When I met my estranged husband 11 years ago, I was at a peak in my life. Finally settled into a routine of being a single mom with three children, life was flowing easily day by day. My time was busied with my children and bouncing between two jobs, one full-time accounting job and waitressing on weekends. Two weekends a month, my children would be at their dads, 2/3 of the summer and we traded holidays. My bills were paid, I had money in the bank to take random road trips and treat myself if I felt the need and my kids were healthy and happy. My love life, however, was a disaster. I had been in single mode for 4 years, one and a half of those years I had been in a committed, serious relationship that failed. That makes 2 and 1/2 years of dating and I do mean dating. No person I met lasted longer than 6 weeks, if we even made it past the first few dates. I was in my mid to late 20’s, the night clubs were full of men my age, but I wasn’t interested in picking up men in clubs, so most of the gentlemen I met during that time period were on dating web sites or through singles ads. By the time 2001 came, just before I met my husband, I was finished with men, dating, relationships in general. It was difficult to find a man willing to accept a woman who worked two jobs and was raising three children on her own. The men I did find that could see past those things wanted to move way to quickly for me tastes and usually disappeared within a few weeks.
I was working at my waitressing job and my two girlfriends wanted to hit the local clubs that Saturday evening. They were married and I was single but I was in no mood to battle the nightlife that weekend. Against my wishes the drug me out on the town but I agreed to be their DD, for whatever reason, I just did not want to drink or be around drunks. We hit the local Tavern and as I expected it was the same old crowd. We played some pool and they had drinks when I noticed a group of three men shooting darts that I had never seen before. One of them caught my eye and I was really disappointed when they left a few minutes later. My friends had my drive them to one of the local dance clubs that had just opened and they hit the dance floor, full of beer and wine, while I stood with my water to the side. I am gazing around the room looking for anything of interest when I suddenly see the guy from the Tavern standing with his friends across the room. I am staring their way when his friend senses someone looking and locks eyes with me. Embarassed I adverted my gaze to another part of the room and was a little put off when I looked that way again to see his friend still staring my way. After a few minutes the friend makes his way across the room and in not a very suave manner asks me why I am not dancing. I told him I was waiting for my girlfriends to come off the floor and he asked me to dance, I declined, again telling him I was with my girls. Getting the hint he walks away. He was totally not my type, he was blonde, balding, had blue eyes and dressed really preppy. The men I were attracted too looked like Greek Gods, brown hair, brown eyes, Goatees and if they had tatoos, that was even better. There was just something about a “Bad boy” that did me in and this guy was not even close. His friend suited my tastes just perfectly, so I made my way across the bar to where he was located and began a small conversation. I feel distracted by something that I cannot put my finger on and I glance around the bar, only to find blonde man staring at me talking to his friend and laughing hysterically. The blonde then walks over to one of my girlfriends and leds her to the dance floor. Not to be outwitted, once they return from dancing, I approach Mr. Blonde and ask him how many women he had to ask before he found someone willing to dance with him, he gives me a inquisitive stare and walks back to his group. I then go over to my girlfriend and begin bitching about the type of men in the town we live in, what type of man asks me to dance and when I tell him no then asks my girlfriend? Do men not realize that women know what you are after when you do things like that? My girlfriend then tells me, during their dance, all the blonde did was ask about me. He wanted to know if I were single, where I was from, what I liked, etc. I was shocked but intrigued all at once. You see, even today in 2012, men do not realize the way to a womans heart is as simple as making her feel like she is the only woman in the world. I had not experienced that feeling in my dating experiences until that moment. I looked across the bar at blonde man, and he was again looking directly at me. I made my way over and aplogized for being a butt. He told me the only way I could make it up to him was to save the last dance for him. I promised I would and true to my word, a little later, we danced the last dance together. He did nothing but ask about me. He never talked about himself, he wanted to know everything he could find out in the short 4 minutes we were on the dance floor. The song ended, my girls had already left the bar to wait outside, and he and I made our way to the door. As usual, a 2 a.m. bar fight was breaking out just inside the front door and Mr. Blonde grabbed my hand, wrapped his arm around me tight and led me protectively through the fight and out the door. Once outside my friends were no where in sight and he offered to walk with me around the parking lot to find them. We located them sitting on the hood of my car, Blonde guy held me hand, walked me to my car, opened the door for me and asked for my number. I told him I was not comfortable giving him my number but would take his if he wanted me to have it. We found him a pen and paper, he wrote his name “Chris” and his number and a small note that read “I’ll be waiting for your call at 6 p.m. tommorow night”, he pecked me on the check, shut my door and watched my friends and I drive off with this beautiful smile on his face.
The next day, I was baffeled at what to do. I was not attracted to him, in my 28 years I had never found a blonde attractive. His genuineness and his protective nature had caught my attention though and with curiousity killing me, I phoned his number at 5:30 p.m. He answered the phone “Hello Christie, I’ve been waiting all day to talk to you!” (this was before caller ID existed) I was shocked, he was literally sitting by his phone, waiting, and I was even 30 minutes early with my call. We talked for almost 2 hours, getting to know one another, exchanging information and laughs. Looking back now, even in that first conversation, there was signals that should have sent off my radar. Our phone call was on a Sunday and he asked me for a date that week, my only night off was Tuesday night. He informed me that Tuesday was his 27th birthday and he spent every birthday having dinner with his Mom. Red lights should have begun flashing and war sirens should have sounded but instead, I found it sweet he was close to his mother and offered to switch my night off to Wednesday. He agreed and as the conversation dwindled, he began to ask about me talking to his friend after rejecting his request to dance. I jokingly, told him that his friend was more my type appearance wise, but appearances can be deceiving. The other end of the phone became quiet, and the conversation was ended with finalizing plans for Wednesday.
First date night arrived, I was nervous, not excited, and could put my finger on why, but adorned myself in the cutest outfit in my closet and opened the door with a big smile when he arrived. He was taking me to dinner at a seafood restaurant on the beach and once again we shared casual conversation on the ride over. It was a few miles before the restaurant and I decided to go ahead and take the plunge and inform him of my chlidren. (he asked if I had kids) I truly believe his face went pale white and that awkward silence that you hate, hit the air. Not another word was spoken as we pulled into the restaurant and found our table. We ordered a drink and our dinner and the conversation picked back up until the appetizer arrived. I was horrified to sit and watch and again, silence was in the air, and Chris held his fork backwards and shoveled food into his mouth. I watched quietly, as we dined, and was really turned off at his table manners and lack of attention to myself: to be specific, the food was his focus, before swallowing his mouthful, he would shovel another mouthful in. Dinner was over, he requested dessert, and I let him know I had made him a dessert for his birthday and it was back at my apartment. My friend had given me this awesome recipe for butterscotch parfait cups and I had made one for him and one for me. I don’t recall much about the drive back, but I do know, I was not into another date. We arrived at my apartment, I led him to a seat at the bar, I pulled the divine desserts from the refridgerator and proudly sat them in front of him on display. He looked not so interested, to which I took offense and when he reluctantly picked up his spoon to try his I wrapped mine and placed it back on the counter. I was insulted at his response, I had put a lot of thought and attention into making those desserts specifically for his birthday, and his reaction was not what I had intended. Upon seeing that I was not going to partake in dessert dining with him, he placed his spoon to the side, never taking a bite, and refused to eat without me. After a minutes of banter, he left, and the door was shut with my intentions of never seeing him again.
Days passed, my kids returned home, and life went on. Four days after our horrid first date, I had reevaluted and revisited that night over and over agian. I was so in love with the attention he had given me the first night, that it was making me forget the awkward, lack of attention on the second night. Just before the weekend, thinking everyone deserves a second chance, I picked up the phone and called him. Chris and I spent another hour having “honest” conversation. I felt the first date was not up to par, he agreed: I felt maybe I was a little forceful and emotional with the birthday dessert, he agreed: I felt maybe I overanalyzed things and we needed to try again, he agreed. (notice he simply agreed with everything being my fault) We set date number 2 for the next evening, a quick burger and bowling.
Saturday night arrived, Chris arrived at my door in Kahki pants, a polo shirt, and brown loafers….ok. We head to McDonalds, shared a burger and hit the bowling lane. It was a great night, we laughed a lot, avoided any serious topics and simply enjoyed each others company. It was early when we left the bowling alley, so Chris asked if I would like to see him home, it was a townhouse that he had just purchased a few months earlier. Curious to see what his life was like I agreed and we headed to 7 miles to his home. Just before you arrive into his hometown (which is a small fishing village just off of the Atlantic Ocean) you must cross a drawbridge. That evening, the drawbridge was open as we approached and traffic was backed for miles, no one was going anywhere for a while. Chris stopped the car in line, put the car in park, turned off his lights, leaned across the console and we shared the most amazing first kiss ever. I am not sure how long we were waiting for the drawbridge to open because we never took our lips or hands off of each other. At his home, he gave me a small tour of his residence, it was small, but well decorated and I noted, immaculatly clean (OCD type clean). He offered me a drink and before I could respond, we were on his sofa, making out and then I was led upstairs to his bed. We spent the evening in wonderful sexual bliss. IN the early morning hours, as I began to drift off to sleep, I didn;t feel regret or guilt, only this uncomfortable fear as I began to notice the nice little cuddle we had settled into, had turned into more of a possesive chokehold, with his entire body draped over me and his arms wrapped tightly around my neck. The sun arose, and I was awakened with a huge smile and one more make out session. There was really no awkwardness as he drove me home, it was nice and different in the sense that he held my hand tightly the entire drive and kissed me at every stop light. I had never received attention like that before and was really unsure as how to respond. He walked me up my stairs to my apartment, kissed me goodbye, gently stroked my cheek, secured another date, and then whispered in my ear before walking away “You know, you are going to be my wife one day.” I stood, jaw dropped, unable to respond as his car drove away.
We began to date steady, against my better judgement, I would push away the red lights as they crossed my path and find an excuse for his behaviors. No one had ever showered me with the affection the Chris was showing: he wanted to know everything about me: wanted to touch and have every part of me and wanted every minute of my time. In hindsight, I can see, this is the point where the manipulations and the passive/aggresive tendancies began. Before meeting Chris, I had a male roommate for two months. The night I met Chris, Sam had moved out the day before. Sam was in the Marine Corp and was retiring after 20 years of service. Sam and I had attempted a few dates in the day, but our personalities did not mesh as lovers, so we simply became protective siblings to each other. Sam sold his home two months before his retirement date, was going to rent a weekly hotel room for those months, I had an extra bedroom, needed the extra help paying the bills and offered him a place, he accepted and for two months, I had a live in bodyguard, brother and best friend. There was never a thought of romance during those months, we were just two friends helping each other out. A few weeks after Sam moved to Florida, he was returning to town to pick up the last of his items from storage. Chris called and asked to see me, I told him he could come over after 8, Sam would be over for dinner at 5 and I was going to spend a few hours with him before he left for Florida permanently. I had been honest with Chris about Sam from the begining, though he never believed we were not intimate. He wasn’t happy about my dinner plans and decided he would go out to the bar in a neighboring town with friends. I think he believed I would be angry about that, but I was not, and I could sense his shock when I told him to just call me later.
Sam phoned and canceled, his son was out of school and he wanted to spend that time with him: I put the dinner in the fridge, opened a bottle of wine, and settled for the evening Sex and the City. Around 7 my phone rang, it was Chris. He had attempted to go out with friends, could not get me off of his mind, and was on his way to my apt, he had something of the utmost importance to tell me. I was shocked, but told him ok. He rushed his way through my front door, dropped to his knees in front of the couch, grabbed both my cheeks, stared me dead in the eye and old me he was in love with me. I was speechless, we had been dating less than three weeks, was he crazy? He waited for a response and I gave him none. I took his hands off of my face and told him there was no way he could love me, he didn’t know me at all, never had he met my kids, my family, and I had plenty of baggage that he knew nothing about. HIs face turned red, his eyes looked angry, and he stood up, swore he was in love with me and soon enough I would be in love with him and his wife, and he left.
He didn’t phone for a few days, which was good, but when he did, he made no mention of that night or the things he had said to me. We continued to see each other and less than three months later, I was moving in with him. My health was failing, I was unable to work the two jobs any longer, I had been to doctor after doctor and we could find what was wrong. Unable to pay all of my bills, terrified of my health issues, and worried about my kids, Chris was my knight in shining armour the night he asked me to move in with him. He would take care of me, he promised to always take care of me.
(to be continued)