The Best of Times
My mom always says that I don’t do anything half way. My relationship with Patrick was no exception. In the months that followed Patrick and I left each others’ side as little as possible. He moved in “temporarily” while he was looking for a place, and after a while we realized that we spent nearly every waking minute with each other so it didn’t make much sense for him to leave.
For Patrick, while it was a very exciting time and he felt so grateful to have found happiness in our relationship, every day dripped with guilt for his decision to get a divorce. Because we started seeing each other shortly after he made that choice, I became the target for everyone’s anger and blame. Patrick’s ex told everyone that I was the cause of their relationship falling apart. The rest of the family seemed to believe that I was simply a home wrecker, nothing but a tawdry affair and a product of Patrick going through a mid-life crisis. This was a much easier narrative for everyone to accept, I suppose. It was a corrosive thread in our relationship that never completely went away.
For me, I suddenly found myself in a very serious relationship with a real grown-up. The people I dated in my teens and twenties were just varying degrees of immature douche-baggery who cheated on me, prayed on my incessant insecurities, and couldn’t have made me feel more terrible. To be fair, I wasn’t exactly a peach to deal with while I was in those relationships. I struggled for years with an eating disorder based in self-loathing and constantly found myself in relationships, both romantic and otherwise, which devalued me even further. When I got sober, I decided that I needed to be single for a while to try and “get my sh*t together” enough to be with someone. Unfortunately, the motivation at that time was still because I wanted to be with someone, and not because I truly wanted to be an independent woman.
When I met Patrick I had not been in a relationship for over four years. All of a sudden, here I was with Patrick – the larger-than-life personality with looks to match. I had zero experience in relationships other than one filled with drama and co-dependence, and I quickly found my insecurities creeping back in. I thought he was too handsome for me, too successful for me, too sweet for me, just TOO. He, on the other hand, found himself with a woman more than two decades his junior who was smart, successful, and funny (his perception, not mine) and he thought I was TOO.
That “too-ness,” as I call it, gave us a lot of trouble. While we had both been sober for many years, we each had a long history of anger and jealousy that seemed to be incited easily when anyone of the opposite sex had the audacity to talk to either of us. Suddenly, some of the things that most attracted us to each other started causing real problems. We were both so social, probably a little bit flirty, and we would end up accusing each other of engaging inappropriately with people. It was brutal.
That is not to say it was all bad – far from it. Patrick showed me love in a way that I didn’t know possible. He looked at me like I was the most beautiful thing that he had ever seen. He spoiled me rotten. He took me on beautiful weekend getaways. He made love to me - it was never just sex. Even when it was hot and steamy, which it pretty much always was, he would look into my eyes and connect even in the most intimate times. He cared about me. He wanted what was best for me. He LOVED me.
See, Patrick had this huge heart. For years he stayed in his prior marriage because his kids were his whole life. Suddenly, he was free to feel, and to love, and to be the man he was at his core. I was the recipient of all of that pent-up passion and I was the luckiest girl I knew. Even though the circumstances were difficult, Patrick always said that if we just held on for a while, things with the outside world would sort themselves out. Family and friends would come around, he just knew it. In the meantime, we lived in our own little happy bubble. It was us against the world and I loved it.
It wasn't perfect by conventional standards, but it was my perfect.
Lisa O'Leary is a lawyer, cat mom, widow, sports enthusiast, truth seeker, soul searcher, meditator, and consciousness practitioner who is actively engaged in quieting down the mind to allow the song to play.