Sunday, September 26, 2010

Engagement Reflection

Last night was our tiny, casual engagement party. Just a few friends and my parents stopped by for a few minutes. The way I like to do things. Simple.

There was an amazing toast made by my friend, that brought me to tears and almost to my knees. I looked around at my fantastic group of friends, our children who now think of Mr. W as a father and love him with all their heart, my mother who has seen me through hell, and last but certainly not least, my sweet, loving man with his arms around me. How did this happen? How did I get so damn lucky?

I began to cry with humble gratitude. I am so INCREDIBLY grateful to have these people in my life. I love them all so much.

I am so grateful to have 3 amazing children who have survived right along with me through the hell that was our lives for awhile. Not only survived, but thrived. They are so awesome.

I am so grateful for my friends, who rally around each of us when terrible things happen. Who celebrate our triumphs and support us through our defeats. Who make me laugh so much that my abs are always sore the day after I see them.

I am so grateful to have this man by my side who adores me, hunts down the very last yellow balloon at an event to give to our youngest when she is crying over letting hers go, picks up nightlights for my daughter who is lately terrified of the dark, helps my oldest with math homework, helps me EVERY NIGHT with housework and bedtimes. Who at our engagement party, let 6 little girls tackle him over and over again because it made them happy. Who already calls my three kids OUR kids. I just love him SO. DAMN. MUCH.

I'm even grateful to my ex husband. Thank you ex for screwing up and opening up the door to this amazing life waiting for me. :)

It's still such a new thing for me to feel happy every single day. But I do. Without fail.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Next Phase

I have sat down at this computer a hundred times to write this post, but my frustration at not being able to do the story justice with my words and writing has kept me from actually saying anything.

Because the story isn't just the one I'm about to tell. But an entire story about a sad, lonely suddenly single mom of three who worked her ass off to make her life better. How she dreamt of happiness and freedom and yes, even love, and never thought in her wildest dreams she'd ever be here.

A few years ago I found myself flying on a plane home from NYC after a vacation with my girlfriend. We had decided to get away for several days. My husband had moved out several months earlier and she was also going through a divorce. While I was in NYC, my husband was in our hometown, moving his things from his mothers place and into an apartment, permanently. My life, which had been in limbo, was changing. I sat on that plane thinking about the life I was flying home to. I pictured single motherhood- Loneliness. Exhaustion. Sadness. A gaping hole in our family. I decided at that point that I was not going to let that happen. This could not be my life. And I came here and began writing, seeking my own answers and path to happiness and completion.

I went to support groups. I read books on healing and divorce. I went to therapy. I learned how to take out the trash and unclog toilets myself. I learned that it feels better to be alone in a tension free home than to be with someone who makes you miserable. I learned to LOVE MYSELF. I learned that taking myself out and spoiling myself was more fun than someone else doing it. I learned to treasure my independence and freedom. I learned that taking care of myself made my children happier. I made the most valuable friendships of my life. I bonded with other single moms and began identifying with them. I was just fine being alone. But in the back of my mind I still dreamt of companionship, with someone who liked me like THIS. Independent, healthy, strong, and would never dream of trying to take any of those things from me. I never thought it was possible.

And then I met Mr. Wonderful. Right at the moment when I knew I didn't need a man anymore. When I had decided that I was fine being alone. I walked into that concert and there he was, as if he had been waiting for me.

And now, a year and a few months later, I found myself on a plane again. Mr. W had surprised me with yet another trip over Labor Day weekend. I didn't find out that it was to San Francisco until he handed me my ticket at the airport. We were flying through the sky at sunset, he was sleeping next to me, and I felt that same uncertain feeling that things were about to change. Am I really ready to move on to the next phase? Do I want to try this marriage thing on again? Certainly it will all end the same way...what a huge risk...

And then I looked over at him sleeping and all my fears melted away. Yes. I am ready. This man next to me knows what he has. He would never do anything to risk losing me. I have found The One.

We landed in San Francisco. I could tell he was "different" from the minute we landed. I caught many long, loving, contemplating glances from him at different times. And he seemed nervous.

On Saturday we went for a bike ride from the marina, across the Golden Gate Bridge, and into Sausalito. We'd stop at various points and he'd hold me and stare into my eyes, I held my breath each time. And then our bike ride would continue. I began to doubt my suspicions...maybe he's still not ready...

We had dinner at an amazing restaurant. He didn't talk much and seemed so nervous. I was convinced it wasn't happening that day (he would never propose in front of anyone at a restaurant) and just chalked it up to exhaustion. And then he requested that after dinner, we take a walk around Union Square.

Our cab pulled up, we got out and walked around a bit. He seemed to be looking for something, a spot perhaps...the perfect spot, I would find out soon. He pulled me into a corner garden, with beautiful purple flowers everywhere and overhead, and to my right I could see one of the heart statues. He pulled me close and I could feel his heart beating through his chest hard, like it might explode. And before I knew it, he was saying he loved me, and that I made him happy, and the kids made him happy, and he wanted that happiness to last forever (cue tears)...

And he was down on one knee with my hands in his hands, asking me to marry him. All I could get out was "Are you kidding?? Are you serious??? Are you kidding??" before finally saying yes. He stood up and pulled the most gorgeous, perfect ring from his pocket and put it on my ring finger.

And then a few days after we return from the trip, we went to our therapy appointment and talked a little bit about plans to get married. He told the therapist he wanted to give my children time to adjust, that he didn't want to rush them into anything or have them resenting him for moving in so soon. The therapist was taken back for a moment. She said that in the 20 years of her practice, she has only 2 or 3 times seen someone with that much care and understanding of stepchildren. That he is to be commended for the work he has done and for the way he is handling the kids.

In the car I began to cry and couldn't stop. A close friend is going through a separation and likely divorce with her husband, and seeing that happen for her and then watching the way my story is brought it all full circle for me. I remembered being alone in my bed, completely dependent on Xanax and anti-depressants and sleeping pills, crying alone that my life was so horrible, my kids would be damaged, and WHY was life so bad for me???? I put myself there again and then looked at my life today. I'm happy. Healthy. Successful. I've got the independence thing down. My kids are happy. And now, I have a man who loves me. Like, REALLY loves me. And loves my kids like they were his own. And cares about their feelings and puts them before his own (their own FATHER doesn't do that!) And I was so incredibly overwhelmed with how wonderful things have turned out.

And not because it just happened. My God. I worked so hard for this. The therapy and the support groups and the alone time and the play therapy for the kids and the reflection and self awareness. I dared to dream of this life and it is more amazing than I ever could have imagined.

The wedding will be about a year from now, a destination wedding with just immediate family. I want this time to be about he and I, just a celebration of how far we've come and what we've accomplished together. Not about details and dresses and flowers. Just the essentials of us and those we love.