I think it's safe to say that we are in a serious relationship. :)
The other day I was talking to someone about him, and she asked me, "Aren't you worried he will end up doing the same thing to you that your ex did?"
Nope. I don't worry anymore.
Crazy, right? But here's how I figure it ... I've lived through my own personal hell. I survived through something that I thought I never could. No, more than survived. I've thrived. When I learned about my ex's first affair, six years ago, I felt like a piece of me had died. But now, after making it through a string of affairs, a divorce, and a year of recovery, I have come out of it stronger than I was before. I guess you could say I've had a little bit of a personality makeover ... in a good way.
I stand up for myself more than I did before. When I don't like something, I speak out. I'm not as afraid of confrontations as I once was, because I've learned that being a pushover didn't get me anywhere--just cheated on, walked all over, and eventually abandoned.
I've tackled many of the mysteries of single motherhood now. I've learned how to be strong and independent, but not over the top. I still know how to ask for help when I need it. (It's a tricky balance, but I think I've done okay.) I don't mess around anymore. I know how to get the job done, and I'm not afraid to do it.
So, in short, I guess what I'm saying is this ... I've learned something in all of this: I can't control what a man does. So why should I spend the rest of my life being paralyzed about it? I'm careful. I've chosen to take what I learned from my failed marriage and learn from it. I'm wise. EYES WIDE OPEN, to be sure! I'm not in a rush. I'm feeling my way through and trusting myself. I have the Spirit as my guide. When it comes to relationships, that's enough reason for me to move on with my life past this traumatic chapter and start being happy again without fearing that history will repeat itself. And even if it does, I'm well-equipped, I've lived through it before, and I know I will make it through. I will never be able to predict or control someone else's actions, only my own.
Besides, I trust Jack. I know, right? Did I ever think I'd say that about a man again? Not in a million years!!! But I do.
When we had the porn talk--Of course we did! I told you, eyes wide open!--you know what his answer was? "I'm really glad you brought that up. I've been wanting to talk to you about that but wasn't sure how to start the conversation." Now, I don't think I have to go into detail about how the rest of our talk went, but suffice it to say that all our conversations about hard topics (and we have talked about LOTS of really, really hard topics!) have been unbelievably candid and open. Not necessarily happy. Not wildflowers and sunshine. Actually, sometimes very tough and emotional and sometimes heated. But that's okay. I truly believe open communication and honesty are key in a healthy relationship. Jack and I have both those things. My ex and I did not, and I'm convinced that this fact, combined with his addiction and all that came with it (financial problems, adultery, etc.) was the biggest contributor to the downfall of our marriage. If you can't talk about it, if you're not honest with each other, how are you supposed to work through it?
Another thing that is extremely reassuring is the way Jack deals with my triggers. He is still learning to read me, and that is not easy! I have always had a bad habit of staying emotionally closed. It worsened during my marriage when silence became an effective defense mechanism to avoid further trauma and conflicts with my ex. Usually, when I was upset or in pain, the ex would either miss it completely, ask what was wrong and then lose interest and quit trying to find out, or--most often--get angry and combative. Jack, however, is much different. Instead of picking a fight or rolling his eyes, he hones in on me and expresses genuine concern. If I don't want to talk, he is respectful. He waits for me to take my time. And I do. Then when I am ready, he is there. He is focused and attentive. He listens. He takes me seriously. Even when I know I am blowing something completely out of proportion, he is incredibly patient and understanding. (Remember, he has gone through similar circumstances to my own, only in reverse. His wife also cheated and left him.) Many times the understanding between us is unspoken. But talking it out is so helpful because it helps me to purge and leave my fears behind. I've also noticed that it is getting easier for me to share traumatic experiences with him as time passes--as we do this dance over and over again. I didn't trust him all at once. It has happened slowly ... one experience at a time.
Life is good. Life is very good with Jack.
But most importantly, my life is good independently of him too. ;)