The One

Posted on January 23, 2010. Filed under: Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , |

My poor boyfriend.  I’m always writing about all things important to me, here on My Life, Incomplete — yet I rarely talk about him.  Sure, he makes a cameo now and then, but usually as an extra – never as the star.  “Why is that?” you ask.  Well, because Doug is a very private person.

Can you imagine!?  Us?  A couple?  I’m an open book – to the entire World Wide Web! He’s having a sharing moment if he tells you what he had for breakfast.

So while it may seem like I’m self involved and care more about my ex-husband than my boyfriend, nothing could be further from the truth.  The fact that I don’t write much about Doug or our relationship isn’t because our relationship isn’t worth writing about.  And it’s definitely not because there’s nothing to tell.  Our life as a couple is full.  Some days it’s all I can do not to write about what’s going on with us.  But it’s out of respect for the most wonderful man in the world that I keep us to myself.

Tonight, I guess I feel more like sharing him than respecting him (sorry, babe), so I hope you enjoy it, because it’s not likely to happen again soon.

Here it is:  He makes me laugh.  He goes to Dunkin’ Donuts to get me coffee on Saturday mornings.  He always reaches for my hand.  He thinks I’m funny (and for anyone who knows me – this is HUGE).  He’s Braden’s best friend.  He loves country music.  He thinks spending 10 days with our parents is vacation.  He loves when I sing in the car.  Really!  Ask him!  He’s my best friend.  We can sit outside and play songs for each other on our iPhones all day long.  He goes for walks with me.  He always asks me what I’m wearing when we’re not together.  He’s a great sport at the mall.  He has soft skin.  He loves his kids with all his heart.  He looks amazing in black.  He is good to his parents.  He’s always in charge.  He can talk to anyone.  He believes in me.  He’s got a great ass.  He loves sports — sports all day, every day and it doesn’t even bother me one bit.  He’s my biggest fan.  He’d rather spend quality time with me than go to a Cubs game.  Okay, that one was just to see if you were still paying attention.  We can talk for hours.  I miss him before I even get on the “on” ramp.

He is my favorite person. (Calm down, I’m talking about adults here.)

They say you’ll know when you’ve found “The One.”  I knew I hadn’t when I married my ex, but since I didn’t really know what to expect, I accepted what I had.  I thought that was just something “they” say.  I thought we all just figure our one is “The One” a la “love the one you’re with…” But I know better now.  The connection that Doug and I have is like nothing I could have imagined before experiencing it.  File it under the category of “you don’t know what you don’t know.”

When I was married, I questioned my relationship and whether I belonged in it every time I stood in the greeting card aisle — desperately seeking one that said what I felt.  Problem was, there wasn’t a card that said, “I’m pretty disappointed in this whole marriage thing, but I hope you have a happy birthday anyway.”  Now, when I visit the greeting card aisle, I end up with ten cards in my hand and have to pick which one says it best. I can get the others another time…

Cliche but true: no one is perfect, but Doug is absolutely perfect for me.  I’m such a lucky girl!

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MLI Discussion: The Ring

Posted on January 13, 2010. Filed under: divorce, MLI Discussions | Tags: , , , , , , |

I was home alone.  I was sitting at the top of the stairs.  And I was bawling — er, whaling like a banshee.  My wedding ring was gone.  I was sure of it; I’d looked everywhere.

It was 2005 and I had been married for almost three years.  We were expecting a baby in just a few months.  I was enjoying a fantastic pregnancy and was a happy mommy-to-be.  My pregnancy was so delightful that I rarely had any “crazy pregnant lady” moments.  But this was one of them.

I retraced my steps a hundred times.  I unscrewed drain pipes, pulled back carpeting – YES!, pulled back carpeting.  I pulled all of my clothes out of all of my drawers.  I dumped my baskets full of toiletries.  If that ring was in that house, I would have found it. 

After hours of frantic searching, I collapsed to the floor and the tears began to fall.  Thinking back on that day, I remember feeling like I had lost an absolutely irreplacable possession.  This wasn’t about the diamond.  My ex purchased the ring when he was waiting tables at Bob Evan’s.  It was a beautiful ring, but the monetary value was minimal. 

My attachment to the ring was in what it symbolized:  It was the day he proposed to me while I was in my pajamas.  It was shopping for my fairy-tale wedding dress.  It was the moment he slid it on my finger before all of our friends and family.  It was our first apartment, our new home, our unborn baby — all captured in that circle that belonged around my bare left ring finger. 

I can clearly remember feeling like I didn’t know how to go on without that ring.  A replacement just wouldn’t do.  I spent the next 24 hours replaying the day before in my head.  When did I last have it on?  Where was I when I took it off?  What did I do with it? 

I could picture myself setting it on the bathroom counter before my shower.  WHY WASN’T IT THERE!?  And then, as though God had decided I’d been tortured enough, it came to me.  I ran up the stairs, pulled my maternity jeans from the upper shelf in my closet, and the ring fell on the floor in front of me.  The jeans had been sitting on the bathroom counter when I took the ring off.  Unknowningly, I had set the ring on the jeans and it slid down into the cuff of the pants. 

All was right with the world.

Two and a half years after splitting with my ex, that ring sits in my jewelry box.  I keep thinking I’ll sell it, but never get around to it. 

I have a new passion for life and I welcome all of the opportunities that await me in this new chapter.  I thank God everyday for leading me to Doug, the perfect partner, best friend and love for me.  Yet, the ring is still symbolic of all the same things it was when I wore it.  Only now, it takes on a new meaning as it serves as a reminder that there was good in my marriage.  My husband, and our union, was important to me.  I do not view those years as a waste, and maintaining this perspective helps me be the best mom I can to our son.

 

Do you still have your wedding ring?  If so, why do you keep it?  What do you plan to do with it? 

If you got rid of it, what was the thinking behind that decision – and if you sold it, was it worth it?

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The Icing on My Divorce Cake

Posted on January 10, 2010. Filed under: divorce | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I have a pretty sweet divorce.

After five years of a fairly decent, yet disappointing marriage, Ex-Husband and I  split up.  Once I got past the brief period of post-divorce insanity and worked through the awaiting rotten emotional garbage, I was exactly where I wanted to be:  On my own, starting over, with endless possibilities! Ahh… delicious divorce.

Now, a few years later, Ex-Husband and I have a respectful relationship, that even somewhat resembles a friendship.  Braden, Ex-Husband and I all benefit from the rewards of our cooperative, drama-free co-parenting arrangement. Braden’s dad and I have both moved on and found more fulfilling relationships with new significant others, and we’re genuinely happy for each other.  It’s not uncommon to see any combination of the five of us at an event or one of our homes.  (Well, one combination is uncommon: My boyfriend and Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend alone together might raise an eyebrow…)

It wasn’t until recently that I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend.  They have been together for a little over two years now, but she and I only just started to interact beyond a brief “hello” within the last couple of months.  I never imagined our relationship would blossom into what it has.

It began on email.  Then we exchanged digits.  Next, a dinner “date” (as Ex-Husband calls it, to poke fun at her).  We had such a great time at dinner that we sat at that table for three hours!  Did I call it dinner?  I meant to say “at bottle of wine with some food on the side.” We shared stories, laughter and even a few tears.  Going into the dinner, I was a little worried that it might be awkward — but it turned out to be anything but.

We found out that we have a lot in common, which I think was a surprise to both of us.  We also learned about our extreme differences in upbringing and adult lives.  I talked about coming to the decision to divorce and the struggles and rewards associated with that decision, and she discussed the decision to enter into a serious relationship with a single dad and the struggles and rewards associated with that.

Our dynamic is so interesting, so rewarding and so amazing that even I can’t find words to explain it or express my appreciation for it.  Because this wonderful woman has entered my son’s life with an open mind and an open heart, we have been able to spend time together on each of the last three holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.  Today, she, Braden and I went out to lunch and then to see The Princess and the Frog.  We had a blast!  Braden beamed with excitement the entire time.  We agreed to have these girls’ days with Braden on a regular basis.  Family takes on a whole new meaning when it’s one you choose.

Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend isn’t a mother, nor an ex-wife — so coming into our situation was a huge life adjustment.   One that I am so grateful that she committed to making.  Through my relationship with her, I’ve learned that we can find some of our most amazing blessings in the most unexpected places.   Hers are not easy shoes to be in, but she wears them so very well.

For these reasons, Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend is, without a doubt, the icing on my divorce cake!

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A Week of 2009: New Relationships

Posted on December 28, 2009. Filed under: Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The days are numbered, indeed.  2009 is on its way out and I thought it a good time to pay it some respect and due credit.  So this week on MLI will be a week of 2009. 

When I first typed the title of today’s post into my WordPress post editor, I typed “A Week of 2009: Outstanding People in My Life.”  And then I decided that I might offend the fabulous people I know and love who may not have made mention.  So rather, I’d like to share some of the new, rewarding relationships that have blossomed for me this year.

1. Doug’s Family – I met Doug in 2008 because I knew his brother and his sister-in-law.  I did not, however, have the pleasure of getting to know the rest of his family until this year.  I have never known a group of people as warm and inviting as the Xxxxxxs.  The first time I stepped foot in his parents’ house, I was greeted with a hug, a smile, and a face lick (from his mom, his dad and their dog – in that order).  I bonded with his mom and other sister-in-law instantly, and Braden with the children.  I am so blessed to have all three of these women, their husbands and their children in my life.  They are such a fun (and loud) bunch – and I look forward to any time I get to spend with them.  My son and I have been treated like members of the family and we could not be more thrilled to play the part. 

2.  My Work Girls – I started my job at the end of 2008, and over this past year have had the pleasure of making friends with five fabulous women.  I think to make one real friend at work would be noteable, but five!?  My good fortune is evident in this truth.  These are not just eat-lunch-together friends.  These are girls who I laugh and cry with.  We share stories, meals, life events and funny graphics.  These are my friends — and I am so grateful to have them in my life!

3.  My Online Community – This sounds very cheesy to those of you who know me in the flesh, rather than digitally.  But this is where the old cliche “don’t knock it ’til you try it” comes in handy.  When I decided to start this blog in October, I had no idea what to expect.  I thought I would write some stuff in hopes that “the right person” would read it and I’d land some freelance work or something.  What I got instead was this online community of friends: writers, moms, single parents, divorcees, entrepreneurs.  These are not the people I’d go to if I want to get out of the house and have a good time.  They are not the people I call when I need a shoulder to cry on.  But they are people with similar interests as mine, and a supportive nature that helps make chasing my dream seem a little less ridiculous.  I am grateful for the online relationships I’ve formed.  This goes for all of you, but a few in particular who stand out are: Los Angeles Single Mama, Jamey Stegmaier and Tiffany Noth.

4.  Ex-Husband – True, I’ve known him for almost 13 years.  So how does he fall on my list of new relationships formed in 2009?  I have had the pleasure of forming a new relationship with a known entity over the past year.  In the first 10 years, we dated, we married, we became parents, we divorced.  All of those stages were very difinitive.  After the divorce, however, our lives and our relationship took the symbolic form of a big question mark.  2008 was a mess for me, which rendered me unable to, and uninterested in, dealing with defining my relationship with my ex.  Though the road to the present was rocky, the 2009 journey is ending in a good place.  Our relationship, in my opinion, has been redefined.  We are now co-parents, in the truest form.  We are friends by circumstance, who support and respect each other and have vowed to work together as a team to provide the best possible upbringing for our son. 

5.  Ex-Husband’s Girlfriend – There is another woman in my son’s life.  This was hard to absorb and accept at first.  I never doubted my ex’s judgment in who he chose to bring into Braden’s life – that wasn’t the problem.  I just had a hard time accepting that when he wasn’t with me, he was with another woman.  But over time, as I began to repair my relationship with my ex, something interesting happened; I began to develop a relationship with his girlfriend.  Now, I have a new friend and Braden has an ideal child-of-divorce situation.  We are truly an odd, but fortunate group!

6.  Courtney – There is nothing more exciting that reconnecting with old friends.  If you’re like me, you probably duck your head in the neighborhood bar when people from your younger days walk in.  Often, it’s just easier to pretend you don’t see each other than to have to put on the niceties.  But sometimes, there is a gem out there — someone who got lost along the way for no reason other than your paths leading in different directions.  And when they cross again, you couldn’t be happier.  Courtney was one of my best friends in high school.  We lost touch after graduation until Facebook brought us back together 13 years later in April 2009.  We have been friends again ever since.  It’s like we never skipped a beat (well, barring the death of her father, our college education, both of our marriages, my son, her two sons, my divorce, her mother’s marriage, two job losses and her at-home daycare – but who’s keeping track?).  The reunion was meant to be; we get together as often as we can, our kids are the same age and enjoy playing together, her husband is awesome and we both love to write.  I’m so happy to have her back in my life!

2009 has been a great year for relationship building and connecting with others for me.  I can’t wait to see what happens in 2010! 

Finally, I ought to add the disclaimer that if I met you this year and I didn’t mention you here, it’s not because you aren’t important to me, it’s just because I forgot you.  (I shouldn’t have to explain my humor here.)

What new relationships have you formed this year?  Who has come into your life and made an impact?

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You Can Have the Blender, I’ll Keep the Friends

Posted on December 22, 2009. Filed under: divorce | Tags: , , , , , , |

I just hung up the phone with one of my best girlfriends.  It had been too darn long since I talked to her.  This is the downside of the digital era — lots of convenience, not much conversation.  Tonight, we talked for half an hour.  We laughed and spoke over each other most of the time.  This is typical for us.  By the time we hung up, I still wasn’t done with her — so we continued in text message for a while after that (I was, of course, cracking up the whole time).  Melanie and I have been friends for six years, which isn’t a lifetime, but considering what our friendship has endured in that time, it might as well be.

Melanie is the wife of Ex-Husband’s childhood best friend, Joe.  She came onto the scene six years into my relationship with Ex-Husband, which also means six years into my relationship with Joe.  In that first six years with Ex-Husband, I had developed some close relationships with his friends, but none of which compared to my friendship with Joe.  He was like a brother to me.  In hindsight, I feel kind of bad for 2003 Melanie.  It was probably a bit intimidating coming into such a tight-knit group of friends.  But she gelled well — with me, anyway.  In our first conversation she brought up celebrity gossip, sex, ex-boyfriends and fashion — all topics littered with the F-bomb.  My kind of girl!

Ex-Husband and I had been married for about a year when we met Melanie, and the four of us became inseperable rather quickly.  We went out together on the weekends, met up for dinner and drinks on weeknights, bar-be-qued, played board games, went bowling, went camping and hit the festivals, concerts and bars.  In short, we were without children.  When the babies came, it seemed to bring us even closer.  Baby showers, hospital visits, baby sitting, garage sales, play dates, birthday parties, block parties and even more board games (accompanied by beer, after the babies went to sleep — what else were we going to do?).  Needless to say, Melanie and Joe were our best couple friends.  The kind of friends who walk right in the door upon arrival, greet with a kiss, correct each other’s children and raid the fridge (wait!  that one’s just me).

This may shock you, but in making my decision about ending my marriage, Melanie and Joe were a factor.  The idea of losing them scared me to death.  I couldn’t imagine my life without them.  I didn’t want to imagine my life without them.  There was no question; I was going to get the blender.  Ex-Husband has been friends with Joe since grade school.  I didn’t stand a chance!  I was going to have to bow out gracefully before suffering the pain of being pushed away.

But to my surprise, Melanie and Joe were as supportive of me as they were of Ex-Husband.  Shortly after we shared the news with them, they had us both over for dinner with Braden.  It was probably the most normal night of the entire two months during which Ex and I lived together after deciding to split.

The position that Joe and Melanie were in was not an easy one.  I think it takes a special kind of person (or couple) to be able to respect that the issues between two people whom they love have nothing to do with them.  They also recognize that  Ex-Husband and I are each still the same people we used to be, in relation to them.  The kind of love, support and friendship extended to me by these two is so heartwarming that I melt every time they cross my mind.

Post-divorce, Ex-Husband, his girlfriend, Doug, Melanie, Joe and I (or any combination of the six) can be found at the same home or event laughing and enjoying each other’s company.  A couple of months ago, I had the great pleasure of bringing Doug to Joe and Melanie’s for a board game night.  The four of us had a blast!

Melanie and Joe, thank you.  I am so blessed.

(And for the record, my eyes are welling up with tears as I type.  I love you.)

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