Well first of all, the obvious is what’s most different. I mean, quite the different plumbing set up with this one – LOL! Ok, I’ll be serious now…maybe! So, I want to be careful to express that my first marriage was in no way a mistake, because if that’s the case I would be denying myself the truth of some happy times in my life. Being married to my ex-wife, I was able to experience friendship and I learned a lot about myself. The obvious is that I learned that I could truly only love a man. Did I love my ex?, yes – but was I in love with her?, I later learned, no. See, when you are not living a life true to yourself, it’s very hard to really understand what love truly is, whether you’re a heterosexual or a homosexual. Much of my understanding of love was situational and what was modeled and shown to me – between a man and woman. In the age I grew up, homosexuality was frowned upon, and the idea that two men or two women could love one another, was not in my orbit. Lastly, I have two very beautiful children that I have the honor and privilege to help navigate this crazy world we live in – those two are certainly some of my biggest achievements!
Life after divorce is never easy, regardless of the situation. Whether it’s amicable or disputed, there’s a lot that happens through the process. For me, juggling the importance of self-care and making me important over leaving my family was a tough one to grapple with. What I ultimately learned is that I would never be able to be a good father to my children if I didn’t take the time to take care of me and my own personal needs. Yeah, I was called selfish and I had to learn to take that with a grain of salt, but it certainly wasn’t easy. The truth of the matter is, I can honestly say I have a much better relationship with my children today because I’m living authentically and they now have a model of someone who is not living the status quo or according to societal norms. I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to take the complexity of their parent’s situations and make sound life choices for themselves in the future. My relationship with my ex since the separation and ultimately the divorce has ebbed and flowed. I was always careful to acknowledge the hurt and pain that I caused her, but quickly had to learn that I could not continue to carry that guilt if I wanted to heal myself. I’d say that she’s the best mother to my children, always keeping their best interest in mind. We’re both learning to communicate differently, and that’s just takes time to learn and adjust.
When I decided to share with the world my truth, dissolving everything that the world knew of me was an interesting place to be. Was I going to be like this gay man or that gay man – subscribing yet to another set of norms, or was I going to write my own story? I chose the latter. Of course, I did what every one of my gay friends told me I should do and sow my oats and have fun. I was married for nearly twenty years, I wasn’t in the place to date, let alone settle down with someone. Personally, I found myself in a strange place of enjoying my independence, being able to experience life freely as a gay man and coming home to an empty apartment. Still unwavering in my desire to seriously date anyone, I went on a date with someone who seemed to really take interest in me, and my children. That was big! Fast forward a minute and I quickly realized that we were not right for each other…no harm, no foul right? In the midst of all of that, I had already been friends with Joey (my now husband). I confided in him my deepest emotions about what I was going through, and he was the very best friend to me, alongside a few other guys who had or was going through the same very thing as me.
Well, as fate would have it, an almost year long friendship grew to something more than I could recognize. Yeah, I’m pretty slow! Joey did everything to drop subtle hints that he was interested in me. Those closest to us know the details of those hints! LOL! I think for me, the idea of dating someone who lived halfway across the country from me was out of the question. But the problem was, he checked all the boxes that I had yet to define! I remember the night of July 10, 2019 talking to him on the phone as we usually did, and something changed. We laugh about how we sporadically asked each other, “what’s happening?”, “what’s going on here?”, until we finally gave in and decided to take a stab at dating long distance. Fast forward to January 2020, things got serious when Joey decided to move to Richmond to live with me, leaving everything he knew as home, including his children and family to start a life with me. And then to seal the deal, he asked me to marry him in June of that same year.
Wedding planning began, and we both agreed that we didn’t want the big grandiose weddings that we had when we both married the first time. We wanted something quaint, with the people that really walked us through the coming out process. Do you know that planning a wedding in the middle of a pandemic is stressful as hell? We ultimately decided to marry in the clubhouse of our complex with about fifty or so people confirming their attendance and then one week before the wedding, the Governor tightened the restrictions to only gatherings of twenty people! After a mild stroke, we shifted plans, moved the date up two days and got married on Thanksgiving in my Aunt’s backyard and streamed it live for all of our family and friends who couldn’t attend. Not what we planned but it was perfect and quaint!
Well, I’ve often said that the idea of fairy tale love stories to me were farfetched. But I knew the moment I said yes to exploring life with Joey that something was different. I was different. I often pinched myself to make sure I was living in reality. I began seeing life so differently, all because of true love. Now, fairy tale romances are not always roses and tulips. We have our share of disagreements and we’ve had a few fights – yeah you read that right. But what we always come back to is our commitment to each other and despite the disagreements, there is something so very different when it’s right. I’ve found my person, the person who really does complete me. The one who completes my sentences and sometimes even my deepest thoughts. This man has challenged me to grow, face my fears and be the best version of me. I certainly could not imagine my life any different or any better – all because of true love. What I hope you as a reader can take away from this is the importance of self-care. Focusing on being the best version of you! It’s only then, when you are in a healthy space to recognize true love, a love that will last a lifetime!