The thing is, infatuation is a dangerous state of mind. It's like an entry drug to obsession. So, as fantastic as it was to constantly daydream about Dean, I hoped my irrational fixation on him would quickly mature into something more meaningful.
I don't know when infatuation began to change to something deeper. Probably by our fourth or fifth date. That's when we both began to question whether we were spending too much time in bed. Neither of us wanted a sex-based relationship and we were both beginning to wonder if that was the direction we were headed. We decided to change things up a little and made plans to do other things, as well as spend quality time between the sheets.
As our relationship evolved, my conviction that Dean was my One did not. I remained firmly convinced that he was my perfect match, and in fact, I'm still convinced to this day. I suppose I could decide later that I've been delusional this whole time, but I don't think that will happen. We've spent enough time together that if I was going to have serious doubts, I'd be aware of them by now. Instead, I strongly feel that he's as close to perfect as he could be and still be human.
There are a few obstacles that stand in the way of a "happily ever after" life for Dean and me. A small one is that he continues to be more work-obsessed than I'd like. He's been really good about trying to balance work, his kids and me, but the jury is still out on whether he can permanently change his workaholic ways.
A bigger potential obstacle is Dean's lack of sexual and relationship experience. As this blog documents, I have a fair amount of experience with men. All that history makes it easy for me to KNOW, without any doubt or uncertainty, that Dean is the right guy for me. Dean, on the other hand, can't possibly have that same conviction about me. He's sown no wild oats and he's had almost no other lovers. Maybe I'll be proven wrong, but I'm pretty sure there will come a day when he'll wonder if I'm the best he can do. For him to feel that way would be totally understandable and, for that reason, I have no anxiety about it. I am who I am, I'm totally committed to him and to our relationship, and if that's not enough to withstand whatever curiosity he might have in the future, then there's nothing more I can do. One thing I'm adamant about is to never take him for granted. Gabbie accused me of not appreciating her enough, so believe me, I'm determined not to let Dean feel that way. He gets total dedication and commitment from me until he throws me out.
If Dean can continue to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and if he decides to keep me around for a while, then there are three immediate obstacles to a "happily ever after" life for us:
- Gabbie and I need to live apart
- I need to come out to my kids
- I need to tell Gabbie, my kids and others that Dean and I are together
Allowing Charlie to move in has greatly benefited me. For one thing, the kids have gotten to intimately know him and now they either dislike or despise him. Even my oldest, who has been the most patient with him, doesn't like him. The two younger kids have been far less charitable. They frequently voice their dislike for him and that has created a huge wedge between them and Gabbie. The problem isn't so much that they attack him and she defends him, it's that they attack her and she retaliates. It's a very sad dynamic, one that I continually push both sides to change.
A few weeks ago, when the situation with Dean began to show genuine promise, I realized that I couldn't expect him to commit to me while I was still living with Gabbie. So, I set a deadline for myself to tell her that we needed to move apart. Then, quite unexpectedly and just five days before my deadline, Gabbie announced that living together wasn't working so she was going to move out and give me full custody of the kids. I think she was hoping they'd beg to her to stay, but none of them did.
Her plan to move out is already happening. Two weeks ago she and Charlie signed a lease together (puke) to rent a nearby studio apartment. Last week he moved into it. Gabbie plans to spend the next several weeks slowly moving her things over. I don't know when her "last" day with us will be. Originally she said mid-September but I wouldn't be surprised if it's sooner. I don't think we'll mark that day in any significant way, but it will be very bittersweet for me. Losing her is not something I ever wanted to happen, however, I've come to accept that it has and we all need to move on with our lives.
Anyway, thanks to Gabbie, I easily accomplished the first item on my 'list for Dean.' The next one is: coming out to the kids.
I've been trying to spend as much time with Dean as possible, and because it's a 60 mile drive each way to see him, when I go, I'm gone for a minimum of five hours but I prefer eight or nine. Different circumstances have helped me camouflage the fact that I'm dating him, but now that it's been two months since we met, I'm running out of plausible excuses to disappear for large blocks of time. So, for as much as I'd like to say that my confidence and pride in my relationship with Dean has made me want to come out to my kids, the main reason is that I can't keep making up new lies every weekend.
I would've run out of excuses a few weeks ago but Dean's been traveling a lot this month and that's given me a reprieve. I made my last excuse this past weekend, and now I have a period of three weeks in which to get my sh*t together, because during that time Dean will be out of town. My plan is to come out to the kids within the next week. I don't want Gabbie to be there, but I do want to tell all three kids at once, so making my big announcement is mostly a scheduling challenge. At least that's my excuse if I get delayed.
The truth is, I don't really want to come out. I don't feel ready and I probably never will. It's not easy to flip a switch and change everything. And although I'm confident it's going to go well, I view coming out as my greatest failure as a parent. I'm sure lots of you will think that statement is ridiculous, and I hope to agree with you in the future, but for now, that's how I feel.
Anyway, for as much as I'd love to drag my feet and ignore my deadline, I also realize that I just need to take the plunge. I need to go over the edge and accept that my life will never be the same again.
Assuming that I survive the jump, my plan is to lie low for a few weeks and give the kids time to adjust. Then, when Dean is done traveling, I'll tell the kids and Gabbie that I'm starting to date. Those 'dates' will partially explain my long absences on the weekends. At some point thereafter, whenever Dean is comfortable, I'll start talking to the kids about him. I really can't wait for that day to arrive, because when it does, the hardest parts of my journey will be over.