On July 4, 1997 I packed three children (then 7, 4, & 1) and a dog into a small car and moved from Atlanta to Knoxville. My now ex-husband moved from Atlanta to Boston because he needed some time for himself. He was “tired of everything always being about the children and decisions being so life or death.” He thought his paychecks should be spent on his wants and not anyone else’s needs. He said he just needed a year or two. He neglected to mention that he was looking forward to finally meeting the woman he had been talking to on the Internet for months. They are still living together, but her husband refuses to agree to their divorce paperwork as long as my ex is still in her life. I wasn’t the only spouse they burned when they got together in a chat room. I arrived in Knoxville in the afternoon and immediately took the children to watch fireworks.
I stumbled around in a daze for a year. Searching for purpose, I went back to college. I already had a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology, but I felt like I was skilled to do nothing. In one of my classes I met a woman who understood me. We had very similar personalities, but our lives had taken different paths. She was newly married to a man who was very thoughtful and carefully planning their future. I was in the middle of a divorce from a man who only thought about himself and considered the children property. She and her husband saw an opportunity to help me. They had a friend named Doug whose wife had just left him for another man, because Doug was trying to start his own business when she just wanted to travel and party. His ex was very twisted, but that’s his story to tell. In what now seems like twisted logic, they decided that Doug and I really needed to get together to satisfy some umm, primal urges and thus make each other happier beings.
We nervously dated. Doug told me all of his jokes the first hour we spent together. I found him charming and quite attractive. As we dated, a pattern emerged. Doug was late for lunch because he saw a stranded motorcyclist and towed them to a gas station. Doug went to help friends with this and that and even total strangers. He literally gave people the shirt off his back. I don’t have enough words to describe how compassionate and caring Doug is toward all people. His only shortcomings are in the way he feels about himself.
Somehow, this wonderful and amazing man fell in love with me. Three years ago we were sitting in his living room watching all the neighborhood children play in the cove. He said, “I want it to be like this every day. Let’s get married. Let’s get married tomorrow.” We drove to Gatlinburg the next morning and got married. We spent that afternoon moving the children and all of our stuff into his already full house. Someday we’ll have a belated honeymoon and take a weekend someplace alone. Doug makes me feel loved like I have never felt in my life. He is my very best friend. He continues his love of life and I continue my efforts to hold up a mirror so that he can see how truly wonderful he really is. He loves the three children that came into this marriage as much as the new people we made together. Unphased by the fact that one of the children has special needs, he tirelessly devotes himself to being a good husband and father. Thank you Doug. I love you very much. Happy Anniversary.