Life After Divorce

Wow.  I am blown away that another year has come and gone.  2009 kicked my ass, both in a good way, and a less-than-good way.  Not bad, per se, but if you have been reading, you know that it hasn’t been a walk in the park by any means.  I am glad to see 2009 go, and am thrilled that I actually managed, perhaps for the first time ever, to achieve my New Year’s Resolution… divorce.  Sure, it took me 11 months to get it done.  Eleven long, grueling months, but it is done, nonetheless.

One year ago today, I was abducted from my miserable existence.  Last New Year’s Eve, my best friend, Lori, agreed to attend my family’s annual NYE party with me, since, as usual, my husband refused to go.  Not because he wanted to do something else, or even because he didn’t like going out on New Year’s, but because he thought I was going to leave him and didn’t want to get involved in a family function that would hurt him.  It was the same reason he gave for skipping Thanksgiving, and also Christmas.  Not really why he skipped those on other years, but whatever.  So, I dragged my friend out into the cold, dressed in our best approximation of formal wear, and we had ourselves a blast.  I think we rolled into the house about 6 am, and I put her ass to bed on the couch.  When I woke up around noon, Lori and I started discussing what we would do to enjoy the first day of the new year.  You see, New Year’s Day is a football day, which means that the husband would be sitting on the couch for hours watching endless games, highlights, and commentaries; leaving me virtually ignored.  So, I didn’t even think to include him in our plans.  This is, after all, what happened for the previous 10 years.  So, when he called me (from the bedroom, into the living room), he was less than happy that I wouldn’t be sitting there bored to death watching him watch football.  He started throwing around some of my favorite terms of endearment, such as ice queen, I rolled my eyes and hung up on him.  Then, when I went to get dressed to start the day, he started in again telling me how I was the problem.  Long story short (ok, not short… get used to it) Lori overheard everything he said to me, and as we made our escape she said, “Oh NO!  I can’t believe the way he was talking to you!!  I thought he was nice, but he is a douche!  This is an INTERVENTION!!!  YOU ARE NOT GOING BACK!  I AM KIDNAPPING YOU!”  At this point, I was pretty fried, I will admit.  She got on the phone with another friend and they plotted getting me out of the house.  I stayed pretty quiet, as most people hit with an intervention do, until the jerk started calling obsessively.  I finally answered the phone and he informed me that a process-server had just been to our door, and that I was being sued.  I lost it.  I finally came completely unglued.  The reason for the suit was due to a bad debt obtained during the three-year period when he just decided that he didn’t like his job, and wasn’t going to go at all.  He makes the decision, and I get burned with the consequences.  As I was attempting to get back in my car, the door wouldn’t open.  I finally managed to get it open, and the flood gates opened.  I cried all the way back to Lori’s house.  I laid on her couch and cried for hours.  I was exhausted…. mentally and emotionally drained… and I just couldn’t do it anymore.

Lori told me that she and her five-year old daughter discussed it, and they invited me to move in to their apartment.  I will admit that I was resistent. I am stubborn… I will admit it freely.  I didn’t WANT to leave my place.  It was MY place, and if anyone should be leaving, it ought to be him!  But… I finally had to admit that the likelihood of that happening was slim-to-none… I had to make the choice.  Go back, be stubborn, and be miserable… OR take the leap and try to do it a different way.  It took me less than three days to decide I was never going back.  My friends, while happy I had done something, never really believed that I would stay gone.  But something my friend Jeff said to me really hit home.  He said, “You know… you can keep complaining about the situation and never doing anything – and eventually… we are going to get tired of hearing about it.”  I decided he was right, and I didn’t want to be “that girl.”  I am a smart, independent woman MORE than capable of supporting herself.  Hell, I supported myself AND him for YEARS.  It HAD to be easier to do it on my own.

Going back to get my stuff, since we left with nothing, was tough.  The first time, I told him that I was just going to spend the night with Lori because she was having a rough time.  Chickenshit, I know.  But, I didn’t want to deal with a scene.  We went over, and she put on her best depressed face, drawn hoodie and all, and I packed as much into two tote bags as I possibly could.  Poor little Em… she knew it was a secret that she couldn’t tell him… he tried to talk to him and she almost flipped out.  She comes running back into my room and says, “He’s trying to talk to me but I have a SECRET!!!”  Needless to say, we got the hell out of dodge as quick as we could manage.  We also bribed Em with ice cream, so you know, she was VERY motivated not to spill the beans.

The next day, Lori called me at work to let me know that Em was thrilled that I was moving in, and she had begun packing her toys up in Ziploc baggies so that I could move into her room.  The sheer thought and loving compassion from a then-four-year old girl brought me to tears.  I began going back home when I knew he would be working to get more stuff out.  It was hard, for sure.

I am so thankful to my many friends and family members who invited me out on a regular basis to take my mind off things, and to let loose and have a little fun for a change.  First was the “worst party on Earth.”  Yeah… it really sucked LOL.  Next was my cousin’s bachelorette party, which was a lot of fun and involved a party bus and copious amounts of alcohol.  I am not much of a drinker, but it was still a total blast.  I don’t remember a lot of the first few weeks… they really passed in a blur.  I slept in Em’s bed, and will admit that I may have cuddled up with a giant stuffed dog named Razaroo, and I might not admit to crawling into a giant purple castle-shaped tent.  Maybe.  But I kept telling myself… “I’m OK!!!”

February brought along my annual out-of-town scrapbooking retreat with some of my girlfriends.  It was a lot of fun, and I got a lot of work done.  It was also the first time that I can say I don’t think we will be invited back, but those people suck anyway lol.  I also convinced the girls that we should swing by The Salt Lick (outside of Austin) on our way home.  Rogna kindly pointed out that a 70 mile trip was NOT on our way home, but I begged to differ – Especially where the best BBQ on Earth is concerned.  They relented, and after we stuffed ourselves silly, eventually agreed.  Mmmmm… all you can eat BBQ.

The next weekend was the wedding reception for my cousin and her awesome new hubby.  They got married in Mexico, but then had a reception back at home so that we could all celebrate with them in style.  Enter the soon to be ex.  Unfortunately, our invitation arrived while we were still together, so he wanted to go.  I told him I didn’t care if he went (it is a free country, after all), to which he said, “but I want to go as your husband!”  [yawn]  He did end up going, but I was much too concerned with catching up with my favorite cousins to spend any time around him, much to his chagrin.  After this (and before, too), I started to receive a barrage of texts, voicemails, and calls from him asking me to come home and reminding me that our lease was set to expire at the end of the month, and he didn’t have any place to go.

About a week later, I started feeling sick.  I had been on meds for anxiety for about a month, but they didn’t seem to be helping.  As you know from my Panic at the Disco! blog, I do not do well with anxiety.  After three days straight of throwing up, my body had enough.  Enter the Three Stooges of ambulatory care.  These bozos tramped through my room in muddy boots, got lost on the way to the hospital, and couldn’t get a vital sign right to say their (or more accurately MY) life.  I was admitted into the hospital for 5 days.  Many gory and horrible things occurred (read the old blog), and I was released on Friday night, still anxious and vomiting.  After a miserable night where I very nearly lost the will to live, literally, I was taken to a different (aka BETTER) hospital, where they performed emergency surgery to remove my lap band.  I felt SO much better immediately after surgery that I probably could have skipped all the way home, IV and flappy gown blowing in the wind.

I recovered at my mom’s house for a few weeks… because, seriously?  Who takes better care of you when you are sick than your mom?  No one… that’s who.  And can you believe it?  That dillhole shows up at my mom’s house while I am doped up on pain meds with that stupid apartment lease for me to sign.  Douche nozzle.  I am referring to myself, of course, because I signed the stupid thing.  Idiot.  Guilt trips will take you far, but you will discover they do not accumulate the frequent flier miles associated with that much travel.  He kindly took off as soon as my now-roommate showed up, probably afraid that she would take his ass down with a Xena Warrior Princess-like jab to the throat, or perhaps a swift kick to the [fake] knees.

March & April had me feeling better than I had in a long time.  We were eating better (South Beach Diet), working hard, and getting things into a groove.  I even bought myself a new bed.  I didn’t really mean to… really… I was just looking.  But when the guy showed me the floor model… a $1400 bed marked down to $500… that felt like heaven… I was sold.  I always wanted a new bed.  I was so sick of hand-me-down beds.  I bought that sucker and had it set up to be delivered to the Chateau (what I have lovingly been calling our apartment).  Talk about Red Carpet service!  If you are thinking of buying a bed from the Mattress Firm… do it.  Pay the $60 for delivery.  They literally showed up with a red carpet.  And booties to cover their shoes so as not to make the same error as the Stooges.  And they set up the frame and mattresses for me.  And the bed was a good 3 feet taller in my room than it was in the store.  I had to take a flying leap to get into the thing!  I call it my Princess and the Pea bed (aka The Princess Bed), and it is heavenly.  To this day, people cannot lay on this bed without wanting to snuggle down and fall right to sleep.  [sigh]  I am writing this from my bed now lol.  But a few weeks later, once my bank statement came in to his apartment, he called and gave me the riot act over buying a new bed and how that told him I wasn’t coming back.  It couldn’t have been the 5,000 times I TOLD HIM I wasn’t coming back… it was the bed.  The next day I had my mail forwarded to a new PO Box.

I also had to lock down my Facebook account, for crying out loud.  At some point, I started getting “Friend Requests” from him.  I kindly ignored them.  After a week or so, he asked me if I was ever going to add him as a friend, to which I said, “hell no.”  After that realization, he decided to have other people spy on my FB status updates to extract information, which he would later call or text me about, generally at 3:00 am.  I locked that sucker down tighter than a drum.  To my knowledge, there haven’t been any other breaches.

While my new found freedom was nice, the paying half the rent at two apartments really sucked.  I was so pissed about that damn lease, but there really wasn’t anything I could do about it.  He wasn’t going to move, and I couldn’t get my name off the lease without him signing off on it and qualifying for the lease on his own (which was never going to happen).  He also started hounding me about doing something with our dog (namely, he didn’t want to take care of him anymore).  Around the middle of June, the anxiety started creeping back in.  I ran directly back to the doctor for help, and he doubled my Lexapro prescription.  I am fully convinced that this threw me over the edge into full-blown panic attacks 5-6 times a day.  Another trip to the ER, countless doctor’s visits, and every test known to man (btw my gall bladder is operating at 94%, thank you very much), and I come out with a diagnosis of “Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome and a prescription for antidepressants.  Basically, the long and short of it is that my nerves in my stomach are highly sensitive and easily irritated.  Add that together with an acid stomach and raging anxiety issues… Boom.  Misery.  Since that day, I have taken my meds (meant to dull the nerves in the tummy) and haven’t had another episode.

During this time, I also took a little trip to a Psychiatrist, because holding two Psychology degrees myself, I find it important to keep a tight watch on my mental well-being, and let’s face it… my marriage did little to help my self-esteem and massively exacerbated a low-lying depression that I had probably been dealing with for years.  After a few talks with whats-her-name (seriously… I don’t have a clue what her name is), I felt better about my situation and my choice to move on with my life.  Oh, and in July I got an early Christmas present.  I found out that our lease expired in AUGUST, not September, like I originally thought.  Weeeee!  Oh Happy Day!  I immediately began packing, got a storage unit, and enlisted my girls to help me pack.  I also begged some loving family members to help me with the actual moving.

And the husband… he was a prince.  Of frogs.  He wanted everything.  He “needed” it.  Blah, blah, blah.  A friend of mine told me that typically in a divorce, one person gets the stuff and the other one is happy.  Guess which one I am??  I gave it all up.  I didn’t care.  I was so tired and ready to move on, and sick of arguing about every little thing that I walked away from some very nice things.  Oh well.  Come to find out the jerkwad sold it all.  Butthead.  I really miss my TV.  But, my little 13″ color TV with the built-in VCR my parents gave me on my 18th birthday has been getting me by.

September rolled around and I was getting really edgy about the divorce.  I really couldn’t afford a lawyer, and I just didn’t know what the hell I was doing.  All of the things you can Google wanted you to buy this fool-proof kit bullshit.  I don’t really go in for things like that (though I am strangely compelled to buy things as seen on tv), so I was skeptical to say the least.  I asked for advice from a friend who is a lawyer, but it didn’t really lead me where I needed to go.  And then, one day, I had an epiphany. You file for divorce with the District Clerk’s Office.  I used to WORK for the District Clerk’s Office.  I had 500 friends working in the District Clerk’s Office.  I just bet one of them could help me!  So, I called one of my favorite people and she says to me, “Oh, honey!  That’s easy!!!  This is what you do…”

One week later, I had officially filed for divorce.  My husband was kind enough to eventually realize that we didn’t have anything to fight over, so he signed the waiver to contest.  All we had to do was wait 61 days.

And then he remembered the camera.  For Christmas 2008, he went out and bought a bunch of expensive stuff that I told him not to buy as a “present” for me… including a Blu-Ray player (long since hidden by him), a ridiculously large, pink Coach purse, and a really nice HD camcorder.  Since he knew he couldn’t get anything for the purse, I guess he decided that was the “gift”, and promptly started demanding that I return the camera to him.  Suck it, asshole!  You got EVERYTHING!!  This was my inital thought.  After 2 weeks of constant harassment, threats, and basic stalking, I decided that the old stubborn me was never getting anywhere, so I gave the camera up.  Yes, it was a nice camera.  No, I don’t for one second believe he was going to “sell it to pay off the debt” like he claimed.  But, it was one less thing for him to hold over my head.  One less reason for him to ever contact me again (not that it has stopped him).  So, I gave it up.  I wish I would have had it to record my niece’s awesome reaction to the tricycle I bought her for Christmas, but whatever.  The picture of her riding it in a princess costume will live with me forever.

By mid-November, I was so ready for everything to be over.  I was counting down the days on my calendar.  As I got close, I called the clerk’s office again to make sure I could go in on the day I wanted to… good thing I checked.  They did not hold the uncontested docket on that day.  So, I went the next day instead.  I was very nervous… especially since I seemed to be the only schmuck there without an attorney.  But, I just followed behind one of the attorneys and eventually landed myself on the 9 am docket.  After being called in front of the judge, sworn in, and reading my testimony (pre-printed, courtesy of the courts, thank you very much), I was waltzing out the door mentally singing Freebird.  A celebratory jewelry party with friends later, and I was waltzing through the door of the Chateau a single lady.  I thank all of my friends, family, blog readers, and random other people for all of their support and encouragement.

The rest of the year flew by in a blur.  Thanksgiving came, and with it a visit from my brother.  I was thrilled to see him, since he lives in New York and doesn’t get down that often.  I had my first date in over eleven years, and it was… well… a disaster.  I mean the date itself was fine, but the guy ended up being a tool after the fact.  In fact, a week later he called and begged me to “take him back.”  Umm… dude… it was one date.  Weirdo.  I had another first date… and then a second… and a third (that’s three dates with the same guy), and so far so good.  He is a nice guy, and it is fun to hang out with someone and just be yourself.  No pretenses… no self-consciousness.  Good times.

And then it happened.

And I laughed so hard I almost wet myself.

And I believe I wrote a Facebook status that went like this:  “Dear Baby Jesus in the Hay… THANK YOU for the gift of laughter… and for the fact that the last person to view my online dating profile happens to be my ex-husband.”  That’s right, folks.  On a site that doesn’t ask or list you name or even your email address… the last person to view me was him.  And of course, he started to send me the most horrible, vile, and mean texts you have ever read.  And trust me, one day you WILL read them.  As will the courts, if he doesn’t leave me alone.  So, I blocked him.  Good times… Good times.

So, another year has come and gone, and with it I am happier, healthier, and a lot wiser.  I have high expectations for 2010, and I am thrilled that I get to continue my journey with great friends, a terrific family, and myself.  Because that is truly what I have gained this year.  I have the self I always wanted to be.  I will always have goals and will always move forward, but life after divorce is about to get a whole lot more interesting!

Happy New Year to you all!  Please continue reading, and leaving me those comments.



(PS – Sorry for the 3,600+ word post.  It was a hell of a year!  If you stuck with it to the end… kudos to you!  And to me!  LOL)


{December 8, 2009}   Insanity

So, I heard this one time that the definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.  That is, apparently, what I am likely to do.  Every. Stinkin’. Time.  I run to what I know… what I always did… regardless of how it makes me feel.

Let me give you a little tip.  It always feels like ass.  Every. Stinkin’. Time.

My pledge to myself is to step out of my comfort uncomfort zone and do it differently.  My goal is to do it the RIGHT way, no matter how long it takes.  Because doing it WRONG over and over is just a waste of time.  I am tired of wasting time.  Doing it the right way MAY feel harder, but it will be the best means to the best end.  Of this, I am convinced.

I would like to thank my roommate for talking me out of the first story window this evening.  She convinced me that all I would do is sprain my ankle, and then I would be unhappy with a limp.  And we all know that’s not worth it.

{December 7, 2009}   Facelift for the Blog

Well, it has been 17 days since the divorce was finalized.  It has been extremely liberating.  I have spent a lot of time with friends and family.  On the downside… still getting texts from the ex.  That should be a whole different blog.  Ugh.  I am planning to change my number this week.  Pfft.

So… a friend of mine suggested online dating.  I was very skeptical.  I dated mostly from online when I was young, and you know how that ended.  But, I thought I would just take a look around and see what was out there.  I enrolled on two free sites, just to check it out.  One site… lots of interest.  The other site is much slower.

So… yesterday I went on my first “first date” in over 11 years.  Talk about stressful!  The guy was sweet, and we just sat around watching college football and talking.  It was nice to talk to someone and to be around a guy again who was actually interested in me.  I don’t know if it will go anywhere, but it brought on some hope that I can probably do this again.

So – Weigh in… what do you think of the new look?  I debated starting a whole new blog, but was told that it would be better to keep this one going.  I just want to talk through life going forward, rather than focusing so much on the past.  And to my ex husband, who is apparently still reading this site to torture himself, please move on.  This blog was never about you.  It was about me, and what I have dealt with for the last 11 years.  I have moved on, and wish you would too.  Good luck to you.

Steve and I worked on our relationship for several months.  After the incident, I was terribly insecure and became a little obsessive and neutotic (you would be too, admit it).  I was always worried about where he was or what (who) he was doing.  I hate being clingy, but there I was… I was THAT GIRL.  I hate that girl.

So, things are going along just fine for a while.  We would enjoy each other’s company, and I practically moved into the apartment with Steve and his roommate, Billy.  Billy was gay and a ton of fun.  I remember the day when Steve gave me a key to the apartment.  It was really sweet.

Then, one night, we are talking and he tells me that he thinks we might want to go out with other people.  He says to me, “I love you, but I don’t know if I am IN LOVE with you.”  I seriously could have stabbed him in the eye with a spork for that.  I told him, “Look… we have both been around the block.  I do not need to date someone else in order to know that I love you.  If you don’t know that yet, dating someone else will not help, and I refuse to stick around for that.  You are either with me, or we break up.”  Of course, he didn’t like that.  What is it with guys wanting to have their cake and eat it too?  I would understand if we were each others’ first, or if we had been high school sweethearts or something.  But, believe me when I say, that was not the case.  I am not the kind of girl who is going to sit at home while my boyfriend is out on a date with someone else.

It is interesting looking back just how many red flags there were to the eventual demise of our relationship.  In fact, those red flags are now on fire in the dark – signaling me to get out.  But I didn’t.  I stayed.  After learning that I was not going to allow him to date other people AND still be with me, he decided that being with me was good enough. 

We moved in together after one year of dating.  That second year was really hard.  We fought about everything.  Money, mostly.  Oh cursed money, how I hate you.  We had an agreement when we moved in together that we would have an unlisted number in my name.  We had a problem in the first year where girls he had dated would call, and he would never tell them he was dating someone.  The unlisted number in my name was a test of his loyalty.  I would know if any of them (or new ones) called, it would be because he gave them the number.  This was 1999, and before people were carrying cell phones all the time.  This was during the big pager rage.  During that second year, there were no calls from girls, other than those on the “approved” list (friends, family, co-workers, etc – basically no one he had ever slept with).  So, I was lulled into a false sense of security…

{September 8, 2008}   The One-Armed Bandit

It was now the first week in October, and I still hadn’t heard from Steve.  Fuck it, I said.  I put myself back on the market.  After a few days, I met a guy online, Darryl, and started talking to him.  He asked me if I was seeing anyone and I told him that I had been seeing a guy, but that I hadn’t heard from him in weeks and didn’t expect to ever hear from him again.  I asked him if he was single.  He told me he was 100% single and unattached.  Great!  We made a plan to meet up at my work (by this time I was working a second job and going to school, so I didn’t have a ton of time) to see if we wanted to go out sometime. 

When he showed up, he had one arm in a sling.  I asked what happened, and he told me that it was an injury as a result of a motorcycle accident.  We made a date to hang out at his house after work.  I got there and it was pretty late.  We hung out in the living room and one thing led to another (I was young… give me a break).  I left after that.  I talked to him a few more times, but nothing else ever happened. 

A few days later…. amazingly… Steve called.  He apologized for being an ass and wanted to know if I wanted to hang out.  I was thrilled.  No guy had EVER called back once we stopped talking.  Let’s say I probably wasn’t in the best place, self-esteem wise, so I jumped at the chance.  I forgot all about Darryl… until…

One day, probably mid-November I walked into Steve’s apartment and saw some pictures sitting on his counter from Halloween at his aunt’s house.  I was flipping to the pictures and came to one…

“Hey, that’s Darryl!” I said.  Have you ever had one of those moments where as soon as the words escape your lips, you are grasping at them with all your might – hoping and praying that you can swallow them before anyone else hears them??  Yeah.  That was me.  Steve looked at me and said, “How do you know Darryl?”  I mumbled something, but I don’t remember what.  He told me that Darryl had been dating (and living with – thank you very much) Steve’s good friend, Melissa, for about 3 years.  Ugh.  Knife right to the gut.  Asshole liar!  I had been totally upfront and honest with him about my situation.  Jerk.  Then he says to me, “You know, I don’t trust the guy.  I wonder if he cheats on Melissa?”  As if an imaginary hand was working the puppet strings above my head I slowly nodded “Yes.”  I was horrified at my own inability to even stay silent and say nothing.

I think it took Steve a minute to put two and two together and realize that I had slept with Darryl.  I explained the situation – That I never thought I would hear from Steve again after 4-6 weeks of little to no communication – That I was honest about my situation – That this guy was a dreadful liar in a committed relationship.  It wasn’t fun.  Steve was really understanding for my part.  He knew he had behaved badly and understood why I would have gone out with someone else.  He was furious on behalf of his friend and what a scumbag she was hooked up with.  He kept pondering whether he should tell her or not.  My feeling was HELL NO.

About a week later, I got a call from Steve during the day telling me that he had called Melissa and told her.  Dammit.  Shockingly, she didn’t believe me and thought I was lying.  Right… then how do I know that the one-armed bandit can pop off a bra faster that I can with TWO fully functioning hands?  From this point on, life around his friends was misery.  To this day, these idiots are still together.  He knows the truth.  She thinks I am a crazy liar (DENIAL!) and now they are married with a kid.  Talk about life in the shit lane… Ugh.

A very important conversation was had this day, which had never been had before.

     Steve:  From this point on… 100% monogamy… ok?

     Me:  Ok, that sounds like a plan to me

And it did sound like a very good plan.

{September 5, 2008}   In the beginning…

When I was 21 years old, I had a rough time.  The previous year, the love of my life disappeared… exiting our relationship through the closet door.  I guess I knew all along that he was gay, but that doesn’t really make things any easier.  I was planning my whole life around that relationship and when it ended, I was lost.  Shortly after that, my cat was hit by a car.  You could say that up to that point, it was the worst time in my life.  I began a string of unsuccessful, non-relationships with men who couldn’t have cared less about me, and rarely called the next day.  I wasn’t doing well in school, even though I am very bright and could have done so much more.  I just didn’t care.

August 1998 – I was playing around on AOL in chat rooms and one day an IM popped open in front of me.  I started talking to the guy, but didn’t really pay a lot of attention, since I had several other people chatting with me at the same time.  A few days later, he popped up again.  This time, I was less distracted.  I talked to him online for a while until he finally told me that he was no good at typing, and wanted to know if we could talk on the phone.  So, we did.  I liked his voice right away.  It was a deep, smooth voice.  Friendly, and sexy all at once.  I was instantly interested.  We talked more and discovered that we actually had the same birthday.  He is literally 13 minutes older than I am.  Weird, right??  We ended up talking on the phone for 6 straight hours that first day.  Around 3 am, he begged to come pick me up so we could meet.  I resisted.  I told him if he still wanted to meet me, he could come by my work the next day (at the mall – safety, you know).  He protested, but finally agreed that was best, as he had to leave for work in 3 hours.  Of course, we talked on the phone right up until that time.

The next day, I went into work… apprehensive.  What if he didn’t like me?  What if I didn’t like him??  [gasp] What if we did???  My previous experience with relationships was a gay fiance, a 3-month relationship with a guy who wouldn’t ever call me his girlfriend, and a string of one-night stands and bad first dates.  I was scared.  Then I saw him walk by.  I knew it had to be him.  He walked past my store and into the large department store next door.  Within minutes, he was back.  We met.  I thought he was cute… and very tall.  I love big guys, and he fit that bill.  He asked me if I wanted to come over to his apartment after work.  Sure, I said.  My 62 year old co-worker, Sandy, was flipping out in an old lady kind of way.  Whatever.

So, after work… I went to his apartment.  I was very nervous, but excited.  We sat on the couch watching TV.  After about 30 minutes, the phone rang.  It was Steve’s friend, Mandy.  She wanted to invite him out to hang out with her and her boyfriend, Tim (who was Steve’s best friend since they were kids).  He said, “No, thanks… I am hanging out with my new girlfriend.”  Girlfriend.  It is amazing what a label will do for you.  I was elated.  I spent the night that night, and every night for the next two weeks.  I was thrilled.

et cetera