http://thoughtcatalog.com/holly-riordan/2016/06/my-world-would-be-so-different-if-you-were-still-alive/

My ex-husband was the youngest of seven kids. He was raised in Iowa. His mom was the oldest of thirteen (I think). In other words, he was from a big family. We got married without meeting each others families and I thought for most of our marriage that if I had met his family first that I wouldn’t have married him. I had nothing in common with most of his family. I got along well with many of them in small groups but when everyone was together, I always felt like an outsider. My ex-husband would not stand up to me when his brothers or parents treated me poorly and there were a few times that I was treated TERRIBLY. I don’t know how many times I would leave family events in tears due to my treatment. It eventually became a big issue for us. The only “vacations” he ever wanted to take was to visit his family in the little town of 750 in Iowa. I was bored and lonely the entire time I was there. His dad was obnoxious and rude and a pig. The TV was on 24/7 so there was never any quiet or music.  Even after 23 years, I never felt like part of the family. I did love a couple of his brothers but since the divorce, I am definitely not family again. I was right in my feelings. Except for my mother in law, I never hear from anyone in the family. She and I were not always close but we got there after lots of bumps.

When I met R I found out that he was the oldest of many children. I don’t remember how many right now but I think there are fifteen of them. Five are full siblings, the others are half. He had a unique isolated childhood. This scared me to death. I was tempted to run immediately when he told me this. I figured the chances of anything going anywhere were nil so I went out with him again. Within a couple of weeks of our meeting, I was at his place and it was his birthday. Four of his siblings called him on a video call. I decided to stay out-of-the-way so they could have their family time. Almost immediately, I was being introduced and was part of the conversation. I was welcomed immediately and felt comfortable with them but I still was nervous about the large family. The next day, the eldest of the girls friended me on FB and I found out that I have a lot in common with her. He and I quit seeing each other as a couple but remained friends. His brother-in-law works for him so I had met him and eventually met his wife. Super nice couple. She is a singer and into aerial dance. This weekend, one of the sisters that I met on-line was in town and we met in person. I immediately felt comfortable with her. She told me how she had a good feeling about me immediately. Tonight, we had a family dinner and by the time I left, she and I were hugging, exchanging numbers and talking about next time she is in town. When I offered to babysit his son so they could have brother- sister time, she insisted that she would want me to join them. I have so much in common with his family and feel so embraced and welcomed by the ones that I have met that his family no longer scares me. I wonder if this was one of the things holding him back. He actually wanted me to stay the night tonight with his sister there. I feel we are dating again but it hasn’t been said. I will continue one day at a time and not rush things. It has only been fifteen months since we met. No one can accuse us of rushing……

I find it interesting that I was terrified of the large family but I guess is depends on the family. W have so many common interests, even in our families. His sister has heard of my sister and her husband (dancers). A few of his sisters are into Aerial dance. My middle kiddo used to do that. I have always been a singer as is my son and a few of the family members are singers one is even touring and has a few CDs out. Maybe the size of his family or any one elses doesn’t matter. I feel I could belong in a family like this though I never belonged in the other one. This was a big aha moment for me this weekend.

I came to a realization tonight that just blew  me away. R and I have been spending a lot of time together again. His ten year old son wants us to be a couple so badly. I have grown to love the kid and he loves me. I could love R, if I let myself. I have talked about him a few times. Most recently and most in detail  Right Person, Wrong Circumstances .

It seems recently that R is wanting to spend more time with me. I have no idea what is going on with him. He is not a big talker. His son has told me that his dad is looking for a new girlfriend and he wishes it were me. I had them over for dinner when my son was home and his kid told him, “Dad, I will love you forever if you make Kylene your girlfriend.” He says things like this all the time. I always feel awkward when it happens and reassured him Sunday at the movie the three of us went to that I do NOT encourage this. R knows this. Today, towards the end of my work day, R asked me if  wanted to come eat  at his house on the way home. They were already eating but he would make me a plate. I decided to take him up on this. I got to see two of my favorite guys and his three dogs that I also love. Once again, his son made some comment about us being perfect together. I whispered to R that it wouldn’t be so terrible if we fell for each other. He snickered at me as I had just posted on FB today: “They are fun to look at, flirt with, and play with but I am glad I do not have one full time.” I told him that minds can change as can feelings.

After I ate, we visited for a few minutes, snuggled, talked, watched the kid play in a box and then I left to come home. I was thinking about things as I was driving and  I realized that a year ago, when R told me that something was missing, I was sad for ME that he couldn’t love me. Now I feel sad for HIM that he doesn’t love me. I realized that I TRULY love me and no longer need a man to love me for me to feel loved. What an amazing feeling!!!! If things change with R, I would give us a chance but I am okay if we don’t or we don’t work out. I am worth it. I am loved by the most important person in my life….ME. If I find a man to share my life with GREAT, if not that is great too and their loss.

Sometimes I have to wonder about the ex-husband. He seriously believes that I have turned the kids against him when he does things like he did this weekend all the time. He lives about one hour from our son, who is a freshman in college. Our eldest lives about four hours from her brother- five from her dad. My son was in an opera at the school this weekend and the eldest decided to go watch her brothers performance. She contacted her dad and asked if he would like to join her. At first, he said that they would try to go the same night. They meaning him and his girlfriend WFB. They decided to go the night before our daughter.  When she tells me this, she says, of course, he chose her over me again. I am sure she didn’t want to see me. For my new readers, my eldest and WFB have had a rocky start and ex-h always insists that our daughter fix things. WFB even told him he had to choose between her and his family.

I know if I had been in his shoes, which I never would be. I would never choose anyone over my kids but hypothetically, if I were, I would tell new partner that my child lives five hours away and if that person didn’t want to join me n the night with my kid, then I would go without them. He rarely sees our kids. The son sees him because he has to. He can’t stand WFB either but ex-h is convinced that only the eldest has a problem with her. The middle kiddo doesn’t even respond too his phone calls or texts anymore. When I asked her why she threw the phone across the room when he called one day, they told me that they always feel bad about themself after talking to him. They are very upset with the WFB for treating the siblings the way she does.

I actually feel sorry for him. When we were married and for a short time after the divorce, I would try to help ease things with the kids. I eventually decided not to do so for the ones that were over eighteen and now all of them are. I no longer remind them to contact their dad for anything. I did remind them to contact his mother for her birthday. She shouldn’t pay for her son being an idiot. What blows my mind about WFB is that she is a mother. I am very curious about her and his relationships with her kids. I do think that he will regret his choices eventually. She is not good for his relationship with his kids. When our son graduated from high school last year, I made sure to let him know she was welcome at the party. She chose not to come. She has no desire to be part of my kids lives. If he wants to, he is either going to have to get rid of her OR go to things without her. Maybe he will see the light before it is too late. In the mean time, I am here to listen to the kids vent about their dad and they adore my ex-boyfriend and contact him for dad things. The love him and he loves them.

When I was pregnant with my son,  I had a very vivid dream telling me he was a boy. I never officially found out with my kids but was right every time. I was so nervous about having a boy. I had no brothers, my mom had no brothers, my grandmother had no brothers. No one to help me. My mother in law and I had very different views so I didn’t go to her for advice for my kids. I already had two girls but everyone assumes you want one of each. I did NOT. I was terrified of boys. My grandmother had told me that they were born nasty. I had all girl things already. Another girl  would have been easier.

Sure enough, fall of 1997, I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. The most difficult difference of him being a boy was diaper changes. Nope, not getting peed on, the girls did that, too, but no one told me to fold it down so he would wet his clothes and not his diaper.

He was a sweet baby and adored by his sisters. They spoiled him rotten and for the most part, I honestly didn’t see any true gender stereotypes with him. If anything,  my second girl was my “boy”. He grew into a very sweet boy. He didn’t have a temper. He was caring, kind, and smart as a whip. He never had much interest in the sports. I am sure that was difficult for my ex-jock ex-husband.  I do wonder how much of it was the boys personality and how much of it was the lack of his dad going out and doing things with him.. He never tried to play catch or other “boy” things when he was young. The boy did play flag football for a few years and then tried football again in seventh grade but decided sports were not his thing. I do admit that it was even a little difficult for me. I love football but now and glad he didn’t play much. I was hoping he might do track or something like that. He is built for it but he had no interest.

He became an avid reader very young and that continues to this day. He developed into a nerd and geek and is very proud of who he is. He is well liked among his peers and the community. He is a hard worker. He has done theater, band, and choir. He did tap and ballet with one of his sisters when he was very young. He started violin when he was four

One day  in seventh grade, he decided that he wanted to wear a suit. He has worn a suit and tie almost every day since. He even carries a briefcase. When I asked him about this, he told me that he does better when he dresses well. . He joined choir  in high school though he hadn’t sung since he was about five. He joined so he could have a teacher he had known all his life. He joined band because the same teacher asked him to. This same teacher told me that he would make sure my boy made it after the divorce. He was a great mentor to him and is a father figure to all three of my kids. Now he is finishing his first year of college as a music education major and is going to be singing in Carnegie Hall in June. He is well groomed and polite. I love watching him when he doesn’t know and I see him holding doors, handing girls his coat if she is cold, carrying things for people.  He is such an amazing young man and I am so lucky to be his  mom. He loves board games and D&D and anything that makes him use his brain. He has a great group of friends that are also very respectful and kind.

I had to laugh last year when I got into his car and he had Pavarotti blaring and he was singing along. He had a solo the year before doing an opera piece with the marching band and this week, he is performing in an opera at CMU.  He is a unique young man.

There have been very few ways he has been a “typical” boy. Even though he was not an athlete, he still had the boy smell. He also does not share details of his life like his sister’s do. So many times I find things out via his friends. He may not share or talk much but he sure shows me how much he loves me and the girls. We are all so lucky and we all admit that he is the favorite. (Not that I really have one). He just left today for the end of spring break. Last night, I thanked him for coming home and he told me that I made him. I responded that I did not do that. He told me that by me being here, I did. I sure love that boy and look back now, wonder how and why I was so scared of a boy.

It is funny how some things will trigger me and remind me of how bad things had been. I was at work, walking up 12th Street and there were three cars at the intersection. The first one was turning left onto Main Ave. The traffic on Main doesn’t have a stop sign so it can be a long wait to turn left. The second vehicle was going straight and the third wanted to turn right. This is a small town with relatively little traffic but it has grown a lot over the years. I admit it has not been fun watching it grow over the thirty years I have been here but it goes with the territory. The guy in the third vehicle started screaming and cursing profanities and honking his horn. He couldn’t see that the first vehicle wanted to go left. He was being very impatient and letting himself get super stressed about such a minor thing. When the first car finally was able to turn (maybe ninety seconds), he squealed up to the second car and turned right very quickly and potentially dangerously while revving his engine. I immediately thought to myself how glad I was to not be with someone like that anymore. The ex-husband used to get such horrible road rage. There were times I was afraid that he might even get us shot or hurt. He would flip people off on the highways in the city, cut people off, tailgate on purpose if someone cut us off. You never know when someone might pull a gun. If I said anything to him, he would then yell at me. I was often very nervous in the car with him. The stress and tension in the car was always so bad from that moment on. It was bad for all of our health. Stress increases inflammation which increases pain, diabetes, and so many other health issues. He was slowly killing us all.

I will never put up with that from someone again. It was one of the many ways I was mentally abused and controlled by him. He had a nasty temper that I was afraid to set off. he never physically hurt me but I was scared of him and so were the kids. I wish I could say that he never laid a hand on them. He never beat them but kids should not be scared of their parents.

About the man in this story, I feel bad for him (and the ex). Life is too short to get so upset over such insignificant things. His blood pressure was up, I am sure. His behavior was bad for his health. Luckily, there was no one else in the car and I am sure I was the only one that heard his language. I was the only other one really affected and it made me feel grateful that I no longer have that kind of stress in my life.

I was in seventh grade when I first had a man show me that promises about love aren’t always kept. I was devastated to find out that my parents had been having problems, including him moving out for most of sixth grade, due to another woman. My sister was the one that had told me all this after she saw my dad with the other woman when she was with some of her friends. Understandably, she was very angry at our dad. She told me because she was so angry with him and, I think, wanted me to be too. If I remember correctly, she was angry at our mom for giving our dad another chance. I was hoping they would work things out. I couldn’t believe that my dad would do that to my mother.

As time went on, I have had a few men cheat on me and friends cheat on their partners or be cheated on by their partners. Unfortunately, it is so difficult to trust when you see so many that are not trustworthy. I want to love and trust someday again.

I did eventually find someone that I loved and trusted and I married him. Eventually, I quit trusting him as all the signs of him cheating were there by the time we split. I am not 100% sure he cheated but would be surprised to find out that he didn’t.

How do you learn to trust relationships? I do not want to be one of those women that suspects cheating at every turn but I also don’t want to be so stupidly naive again. I hope to meet someone at some time that I can love and trust. I just need to learn how to trust.