The Father was not the first, last, or only man I matched with who had kids. But when I think of him, my thoughts wander to his son and daughter (especially her), even though I never met them.
It’d be easy for me to focus on how things ended (poorly), but for a moment I want to remember our first date. We had an unremarkable meal that was background noise to the miraculous connection that occurred between us. There was this moment when I shared something about my divorce and he gently took hold of my hand and looked me in the eyes and told me that I was doing so great, that it was going to get better, that I was going to be ok. It sounds corny now, but it was real and unexpected and kind of exactly what I needed. And then we kissed outside the nearby courthouse before he turned and strode away without fanfare or goodbye (this was his style, abrupt, leave-them-wanting-more).
In the words of my best friend (a therapist), I blew through some yellow lights in the process of letting my heart get involved. I was still learning. The way I looked at men in those early months was all about how they could fit into my life, with my children and my chaos. The Father already knew about chaos. He wasn’t afraid. What I didn’t see in my quest to make the square peg fit the round hole were all the signs pointing to his unwillingness to commit. Between his custody schedule and traveling for work, we saw each other infrequently.
It all came to a head one night when I drove to his place for a visit. We had both fallen asleep and I’d set an alarm to be sure to leave by 1am (he had a no sleepovers policy even when the kids weren’t with him), but he woke up before my alarm and unceremoniously booted me from his house. It stung. I felt used and rejected. I was trying to respect his boundaries, and he chose to treat me as an interloper.
Flash forward six weeks. We’ve been in touch but haven’t seen each other again, and he’s asking me to come over. I let him know that I’m still hurt about what happened (and apologized for not letting him know sooner). When I didn’t receive a reply for over 12 hours, I did something I’m embarrassed to admit: I sent a best wishes bitmoji. I broke up with him…via text…but not even with words. With an avatar of myself. He responded immediately, claimed he had been thinking of how to respond to my text, but that he wouldn’t bother now.
Here’s what I took away from my relationship with The Father:
- Telling someone when they’ve hurt me has always been hard. Telling him that he hurt me was a triumph.
- Allowing others time to process what I send their way is not my forte, and my impatience-fueled choice to hit the “abort” button dulled the impact of my triumph.
- Communicating difficult emotions is critical; I can’t expect men to read my mind.
- Yet again, yellow lights (and their friends, red flags) need to be acknowledged and considered before trying to make things work that were never meant to work.