How We Met
“I remember asking Paul when did he fall in love with me. His response hit me like the sun hitting the pavement on a hot summer day, ‘I’ve always loved you; I just didn’t know you yet.’ I never believed in love at first sight, and if it didn’t happen to me, I still wouldn’t be convinced it was a real thing.
Paul and I ‘met’ how most people are meeting these days, via social media. Our first couple of interactions were due to a tragedy in my family. Paul reached out to offer condolences when we discovered we knew mutual people. Paul was so connected to my family that he walked my grandmother down the aisle at my sister’s wedding. We often hear that people were at the wrong place at the wrong time. For Paul and I, we seemed to never be in the same place at the same time.
Looking back, we now understand our not being in the same place at the same time was God’s protection because it wasn’t time for us to meet. After those brief interactions and our exchange of messages, there were months when we didn’t hear from each other. I was dating here and there, but nothing substantial. It felt like the men I attracted weren’t on the same page. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have hopes that some of those relationships would work out, but I believe it was all part of my recovery stage.
It would appear our love story started on September 17, 2017, when he sent this exact message, ‘I said I wouldn’t do this on messenger…But so be it. I really don’t know much about you other than what you post on FB. I was wondering if you had some free time in the future if you will like to hang out for a day..? If not I understand no worries. Again I apologize for doing it this way…I’m more old school like to ask things like this face to face…’
Something very pure about this message caused me to respond instantly with ‘Sure.’ As I mentioned above, it would appear that’s when the love story started. However, just like any good story, there is a lot of background work happening that many people don’t see. Work that goes unnoticed but is necessary for the story to be framed.
My Recovery Journey
Let’s start with my background work. I was in complete recovery mode before the quick response, ‘Sure.’ Recovery physically, recovery mentally, recovery spiritually, and recovery socially. I had suffered a major stroke five years prior due to stress. I was learning to live a stress-free life. That was a bit of a challenge because I was raising three children on my own. I also had this unspoken desire to be a wife.
Understanding my desire, I had to recover mentally from childhood traumas and past relationship traumas. I married my children’s father at a very young age. I experienced all the ups and downs of relationships without any guidance. My recovery stage and all the areas of my life looked like me figuring it all out. I developed daily routines that infused happiness and positivity into my life. I needed these daily routines to live a life of harmony, not balance, because I am a firm believer that balance is a myth. I had been diagnosed with PTSD, but I would not allow that to affect how my future life would look.
Six months before the Facebook message, I started journaling, Dear Future Husband. I would write an entry to who I hoped my husband would be daily. At the end of every journal entry, I would sign ‘Until We Meet.’ I added everything from how I hoped he would treat my children and me to the extracurricular activities I wanted us to do together. I also emphasized how I hoped his character would be. Journaling is an important piece of the story because, as you will read later, I literally manifested the mystery man I was writing to.
Three weeks before that Facebook message, I had this urge to cut off everyone I was casually dating. I had come to this place of contentment. I remember like it happened yesterday, sitting in a Shell parking lot explaining to one of the guys I was casually dating that this wasn’t working for me. I told him that I was a wife who deserved a real love story. I knew he didn’t fit in that love story, so I had to make a radical decision to cut some characters out of my story to make room for the main character.
Before I share Paul’s background work, it’s important to note that in March 2017, I had the chance to speak to a group of young girls when a lady came up to me. The lady said, ‘God hears your prayers and wants you to know that your husband is coming, but he needs to ‘break’ some things in his life first. That will make sense soon, I promise.’
A Terrifying Accident
Paul was also married to the mother of his five children at a very young age. He loved her even more than he loved himself. Paul was recovering from their divorce, which changed his perception of marriage and women. The divorce was very messy, and it took five years to sort through their mess. To cover his pain, Paul started dating. Women are instantly attracted to him; however, Paul is an amazing father who puts his children first before being a ladies’ man. Paul was truly a good catch. He owns his own construction company, loves to drive big trucks, and used to ride a motorcycle.
On May 8, 2017, Paul decided to take a quick motorcycle ride to visit his sister. That would be the last time he rode a motorcycle and the first time he understood the areas where he needed full recovery. Paul had a major motorcycle accident that nearly ended his life. He was completely BROKEN. Paul had less than a 40% chance of living. For the next several months, he fought for his life and was in full recovery.
It’s interesting how major life events cause you to look at all areas of your life. When Paul gained enough strength to start walking on his own again, he began to work on the other areas of his life. Once things started coming together, he knew he was a husband and wanted to be married again. Did you happen to catch that? Someone had told me that God was ‘breaking’ my husband. Sometimes things happen literally to get our attention.
Interestingly, Paul was also in recovery mode before we met. Before Paul mustered up the bravery to send that message on September 17, 2017, at 2:00 p.m., he said that God clearly showed him that I was his wife. Paul wrestled back and forth with God, not wanting to accept what God had said fully. Once Paul finally came into full acceptance, he sent the message. According to Paul, from that day forward, he was completely growing in love with me—true love at first sight.
A Rocky Start to True Love
After that first Facebook message, Paul and I agreed to meet on our first date. Here’s where things get a little rocky. That first date was horrible! I had my guard up. My walls were so high that Paul would have needed an airplane to get across them. Instead of a real date, it looked more like an interview for the FBI. We laugh about it now, but it was rough. That night after our first date, we both tossed and turned, wondering why this went this way. I had the answer and had to humble myself to apologize. Many women like myself think that boundaries create a wall that people have to bust through with lots of work. I now understand and teach other women that your boundaries should be a line, not a wall. You have to bust down those walls to allow love, and it’s no one’s responsibility but yours. Luckily, Paul saw right through that wall, and we decided to do a do-over date.
Our 2nd/1st real date was magical. I remember getting ready for the day, praying, and asking God if he’s the one he’ll bring bright red long stem roses. I have always wanted red roses presented to me on a date. I put on my grandmother’s bracelet and told myself, ‘Relax, Tamika, and enjoy.’ Paul planned a beautiful date at a restaurant overlooking the ocean in Malibu, California. When I pulled up to the restaurant, parking was already validated, so I went into the restaurant and waited for him to get there. He didn’t have the long stem roses when he walked in, but he did have a box that caught my eye. We waited to be seated. We were extremely nervous, hoping that this date would go way better than the first.
Paul presented me with the box before the waitress came to get our drink order. HE SAID THESE WORDS before I opened it, ‘Many women want flowers or roses on a date, but you deserve a lot more.’ I still get teary-eyed when I think about those words because God knew that I needed and deserved so much more than roses. I won’t give you all the details, but let’s just say our first date could be a Lifetime movie. It was nothing short of magical. From that point on, we both knew this was it. What we went through is what all the pain, ups, downs, and recovery was all for. The daily routines and our brokenness all led up to this exact moment.
Sharing Our Vows and Our Lives
Ten months after that first Facebook message, we said our vows before God, who truly orchestrated this whole thing for our children and our closest families and friends. We deeply understand that this relationship is so much bigger than us. Still, our love has not only impacted us, our children, and our family, but we have been lucky to impact the lives of many. We have big plans for our future, including owning apartment buildings to help single parents like we once were. Owning several businesses together, continuing to raise exceptional children, and helping other people create their very own love stories. I hope that anyone that reads the story takes away three things. One, you have the power to write your very own love story no matter how broken you may appear to be. Two, it’s never too late to find real true love. And three, you cannot avoid the recovery process; if you want the happily ever after, you have to do the background work.
It would be amazing to end our story there, but many supporting actors are worth mentioning. Together Paul and I have eight children. Our children are an extremely important part of our love story. Before we even went on our first date, we vowed that if this were not right for our kids, it would not be right for us. We are so lucky that our first family date was a perfect blend. Our kids now range from ages 10 to 23, and it’s like they have always known each other. Of course, there are occasional hiccups and misunderstandings, but for the most part, things are pretty smooth. The most challenging area to smooth out our learning is navigating life as a blended family with co-parents that don’t agree with the blend. But like my favorite ice cream, Rocky Road, it wouldn’t be so amazing without the nuts that make it bumpy and exciting to your palate. You have to chew those nuts up and enjoy all the other parts.
I wanted to share my vows with you because in writing our vows, we not only vowed to one another, but we made a vow to our children: that’s what makes the blend work.
Tamika’s vows: Paul, you are like all my favorites, all wrapped up in one. You are like my first cup of coffee in the morning, like a relaxing day at Glen Ivy, like a great Sunday night football where the Giants are whooping on the Cowboys, of course. But most of all, you have become my confidant, my protector, and my best friend. I vow to love and respect all of you, to run towards you and never away. Elijah, Moses, and Amaya, I vow to continue to love and respect you. I vow to be understanding, open-minded, and someone that you can always come to with any issue. Iyeisa, Niyah, Neveah, and Jr., I vow to give you guys the same love and respect I give my children. I promise you with lots of prayer and God on our side; everything is going to work out.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tamika Thomas of Riverside, California. You can follow her journey on Instagram, her website, and her Apple podcast. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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