It is almost two years since Alex and I became friends. Over time, friends would come and ask me “What is going on between you and Alex?” The easiest explanation give may not have been the easiest one to understand: We are building a house, piece by piece, adding our own type of mortar and allowing time to set in to make sure its solid.
What began as two people coming together in friendship after marital separations became something more…but that takes time with a heaping cupful of patience. First, we had to dig the foundation and dig out the junk lying in the basement. We needed to get ourselves clear of years of built up pain and hurt. The physical and metaphorical merged when we actually spent time crawling into his basement and removing mounds of dirt for an insulation project. We both needed a friend for help and support as we navigated our way into our new lives.
We always kept an open dialogue of keeping our own pace through things which may not be the pace others would have taken. So many times, people fall out of marriages and relationships and fall immediately into another without fully knowing the whole person. Knowing there is something there and purposefully taking time to see how the person unfolds takes a lot of patience. It is akin to building a house with bricks. Once the basement is clear, bricks begin to be placed, creating a strong foundation. Each brick may represent a memory, acceptance, understanding, communication, anything that when accumulated together provides strength. The mortar is the care and understanding that “good things come to those who wait”. It takes time for the mortar to dry and become strong. If you rush to build too quickly, the whole foundation will crumble. Last year, he and I really took the time to see how we communicate together as well as a family unit with the girls. May I be so bold and say that him losing his job and being unemployed for 10 months was a blessing? With me home and him home, we had a very unique opportunity most couples and families rarely get: 2 parental figures home all summer with all the girls. It provided us lots of quality time together to watch the ebb and flow as we formed our own family dynamic with all of our girls. The girls came first. They needed to know that we cared about them and feel secure in our love for them before we shifted ourselves from our “friendship” into something more. Kind and loving words to the children built the next layer of our house.
Yes, at that time, I was being bombarded with impatient questions from friends and family about “WHAT IS GOING ON??? Has he kissed you yet?” They were concerned that I was holding out for something or someone that was not real. It is hard to explain to others what you feel in your gut to be true. I knew or rather felt inside how he felt and would always give the same answer : He is not ready. He needs time to work his stuff out inside him. Give him the time he needs and he will give you more than you could have thought possible.
Every few months there is a new corner to turn and new challenges, but somehow through communication and understanding we are able to make it through that juncture. As the new year begins, I am still noticing shifts and opportunities for growth and welcome them. We have created a strong foundation that it is ok if there is space between our times together for each of us to work on our own stuff. I see us working on the windows of the house now, each one connected through the set foundation, but with distance in between. Eventually, the window will become whole and we come together again, stronger.
There are so many things that can plague new friendships and relationships. We have made it through the hurdle of unemployment and it made us stronger. The months ahead will not be smooth sailing as he begins his own divorce and transitioning the girls into their own beds. Those two events, taken individually, are hard enough. So many transitions over the coming months will be met head on and dealt with with the same kindness, caring, and understanding that has helped us before. Knowing that we have the courage to communicate our thoughts and feelings to each other is the glue. It is really hard to expose yourself, really expose your concerns and needs because there is a fear that all that you built will crumble away. However, it is that courage and willingness that actually binds and holds everything together stronger.
Have the courage to communicate with whomever you meet because this is your life you are building. You life is built upon the words, intentions, and actions. Make it honest. Make it strong.