My divorce was finalized yesterday.
Please update your links... I'll be shutting this one down eventually (this one costs me money and I can't blog from my phone easily.)
My divorce was finalized yesterday.
Please update your links... I'll be shutting this one down eventually (this one costs me money and I can't blog from my phone easily.)
For those who remember my stress-filled e-mail a few weeks ago, teary, at the end of my rope, trying to figure out whether I could continue homeschooling and still... ya know... survive?...
The biggest issues was, I needed regular breaks. Being Mommy, Teacher, Therapist, and Warden 24/5 with no support was pushing me over the edge. Sometimes, no matter how much you love them, you just need a break. Babysitters these days are cost-prohibitive, I wasn't willing to put them in school, and faking my death and running away (while tempting), didn't seem the best solution, long-term.
So for now... I'm following in the footsteps of a friend of mine. She doesn't homeschool, but has some very difficult children with similar issues to mine. She's found relief (and fun for the kids) by enrolling them at the local boys and girls club. They do a myriad of activities there - sports, art, table games, board games, computers, reading, homework help. For a VERY small yearly fee, the kids can go every afternoon for a few hours, have a great time with friends (Hallie ran into several people she knew from her brief stint in public school), and I get to go shopping, alone... take a bath, alone... clean the house, alone... read, alone. Meet a friend for a hike or movie or coffee... without the kids sabotaging or interrupting. It's been exactly what we needed, for right now. (Bonus, the club serves both a snack and a hot meal each day - saving me on that effort and expense, too!)
It's been a huge help for my outlook.
In other news, the kids did round one of their required standardized testing for homeschooling today. It was actually pretty painless! 2 more subjects to go!
Last Saturday night, a friend asked me what I was up to, and I told him "nothing"... but that was only half true. A few minutes later I decided to be a little more transparent, and shared with him my struggle.
What I was doing, was having my usual Saturday night battle in my head. About church. I'm a Christian, and I do enjoy attending church. Not only that, I see the value in fellowship, and believe in the mandate to corporate worship with other believers. This wasn't a problem a few years ago. Before the divorce.
I was attending a church at the time, that we really liked. We felt comfortable there, liked the people, the music, the preaching... and had even been a part of the church plant, when it was started from our previous church. We'd been in that church through the coming and going and coming again of several children (foster and adoptive placements), and felt supported there through all those trials with the kids.
Then when my ex moved out, he began taking the kids most weekends. We've been blessed to have no battles over custody or visitation or anything like that, and it worked well that he would take the kids on his weekends (giving me a break from the stress of being a single mom for a few days a week), and I would have them during the week. What that meant ultimately, though... was most Sundays I didn't have kids with me. I didn't realize that was going to be such a big deal, but it has been.
For the first several months I continued to go to the same church... but people started to get distant. I wasn't sure if it was the stigma of divorce that was the issue (though I wasn't sure precisely how they would have known, since I hadn't told many people there), or something else. It started becoming apparent that people that I didn't have established friendships with outside of the church weren't talking to me at all... and they used to, when I had my kids around. The realization of the problem came down after I invited a buddy to go Christmas Caroling with a group from the church that December. We had a great time, spread some cheer around the neighborhood, and came back to the church for hot drinks and cookies afterward. And that's when it happened... someone in church leadership (an associate pastor - it was a small church, and as I'd said, I had been a part of it from the early planning stages) came up to meet my friend, compliment his singing voice and try to recruit him for the worship team or choir. I introduced him, and they talked for a bit. Then that same pastor turned to me and asked "what's your name?" And it hit me. Hard. Why I was feeling distant. Why people weren't talking to me. Why I felt so lonely in church every week. Without my husband and children there, making up the "family unit" they were used to... I had no identity. Nobody had any clue who I was. I had been the mom of my kids, the wife of my husband... and nothing else. No one else. Without my family, I was invisible.
It wasn't long after that, that I started to find excuses for not going (sitting there feeling invisible hurt too much.) Then I found another church... the services were in the evening, which was great for those hard-to-get-moving days. I started going with my good friend (the same one that had gone to the Caroling party with me), and I enjoyed it there! Sometimes my kids came along, but usually they were with their dad. People were friendly, they valued authenticity and community, the sermons were great, as was the music... I felt like I might have found a church home. Then my friend got cold feet... he evidently wanted to be able to meet the single ladies in the church, and he was afraid that sitting next to me was impeding that, because people would think we were a couple. The first week he refused to sit with me, the rejection stung... and it was made even worse by the sermon being on marriage and what it's supposed to be... which just highlighted all the things my sham of a marriage was NOT. And I sat in the back of the church alone and cried through the service, and snuck out the back at the end. That day triggered my fear of going to church alone, off feeling like a lonely loser, and of being there by myself making me MORE depressed. Whereas before I would feel filled-up and joyful at church, now I felt empty and sad. It hurt more to go than to stay home. When I could talk my friend into occasionally sitting with me, I was fine. When I was dating someone and brought them along, I was just dandy. When I had my kids and brought them... all good. But when I had no one... when I had to go by myself... it hurt. In a deep, aching, gnawing way.
I eventually had to leave that church because the service times weren't working - the transition of the kids between their dad and myself left them emotionally dysregulated and the late service (they shared a building with another church) wasn't doable. It's a real bummer, too... since the people in that church were more welcoming than any I've found anywhere else.
I've tried a few other churches since then, when I've been able to drag myself there, to face that empty, lonely feeling... only to find there was no relief. Churches generally have a meet-and-greet time partway through the worship time, during which the people are instructed to "go say hi and introduce yourself to someone you don't know!" This is where my introversion becomes an issue, because small talk isn't my forte, and I'm not super outgoing... but despite looking around and trying to make myself appear friendly and available, I'd be lucky each week if ONE person said hello to me or asked my name.
And that's where I pulled the title of this blog.
People, I'm a Christian. I WANT to be in church. But if I'm not feeling welcome in your midst... if I feel excluded and invisible and inconsequential... how are you coming across to someone who wandered in looking for Christ? Seeking? Looking for a place to belong. Are they going to find acceptance there? Are they going to feel a part of things? Will they ever come back?
Admittedly, I'm picky about churches... I prefer a family-integrated model, and I'm decidedly against topical preaching, preferring expository - going verse by verse through a passage. So mega-churches, who are known for their welcoming committees and "entertainment value", aren't going to fit the bill for me. And I know part of this issue is mine to claim, since I don't make a point of introducing myself to everyone, and I tend to sneak out without staying for the social hour after, because I can't stand being the lonely loser standing by the wall, sipping coffee alone, too inimportant for anyone to talk to. And I know no church is perfect, but being ignored, feeling unwelcome and invisible... that defeats the point of fellowship.
So... back to that Saturday night conundrum. It's a battle of wills with myself about whether I'm strong enough to face that empty feeling the next morning... or whether to wuss out and watch a sermon online. It's a struggle of decision - do I go back to one of the churches I've tried and hope this time will be different, or do I try somewhere new? It's a war inside my mind that I don't see ending anytime soon. So every Saturday night... that's largely what I'm doing. (And if I happen to have a date on a Saturday night, it's what I do after the date!)
Just needed to process that...
I was able to spend Friday with friends in Seattle. Sarah and I drove down together and met up with Kelly, who was visiting from Spokane. We three spent the day at IKEA shopping and chatting and having a grand time. Afterwards we went back to Kelly's hotel to hang out until my man friend could pick me up for the play. I have a great photo of us three girls, but Sarah has threatened my life if I post it. Boohoo!
My guy (friend) lives in the San Juan Islands, so he had to catch a ferry after he was done working for the day, then drive down to pick me up before we headed into downtown Seattle for to see the Lion King. Unfortunately, his ferry was running behind, which put him behind, which made him late to pick me up, and made us a few minutes late for the show. Story-wise we didn't miss much, pretty much just the opening number, which I'm sure was fabulous, but the rest of the show made up for missing it.
When I got in his truck there was a distinct and nasty smell. (He's a clean kinda guy, so that was really unusual.) It seems that over the past week or so since he'd driven that vehicle, some critter wanted out of the cold... and moved into his truck! He spent the ferry ride cleaning and spraying and searching to try to eliminate the problem, but with no luck. It ate all the food he had in the vehicle, it bit holes in the clothes he had in there, it chewed through wires... and the truck was starting to behave in odd ways, driving rough, electrical issues... like the rodent mischief had gone way too far.
After the show, we went to Ruth's Chris steakhouse for happy hour. My guy (friend) ordered one of everything on the food menu. We had spicy seared tuna, bbq shrimp, prime rib sliders, margarita flatbread pizza, and caesar salad. It was all delicious. I love trying new things, and he has a tendecy to do that... order a little of everything so we can both enjoy it all! It's so much fun. I've come to really like happy hour for that reason. The drive back North is when the mechanical issues started on the truck. That rat must have been nibbling wires while we were nibbling appetizers.
When I got back to my house, I gave him 5 rodent killer blocks to put in his truck. I got updates over the weekend... it ate most of them... and lived on. Now we knew we were dealing with a immortal mutant rat!!
We spent Saturday running errands and just hanging out, then that evening he introduced me to his sister and brother-in-law. We had a great time over sushi and then went to happy hour at the Bellwether Hotel. Piano music, drinks and appetizers. His sister had homeschooled her kids when they were younger, and had some with various issues that presented not unlike my own, so we had plenty to talk about.
The next day I made him breakfast at my house, then we went to my church. Afterwards... more errands for the truck, and picking up supplies for his work that couldn't be purchased on the island. While not the most exciting "date" it was fun to just hang out while he was in the area. The last stop before he headed back to his little island was Lowe's home improvement.... for a rat trap. Unfortunately he missed the ferry by a very narrow margin and had to stay another night, in a hotel (crummy way to end a nice weekend), but he did email me this pic that I got this morning...
I'm really looking forward to this weekend! The week has been better than the last all the way around, and anticipating plans with great friends helps boost the mood, too.
One of my friends from my "Trauma Moms" group (that went to Orlando every year, though our "house" has branched off on it's own this year) is going to be in Seattle with her family this weekend, and another friend and I are going down to spend a day with her. We'll have girl talk, wander through IKEA, have a nice dinner... What a great way to shake off daily life and just have FUN!
Add to that a Broadway show... I've mentioned my one "splurge" each year, that I buy with my tax return is season tickets to 2 theatres in Seattle. I've seen the most amazing shows!!! Even when I'm totally broke... I've always got my theatre tickets, and they bring me joy.
This weekend, it's The Lion King! I've heard such great things about the show, and I'm looking forward to seeing it. It doesn't hurt that I'll have a handsome man friend on my arm! haha. I have several great friends that enjoy the theatre ALMOST as much as I do, and though it's always hard to decide who to take to each one, (especially when my kids are begging to go, too, and I only have one extra ticket) Then trying to match up schedules can be a pain, too... but sharing it with a friend that I enjoy spending time with makes a show twice as good. (One friend in particular LAUGHS LOUD, and I can't tell you how much that adds to the fun!)
The friend joining me for Lion King accompanied me to Monty Python's Spamalot last month, too... though he's the sleepy type (as I can be that late at night, and after the long drive down), so I'll be making sure we both have plenty of caffiene to keep us awake! I HATE dozing off during a show that I am really enjoying!!!
Hope you all have a great weekend, too!
You've seen Alice in Wonderland, haven't you? Or read it? Remember that scene (chapter) where she was crying so much the room filled up with her tears and flooded? Yeah, that's about how I felt this weekend.
(photo credit: disney.wikia.com)
It wasn't that anything HAPPENED, per se... it was what I'd held in all week. It was a hellish week with my kids. I alluded to that in earlier posts this week, and on facebook I said:
"This week was hard. Crazy hard. The kind where you don't want to go to sleep at night because that just means the next day will come sooner and facing it seems nearly impossible..."
So right about the time their dad picked them up on Saturday morning, the floodgates let loose. And lasted intermittently throughout the weekend. My poor friends had to handle me via text (I tend to isolate when I'm at my lowest)... most were awesome and encouraging, and tried to come up with solutions (I'm still pondering some of them). One friend had to handle me bowing out of a movie date because every suggestion he made of movies he wanted to see made me start crying again (usually I'm the more agreeable of the two of us regarding movies and I'll go with whatever he chooses, but I was too overwhelmed this week to consider sitting through "Machete Kills" or "Gangster"... something or other. So I asked if we could just do it another time. I don't think he was very happy with me.
The week was so bad, I actually started to consider the recommendations of a few friends to put my kids back in school. Not because they learn there (they don't), but because... well... they aren't cooperating with schoolwork here, either. So they aren't learning much anywhere right now. And they are getting in trouble here, too - being seriously unkind to each other, refusing to do chores. I feel like I have an all-out coup on my hands! By putting the kids back in school, I'd be choosing to remove myself from one battle - the schoolwork. And it just might save any relationship we have (their attachment disorder makes any relationship with them negligible... but being mom AND teacher makes it worse, rather than better like I'd always hoped.)
Then I mentioned to someone else who happened to call me and ask how things were going that I was starting to entertain the idea of putting them in school. And got slapped in the face with "You just got through saying school wasn't good for your kids, and now you're just going to THROW THEM AWAY, just because things got hard?" Um yeah... not really ashamed to say I hung up the phone immediately without even replying to that attack. And cried more. And wouldn't answer when she kept trying to call back. That kind of "support" was the last thing I needed this week.
I spent a lot of the day yesterday researching possible careers. Looking at online colleges to complete my degree. Even applying to one. And then... I closed those computer windows and decided to try yet another technique with the kids.
Because I'm not ready to give up this fight just yet. I'm not saying I won't. I very well might! Just... not today. I re-worked our daily schedule. I changed the way they handle their daily assignments (they are WAY behind to complete the school year on time. Not because they have too much expected, but only because they've been defiant and lazy. But I broke it up into smaller, more manageable chunks at least. They won't have less to do... just less to focus on at one sitting.) This morning, the anger walks have been abundant. I told them I don't care if they just go to the end of the block and back, or if they are gone for an hour... as long as they don't come back until they are ready to cooperate. So far today, they've chosen the short ones, but it's helping some already, knowing that giving me attitude is going to result in my pointing at the door.
As... I just paused in my writing to do yet again with my younger son. Sigh...
According to Molly's most recent letter, she's been in some trouble too. Is it some cosmic force? A full moon? Some odd alignment of planets or tides or some air pressure system that stretches from here to Mississippi? (A few other friends mentioned having similar weeks, too.) She said she was assigned 300 sentences for bad behavior "but I finished them!" I can't wait to ask her what the sentence was and why... as bad as it sounds, I have a feeling it will make me giggle a bit. I still do when I think of the sentence she mentioned getting before she came home the last time. "Screaming and throwing notebooks is never acceptable." We all (Molly included) got a good laugh over the image of that one, particularly when I acted it out, and she said I was pretty much spot on. Yeah... I know my girl. I tell my kids often "I know you better than you know yourself." Haha.
I realize I'm all over the place here. I realize my thoughts are jumbled and inconsistent, and my opinions may not line up from one day to the next. Just ride the wave, ok? I'm not trying to be difficult. I'm not trying to be crazy. But raising kids from hard places, from trauma, from abuse and neglect... it's MESSY! And it makes your brain pretty darn messy, too. I'm doing the best I can, with what I have, in the time I'm afforded, with the circumstances I've been given. And that may not be good enough for some. I may not make the decisions you would make. But I'm trying to do what's best for all five of us. Today and for the long term. (And there is no long term if we don't figure out how to survive today!) This is the family God gave me... for whatever reason. And I'm doing my best to juggle all that entails.
To end with a favorite Alice Quote:
I think I fell asleep before 9 last night. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. Physically I hadn't done much... so it had to have been my brain that was dragging me down.
I'm homeschooling my kids again this year. You know, the ones that are still at home. (Molly is still in Mississippi.) Sam is now in 7th grade, Gideon in 6th, and Hallie in 5th. They spent a year and a half in public school after their dad moved out (I needed time to regroup), and while it did give me the break I needed... I'm still fighting the apathy they learned there.
My impression of school after that time was that they were mostly required to fill a seat...
I know they weren't required to do homework... not really... because I found most of it crammed in bookcases, dropped under the table, crumpled in backpacks, etc, and never turned in... and they still pulled out decent grades. And at the middle school level, I was able to look at Sam's assignment lists, and the list read: missing-missing-excused-excused-missing-excused-excused-excused-missing... he convinced his teachers he couldn't do the work, and they ultimately didn't expect him to. (To be fair, he had ONE great teacher that seriously saw his ability and had standards for him, but most did not.)
I know they weren't required to have good behavior... not really... because when Hallie was bullying a special needs student in her class, the call I got from the principal started with "Hallie's not in trouble." I had to BEG them to give her consequences for her unkind and unacceptable behavior. When I caught Gideon with a calculator stolen from the classroom and being used to cheat on his math, I reported it to his teacher and got the blow off. And the supervision plan we had for Molly the first year (to keep the other kids safe) was evidently not passed on to the new teacher the second year. To top it off, I got more than one call from Sam's school that contained the phrase "Normally a kid would be suspended for this... but..."
So this year... I spend all day getting in the middle of fights between them, managing anger outbursts, getting them back on track to do their school work, and enduring screaming rages because they don't get freetime when their work isn't done, and I require a score of 80% to move on (I don't give my kids schoolwork to keep them busy... I expect them to LEARN the information before moving on.) In school they didn't HAVE to do the work. So getting them to do it here is like pulling teeth.
Yesterday was an all out battle. From the moment they woke up until the time *I* fell asleep... (because I think I still heard them talking in their room long past when I grasped the last threads of consciousness.)
I think if I'd known the effect of that short time in school would create this intense of an uphill battle, I would have just found the strength to power through in homeschooling.
Let me be clear, I am NOT in any way saying this would be the experience for other people... My kids are difficult to start with, their wounds are deep and their need for control intense because of the Reactive Attachment Disorder. That's a big part of why we are struggling. It just didn't work for THEM.
Today is another day. I'm starting it with prayer, in hopes of surviving.
After a long absence, I've determined to return to blogging. No guarantees exactly what this will entail, how often I'll update, or... well, any guarantees of any kind! But most posts will probably focus on my family, adoption issues, daily life, some recipes, homeschooling, single parenting and possibly even some of my adventures in dating, though I don't want to embarass any of the involved parties! I'll try to chronicle over the next few weeks some of what has happened in my life since the blog went silent. If you have any questions, feel free to ask - I'll try to satisfy your curiosity, if I can do so without overstepping the privacy of others.
I have a few topics (including the aforementioned conference) in mind that I want to touch on over the next few days, but I welcome your (curious, not critical) feedback, as well... what do you want to know? Give me some ideas. While much of the lapse has been due to the craziness of life... some long periods of silence have been nothing more than lack of inspiration for what to write about. So give me your ideas!
Here's my family these days. This was taken in December. Myself and my four children. Sam - age 12, Gideon - age 12, Hallie - age 10 and Malaika - age 10. Are you as amazed with how they've grown as I am? My dark haired children have both hit a growth spurt and are towering 4-5 inches above their (3 months) older same-gender siblings, much to my blondies' chagrin.
I know many of you have wondered where I disappeared to (even to the point of asking my other blogging friends where I was), and I'm thankful for your interest in our crazy life. It makes me feel cared for that you have asked, and that many of you keep checking this dead blog to see if I'm back yet.
Social media and the internet have given me some trepidation - I've seen undeserved nasty comments on friends blogs, and even saw one acquaintance raked over the coals and completely picked apart on other sites for what she chose to share about her life. But I've been pushed, prodded, and encouraged to start blogging again, and after attending an amazing conference for foster and adoptive parents this weekend, the theme just came up too many times to ignore - between comments from friends, tidbits in seminars, and even just a nagging on my heart to have the outlet to express myself through writing again. So... here I am.
Hmm.... found this one sitting in my "drafts" section of my blog. Not sure why I never published it. I had begun the story of re-entry into the dating world months ago, and wrote this right after the last. So... I'll publish it now so I can get on with the rest of the story soon!
The next guy I met, I honestly wish I'd come across later in the process. I think timing would have made a real difference. Who I was then, and who I am now are very different. But I came across J1 online, and he was one of the first I'd messaged before they messaged me. Reading through his online profile, he sounded like my twin. We liked most of the same things, he had a similar sense of humor, and was a Christian (oh, wait... did I mention all the other guys listed themselves that way, too?) We texted for a couple of days, then decided to meet... I was about to leave for Kentucky the first time, and wanted to meet "my twin" before I left. We met for coffee at a local waterfront park, with lots of walking trails. We got coffee (he paid, and yes, even that impressed me), then we walked and talked. And walked, and talked and walked and talked... For HOURS. He was hilarious, easy to talk to, and he seemed to find me the same. (He told me recently I was also one of the few women he'd met from online that was more attractive in person than in my profile photos.) While walking on a trail, I had this burning feeling... I wanted him to hold my hand! But he didn't. At one point, we sat and watched the last of the sunset on a bench on a dock, and he slipped his arm around me. The first sign he may have interest beyond friendship. I felt like a teenager again... all aglow inside from the smallest physical contact. Long after the sun had gone down, we both agreed we didn't want to walk anymore, but didn't want to go home yet, either. So we rented a movie and went to his house. He opened my car door for me... a very new phenomenon, but one I very much enjoyed. It made me feel important, respected... like a girl. We shared a blanket on his sofa, he put an arm around me and held me close... and I fell asleep on his shoulder. Ha ha. Beginning a long tradition of me falling asleep during movies, and him giving me crap for it! When he dropped me back at my car, he gave me a hug... but no kiss. Did he like me or didn't he? I wasn't sure what to think at that point.
But the next day, he texted me again, to say he had the afternoon/evening free, and did I want to hang out? Well, YEAH, I did! We discussed for a while what we could do, and ended up combining some ideas. We played frisbee golf at a local park, then went to a taqueria for authentic Mexican food, and played Bananagrams while we ate. Then we went to a coffee shop, but with our warm drinks, sitting with his arm around me, on a leather sofa, next to a fireplace, we were getting sleepy! So we decided to walk. As he opened the door for me, he also offered me his arm. I took his arm, but before we got across the parking lot, I slid my hand down his arm and took his hand. (Don't make fun of my inexperience! At 35 years old, many of these experiences were new to me... or at least a distant memory!)
We walked around a nearby housing development, holding hands and talking. It started to rain, but we didn't care... we just kept walking. At one point the conversation turned to dancing (both of us had mentioned wanting to take dance lessons at some point), and we stopped on a streetcorner for him to show me a few dance steps he'd learned at a class in the past. Get this... we slowdanced... on a streetcorner... under a streetlight... in the rain. Seriously... there are few things I can think of more romantic than that. It's the stuff movies are made of!
The rain continued, and we decided to get out of the rain, but again, didn't want the date to end. We decided to go to the gazebo in the park near where I grew up. It would be covered so we'd stay dry, but we could still enjoy the outdoors. We drove over in his car, holding hands (except when he had to shift gears), walked into the park to discover there were homeless people sleeping in the gazebo. But the rain was starting to let up, so we continued walking. We walked through the neighborhood I grew up in... I showed him my family's homes, my elementary school, and we walked and talked, discussed architecture, made jokes, and eventually ended up back in the park. We found a bench near the fountain, that had been protected from the rain by the trees, and sat and talked for a while. It wasn't long before the conversation turned... he said he'd really like to kiss me. So we shared our first kiss, in MY park... the one I'd played in throughout my childhood. Then we walked and talked and kissed, until the wee hours of the morning, at which time, we went back to my car to say goodnight. Before I left his car, he admitted he wasn't intending to kiss me until our THIRD date. So when he made his next move, I had to tease him and ask him which date THAT was inteded for! ha ha.
Our third date... was the very next night. It was a Sunday, he had small group for his church that night, so I invited him to come over to watch a movie after my kids were in bed. We watched his favorite musical (Guys and Dolls), until ALMOST the end when the kissing began again. And continued until early into the morning. I felt things with J1 that I'd never felt before. A connection, an acceptance...
Two days later, I left to visit a friend in Kentucky for a week. I stayed at a hotel near the airport overnight to catch an early flight. And I talked J1 into coming down to hang out with me, share breakfast at the hotel restaurant before I left for a week. He agreed, and we talked and kissed all night, but were so exhausted at breakfast that we were really quiet and it was a little awkward. He drove me to the airport (even though I could have taken the shuttle), he hugged and kissed me goodbye and wished me a safe flight.
We texted off and on while I was gone, then met up for dinner the night I returned. I was so tired after 2 hours of sleep, and a 4 am flight. But we had Thai food, then walked to the beach nearby, kissed on the beach, then I had to leave to meet another friend I was going to meet that night (a girl!)
The next day, I offered to help him and his roommate build a fence. But when I got there, they had decided not to work on it, so J1 and I watched a movie, snuggled on his couch. I met his roommates, then we went to the beach to walk, hit a used book sale and had a laid-back, fun afternoon. When we went back to his house to get my car so I could go home... he gave me a hug instead of a kiss. That was my first clue that something wasn't right. A couple of days later we had "the talk"... on the phone, late at night... he said the fact that my divorce wasn't final bothered him. That he couldn't feel comfortable calling a married woman his girlfriend. He also felt we were getting too involved too fast, and needed to work on our friendship more first... that we needed to take a step back. I appreciated his integrity and honesty, and agreed, though I was a little sad to see something so exciting, fresh, new, joyful, and fun come to an end. But I hung onto the hope that maybe someday... he'd want to take another chance.
We've discussed it since, and it seems I'm likely permanently friend-zoned. He doesn't see anything happening between us, despite the fact that we are mutually attracted to each other, we are awesome friends, continued to hang out several times a week (though that has cut down to more rarely now that I'm in a more serious relationship... not that it needed to, but he got suddenly busy, too), we enjoy each other's company, joke, tickle, and have tons in common. Sigh... I'm not going to convince him, nor do I want him to be convinced... I want the man I end up with to want to be with me more than anyone else... to feel lucky to be with me (and I with him). I don't want him to have to be convinced. So that remained one of my closest friendships, with the occasional ache for quite some time that I wished he wanted to give things a try again. Logically speaking, though... he's not ready for the package that is me. Namely, my kids. He's not there yet Not ready to be stepdad to 4 high-needs pre-teens. They adore him, but he becomes one of them when they are together! More proof that he was meant to be my friend, and a friend of our family. An honorary member, even.
To be continued...