They say every personal brand has characters.
They are people that play a huge part in the development and drive behind the business but may not necessarily work for or with the company in the sense that most people think. I can’t think of a better time, considering When Life is all things love right now, to introduce to you my biggest supporter, cheerleader, Instagram picture taker, and official spellchecker. My husband…Chris!
By nature, Chris is such a quiet, introverted soul, so I don’t drag him into the social media and marketing aspect of the business much. It’s just not his thing. In fact, the only reason he ever created a Twitter and Instagram account was so that I would at least always have one person who “likes” my posts. Awwwww! I know! He really is the best! Out of respect, I just don’t post a lot about our personal lives…because, well it’s personal. Today, however, he gets the whole blog post to himself!
Gosh, I don’t even know where to begin in telling our love story.
Let me start way back…like 1996 way back.
We went to high school together. We were both the type of people that had a good mix of friends from lots of different “groups.” Inevitably, we were always running in the same circles because of that. To be honest, it wasn’t until his Junior/Senior years of high school that I began to notice him “in that way.” He was the cool quiet kid…mysterious (LOL)…with bleached platinum blonde hair. I just wanted to be Gwen Stefani basically. We were always dating other people, but on the other hand, anytime one of us had relationship issues we turned to each other for “advice.” Though I will say, I was often unfair and “advised” him to break up with whoever it was he was dating at the time. Sorry (not sorry) ladies. But, again, we always ended up back in the same relationships and life went on.
We both worked for the school newspaper where we did movie and concert reviews. This meant that we were often going to the movies and dinner together…and I had to remind myself that this was NOT a date. He drove this purple, yes you read that correctly, purple Chevy Blazer that I thought was the coolest thing ever. Not to mention the trunk full of amps and speakers that were so loud we were pulled over often for the noise. So cool right? I thought so anyways. We would always go to this little Italian place close to the theater that served the best calzones. More than once, I would “fall asleep” on his shoulder in the theater.
I was pretty much crazy about him.
He went on to graduate a year ahead of me and we kept in touch to some degree. He was in a band (SWOON) and I would go and watch him practice at his friend’s house, and sometimes he would end up at a party where I would be hanging out. But again, we were always in a relationship with other people, and to be honest, he just didn’t see me the same way I saw him. I was always the dreaded friend.
After about 2000 or so, we pretty much lost touch. I went on and finished nursing school and ended up marrying my high school sweetheart. He went on to other relationships and eventually moved out of state.
He crossed my mind often, but back then there was only so much social media. And much like today, I just wasn’t into it. Eventually he changed my mind.
As my marriage crumbled, I felt so alone and isolated. I’m not sure if people just didn’t openly talk about divorce as much or what, but I felt like I was the only person that had ever experienced divorce with a young child. If that wasn’t talked about much, trying to determine whether your son had Autism wasn’t mentioned a lot either. It was a very lonely and dark time for me. I eventually created a MySpace page (yes Top 8 MySpace) to connect with people I hadn’t seen or talked to in a long time in hopes that maybe I would find out that, “Hey, I’m not the only one.” I reconnected with a lot of old friends and made some new ones along the way. But, the one I focused on finding again was Chris. I just wanted to talk to him again.
I was afraid he wouldn’t remember me or think it had been so long that it would be weird just striking up some random conversation. Luckily, neither happened and we talked like old friends. Small talk here and there. We would say, “oh you should come hang out here sometime…or meet me and my friends there sometime,” etc.…but nothing ever came to fruition. Until one day Chris invited me to his friends 30th birthday party. I knew his friend from school and figured there would be other people I knew there in case he turned out to be a psycho after all these years. I agreed to meet him and go. My life forever changed that night.
As soon as I saw him, it was like we hadn’t missed a beat. I could tell he was nervous and shy. Meanwhile, I am talking his ear off. We immediately clicked and pretty much never left each other’s side the entire night. Or basically, the rest of our lives.
I came with more baggage than airport security.
I was newly divorced, struggling financially after having been a stay at home mom for more than a year, and had a child that was on the cusp of being diagnosed with Autism. The difference with Chris was he was ready and willing to help unpack all the baggage I had.
I wish I could say that we had this whirlwind romance. Don’t get me wrong, Chris is very romantic and thoughtful, so that statement isn’t entirely true. It was just more of a whirlwind in general. From the moment we began to date seriously, I was working a LOT to try and get on my feet post-divorce. I was also scrambling for answers for Jack. He was with Jack and I every step of the way. From meetings, doctor visits, therapy, to even getting trained in home applied behavioral analysis therapy (ABA), he took over as his father figure like he was meant to be there all along. I believe he was meant to be there all along.
Once the Due Process hearing started, the road looked long and arduous when it came to having any kind of time free to enjoy our relationship fully. But, one thing we knew was that we always wanted to be together. We also knew that with the cost and the constant need for time off for either therapy for Jack or his Due Process, the idea of any kind of fairytale wedding was pretty much off the table. Same for a honeymoon. We just couldn’t afford it. We eloped in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in June of 2010. It was just the two of us and no one else. No family or friends. Just us. I remember being sad at first about it being so seemingly lonely, but honestly, it was what we needed at the time.
Chris has been by my side through the darkest and hardest times of my life. From divorce, custody battles, Jack’s diagnosis, Due Process, so many deaths of my closest family in a very short period of time, career changes to starting a new business, the birth of our two children, and even my own health struggles, his faith and loyalty to me and our family has never wavered. I know that I am truly beyond blessed to have him in my life.
I’d be lying if I said that I wouldn’t love to one day be able to have our dream wedding and honeymoon and invite all our friends and family that have shown us so much love and support through these past years. But I’d also be lying if I said that I don’t love the memories we share that are only between he and I from our little cabin in the woods where we married.
You see, there is one thing I learned from how our relationship was tried, tested, and strained from the very beginning…and that is we been down some very difficult roads and have seen the most beautiful and the ugliest sides of one another. That is what stress will do to a relationship. I can also say that we have stuck together through thick and thin.
It may not be what others would consider a classic fairytale, but I can say from experience, it has been the most enchanting and magical chapter in my book so far.