My first date was with a guy from Tinder.
Don’t read that twice.
I did not expect that one date would turn into a dozen dates. I did not expect that he would make me laugh so hard my stomach hurt or that I wouldn’t even eat most of my meals we shared because we would be talking so much. I did not expect that when we would go places he would grab my hand, kiss my forehead, or pull me into him while waiting in line. I didn’t expect that I would love nothing more than walking into the door and seeing his face and wanting to literally wrap up in his arms. I didn’t expect how easy it would be to not only be emotionally but physically drawn to this man.
My therapist warned he was a rebound. Rebounds never work. I nodded, secretly thinking this could maybe be different. I justified that my husband was actually the rebound as he was my relationship right after my high school boyfriend. My therapist glared at me.
“Jessica, he is a rebound.”
One session he asked me very frankly what he was like.
“He feels like one gigantic sigh. I walk into his presence and I immediately relax. I am not a mom, I am not a manager, I am not an ex-wife. I can just be a woman and I can say and do as comes naturally, and I just…exhale.”
He was, and is, my first relationship post-marriage fail and he was…and still is…a great, big, sigh.
I love being a mother. I love my job. I adore my friends. I have a wonderfully supportive family. But I had no idea what I was getting into, what my actual intensions were for the long-term. I just knew what I no longer wanted and that was to feel like I was invisible and unimportant.
I liked having someone ask me about my day, my job, my children, how I slept. I liked having someone really look at me as they talked. Hell, I even liked when he pointed out stupid shit I did, like when I would walk to another room of his apartment and begin talking, totally facing the opposite direction of where he was located and expect him to hear me. The things he noticed made me laugh.
He loved how my eyes squinted when I smiled.
He loved my smile.
The way he caught my attention was by sending me a message that said something to the effect of “How many children do you have or do you want to show me your pile of mismatched socks and I’ll guess?”
A man with a child and a man who also had a pile of socks that never matched. You could have even called it foreplay.
An odd revelation I quickly had upon seeing him and emotionally finding myself positively smitten was that I had no idea how to have a relationship with a man and not be his wife.
I didn’t know how to not be someone’s wife.
It scared me. I didn’t know what dating was. I didn’t know what sex with a new person was. I didn’t know what you were supposed to say, or not say, how often to call, or text or see each other. So, I was myself.
And I felt alive.
I loved the way he listened to what I said and I loved that when he asked me questions he seemed to actually care how I replied. I loved the way he touched me, I loved the way he hugged me, I loved that he was well read, cared about current events, and history. Call him a humanitarian or a socialist, a man with a dry and crazy sense of humor, but just be sure to call him mine.
I loved the way he kissed me even though he kissed me differently than I’d been accustomed for twelve years.
Do you know what your first kiss is like after you thought you already had your last first kiss of your life a dozen years prior? Totally terrifying. Scarier than sex. It was a moment of no going back. My life had changed. It wasn’t ever going to be what I thought it would be when I walked down the aisle. The act both saddened me and freed me.
I was nothing but myself any time I was with him or spoke to him.
Within 90 days of saying goodbye to what I thought my life would be, I regained my life. I lost, and regained my home, traveling to stay between a half a dozen places with two children and two rabbits, living out of suitcases and laundry baskets for almost two months. My boss resigned. I helped host the largest, most important, global, annual event for my company. I assumed 100% financial accountability for every aspect of my life. I didn’t jump out any windows, run over anyone in a parking lot, stomp my feet and ugly cry in too many public forums, completely change my appearance or buy a one-way ticket to a mental institution. I had been through a tornado of hell and still managed to find my way in a relationship with a man who I found myself trusting, opening up to, and falling for.
I will admit it. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t like it. It feels uncomfortable for me. I like companionship. I like love. The house feels empty. So does my bed. This is what is supposed to happen to you after the last chapter ends.
This is the pain, the thrill, the punch in the gut after the curtain to one life closes and another opens.
I am just beginning a relentless journey toward simple, honest, uncompromising happiness.
Either hop in for the ride or get out. Because I deserve so much more than where I came from.
-Jessica: Awesome Single Mama