What a weekend I’ve had! It started on such a high – to be honest it started on Thursday night when my boyfriend (yes, we’ve reached that ‘labelled’ phase) came over and cooked for me (a delicious Indian meal from scratch – call me easily pleased but I was impressed!) to a wonderful day together on Friday, the evening of which he went home and I had an early night in preparation for my early start on Saturday.
I took the 7.34 train into central London – initially to pop straight over to one of the year’s biggest blogging conferences for which I’ve had my ticket for some time. However out of the blue one of my best friends in the world messaged me earlier in the week to tell me she was over in London on business and had a 24 hour window to spare before flying back out to San Francisco so I altered my plans slightly and went up to Soho to have a long breakfast in a restaurant with her and catch up on our four lost years before she hopped in a taxi to Heathrow and I jumped back on the tube to Kings Cross.
I had had my doubts about attending a blog conference at a time when I feel so useless as a blogger – like tumbleweed has been blowing through the pages of my public facing site, but I’m so glad I went because not only was it great to catch up with lots of friendly faces but I also came away feeling really inspired and fired up to start thinking and writing again and to ‘find my voice’ the way so many others have found theirs over the course of the last three years.
All in all Saturday was completely awesome – I had some hassle from the husband over the airwaves but even when I arrived home to take the reins from my mum the kids were absolutely fine and completely happy which made my evening a calm and peaceful one.
The tide then turned on Sunday morning when I received a phone call out of the blue from the husband informing me (in a really shitty way) that he was dumping his flexi time at work and would, from now on, not be available to have the children on Thursdays any more – something which had been agreed very amicably and to everyone’s benefit back at the end of August in our last mediation session.
I got really upset, tearful and anxious, during that conversation. It simply felt like he was trying to re-assert his control over my life and routine – throwing me back into our continual haphazard ‘arrangement’ regarding child contact.
I later asked my 7 year old whether or not daddy had been asking questions about my life and my friends and whilst the boys don’t know I’ve started a new relationship they have met my boyfriend who is just known to them as a friend and yes, my eldest has mentioned him to daddy. Suspicions duly aroused…
The second part of this downward spiral today happened later on. I took the boys over to my parents house for a pre-arranged roast lunch. Boyfriend & I had discussed whether or not it was too soon to mention our new relationship to my parents and came to the decision that it was better out in the open. I hate the feeling of lying and covering things up to them and I wanted them to get their heads around the situation sooner rather than later so it seemed like the right thing to do.
Unfortunately the timing was particularly bad after my tears in the morning – they were drawn back into this very stressful part of my post-break up world and weren’t very receptive to what I had to say. In fact my dad’s first reaction to the news that I’ve begun dating someone new was “Oh god, couldn’t you just become a lesbian?”, which, as you can imagine went down with me like a lead balloon (no offence to the lesbian community!).
Now, I realise that, in their eyes, I am a shit judge of character when it comes to men. I’ve made some bad choices, I admit, but the last one I made was ten years ago and I’m not naïve – I have reached a point where I am screening frantically the whole time, just looking for those red flags to pop up above the parapet.
They quizzed me on everything from his job to his home to whether or not we’d ‘done the deed’ (oh god, for shame!). The one thing that put me right on the back foot though, was my dad saying “what are your shared interests?”, to which I stuttered and stammered like a broken record.
They sent me off with a look of disappointment and recrimination (at least that’s how it felt).
Later on I pondered on their point of view. Maybe they are being the voice of reason just worrying and looking out for their vulnerable daughter (who, let’s face it, is costing them quite a bit both financially and emotionally). But from my point of view they are sitting way outside of my experience.
They’ve been pretty happily married for over 50 years. They’ve never found themselves back on the dating scene in middle age. They are assuming that there is some kind of ‘Mr Right’ out there and that I’m taking short cuts and making snap decisions without stepping back to see the bigger picture. They could not possibly know what it is like to try and find a new partner later in life.
Now, no-one’s perfect and no relationship is perfect but I did begin to have this little niggle – what are our shared interests?! He’s not a big reader (I love books, writing and the English language), but he is less of an intellectual and more of an active, outdoorsy kind of person. I’m OK with that because I love the idea of an active life, travel, adventure, fresh air and exercise. But does his differing background disable our potential future?
I began to fear the worst until I came across an article called “Why shared values are more important than shared interests” and suddenly a lightbulb went on in my head. There is a reason, albeit subconscious up to this point, that I have spent a fair bit of time talking to the boyfriend about his political and religious leanings, his attitude to feminism and equality in general and the anatomy of his previous failed relationships.
I have wanted to understand the relationships he has with his family members and his friends too and I’ve wanted to give him full disclosure on all of my own values. And all of these queries of mine have superseded anything more shallow we may have discussed (favourite movies, hobbies or pastimes).
Don’t get me wrong I think that it helps things along immensely to have some shared interests but I also think that being with someone who is tolerant and supportive of your own interests and pursuits, whether or not they are shared, is a huge deal. I have just come out of a relationship where, not only did we not really share any interests but where my partner was resentful and discouraging towards the pursuits that really mattered to me. I don’t want to ever be made to feel that way again.
So that’s where things are at. I feel that I need to discuss some of this with the boyfriend but I’m also a little bit afraid to put any kind of a downer on this very strong feeling which I think we both have right now of being in love with one another.
As my sister says, whatever happens the emotional support I’m receiving from the boyfriend along with what I class as the amazing trip I’m getting off the back of all these feel good brain chemicals surging through my head at this point is an end in itself even if it all comes to nothing.