One year ago today I was in an airport in Qatar, by myself, looking for sunglasses in the duty-free shop. I did not find the sunglasses...but what I found instead was almost enough to make up for the fruitless search... ;)
What I found instead was something I certainly was not looking for, nor even knew if I wanted it at the time. What I found was destined by something much bigger than me; and no matter what happens, it's something that was, still is, and hopefully always will be, a bright shining light in my life. What I found instead has shown me that I can trust again when I had just about written it off as a lost cause...
What I found instead goes by the name of Paolo (or Paldo J. Fox). And today I'd like to thank him for joining me on this journey. When Paolo and I met, I was in a place where I couldn't talk about my past without breaking down. We'd be sitting in a romantic outdoor cafe in Rome or walking through the streets of Casablanca and if the topic of my marriage came up, it was still so raw that I had a hard time keeping the tears back. For most men, I would imagine this would be a major red flag, like, "call me when you've lost the baggage". But not for Paolo. He would listen, ask questions, and allow me to show myself--my real self--open wounds and all. I never felt judged because I was getting a divorce and he always told me how amazing he thought I was for deciding to handle this intensely difficult period the way I did. At that point in time, it was exactly what I needed to hear. It had been a long time since I had a man tell me that he admired me for just being me. I had spent a lot of time by myself on that trip and personally I felt good about what I was doing. I felt stronger each day. But no one can argue with some positive reinforcement--especially when it's coming with a cute Italian accent!
He understood that initially part of me was closed off and that even if I wanted to open myself to this relationship fully, I couldn't, because subconsciously I was still protecting myself. Anyone that has been through a traumatic break-up knows how terrifying it can be to allow yourself to feel again. The pain is so vivid that sometimes it's easier to just avoid altogether. Instead of pressuring me he just held space for me in his heart--wide open--for the day that I was ready to crawl inside.
He was with me the day I got divorced and the day I found out Leslie was having a baby. Both days I could barely look at him, I could barely move. But he never allowed me to feel guilty for not being able to give to him or our relationship at that time. Again, he just waited, heart wide open, waiting for me to crawl back in. He has shown me what it means to be completely accepting and his patience is unmatched by anyone I know. He just has an innate understading of human nature and is able to be completely unselfish because of it. When he knew that I was going to need time he never took it personally and he never pushed me for more. It takes a strong man to be able to do that. It takes someone who knows himself and his own worth to be able to trust that I will indeed comeback and no coersion is needed.
His stability, consistancy and eternal optimism kept me going when I didn't know if I could. Sometimes it's easier to do things for other people than it is to do for yourself, but he would never allow that. No decision I made could be for him. They could take him into consideration and ultimately benefit him, but they always had to be for me.
I have never met a man like Paolo before. The personal qualities that so many of us strive to achieve, he's been blessed with from the beginning. And somehow, in the Middle East, in a duty-free sunglass shop I was also blessed.
So amore mio, this one is for you. Thank you for making me smile every single one of the past 365 days. You've been my rock. I love you. Happy Anniversary.