So I’m going to tell you how it came to be that I’m dating Jim.
I phrase my reply exactly the same every time someone asks how we got together—“My husband left me for another woman, and I am dating her ex-husband.” Then I see a perplexed face followed by a processing look, then comprehension and a smile or a laugh and very often a way-to-go. “That’s it!” I’ll be told, “That’s the best revenge!” And I’m grateful for the exuberance, but this was never about revenge.
From the time I learned out about his extramarital dalliance, Mark made clear that if our marriage was going to have any chance, I had to stop all communication with Jim. Don’t respond to emails! Block his phone number! Skirt him at church! Jim was poison; he was going to put things in my head about the affair that weren’t true.
If you ask Jim about that time, he’ll tell you that he was angry with me for cutting contact. For him, salvaging his marriage meant rallying and sharing information. For me it was doing what my husband wanted, and my wayward spouse was paranoid that any sliver of information about him that I might accidentally spill to Jim would be used to somehow destroy him.
Once our divorce suit was filed and I knew the Ellikers were in the same place, I reached out to Jim. My partner at work has been divorced for 14 years, has two kids, and is Mormon. She hasn’t remarried, and that makes her unique, for within the Mormon culture there tends to be a rush to wed once a divorce is done. As she discovered the details of what was going on with our marriages, she told me, “I would love to help Jim and his kids if I could.” So I emailed Jim her contact information.
To tell the truth, I planned to marry them off. Happily Ever After. The End. But those two, um, weren’t a good fit. (I, however, am a terrific fit. Just ask. He’ll confirm. At least he better . . . )
But she did give advice and insight, and he was grateful. That’s something I admire about Jim—he is never too proud to ask for help and accepts assistance graciously.
In November I let Mark watch the dog while I went to New York with Amber and Jessica. See, back then I thought that we could have some kind of amicable split. When he came over to return my Soph, I mentioned something about Jim. I think I said that he offered to cut me a Christmas tree.
“Wait, you are in contact with him?” Mark was alarmed.
“Yeah, he’s my friend.”
“He only wants to harm me.”
“I understand that desire. And I can’t fault him for it. Did you or did you not sleep with his wife?”
“Don’t talk to him.”
“I need a friend.”
“Find a different one.”
“I want this one. He understands what I’m going through.” I opened the door so Mark would go, “And you and I are getting a divorce.”
On the very date that my divorce was absolute, I felt comfortable texting Jim and asking if I could take him to lunch. Why wait until the divorce was final? Because I was scared that anything I might do that would piss Mark off would lead him to try to change the divorce arrangements and find a way to screw me further. But it was complete, so I felt free to do as I wished. And what I wished was to heal and help heal.
While I was certainly a victim of someone else’s shitty choices, it took me months to see that I wasn’t the main casualty. It was Jim’s four kids. I was especially concerned about his 11-year-old daughter since I’m pretty sure that that age is one of the worst possible times a girl’s parent can go batshit crazy and dissolve her secure environment. So I asked Jim out specifically to inquire after that kid.
Once we were at lunch though, my motives expanded. I’d been needing to find someone to make out with, and sitting across from Jim at a booth in Granite Street Eatery, I decided it would be him. In our beginning, I wasn’t looking for a relationship; I just wanted to get some.
There were barriers though. He thought of me as a little sister. Or rather, he thought, “If she were my sister, I’d want someone to be kind to her, so that’s what I’ll do.”
Friends had set him up with some other lady that he was starting to like more than I was comfortable with. So as I got closer with Jim and his family—going to his house to do origami, helping wrap Christmas presents—I maneuvered her out of my way. I encouraged him to look for red flags. And then I magnified them. Nimbly, I relegated the woman from potential girlfriend to casual pal.
Then I steered him my way. While bashing our genius exes one night I commented how moronic Mark was to go for such an older woman. “That’s not how it should go,” I said. “But it’s different when the man is much older. That’s totally acceptable.”
Jim sees this as the turning point, as the waaait-a-minute moment when he realized that despite being 16 years his junior, this little thing in front of him was a prospect.
Guys, I got married when cell phones were scarce, so I had never experienced the charge of initial flirtation via text. Holy smokes, it’s sensational! Constant contact. You can reread what your quarry wrote. The butterflies that rushed me whenever Jim Elliker showed up on my screen can’t be overstated. He was—and still is—a constant heart thrill.
When I went to Utah to visit for Christmas I tried not to be too obvious about it, but it was “Jim this and Jim that” so much that The Family started to see that our association wasn’t just friends helping each other through a rough time; it was Megan getting smitten.
So one night in my parent’s family room, while I was obviously texting with Jim, my mom said, “Hey, invite Jim to your graduation. I wanna meet him.” Graduation was in two weeks. It was in Massachusetts. I asked him right then. Within minutes, he had a plane ticket.
It was on.
It took months for us both to have any confidence that what we are doing is a good idea. Our hearts had just been beat to shit, so how could we know if the way we felt was legitimate? Time and patience and trying to scare the hell out of one another with brutal honesty to see who blinks first helped us get to a place where we’re both secure. He makes me happier than I ever thought another person could. And, guys, our first kiss happened like in a movie. It was at the airport. There were snow flurries. I was wearing awesome boots. I called out to him at passenger pick up. He walked across the road, didn’t stop to speak, grabbed me, and kissed me until I was weak in the knees. Trust me, this is a very good idea.
In case you were wondering, yes, I do like it when people come up to me and say, “I read your blog, and . . . ” I like to know you’re there. It’s not stalking. You don’t have to apologize when you tell me you read a post. My blog ain’t private. It’s here for public consumption. Yeah, there’s some seriously personal shit on here, and I can understand if reading it makes you feel a little awkward—hey, I often feel awkward posting it—but I love writing reality, and this reality is what we’ve got for now.
No need to be bashful when you approach; I like you already. (Unless your feedback is unfavorable, in which case, I don’t mind at all if you stay anonymous.)