Four years ago I moved to Texas to begin a new life. I created a new business, used all of my savings to create a home for my then three-year old daughter and I. I created a safe little bubble for us to live in and for nine months that went really well. Then friends began bugging me to date. At the time, I thought, “Sure, why not?” After all, it had been over two years since my last relationship, I’d grown a lot and was in a place where I was happy with my life. I was comfortable being alone. So I started an Eharmony profile.
I promised myself I would look through every match and if there was anything at all wrong with it, I would eliminate it. Pretty shallow I suppose but with 150 matches in a week, there had to be some way of whittling things down. Eventually I stumbled upon one profile that made me look again. I thought, “He has a happy smile. I’d like to get to know him.” And the rest proceeded pretty fast.
I suppose in hindsight I was lonely. And I convinced myself that my daughter needed a father figure, a role model in her life. Being a single mom is hard work all day, every day. So Brian (not his real name) & I began dating. Looking back there were plenty of warnings. His lack of respect of my boundaries. Being fondled in the park on our second date despite my weak protests. I suppose I was horny after two years. He moved in pretty much immediately. We were inseparable after having sex. Within six months we were fully moved in together and then Brian lost his job. I don’t know if he consciously or unconsciously planned it but I saved him from that particular fall. I’m a generous person and I felt I had to.
Within about two weeks of Brian losing his job I was depressed. I couldn’t make myself get out of bed. I didn’t want to do anything anymore. His negative energy dragged me down daily and I felt like I was back in a cycle. But the relationship continued, with me naively thinking I was falling in love. Eventually I met Brian’s best friend Jon (not his real name) who had known him for 25 years. From the moment I met him, there was something; a spark, a connection, a tingle being around him. But I ignored it because I was with someone. And frankly, it scared the crap out of me.
My boyfriend and I eventually married and were together for four years until we separated this past March. During that time I got to know the best friend. After we got married, I began to seek the best friend for advice as well as my new mother-in-law. I tried to understand what was going on. Why my husband would act the way he did. At no point did anyone say, “You might be in a toxic relationship”. Everyone supported the relationship and him, gave me advice and support. Including the best friend.
The last year and a half was the worst. I was barely able to function. Taking Zoloft was the only thing that got me through my days as I struggled to build up my businesses, recover from a layoff, deal with a myriad of financial issues and continue my publishing. My husband lost his job in May and we were almost evicted. The fights about money were epic. And I would go to the best friend for his advice on how to cope with it. Finally in February, the best friend asked me if I thought the relationship would survive. For the first time, I said, “I don’t think so.”
I fought to turn the relationship around for over six months. I told my husband many times I would leave him if things didn’t improve. He did nothing. Despite numerous opportunities, he was surprised when I sat him down at our kitchen table and told him we were over. I tried to make it gentle, to say it was a separation but in my heart I knew we would never recover. My ability to fight for the relationship was over. I’d given it all I had and accepted that the relationship was beyond repair. It was liberating in a way, to finally take back my freedom and my independence.
Throughout it all, Jon was there, offering support, understanding, acceptance, and friendship. The day after I told my husband we were over, Jon and I discussed how lonely we both were. His relationship was in a pretty similar place except for some more serious consequences. His wife had committed a felony by operating on a child without a license and forced Jon and his young son to participate. Once I was free, there was a moment where we both realized we’d really just like to get properly laid. And it seemed like a good opportunity for both of us. I remember thinking at the time, “Scratch that itch one time and then move on with my life”.
For me, it felt like I hadn’t had good sex in over seven years (which was the age of my daughter), maybe longer. Jon offered to take care of that need – no strings attached for either of us. I didn’t hesitate. We arranged to get together that afternoon. I was more excited than nervous. Both of us knew going into it that it was just sex between two really good friends, nothing more.
Then he kissed me. Oh boy, what a first kiss. I was stunned. He pulled back and looked me in the eye and I could see he was as stunned as I was. He kissed me again and I was lost. The sex was awkward, as first time sex always is, but it was also beautiful and amazing too. He touched me in the most incredible ways, made me feel things and reach heights I didn’t know existed. It was like he knew me better than I knew myself.
Afterward we went out to lunch and I remember being very awkward. For the first time in four years, after countless conversations, I was awkward around the man I had considered my brother-in-law for two years. We’d spent holidays and birthdays together for years. I knew his wife and had even gotten one of my dogs from her. I apparently did a good job of closing my turmoil off because at one point he looked at me and said, “That was more than sex, wasn’t it?”
I remember being stunned and thinking, “He felt that too?” I was so stunned I didn’t know what to say. Then I looked in his eyes and saw such vulnerability, such raw need, and yet hope as well. I smiled at him and said, “Yes, it was much more than just sex.” It was the physical expression of years of repressed feelings. It was the first manifestation of a blossoming love. Over the next few days I looked back at our relationship and realized there had always been a chemistry there but it was blocked by an unspoken code of ethics between both of us. Over the next few weeks we talked about our relationship, our mutual attraction and our history together. We talked about our dreams, our hopes, our shared likes and dislikes. I found we had a surprising amount in common. It was almost as if the fates had finally decided to bring together two people who were meant to be together all along.
Two months later and we fit even better than we did from the start. Both of us have left our spouses but not for each other. I left my husband because of a toxic relationship and so did Jon. We just happened to be the perfect catalyst for each other making the right decision.
So despite the tragedy of my marriage ending, I find myself in a new relationship. It has to be the strangest thing I’ve ever experienced and part of me seriously wonders what I’m doing. Is it right? I’m not asking about ethics or morals because I know I’ve done nothing wrong and neither did he. Both of us went into this relationship with our eyes open.
Will this be another mistake I’ve made in a long line of mistakes? Jon tells me I’m amazing, I’m his dream girl, and I find myself wondering if I fall off that pedestal, will the landing be enough to kill me? But maybe the pedestal is legitimate. He’s known me for four years – he’s seen me at my best and worst. He’s helped me through countless challenges and I him. So maybe we both have each other on mutual pedestals and there’s no reason to fall.
I wish I could say I feel guilty for the way our relationship started but I don’t. Sadness that they didn’t work out but both of us were in broken, abusive relationships and that brought us together.