Wow. What a wild two months this has been for me.

The last time I wrote here (apart from mentioning my friend who took his own life on February 11, 2004), I had just filed for divorce, wasn't sure how things were going to work out, and was pretty terrified.

Today, things are different, and not just in the obvious ways. First, a chronological update of what happened after my last post on January 17, 2004 on the subject.

Monday, January 19, 2004
This technically began the night before, but my life changed forever around 5:00am Monday. I was having trouble sleeping, as always; I stayed up late while my (now ex-)wife went to bed around 4:00am. I finally wandered into bed around 5:00am, and she hadn't fallen asleep yet. We argued for awhile, when she finally got frustrated and hit me. Not hard, but a good shove in the back.

That was it. That was the moment it all changed. I'd taken her abuse for years, and that was it. No more; not another second. At that moment, I got up, started getting dressed, and tried to leave. She tried to stop me, and after half an hour and a call to the police, I finally got out.

Because of the divorce, her mother was flying in from Colorado to help her get things together and prepare for the move. Because her mother's a complete and utter cheap bastard, she flew into Laughlin, Nevada instead of directly to Las Vegas, Nevada. This meant my ex-wife had to drive all the way out there, pick her happy ass up, and drive all the way back. I stayed gone long enough for her to leave towards Laughlin. Then I started packing my car to leave for good.

I had two arms full of stuff left to load, and as I started to put one of them into the car, I saw what I hoped I wouldn't have to see. She'd gotten back. Another call to the police, a heated argument between myself, my ex-wife, and her mother, and an hour later, I was on the road to California to start a new life.

Thursday, March 4, 2004
Today, I have all my debts (except the house), and little else. I have my car, and my ex-wife still has the other one. I'm flying back one last time to pick up the last of the belonging I'm claiming, and to bring the other car back. She can't pay for it, so she can't keep it.

As of February 5, 2004, I am divorced. The car is the only remaining tie I have to that old life, and this weekend I will reclaim it and sever that final bond. Until I do that, I know the relationship I have with a very special woman here can't grow any stronger or go any further. That is unacceptable to me, and this weekend I will correct the issue.

The house is gone. I remember writing about it in the daylogs here and in my own personal "about me" spot on the willfe account. I was so excited to have it, so thrilled to know it was mine. Now, it no longer is. I have two car-fulls of my personal belongings, my car, and my debts left. Not a whole lot. Rather like the Narrator in Fight Club, I have realized that I don't need much to be happy. That brings me to...

The New Relationship
This part was the most unexpected, but surely also the most wonderful change in my life.

I originally met this lovely lady online, just as it is in most of these modern-day stories. I met her in person for the first time in early January this year, a week before my ex-wife and I filed for divorce. There was chemistry, to be sure, from the moment we met, and I still look back on that day and smile like I've never smiled before.

When I went back to Vegas after that weekend, things got worse between myself and my ex-wife. This woman was my pillar, and the catalyst I needed to finally turn on the strength and courage I had buried deep within me, slice through all the abuse, confusion, and anger that defined my life, and get the hell out.

Among the things she said to me, what stood out the most was the offer that I could come live with her for awhile if things got bad and I needed to escape. She'd help me get back on my feet, and I wouldn't have to worry about food and shelter at the very least. That was the final thing I needed to finally reach the conclusion that leaving was the right thing to do. I had the need to get out, I had a means of getting somewhere, and finally, I had a place to go that would get me far away from my ex-wife, and put me in a wonderful position to get back out into the world and pick up working on my career.

Erica (the beautiful woman I've been gushing about) stayed true to her word, and when I told her what had happened that Monday she reminded me that I was welcome. I hadn't slept in over a day but I made the 10 hour drive anyway and arrived at her door tired and broken. Just as I had asked for in my last daylog entry here on the subject, she let me crumble to pieces and then helped put me back together.

For a few days, as I got settled in and she got used to me being around, it seemed like we were going to get along just fine, working and living well together. Then, we both began to recognize there was more than just friendship at work, and it dawned on us that it was love.

An Interlude
I should pause the tale here to talk about what I felt inside the very day I met her in person. Words can't describe it very well, but it's never felt anything like that with anyone else I've ever known. The attraction was instant, obviously, but it was deeper than that. I knew (and I didn't realize I knew until just two days ago) I was in the presence of someone very special, someone who will be by my side forever and never let me go.

Back to It...
As we talked about becoming serious, the issue of her former lover came up. They have been friends for a long time, and had been dating up until very shortly before I first arrived. Because he didn't want it to be over, and because she didn't want to hurt him, he didn't quite realize fully that it was over until a week after I moved in.

That was a hard weekend -- it hurt Erica deeply to go through that conversation and argument with him, because she still cares about him. Having met him two weeks prior and worked with him on a difficult, time-sensitive and mission critical project, I understand why she cares about him. He's a pretty good person. If my relationship with Erica hadn't happened the way it has, he and I would be pretty good friends.

After that, though, we talked about us. We talked about the possibility that she and I might not work out together in the long term. She asked me whether I'd abandon her, and her business, if it didn't work out. I told her I wouldn't. I told her that I was here for her in whatever capacity she needed me. I told her how I felt about her, and about our relationship, and we chose to move forward with it.

Until last Sunday, things were wonderful. I could feel something coming as early as last Friday, but Sunday is when it really came to a head and she told me what was brewing in her mind.

She had decided she isn't finished with him entirely. Sunday, she told me she didn't think it was going to work out between us.

That's When I Started to Change
I almost gave up. I was very close to just throwing in the towel on everything -- letting her go, letting my life go, letting it all go. Sunday night, when she told me, I cried a good amount, told her I wanted her to keep trying, but got nowhere. She seemed pretty firm and has made up her mind.

Monday, I fell back into that horrible pit of self-pity, that does nobody any good. She proved she still cared for me deeply by all but bitch-slapping me out of it. She used the perfect combination of harsh tone, intolerance, and frustration (finally saying "Fuck this, I'm not listening to any more of this, I'm done.") to get me out of it.

Monday night, I stayed up late and dove into my mind and soul to figure out who I really was, and what I really wanted. I emerged from that plunge a new man.

I also realized what I knew for a long time but hadn't recognized before now.

Throughout my life, I've been a mildly timid and shy person. I had a horrible self-image, no confidence whatsoever, and so on. She accepted me even with those two glaring faults, but decided it was time to let me go. She said it wasn't anything I did, or didn't do. She said she and I are right for each other, and that we are great together, and that it was just a timing issue (if only she'd met me first, etc.).

Monday night, I mustered up all my strength and forced a change that has been needed for a long damned time. Literally overnight, like a switch flipping in my mind, many things changed. I suddenly didn't think of myself as ugly and unattractive. I suddenly had lots of confidence.

Most importantly, I knew she is right for me at that moment.. No longer just "feeling", or "thinking", as in "I feel she's right for me," and "I think she's right for me." There was no question or doubt left. She is right for me. I no longer have any lingering self-doubt or self-pity. I am right for her.

I told her all this in the car Tuesday evening during an hour-long drive. I told her things. I didn't say "I feel," or "I think." I said "I know." I didn't falter, I didn't doubt myself, and I spoke with a confidence that I didn't previously think myself capable of.

I told her everything she was about to do was wrong (because it still is, if she ultimately chooses to go that way). I told her I knew we were right for each other. I told her I knew that trying to rekindle that old flame was just going to cause her pain and not much else. I told her that I knew with absolute certainty that she was "artificially" distancing herself from me, forcibly, denying feelings and what she also knows because it's a bit intimidating, and because she still feels bad for him.

I made it perfectly clear, without any room for ambiguity, that I stood ready to be by her side now and forever. That I was ready for a full-on relationship with her, good and bad, tough times and good, and that I would never leave her side. I described to her what our lives will be like together in ten years, in fifteen years. I shared my hopes and dreams with her, and promised her I'd make sure she achieved hers. I gave her a list of "logical" reasons why we're right for each other a mile long, then, after being objective for the whole car trip and telling it like it was, I gave her the emotional reasons too.

I love her dearly, more than anyone I've ever known. Every single day she gives me new strength, new character, and makes me a better man. Every day, I do the same for her -- providing her with someone to rant to, someone to listen to, and someone there to help hold her up when things get bad. It's not a selfish desire of mine to stay with her; it's what is right for both of us.

She'd already told me she thought we were close to perfection. I had accepted that but then chosen to let her try out what she told me she wanted Sunday. But I let myself forget, for a bit at least, that she'd warned me she might try to push me away, and that I shouldn't let her do it.

Tuesday, I finally acted to make sure she didn't just push me away. I proved to her that I would fight to the ends of the world for her, that I would stand up strong and tall, proudly proclaiming that I am good enough for her, that I do deserve her, and that she deserves me. I can give her the entire world on a silver platter, and she can make me invincible. Together, we have an incredible life ahead of us.

Apart, I know our lives won't be nearly as good. After I told her all this, she thanked me, and said she was hoping to hear me tell her those things.

Where Are We Now, Then?
A hard place. She is still working out a lot of things inside. Lots of logical and emotional arguments going back and forth there in her mind and heart, to be sure. She's withdrawn a bit -- we're not as touchy-feely or intimate, and the "dating" part of our relationship is on hold.

That part is hard for me -- I got used to her very quickly, and became very comfortable with holding and touching her, being close to her, and showing all that emotion to the entire world. Right now, she has still distanced herself from me in that regard, and that hurts. I know she's doing it because she thinks it's what's best for her at the moment -- to protect herself from getting more attached in either direction before she makes a decision.

Still, knowing that doesn't make it feel any better for me. It's a bit colder; I can't just randomly hold her at night, cuddle her, give her a kiss, or hold her hand when she's upset. We flirt like crazy, but it always stops there. It's awkward, because I know she wants more than that, but is forcing herself to hold back. I told her tonight that I wish she wouldn't do that; it's hurting us both needlessly. I naturally don't want to push her into anything forcefully. That isn't right. But I know that we are right, and I'm not letting go of that.

We deserve each other. We deserve that relationship. It deserves a chance.

I know all these things. I have known them for months, but didn't realize it until Monday night this week. By telling her about all of it, I have given her the last piece she needs to put our relationship back together and move it forward.

I have to be here for her, through all this awkward "distance" and painful "just give me more time" moments, to help her through this. I will be here for her, and I will help her make it through this. We will make it, and we'll emerge stronger, and more in love with each other than when we started.

My friends have commented lately that I am a completely different person from the one they used to know. It's because I know everything I've said to Erica, and written here, are true. There's no doubt anymore. No wriggle room for my mind to pull its old self-doubt tricks.

I know more than anything else that we belong together, and we will be together when this is all done with. This is my proving grounds, where I must repeatedly prove myself to her. I know all these things are true, but my real task is to prove them to her. I must continually prove my value, my worth, my self-confidence, and that my knowledge is true.

I will.

I love you, Erica. The man you heard from Tuesday in the car is the one who stands ready to be with you, right now, and all the way until he breathes his last breath. He is the man you will have; you need only give the word, and he's yours. He will prove himself to you every day of his life, and be there to help you, support you, and love you every day of yours. The days of self-pity, hesitation, and self-doubt are over.

We can put all this behind us. I can help you heal. You know your friendship with him will never end, and that I will never interfere with that. He will be okay in the long run. You know, though, as much as I do, that you and I are the right people for each other. I've told you why, and I've told you how I know. It's up to you to take that knowledge and run with it. I'll help you get through the pain you face, and I will be yours forever. I will bring out the best in you, let you shine, and help you show the world what you can do. We will nail every goal and dream we put forth, because there simply is no alternative. We will not, can not, fail.

I have gone through a huge amount of change over the past two months, all for the better. Some of those changes were for you, and some was for me. I am not motivated by selfishness or lust. I want what is right for both of us. I haven't just changed for you. I've done it for me as well. I'm a stronger, better person now, and I will continue to improve myself until the day I die. With you by my side, I'll become even better, and I can't wait to share that with you.

Let's do this together, Erica.