What if?

Do you believe that some people should be alone?

I used to think that I was one of those people. Not because I couldn’t find anyone, but because I never seemed to be able to make a relationship work for more than a decade at most.

Until I met my ex, I’d never tried one of those dating sites. I have always been pretty social so I found myself in situations where meeting women was fairly easy.

I played in a gay softball league, played football for a pro women’s league, attended an open church, frequently went to gatherings that were hosted by the cops I worked with, etc. add in the fact that I have always been a staple at town hall meetings, city council meetings and throw in the occasional interview for the news, all due to my work duties and I have never been a stranger to crowds or being recognized.

What made me try a dating site?

I assumed I must have a “broken picker” as my friend J Will says.

I’d find women flirting with me and I’d always stray from the ones that, on paper, were a better match to me than the typical femme, petite girls I was attracted to.

I went for the high maintenance, hot mess, types.

So, my train of thought was that if I filled out the questions honestly, posted what I was looking for, the magic of internet dating would do it’s stuff and I’d find happily ever after.

Let me just say… I almost ran for the hills!!

I met one woman who couldn’t stop talking about how she had cheated on her ex and realized how it was the biggest mistake of her life. (Not over the ex… NEXT)

Then there was the one who was a “one upper”. No matter how good my day was, hers was better. Regardless of how heavy traffic was during my commute, traffic was worse for her. (Too competitive… NEXT!)

And who could forget the one that made me feel like I needed a shower after we met for coffee?!?! The entire conversation revolved around talking about her kids, friends, work, etc. All in all, pleasant. Then, as I’m driving home I start getting texts from her telling me how the entire time we were talking she was fantasizing about all the different ways she wanted to violate my body. Of which, she decided to share with me. (Ick.. Just ick!!)

My ex was a fluke. She was sweet and shy. She wasn’t the best looking girl I’d met, but by this time if decided that a new friend was good enough.

In the beginning I honestly had no reason to pursue anything romantic with her. Then my friends all chimed in.

“She’ll be good for you!” “You need a good girl!” “You’re focusing too much on the outside!”

So, I went with it. Things went well for a while. Then all the things that I worried would come between us did.

Her family and their attitude towards her sexuality. Our differing parenting styles. Our inability to compromise. Her insistence that arguing in a relationship is unnatural.

As time went by, I started to see our lives falling apart. She started making excuses to not be around me and I tried to maintain some semblance of family.

Finally, after weeks of her going back and forth about what she wanted I finally said, “I’m done!”

And that was it. 2 weeks later I moved out and we haven’t spoken since.

When I reconnected with Julie, I thought she was happily living with her partner. She didn’t admit to me until about a month later that they were divorcing.

We became friends.

Something we hadn’t been in almost 30 years.

I enjoyed getting to know her on that level. Hearing her talk about her day, chatting about basketball or school, debating philosophy and religion.

At some point I felt a crush developing, but again, I had resigned myself to the fact that I was just one of those people who wouldn’t have that happily ever after scenario.

I had decided that I could enjoy a woman’s company from time to time but the notion of losing myself in another relationship held no appeal to me.

Then Julie and I did the unthinkable! We found ourselves in love with each other again.

I still spend way too much time worrying about the “what ifs”. What if her family puts her in a position to choose between them or me? What if she decides that I’m too rough around the edges? After all, she’s a well respected, successful Ph.D. I’m a tattooed, abrasive, big, glorified construction worker.

Even the little “what ifs” creep in to my head.

What if she decides she can’t stand the way I throw my socks on the floor by the bed? What if she’s a “make the bed” nazi like my ex was? What if I suddenly decide that the way she organizes the pantry makes me crazy?

I know…I know…

These are all little things that we can sort through. But, these little things have all added up in my past relationships to be used against me or us at a later date.

I’m still planning a future with her. A life that I hope I am able to provide both of us the happiness and security we deserve. A part of me thinks that ignoring the differences is foolish and fool hearty. Another part realizes that this is the only woman I would do anything for in order to see her smile.

We’ve talked about how differently our lives would have turned out if we had stayed together.

I’ve argued that our lives were too different for us to have been successful back then, but the truth is, I led the life I did because I’d lost her.

I went full time into the Army to run away from the fact that she was gone. I was reckless and destructive because I didn’t see any reason to be any other way without her. I was indifferent to the women in my life that wanted to be close to me because I didn’t want to feel the pain I had felt by losing her.

Kids?

That has always been a biggie. Or so I thought.

Last night she told me, “I wish we could have had kids together. I think they’d have turned out pretty awesome!”

I sat there for a long time. Confused. “You always said you didn’t want kids?”

She then began to explain that before she met Milly, she had realized that she wanted to be a mom. She wanted to be responsible for this tiny little person. She wanted that unconditional love that comes from and goes towards having a child.

She then said something that made me feel so very sad for the past 15 years of her life…

“I wanted kids. I just didn’t want them with Milly. I always knew she was too selfish to ever put a child’s needs ahead of her own.”

I’ve seen how she comments on the pictures her friends post of their kids. How she talks about going to see her niece so she can “squeeze” her before she gets too big for that.

I can see how different both our lives would have been had we figured out then what we’ve figured out now.

How the two of us might have been able to have it all. Family, home, careers, love.

But this is where we are.

Trying to put the past behind us. Trying to focus on the future. Hoping and struggling to keep these demons at bay long enough to form a unified front against them.

I will always be afraid of losing her again. Maybe that’s a good thing?

If I know what I could lose, I’ll try even harder to hold on to it.

One thing I do know for certain…

Julie is the best part of me.

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