Two years with this guy!! Believe me, nobody is more surprised than WE are!!
I won't speak for Dave, as his story is his own to tell. But as for me and my relationship history, well, let's be honest. It's super shitty.
I have the uncanny ability to walk into a room and find the sickest person there. "Oh, you look like you need tons of therapy and have commitment issues, we should totally date (for like two years and let's ruin each others lives while we're at it!!)" And then we have this crazy, passionate relationship where I fall head-over-heels in love with you, completely lose myself, feel smothered and trapped, totally co-dependent, and then end up crying myself to sleep because you won't change and are still the person you were when I started dating you.
My first relationship in high school was with a boy I fell madly in love with who paid me a minimal amount of attention and told me I was fat, but he loved me anyways. Well, shit. I guess some love was better than no love because I was fat and who was going to love a fat girl? (I was 15 and just wanted to be loved.) He played with my heart and my emotions for several years until he finally found some other girl to terrorize with his "love" and he dumped me for good. I was absolutely devastated. DEVASTATED. Who was going to love me now?
And so I entered my dating years. Finding a hot guy (and eventually finding some shitty, hot girls, too), giving away my heart, accepting what they were willing give me, and then being absolutely crushed when they cheated/lied/verbally & mentally abused me/drank themselves into a blackout/went to jail/left me.
I only knew chaos, abuse, self-hate and drama, so I couldn't see any of the good ones. I didn't even look their way. They were boring! I needed excitement!! Let's go get wasted and have drunk sex and OhMyGodIThinkI'mInLoveWithYou!!!!!
After I graduated college I fell head-over-heels in love and married a woman who drank Double Jim Beam and Cokes until she passed out and wet the bed. I thought she'd settle down after we got married, but, like most stories go, things only got worse. I knew when we were standing in front of the Justice of the Peace that I was making a huge mistake, but...I felt trapped. If I said no, I didn't want to get married, I knew we'd be done. She was 30 and wanted a family and didn't want to be wasting her time dating. I loved her and I thought she'd change.
People don't change (unless they put in A LOT of HARD WORK, go to therapy, are determined to be better, do some major soul-searching, have a come-to-Jesus, change every aspect of their life so they can be a better person). So in general, people don't change. It's too much work. It's easier to sit in your shit, drink yourself stupid and blame everyone around you.
I left her when I was 23.
When, miraculously, a good man actually saw beneath all of that and STILL loved me, I loved him back as much as I could and then rewarded him by cheating on him. Multiple times with multiple people. I was an awful girlfriend to him and still to this day am so sorry for how I treated him. This time I was the alcoholic and drug addict. I had become the person that I had been dating; a complete asshole who only cared about herself with no regard for other people's feelings. I felt so lonely and awful and dead inside, and instead of dealing with it I continued to use drugs and alcohol for another six years.
I think the proper word is 'sabotage'. If you introduced me to someone wonderful, I'd find a way to fuck it all up. If you told me to stay away from that POS in the corner, he's a womanizer and does a lot of drugs, I'd slither my way over and end up making out with him. I loved the bad (ok, completely rotten) boys and my heart paid the price.
And then it happened.
I met the man of my dreams. He was everything on My List (you know The List, where we list off everything we want in a man). I was head-over-heels, this is THE ONE, can't get enough of you, where have you been all of my life?? He'd look me in the eyes and tell me how wonderful I was, how I was so powerful and amazing and strong and a Real Woman. No man had ever 'seen' me like that before, let alone tell me. I was hooked.
And he knew it.
And he was lying to me and fucking around the whole time we dated.
Devastated doesn't even come close to what I felt. My heart felt ripped out of my body. I cried every single day for a month. I'd wake up sobbing. How broken is your heart when you wake up out of a deep sleep sobbing??? Crushed. Shattered. Split wide open and dying inside. A gaping hole where my heart was.
When I finally came out of that fog, I made a promise to myself to not date anyone for a year. And then one year turned into two years. I did some seriously (expensive) deep work in therapy, group and individual, read as many self-help books as I could, went to church (Center for Spiritual Living), to The Kadampa Meditation Center in Seattle. I prayed, meditated, contemplated, stared at walls. I journaled and cried and worked on me. I realized I was worth so much more than what I was getting, and so I stopped putting up with bullshit. I was able to recognize red flags and found the strength to walk away.
Fast forward to yesterday...our two year anniversary.
Even in the middle of my multiple alcoholic and toxic relationships, I knew things were supposed to be easy. I knew in my heart that love wasn't supposed to be hard, it wasn't supposed to hurt and it certainly wasn't supposed to be crying myself to sleep. I always felt so suffocated and trapped, like a caged animal. I craved that love connection but chose people who weren't a good fit, and then stayed way past my time. I've learned so many lessons, some over and over until I really got it.
I knew in my heart that love was supposed to fun, respectful, empowering and liberating. I didn't know what it would look like but I knew it was possible. Lionel Richie sang so many love songs and he couldn't be lying to me, dammit!!
He'd been right under my nose for 9 years!! Totally in the Friend Zone and out of my sight. I was busy partying and being a hot mess and he was busy working on his own sobriety and being his awesome self. And then he moved to Grand Cayman. A year later he offered me a place to live until I found a job and got on my feet.
And he forever changed my life.
He has continued to change me in so many ways in the last two years. Four countries, one cat, four apartments, countless belly laughs, a niece, meeting families and parents, vacations together and solo, late night talks at the dinner table, scaring the shit out of each other and laughing, the highest level of sarcasm, so.much.eating, two major surgeries, starting a business, inside jokes, sobriety and just.plain.fun. Never before have I felt free when loving another person. He's just so easy to be around and it's the best feeling in the world. He's not scared to send me to the most romantic country on earth alone (Italy) so I can fulfill a dream. He pushes me, supports me, laughs at me and takes such good care of me. He has helped me become the woman I knew I could be.
Feeling deep gratitude for my life, my love, and for all of the hurt and lessons that got me to where I am today.