Six Months Later
My very adventurous best friend was having her birthday party at one of those obstacle course indoor places with trampolines & stuff like American Gladiator. I arrived at the adult- Ninja-Warrior Birthday Party.
I ushered my way to the check-in counter to meet with our group- which consisted mostly of operating room staff. Nurses, doctors, techs, etc.
Immediately he caught my eye. I saw this super cute dude I had "never seen before". He looked really young, but at that point, I was genuinely only visually invested in the whole situation.
The party got underway & we started taking on this gigantic obstacle course. At the time I remember being kinda impressed cuz Mike was super athletic & dominated every obstacle like a spider monkey on anabolic steroids lol. At some point during the evening, we ended up on a rock-climbing wall next to each other & as it turns out he was funny too!
Anyone who can make me laugh immediately has a place in my heart. So by that point, he already existed in my universe. However, I thought we were meeting for the first time ever.
At this point, I hadn't put 2 and 2 together and had no idea he was the same tech I worked with on the pneumo-nuts case.
At the time I was teaching a lot of yoga classes & like most people that learn I'm a yoga teacher, the immediate words that come out of their mouth after that is: "I want to come to your class."
But like 99.99999% never actually do.
He showed up at my next class, & the one after that for months.
The first yoga class he came to he came with Nikki, another good friend of mine who also worked in the OR & took my class consistently.
Not to my surprise, he could actually hang. You see, most people can barely make it through their first hot yoga class! Especially athletic dudes. The bigger they are the less they can handle it, really.
I can't tell you how many guys who wanted to date me either avoided going entirely for fear of embarrassing their macho selves & refusal to be seen as not immediately great at something.
After my class, I was really hungry and asked Nikki and him to go
grab some food with me. Nikki couldn't make it, but he wanted to go with me.
Suddenly 2 strangers ended up on a date/not date at a Vietnamese restaurant.
Sometime in between the Pho & quoting Jud Apatow movies we discovered each other's ages.
He was 8 years younger than me!!
Immediately this was what went through my head:
Oh hell no. This is never happening, he's like younger than 2 of my siblings. But we'll be great friends. & immediately the pressure was off of the situation.
So I was just like we can be friends, but-
& he was all like
It was the best thing that could have happened because there was no pressure to date, so we genuinely became friends before we started dating, which was really wonderful.
When speaking to him later about when his mind was at he told me he genuinely felt as though he didn't think he had a chance in hell cuz I was so beautiful & had my shit so together- which is the sweetest.
Typically he would come to my yoga classes & we would hang out & get food after.
In a matter of days, he had very easily & without trying, had unlocked 3 fences I had around my heart at the time.
He was a person of his word. This is impressive to me because lots of people say they will do things to be polite & never follow through, so the fact that he followed through with coming to class meant something to me.
His sense of humor was top tier. I can't even front. I'll take a comedian over a male model any day of the week.
His willingness to be open-minded enough to go try a hot yoga class for the first time, willing to risk embarrassment, physiological decompensation & public humiliation. That shit takes balls, man.
I didn't know it at the time, but he kinda already had me by then.
This man had easily & systematically disarmed the security system I had built after a lifetime of abandonment issues, heartbreak & a series of unreliable people in different forms.
The Irish Pub Kiss that Nobody Remembers
He kept coming to class & we got to know and trust each other. Out of the two of us- I had the hardest time accepting that I liked him & wanted to be more than friends because I just could not wrap my head around the age difference.
I simply could not see myself as the older one, even though truth be told he was the most emotionally mature man I had ever met.
So we would just hand out & do stuff like this:
One day we decided to have dinner and drinks at a local Irish Pub. We had a great time. Somewhere in between pints & walking back to my place so I could show off my Christmas tree & drinking Horchata we had our first kiss.
To this day, neither of us remembers the kiss LOL!
All we know was that it happened that day & I guess after that, we were officially, unofficially dating.
Category 5 Hurricane
After that things between Mike and progressed like a slow burn, deliberate, consistent & powerful.
After about a year, I asked him to move in something I had never ever asked my man I had dated in my entire life so that for me was huge, but it felt good and natural and aligned.
I wish I could say all was gravy for a few years but the truth is lots of unexpected things happened that were really, really difficult.
Losing one of my beloved parrots to a predator.
Mike changed jobs from being a Surgical Tech to being the primary Rep for Ortho Trauma T the largest Trauma Hospital in Miami. This made him work ceaselessly, & combined with my independent contracting first assisting business that kept me super busy, it was fine when things were good in our lives but became really hard when difficulties arose.
We had planned a vacation to Greece to relax from our crazy schedules & then we had to cancel because Irma, a category 5 hurricane was heading right towards us in the fall of 2017.
Getting evacuated for a category 5 hurricane NorthCarolina & fleeing Florida to North Carolina with our 2 Parrots and 2 elderly dogs was rough. It felt like we were leaving our home & running for our lives, especially after what happened in New Orleans & the damage we knew was possible if we hung around for such a powerful hurricane.
Luckily our home was fine & Mike flew back shortly after the hurricane for work and I decided to stay an extra week up in Raleigh to allow for the craziness and traffic to subside before heading back home.
That was when my beloved 15-year-old chihuahua was stolen.
You see, everyone has one pet that is a soulmate, & he was mine. He was the absolute apple of my eye. There was an ensuing Manhunt for him, which included, the Raleigh PD, billboards, TV & radio press tours, Pet detectives & tracking dogs. Emotionally it was excruciatingly painful for me. I stayed up in NC for a month looking for him.
We never saw Geordie again.
I returned home completely broken. I descended into a deep depression that I dealt with by staying inhumanely busy.
After the whole experience with losing my Geordie- I wasn't the same. I had to go back on my SSRIs to cope with life without him because no amount of therapy was helping me to accept this was now real life and not a nightmare.
With Mike working so much in trauma, getting called in at all hours of the night, I spent some of the worst moments alone as the demands of his job came first, & it was really, really hard on our relationship, individually & together.
But all the while, through the ebbs & flows, we both supported each other, & even on the worst days were able to laugh at something- even something stupid- because that is just who we are.
With every experience that forced us to grow- our love expanded.
Eventually, we were able to rebook the trip to Santorini for the following year.
After the whole things with Geordie, With Mike and I working insane hours, we had been looking forward to this trip like nothing else. Upon hearing about our trip, our friends and family immediately grew suspicious that we would get engaged on this trip.
I've really never been the kind of girl who dreamed of marriage & kids. As a kid, I dreamed about having a career. However, after meeting Mike, I knew I wanted those things with him. Also at the time, I was 36 & my biological clock was beginning to tick loudly so that became something we had to contend with.
It brought our age difference to the forefront & it really sucked.
Having drinks before our flight to Athens everyone at the bar teased us about getting engaged & how Santorini was a honeymoon destination. The whole time Mike had a devilish grin- like he was hiding something. That's what made me start to think to myself like- hmmm maybe he is doing it!
Then I got really excited!! Holy Shit!
It all made perfect sense. The timing was right & we were in a great place. At that point, he wanted to have kids more than me…. It all started to come together.
We arrived in Santorini & it was like stepping into a postcard it was STUNNING.
We're having a great time.
A few days go by, no proposal.
Even more, days go by, no proposal.
Now I’m getting pissed. How can you bring me to one of the most romantic places on Earth & not propose?! I couldn’t think of a better place to do it! WTF is happening right now? Does he not love me?!
The next morning I wake him up & I straight up ask him- "Don’t you want to marry me?"
Lol, Imagine waking up to that.
Somnolent- he was like: "What? Yea of course."
Me: "Well are you asking me on this trip?"
Shocked- he was like- "Ehhhhhh I wasn’t planning on it……"
& that was when, in the most gorgeous Grecian villa, with a private view of the iconic Santorini landscape- we had the most explosive fight we have ever had.
We both ended up crying our eyes out.
As it turned out Mike was so overworked it hadn’t even crossed his mind, but now there was a chance I’d scrap the whole relationship after this.
Looking back I know there was some resentment on my end as far as feeling abandoned while growing through the wave of grief I was drowning in after Geordie. That played to my abandonment issues & the fact that his job came before me, which was a painful realization.
For him, it was a gross lack of understanding of the progression of his career & at the time in his eyes I should have been more supportive of that since his career exploded and he advanced in a short amount of time.
All the while there was an underlying sense of urgency about the whole thing because of the biological clock that was a very valid thing to be concerned about.
I was spiraling a bit. There we were, 3 years into our relationship in paradise & I wanted to be married & I was terrified that best reproductive years were behind me & I spent them with a dude that has no plans to marry me.
Outdated adages echoed in my head: " Why would he buy the cow when he's getting the milk for free?"
Age didn't matter until it did.
Suddenly I was now the type of woman I never understood- the one who got mad because the proposal was taking too long.
Now I got it. When your reproductive years are precious- time is highly valuable to us, because a lot of our value- from others & even ourselves, is tied to our fertility to reproduce.
This time constraint does not exist for men. In Greece, I forced myself to mentally checked out of the relationship for self-preservation. My defense mechanisms kicked in all the alarms were ringing & telling me to get out before more pain could be inflicted on me.
I demanded we drop the whole thing, because “who wants to have to tell someone to propose to you”. I wanted nothing to do with it, nor did I want anyone to feel obligated to me.
When he noted the seriousness in my voice. He knows me. When I say I’m done it’s typically not just a threat. If I say I’m done, then I’m done.
He was heartbroken.
I was heartbroken too.
The rest of the vacation was a bit strange.
I was pretty much pissed off the rest of the trip. We were irritated with each other a lot.
We were not getting along, yet we were forced to be with each other 24-7. We did touristy things, we laughed some, we took photos- all the while the undertone of “I can’t trust you anymore because you’re going to hurt me badly” rang true for us both in different ways.
Suddenly I was sure of only one thing- I wanted to be married & I wanted to be a mother & I wanted it to be with him, but only if he wanted the same things. I wasn't too sure he did then so, Mentally, I had started a countdown towards the expiration of our relationship. 3 more months for it to happen organically- then I’m done, I told myself.
The Next 3 Months
After returning home from our trip, things felt really weird for a while. We were so used to being in tune with each other and communicating… Mike kept trying to make me feel like I was the most important thing in his life & how much he valued our relationship & how much he wanted what I wanted. He began recognizing that he was too preoccupied with work to notice the implications of a bucket-list trip like this for our relationship.
I know he felt he had fucked up because he was too tired from work that a proposal on our Greek trip had not even crossed his mind. In our fight in Greece, he kept saying he made a mistake while we cried together about how the dissonant state of our relationship turned out to be kinda cruel to us both.
I assured him it was fine, & it was because I genuinely wanted us both to be happy- with or without each other. If our timelines did not match up, it was truly ok- it didn’t make him or me bad people- we just wanted different things with different timing.
I was trying to kindly communicate that & process the whole thing, but also making attempts to emotionally disconnect from this man I was so very in love with- to avoid the ultimate heartbreak.
Being in a relationship with a person with abandonment issues sometimes means that making a mistake that triggers abandonment trauma will be too much for them- and that was where we were. I couldn't handle it.
As time went on, on top of the weird undertone of our relationship were moments of complete clarity & the undeniable power of our love and respect for each other. Organically, those moments eventually outnumbered the weird ones, & we found ourselves free to laugh and trust each other & standing on solid ground once again.
This man is the best thing that could have ever happened to my nervous system because he naturally backs up his words and remains consistent and a calming force with his love and support.
On a Saturday morning 3 weeks before the 3 months were up.
I was outside in my robe with our dogs & Mike was inside making us coffee as he usually does. He came outside & set my coffee cup down on our small outside side table and gets down on one knee.
I thought he was giving me some candy- because whatever he was holding did not look like a ring box. Then he asked me. I have to say, I was completely taken off guard! I honestly thought the 3 months were gonna be up and I was going to make a hard decision because I was never ever going to bring up the subject again.
He said his favorite moment in the world was waking up with me and having coffee with me & our dogs.