
And I didn’t say anything, because we kept it all very quiet. Not quiet in the ways that matter, but quiet in all the ways that don’t.
You see, getting married at 33 years old with two kids, isn’t as spontaneous as it is when you’re 23, madly in love, and your only commitments are a 12-month lease and your student loan payments.
The marriage talk — like everything in our relationship — started slowly. He began to hint around, and as usual I deflected, until one day my wall crumbled and I asked him if he was ever going to marry me, and as is his usual answer with me, he told me that he was simply waiting on me.
I was ready.
I felt ready, but after making so many bad choices in my life and working so hard to learn to make the right ones, this time it was I who had some stipulations.
I wanted to meet with my counselor and I wanted my surrogate parents to grill him. I wanted to confer with a child psychologist and get their opinion on if this was the right move for my kids. I wanted his parent’s blessings, and the blessings of my friends. I wanted to meet with a financial planner and make sure that the burden of taking us on, was not going to kill him, and knowing that the most common fight is about finances, I wanted to make sure that we were both on the same page. I wanted to legally protect what I have spent years trying to build, so I had a chat with Mr. Attorney Man, as it has been him who has trudged along with me after each failed attempt at finding the love of my life, and I have a lot of respect in his opinion of my future.
I wanted a future with The Guy, but only if it was going to be done the right way, and would not ruin all the work that I had spent the last few years of my life investing myself into.
And as time went on, it became readily apparent that this was the right decision for both of us and “our kids” as he calls them…. but we still didn’t tell anyone outside of the people directly involved in helping us.
After one failed marriage and one failed fake marriage, there’s a lot of people who remain skeptical of anything that I do when it comes to dating. I’ve heard many judgments about my choices, my life, my dating, and everything in between; both from the “real” people in my life, and some of the readers of this blog.
But I’ve gotten to a point where I realize that aside from my kids and my husband, I no longer owe anyone any explanations, and therefore I’ve stopped giving them.
People judge, and I let them. They whisper, I turn my cheek. They throw out unwarranted advice, and I let them have the spotlight.
Part of my healing, has come in becoming confident in who I am, despite what other people think of me. I’ve had enough people in my life tell me what I should think, do, and feel, and most of them have led me to a really bad place, multiple times over. It was only when I learned to live by basing my choices on my own feelings, and learning from the end result, that I found my own footing in a life that has led me down a path that I’m finally proud of, and happy with.
So, as I moved along in my life with The Guy, I made the conscious choice to keep much of it to myself, and spare both of us the drama of being pressed to explain things to people who have no right to demand an explanation. I took great consideration into the thoughts and feelings of the people closest to me, and outside of that group, I didn't tell anyone, anything.
Thankfully, the end result has been amazing.
Not long ago, in a ceremony that we quietly planned, on a Farmstead that I adore, with only The Guy’s dad, Frisbee Boy’s Mom and Dad (my surrogate parents), and my Platonic Hubby watching us, Mr. Attorney Man pronounced us husband and wife, while my kids — now our kids — cried with joy as we became a family.
As The Guy hung a necklace engraved with “The Day I Became Your Dad,” around The Girl Child’s neck, and she realized that she was standing in the middle of our wedding, she threw her arms around The Guy, and with tears streaming down her face, she whispered “I’ve been waiting a long time for this” into his ear.
And in turn, I realized just how long I have been waiting too.
My whole life really… my whole life.
So without further ado, I am pleased to announce an addition to my family, my life, and my future.
Welcome to the family my love, we’ve all been waiting a really long time for you to get here.