It’s been the hardest two years of my life, but today my world is a happier place

A life-changing lesson on love and acceptance.

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the gift of healing, forgiveness, and hope.

The last two years have been the most difficult of my life.

“Over the last year, I have become keenly aware of how quickly family life can change,” I wrote in a column last Thanksgiving. “This makes it difficult to recognize blessings, much less feel gratitude for them.”

RELATED | After the worst year of my life, this is why I’m thankful today

Several months ago my world became a much brighter and happier place. Just two months ago, I wrote about my experience re-entering the dating world as a divorced dad. There’s been such an outpouring of response, so today, I thought I’d update you on how things are going.

RELATED | Re-entering the dating world as a young divorced dad

It’s been about three months since I was set up on a date by my co-worker with one of her church friends. It was the second date I’d been on since my divorce was finalized.

Being out of the single dating scene for a decade left me unsure of what exactly a good dating experience looks like. I took her to dinner at a new Indian restaurant. She told me on the way in she loved Indian food. Brownie points for me.

I hate talking about myself so I asked her lots of questions. We spent the evening chatting and I took her home. We hugged and went our separate ways.

I had no idea how she felt about the evening, but as far as I was concerned it was a success because I didn’t say anything stupid, a common occurrence for me.

One day several weeks later, I received a text from her with the words,

“I had a really good time with you and would like to see you again. Would you like to do something Saturday?”

There are some who would say it isn’t right for a girl to ask a guy on a date, but for me, it was just what I needed.

“You bet,” I said in reply.

We went to dinner and a concert. She was much prettier than I remembered.

We spent some time chatting after the concert and again went our separate ways.

My feelings of happiness quickly died, however, when one of my coworkers, who went to the same concert, asked me about the date when I returned to work on Monday.

I told him I had a good time and then, for some reason, he asked who paid for dinner.

“She did,” I said matter-of-factly.

Everyone started to laugh and I responded by saying,

“She asked me. I offered to pay several times but she insisted since she was the one who asked me out.”

Prior to saying it out loud, this thought process seemed justifiable. But in that moment I felt like a schlub.

When I went out with her the following week, I apologized profusely for how I handled the situation and handed her $20. She wouldn’t take it.

The conversation then took a different turn, but that night I realized how good I felt being with her. I asked her if she was dating anyone else. Before answering, she said a co-worker showed her the column I’d written about re-entering the dating world as a divorced dad.

I purposely had not shared it with my friends on social media and was surprised to learn she’d read it. After commenting on the article, she said,

“I don’t want to date anyone else, Rett. You’re a good guy, and I want to date you. Is that alright?”

RELATED | I went home that night beaming with joy and the thought entered my mind, You’re a good man

She really does like me, I thought. I really don’t deserve this.

“I’m happy to hear you say that because that was the answer I was hoping for,” I said in reply.

We continued to see each other over the next several weeks. One night I wasn’t thinking and unknowingly said something stupid. It was intended to be funny but it didn’t come out right and she did not take it that way.

When I learned how it made her feel, I apologized and asked for her forgiveness.

“I already have,” she said.

Are people really this good? I thought. She really does love me. I really don’t deserve this.

It’s been three months since that first date, and despite my social ineptness, she still continues to date me. Knowing I’m also a divorced dad doesn’t seem to phase her.

It’s been a life changing lesson on love and acceptance and it’s taught me that there is life after divorce. Love that is given freely and unconditionally, no strings attached, is a precious gift that gives me strength and courage to move forward.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with love and peace.

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