A True Love Guest Post by Joanne from Australia
Note: This week I'm handing over my blog to five lovely souls who have shared their LOVE stories with me. I'd like to keep LOVE alive as an ongoing event, so if you have a story you'd like to share, please, pop me an email HERE and I'll post your story. Some of you may want to remain anonymous. And that's just fine. (I promise, stick a needle in my eye, to keep your identity hush-hush). Your story can be as long or as short as you want it to be. You can change names and locations. You can send me photos to post if you'd like. Mostly, though, and I speak from experience, writing and getting your story 'out there' feels just plain good. All I ask from you is that your story is about love, whether you are searching for it or have found it, that it delivers a positive message in the end, and that it is TRUE. Hey, in this crazy world of ours, we all need a little dash of HOPE.
With that said...take it away on Tuesday, Joanne:
My story is one of love lost and love found – it would be a great movie
I am now 50 years old and happily married but it has been a somewhat bumpy journey at times.
When I was 20 years old I went on my first ever holiday without my family. I went with a friend from university to a beach side resort. It was here that I met and fell in love with Brad. He was the most handsome man I had ever seen and I couldn’t believe he’d chosen me! As I still had 12 months of university left, we spent the next 12 months travelling 1000kms every 5 or 6 weeks to visit each other, usually just for a weekend. When I finished university I moved to Sydney to be with him. It was horrible leaving my family (I cried every night for a month) but I was so in love I had to be with him.
Brad and I were married three years after we first met, I started working as a teacher and he started his own business as a mechanic. Life was good. We built a house and then welcomed our beautiful twin daughters.
But Brad yearned for more of a challenge in his career and after a failed business venture, which meant I needed to return to work when our daughters were 5 months old, he eventually started what was to become a very successful business in the motor industry.
It was at this time that our marriage started to fall apart. Once our daughters were born it became evident to me that Brad was not prepared to change his lifestyle too much to be a Dad. He very much lived a bachelor lifestyle with many day trips and holidays with mates. The business was booming and we were becoming quite wealthy. Eventually we moved to a beautiful big house (I say ‘house’ because for me it was never really a home) and Brad urged me to give up work so that I could look after our investment properties.
I always felt insecure with Brad and worried constantly about him being unfaithful. There was obviously good reason for my worry because he was in fact unfaithful to me on several occasions during the course of our marriage. After 16 years of marriage, when our daughters were 13, it was over. He had been seeing a girl behind my back for 3 years. This affair began when the girl was 18yrs old; she was 18 years younger than Brad and I and only 8 years older than our daughters! She was young enough to be our daughter!!
The emotional decline I then went through was something I would not wish on anyone. I was living in Sydney, away from all my family and I had two daughters to look after. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. While my daughters were at school I can remember laying in bed, curled up in the fetal position, crying all day. I tried my best to be happy when my daughters were there but I don’t think I did a great job. Eventually I pulled myself together and went back to teaching because I’d missed it so much. There was a deep sadness inside me but I just kept going through the motions day after day.
A friend I taught with broke up with her fiancé and because she had to move house I suggested she come and live with us. She was a lot younger than me but I thought having another adult around would be good for both the girls and me. One day she suggested that I register on RSVP, which is an online dating site.
I was horrified and said “No way!”
Well, she managed to talk me into it and I went along with it for a bit of fun. Within a week, the first person I connected with via email was a guy named Pete. He was a carpenter and lived in Melbourne. This was good because I’d decided that I wanted to move back to Victoria to be closer to my family.
Pete’s story - I’ll try to keep it brief but his story would also make a great movie
Pete had been married twice before and has 5 children; I know! He sounds shocking on paper! I always tell him that. He went to England when he was in his early 20s, met an English girl and after she ‘accidentally’ became pregnant they were married. They had 3 children together but the marriage was never a good one. He realizes now that he should not have married her just because she was pregnant but he is an honorable man and felt that this was the right thing to do. When this marriage ended he met another English girl and she ‘accidentally’ became pregnant too! I always tell him he’s too nice and gullible (They were married and had 2 children. His second wife became a heavy drinker and Pete worked 3 jobs to keep them all going. He was also very sick at this time, with crohn’s disease, which was probably brought on by stress. He kept on going, working hard, usually in immense pain and looked after his family, as well as spending time with his other children. He too was left heartbroken when his wife had an affair and left him.)
So here he was, living in England, 5 children, 2 ex-wives and the rest of his family worried sick about him back in Australia. His crohn’s disease became worse and he had to have surgery to have part of his bowel removed. He almost died and lost an enormous amount of weight. His mother flew over to be with him and urged him to come home. At first he refused because he did not want to leave his children but he was so unwell and homesick for Australia that eventually he agreed.
After settling back into Australia his health improved and he started working as a carpenter again. It was his sister who suggested that he go on the online dating site RSVP…
When I first saw Pete’s photo I thought he was good looking and his profile read well. I was impressed by the fact that he could spell correctly (you should have seen some of them). We sent each other a few emails, giving each other a few details about our lives. It was all very exciting but scary at the same time. Finally I decided to give him my phone number so that we could talk on the phone. OMG, I have never been so nervous! I sat the phone on the kitchen bench and stood in front of it, waiting for it to ring at the agreed time. Then it did! I jumped. I don’ know why because I was expecting it to ring. I waited for it to ring a few times – I didn’t want to look too keen – and then answered it! I was 40 years old (Pete was 45) and I felt like a schoolgirl. I had butterflies in my stomach and I was trying to choose my words carefully so that I didn’t sound like a fool. I had no need to worry because we instantly felt at ease with each other and the conversation flowed. Three hours later our first phone call ended. Over the next 2 weeks (after my daughters went to bed) we talked every night on the phone for at least 2 hours. Over those 2 weeks I fell in love with Pete and we hadn’t even met!
I had a planned visit to Melbourne to go on a bus shopping tour with my mum, sister and cousin, so Pete and I planned to have dinner on the Saturday night after the shopping tour. He would pick me up at my cousin’s house. This would be the first time we’d meet face to face.
To say I was nervous is an understatement. I stood at the front window, peering out, waiting for his car to arrive. Then he arrived. As I walked out to his car I was willing myself not to trip over and fall flat on my face in front of him. It was all ok, because as soon as we laid eyes on each other my nerves were gone. It just felt right! We gave each other a hug and then I asked him to come to the front door to meet my daughters. One of my daughters (the worrier) was quite concerned that I was going out with a strange man so I wanted to introduce Pete to them. He was very nice and spent a few minutes chatting to them. Then we set off on our first date.
We decided to get Thai food and take it back to his house. I’m usually a very good eater, especially when it comes to Thai food, but I hardly ate a thing. I don’t know if I was too excited or if I was worried about looking bad for eating too much! We talked and talked and for the first time in my life I was with a man who wanted to listen to what I had to say. I was always the good listener and no man had ever really wanted to hear much about what I had to say. When we went into the kitchen to clear the dinner dishes Pete came over to me and gave me our first kiss. I will never forget that first kiss. It was like I had never been kissed before. He had such beautiful soft lips and he was so gentle. It was amazing! We spent the rest of the night talking, kissing and cuddling. My life with Pete had begun!
Over the next 12 months we commuted between Melbourne and Sydney and 12 months later my daughters and I moved to Melbourne to live with Pete in our new home. My daughters adore Pete and he has been such a calming, stable presence in their lives. They have both said to me that Pete is to them what a father should be. They are very close. They still visit their Dad and although he often disappoints them I remind them that he loves them very much and always will.
I have made peace with him and his new wife (yes the same young girl) and we go out to dinner together when they are in town. I realized that being bitter and angry was only hurting me. Although what Brad put me through will always be a painful memory, I have moved on and found true happiness. My daughters settled quickly into their life in Melbourne, making new friends, dong well at school and enjoying being so close to our extended family. The friend/teacher who lived with us in Sydney now lives in Victoria too. I introduced her to my cousin, they fell in love, got married and now have 3 sons (two of them twins). Pete speaks to his children every week, also keeps in touch via facebook and we visit them in England every year or they come here. He is still very close to them, if not in distance.
Pete and I have now been together for 10 years. The time has gone so fast. He is my best friend. I feel totally secure with Pete. I never feel like I have to rush and put lipstick on when I hear him coming home or clean up the mess on the bench (which is what it was like with Brad), I can just be myself and he still loves me.
Pete and I went to Las Vegas and Hawaii after Christmas in 2013. When my daughters heard we were going to Las Vegas one of them suggested that we get married there. She said, “Mum, it’s perfect. You meet online and get married in Vegas!”
Pete and I looked at each other, discussed it later on...and then, we did it!! On the 1st January 2014 we were married in Vegas! We then had a wonderful week in Hawaii, which I suppose you could call our honeymoon.
One night in Hawaii we were sitting on our balcony, having a drink and looking out at the ocean and Pete said that he wanted me to listen to a song. He then played the song ‘Thank You’ by Keith Urban. It was a beautiful moment, one I will never forget. The words in the song melted my heart. I’ve include a link below if you’d like to listen to it. The words that brought tears to my eyes were:
And I found myself in places I thought I'd never go
Surrounded by strangers I was so far from home
And I don't know how you found me
All I know is I owe everything to you, yes I do
And I thank you for my heart, I thank you for my life
And I thank God for grace and mercy and that you became my wife
I'm seein' for the first time the stars, the sun and moon
But they've got nothin' on the power of this love I have for you
And I thank you
So, that is my story, my happy ever after……
Please join on us FACEBOOK to discuss this story... and remember sharing is caring. Please feel free to share this post! xox
Note: I'm a firm believer that people come into our lives for a reason. After reading my book, Joanne contacted me on Facebook with a very sweet note. Her timing was impeccable and she knows what I'm talking about. And we've been talking ever since. To Joanne: if you and your hubs are ever in France...look us up (consider this an open invitation...). Also, thank you for sharing your story. Some people just...connect.
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I'll see you tomorrow with another TRUE LOVE story.