I don't think my life has been more difficult than others but sometimes I think of all the changes, difficulties and challenges that I have faced and think . . . . damn, really. Some of the changes were due to circumstances that were so beyond my control of influence that the best I could do was to roll with the punches and survive, "Luctor et Emergo". Other times those changes were because of my stupid decision making and desire to "fix" or "heal" things. Either way the challenges have caused emotional, physical and financial pain and so you have to say, "damn, really".
One thing I have never been good at is asking or accepting help from others. I guess this has been a huge part of who I am, always and I can't deny it but I do have to change it. I have always wanted to "help" others and over the years have done as much as I could both in my work life as a social worker and in my personal life. I have always believed that doing for is better than being done for. The problem - as most people already know - is that when you live like this you are "done for" tough times and that leads to the horrible cycle of face palm and . . . "damn, really".
I know it sounds cliché but I have always placed others ahead of my own desires. Sometimes that has allowed for people and situations to take advantage of my niceness, if you will. It has also met that I have extended myself in ways that have caused me to lose opportunities in both time away from my family and in my professional life. But . . . . c'st la vie, right. The good news is that even at my age you are never too old to learn and I have been given a gift that has shown me not only the faults of myself but also the path the being a better person.
So what was the great epiphany? It should have been the revelations in April 2001. It should have been the "neighbor" issue when I lived in Toledo. It should have been the problems that resulted from the April 2001 revelations. It should have been losing the position at the Center in 2008. It should have been the outcome of my actions in March 2010. It should have been . . . . . so many stupid, harmful events but in the end it wasn't any of those things. It was, in the end . . . . Laura Leigh Henricks. It developed slowly and was really four quarters of epiphany.
Before we started "dating", Laura and I were co-workers who quickly became friends because of our own shared silly nature. We taunted, teased and generally enjoyed being playful and goofy with one another. Early on, I knew that I liked Laura and found her not just appealing as a woman but I also found her extremely sexy. Laura and I soon began "flirting" with one another but at first I was extremely hesitant. I did not think that Laura wanted or needed to be with someone so much older than her and someone who had three children. But. . . . the heart wants what the heart wants and I found myself thinking more and more about Laura.
Our first "date" (just the two of us) really was as "friends". We had talked about how much both loved Cedar Point and how fun it would be to go. Flippantly I told her that we should go and enjoy a stress free day from work. Honestly, I didn't think that she would agree but . . . . she did and so we went. It was an amazing day and we had so much fun together. In some respects, I am actually a very shy person and so many times that day I wanted to tell her how much I was attracted to her but I didn't. It is crazy to think about how much fun we had that day and how silly it is in retrospect that neither one of us said anything to the other!
It was a great time . . . . we were talking, joking, taunting and teasing each other about anything and everything; work, art, music, movies. Laura and I had started to grow close as friends. It was fun to be around her and that was a quarter of her appeal to me. I was really happy about that but at the same time I was nervous and sad. I wanted Laura. I wanted to date her. I wanted to . . . . well, you can imagine. But I kept from telling her how I felt because we were having so much fun as friends that I didn't want to lose that. I also really felt that with our age difference it would be so silly for me to tell her. All I could think is how horrible it would be to lose her friendship. Still the first quarter, we genuinely had fun together, was present and it was impossible to deny.
Between the beginning of our "flirtatious" relationship and the day we ended up together I dated others and Laura also dated. Laura had told me at work about a date she had that coming weekend and as we were trading text messages often I think I told her to have fun and enjoy herself. After Laura had went out with one night she and I traded text messages and I asked her how it went. I know sounds horrible but I was "happy" when she told me not good. I had not told Laura yet that I wanted to be more than friends and wasn't sure if I could ever tell her.
Part of our relationship building was through our mutual friends. While I knew that I enjoyed being around and with Laura, I honestly did not want to push for a relationship because of our age difference and because I really did not want to lose the relationship if she was not interested. I talked tons with mutual friends (Ryan and Al) about my feelings for Laura and they both told me I should just tell her. Laura on the other hand was talking to another mutual friend (Michelle) who was telling her that she needed to wait and let me make the first move because I had recently gone through a divorce. On one hand our collective inaction kept us apart for many months but on the other it helped build anticipation and excitement.
Another quarter of my epiphany or appeal in Laura is that she was and is pretty crazy. By that I mean spontaneous, silly, playful and just generally fun. During that time she decided to do a Facebook page for "Crockey Dile", a happy little rubber crocodile! Crockey became a big thing to have fun with not only at work but outside of work. Actually, Crockey went every time to Cedar Point with us not to mention Columbus, the Toledo Zoo and elsewhere! Laura was fun then and now, which is so very appealing for someone like me who is still way too adolescent even at my age. Thankfully Laura is willing to let me be goofy, silly and at times way too juvenile.
Just considering everything around how our relationship developed and how it began to mature is pretty cool. Neither Laura or I were "new" to the idea of falling in love and I think that we actually approached our relationship from a "OK, we'll see" manner. Early on Laura gave me a book to read and do an assessment on our "relationship needs". As Laura has a psychology degree these things are important to her and I thought, why not. After doing the assessment we found that we matched in nearly category and that both of us had strong desires for affection (holding hands, hugging, snuggling) and that we both were very focused on giving to the person we were with.
To be honest, I think that I am still in the final quarter of my epiphany and have been for nearly four years! I am amazed at how considerate, thoughtful, affectionate and loving Laura is. Like everyone else on this earth neither of us are perfect but every night when I lay my head down and reach out to hold Laura, I know. Every morning when I wake up and feel her next to me, I know. Each day when either she or I leave one another for work or whatever and then return to one another, I know. I know that . . . . .