Warning: this post is super long and mentions sex a lot so if you’re a prude…don’t read it? Haha!
I met James on Halloween night in 2014.
I’d been invited to a party hosted by one of the girls in my new group of friends. The group I had ingratiated myself with after my friendship circle of ten years cast me out in favour of my ex.
I was super excited to attend the party, as I felt like it was an opportunity to dress up, cement my new friendship bonds and finally do something fun.
I thought it would be hilarious to go to the party dressed as a corpse bride, given my husband had left me only three and a half months prior.
So I found an old wedding dress in a Salvation Army shop and then my mother and I spent hours coating it in blood. Then we tore up a veil, bloodied and dirtied it and splattered blood all over a bunch of white flowers. Finally, we covered my exposed skin in cuts, bruises and blood then painted my face to make me look dead.
I looked absolutely horrific and I absolutely loved it. I looked nothing like myself at all and all my new friends thought it was fantastic.
When I arrived at the party he came up to say hello and introduce himself. He was the older brother of the girl who was hosting the party, but as she was a few years younger than me it turns out that he and I were actually the same age.
He was dressed as a scary version of Willy Wonka – purple velvet suit, oversized purple top hat but macabre white face paint. I honestly had no idea what he looked like underneath his costume and didn’t really care to find out.
I quickly rushed off to join my friends and was surprised when he followed and pulled up a chair across from me. He wasn’t part of our little group so I wasn’t exactly sure why he wasn’t off enjoying the party with his own friends.
Like I said in my previous post, men were not on my radar and certainly not whilst I was dressed as a terrifying corpse bride. It didn’t even occur to me that he was hanging around us because he was somehow interested in me.
I was having coffee with a friend the following day when my phone buzzed and I realised that he had sent me a friend request over Facebook.
“Oh God no.” said my friend, rolling her eyes. “You’ve just gotten rid of your stupid Willy Wonka husband, you don’t need another Willy Wonka in your life.”
I laughed so hard I spat coffee all over the table, but accepted his friend request nonetheless.
Browsing through his Facebook photos, I realised he was actually quite good looking. He was the total opposite of my husband, who was 5’5” and nerdy with red hair and glasses (think Ron Weasley, only wearing Harry Potter’s glasses).
In stark contrast, James was very tall and muscular with dark hair, golden tanned skin and eyes that were a curious mix of green and blue. More of a Channing Tatum than a Harry Potter.
But whilst my husband was a high flying executive with a hefty salary and a corporate car, James had never been to university and instead dropped out of school when he was 16 to become a truck driver.
I’d lived a sheltered upper middle class life and had never even met someone who didn’t finish school. I couldn’t imagine we had very much at all in common.
But there was something about him that I found interesting, so when he asked for my phone number and invited me to dinner the following Tuesday night I nervously agreed.
I’d been on a couple of dates with a couple of different guys after my husband left, but always hated the experience, never gone back for a second date and definitely never let them kiss me. I wondered if it would be the same with James.
Tuesday rolled around and we had a lovely dinner. I discovered that he had a four year old son from a previous marriage, and had just as much baggage as I did. His wife had remarried, and taught their son to call her new husband dad so the poor kid was very confused about the fact he had two fathers.
Despite the fact we clearly led very different lives I actually found myself attracted to him. I ended the date feeling very optimistic.
But the next day I received a message from James letting me know that whilst he found me to be a very nice person, he wasn’t romantically interested in me and he hoped we could be friends.
I was a bit shocked, but honestly not upset as I’d really only just met the guy. I agreed that I’d like to be friends and completely forgot about the whole episode.
A week later I saw him at the wedding of a mutual friend. It was a “party wedding” at a rural site where all the guests stayed overnight in dormitory style accommodation. Once again, to my surprise, he made a beeline straight for me and even sat next to me at the reception.
There was an abundance of alcohol flowing, and I’d hardly had a drink in the years since I began IVF treatment. But that night I knocked back eight shots of vodka and kept the drinks coming. To say I was drunk would be an understatement.
James ended up just as drunk as I was, somehow managed to hit his head and a few of us all helped him back to his dorm room to lie down (yes well done…a bunch of wasted idiots helped the potentially concussed guy to sleep…).
But after we helped him into bed and all went to leave, he asked me to stay behind. Still thinking nothing of it, I flopped onto the bed next to him. I was shocked when he confessed that despite his best efforts to keep things platonic, he was extremely attracted to me and then he kissed me.
We didn’t take it any further that night. Firstly because we were both so drunk we’d lost majority of our motor skills and secondly because he was sharing his dorm room with others and it would have been weird to do anything intimate with people wandering in and out of the room. Obviously…
The next morning I brushed the encounter aside. We’d both been intoxicated and I’d had a sneaky pash with a guy that wasn’t my husband for the first time in many years. So I was very surprised when he invited himself to my place the following evening to watch movies.
After that, we started hanging out almost every night. He even introduced me to his four year old son Isaac, who he had custody of every second weekend. We’d go to dinner, we’d hang out at my place, we’d go for ice cream. It was fun and innocent. We’d kiss and hold hands but I’d never let it get any further than that.
In the end it got to the point that even my mother was pressuring me to take things further with James. She kept on telling me there was nothing stopping me and I needed to move on with my life. She suggested I have a few drinks to take the edge off my anxiety and then just…go for it.
In the end James did the hard work for me. We were at my place one evening and he suddenly informed me that he’d brought a condom. I told him I was extremely apprehensive as I hadn’t been with anybody except for my husband since I was a teenager. He was very understanding and promised to take things very slow.
Having sex with someone who wasn’t my husband was quite honestly devastating. I had no clue what I was doing because I was so used to Doug’s little intimate quirks. James was totally different to Doug. I didn’t know where to put my hands. I didn’t know where to look so I just kept my eyes shut. All the sensations were just totally different. He didn’t smell like Doug, he didn’t feel like Doug, he didn’t taste like Doug, he didn’t sound like Doug.
It made me miss my husband, yet at the same time made me realise that our marriage was truly over as there was no going back from this point.
After it was over, James suggested he stay the night with me but I asked him to leave. I couldn’t believe how horrible the experience had been. Once he was gone I phoned my cousin crying, telling her I hated sex and I never planned to do it ever again. She just laughed at me and suggested I’d soon change my mind.
Once again James surprised me by calling the next day and inviting me out to dinner. I thought for sure I’d never hear from him again.
Even more surprising, after our date he was clearly willing to go for round two.
To be honest I can’t remember when sex with James turned from horrific to amazing. It definitely wasn’t the second time or even the third. But I can tell you that his patience with me was outstanding. He never once made it seem like my clear lack of experience was a problem.
But suddenly one day I realised that I was actually enjoying myself. The things that made sex with James different were the things that made sex with James better.
He was much stronger than Doug and much more willing to try…um…more adventurous things? He never judged me or my body. Never made me feel silly. Never said anything along the lines of “respectable girls don’t do those things” like Doug used to tell me. It was like I was having my eyes opened for the first time.
Almost overnight, it seemed like my life was completely turned around.
James started spending the whole weekend at my house, even when he had custody of his son.
Isaac and I bonded almost immediately, and he loved having sleepovers at my place. Suddenly my spare room was full of his toys. Something I never imagined would happen after my husband left me. It was truly amazing.
James was very understanding of my infertility, and had no problem letting me take over some of the menial parenting tasks like bath time and cooking dinner. I’d sit next to the bath and listen to Isaac talk about silly nonsense while he played with his rubber ducks. It made me feel like a whole person again.
In the mornings, Isaac would come running into my bedroom about 5am, climb into bed with us and curl up with his arm and leg thrown across my body. He would tell me I was beautiful just like his “other mum.” Of course I would correct him and tell him that his mother was his only mother, but he was confused because he already had two dads so he didn’t see it as a problem to have two mums.
Having James and Isaac in my life even made my first Christmas without my husband a magical experience.
James and I went shopping together to pick out Christmas presents for Isaac. We wrapped them and placed them under my Christmas tree.
Then on Christmas Eve we took Isaac around the neighbourhood to visit all the houses that had awesome Christmas light displays. After dinner, we watched Christmas movies and James took Isaac upstairs to put him to bed.
As I was heading up to join them, I noticed our thongs (flip flops for you Americans haha) on the landing all lined up from biggest to smallest. I suddenly felt kind of like…I belonged to a family. I wasn’t alone anymore.
The next morning Isaac was sooooo excited to discover Santa had visited him overnight. He actually shouted out “Daddy! Sadie! Santa has left me gifts! This is bloody excellent!” and James had to tell him off for swearing hahaha.
After we all had breakfast, James took Isaac back to his mother’s house. But it was still just so lovely to wake up on Christmas to a happy, excited kid in the house for the first time ever. I honestly didn’t miss my husband at all.
The following day, Boxing Day, was hot and humid. So James and I spent most of the day floating in the pool and enjoying each other’s company. We made plans for New Years Eve and I realised I was actually looking forward to 2015.
Little did I know, everything was about to drastically change…
(to be continued in part 2!!)