November 10, 2002 was the day Bob moved in with us. It doesn't seem like it's been that long but it certainly explains why I feel so much older-I AM older.
My history with relationships has not been good. I had my first "real" relationship at 16, with a guy who turned out to be very abusive in physical, emotional, and mental ways. He treated me like garbage. I guess I believed I was garbage because I let him. When I got out of that, probably after a year or so, I bounced around from horrible abusive guy to horrible abusive guy, hoping to find someone I guess who would rescue me, or at least find me worth more than I found myself. I was 18 when I met my first husband, who led the abuser's hit parade for about three years. We ended up married. Big mistake, but fortunately we did not bring any children into the world so when I dropped him off by the side of the road in Snyder, Texas and told him to keep going and never turn around, all I had to take care of was myself. And I did.
Out of the crucible of that horrible relationship (and it was horrible, I was physically abused over and over, and the emotional manipulation was even worse) came my sense of self worth. I found it. During that last fateful fight when I finally hit back, when I finally snapped, when I finally found my strength, my worth as a person was born. It was imperfect and it still had a lot of questions but there it was.
Unfortunately, I met Bob #1, my second husband, not long after that, and all that no baby mojo was worn off apparently because I got pregnant with my older daughter almost immediately. We got married less than a week after she was born. It wasn't a horrible relationship. He was nice, not abusive, funny, protective, we shared musical interests and both loved cats and dogs. He tried to be a good provider. We bought a house. Reagan destroyed the oil industry and our relationship wasn't strong enough to withstand a prolonged stretch of difficult times. We moved, two small children in hand, from West Texas to Forks, (yes, that one) Washington where his family lived. Big mistake. He never did find gainful employment. Picked ferns some, did the odd work at the shake mill some, talked a lot about getting a pressure washer and starting a business. Talked a LOT about that. Smoked a lot of bud. Started keeping odd hours and acting strange, then things started getting shouty, and back to Pittsburgh I went. I was not about to bring up my children in abuse and fighting. I didn't mind bringing them up in poverty. I didn't mind bringing them up beholden to my inlaws for housing and food. But I was not going to have abuse, I was not going to have fighting. He didn't seem to care. It turned out later he was getting involved in dealing some drugs, so it was a good decision on my part to get out when I did.
So, 1986, a toddler and a babe in arms, I was on my own. I had a lot of help from my family but I was not going to depend on a man to take care of me and I wasn't going to seek one out. It would be nice to date, to have someone physically now and then, but my priority was not that, my priority was my kids and making sure they grew up safe and ok. I guess they mostly did.
I didn't have another serious relationship for years. It was the early 90s when I got involved with a co-worker. I was a bus driver and I hit it off with this guy, older, funny, weird sense of humor like I liked it. Bob #2. He was also decent but really broke, paying a lot of child support and credit card bills. I was making decent money by then so the money angle wasn't that important. It was not long after that I met someone else, a guy who I had everything in common with. We played chess together, listened to the same music, had similar senses of humor, he was incredibly handsome and I was totally smitten, head over ass in love. We shared similar work schedules which led to us having a lot of long, languid afternoons together between shifts, while the kids were in school. One of the things we did not share was a desire for him to leave his wife, though. All that self control I had exercised was out the window. I broke up with Bob2 a couple of times, went back a couple of times, got engaged, finally broke it off for good after an epic fight where he tried to choke me. Given history that was very definitely the end.
I kind of lost my mind after that, because the other guy ditched me and got together with another woman, that he DID leave his wife for, and I went on a downward spiral like no other. Met a guy on the internet and got super interested, to the point that I quit the bus driver job, made plans to move in with him, then found out he was a child molester. Too late to get my job back, I got evicted, lost almost everything, declared bankruptcy, and with the help of family was able to once again make a fresh start.
By this time, I was done with men. I didn't expect to ever have another serious relationship. My history was too bad. I obviously sucked at it. Then I got involved with friends who were in Mensa, and I met Bob #3 (who was living in Columbus at the time) and I made the completely irrational decision to give it one more try.
We met face to face for the first time Labor Day weekend of 2002. To say we hit it off well would be a huge understatement. He moved to Pittsburgh the day before Veterans Day 2002 (to the horror and trepidation of my kids), the day the Steelers tied with the Falcons. It was tough at first, but things improved fast. We bought a house, then he proposed. I started having health problems, but he stood by me through all of it and to this day says he's happy he moved here. In some ways it feels like I've always known him and had him in my life, and in other ways it seems like only a couple of weeks ago he moved in. It amazes me.
So with Bobs at least, perhaps the third time is the charm.