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Chapter 16 - Rich's One to One

So, it’s now been three weeks since I have seen Gemma which is probably the longest period that I haven’t seen her for quite some time now and in a weird way I think I have missed chatting to her. Mainly because every time we get to see her and talk over all the process and assessments, it gives me that little buzz at the end of the session that we have moved that little bit closer to our very own little family. The only issue today is that she is coming to see just me, all on my own and probably in a little bit of a vulnerable state which I usually do my best to avoid. Gemma has no real idea that I am bit of an emotional person behind the very focussed business head façade that I play so well, but she has clearly never seen me watch Britain’s Got Talent, when the parents in the crowd get teary while cheering on their kids and they pull of an amazing performance, I am usually a blubbering mess as if they are my child too. The real question I am battling with myself over today, is do I let her in to that side and see a bit more of my emotional side or do I simply continue with my normal work and business head on, that appears to be phased by nothing and just stick to the plan. I mean is there ever really a scenario where there isn’t a plan, Lew is constantly telling me that there should be but I am never sure if those situations do exist. Gemma is due to be here in about twenty minutes so its time to do the usual last minute get ready routine, but as I walk towards the kitchen to fill the kettle, the doorbell rings. Seriously, this is twenty minutes early and has already broken the normal routine, how the hell am I going to cope today. I think she knows me too well and this is all part of the test, so I am going to boss this and just answer and show that I am not phased by it at all. I answer the door with a smile and greet Gemma with the now standard friendly hug, while offering her one of her speciality teas that she accepts.


For some reason, I asked Gemma if she wanted to head into the living room for the session, expecting her to want to be at the table like usual, but again she threw out another curve ball and said yes we might as well be comfortable as I wont have any big sheets of paper today. I’m sure this was not all part of the test and that she wasn’t purposely doing this, but seriously could this be any different to normal for me. In my head I have the sirens going off, as we are now so far off the usual plan and we haven’t really even started yet. I offer the biscuits and as usual Gemma declines, but today I totally go for it and take myself a good handful, pretending that I didn’t get breakfast, as I clearly took a worrying amount in terms of daily sugar intake, but who cares as sometimes this just has to be done. Desperate times call for desperate measures and all that. Gemma sets the scene for the session and explains it will not be as long as the usual sessions, as we have covered quite a lot of ground already throughout the other meetings but that she wanted to have the opportunity to speak to me on my own, just in case there was anything that I wanted to say without Lew being there or anything I didn’t feel comfortable with him hearing. I quickly and confidently responded with a resounding no and explained there is absolutely nothing that I wouldn’t tell him or speak to him about, expecting her to write this down, pack up and leave, but of course this was not going to happen.


Gemma then opened the proper assessment questions with “I was chatting with Lew last week and he was talking about how it was hard for you to come out, so are you really sure you are ready to be same sex parents”. Wow this was not the sort of questions I was expecting, Lew didn’t tell me that he was asked anything like this but hey I have the perfect answer for this, the real honest answer. I spent a number of years so worried about not being able to be a parent or having a family of my own or even losing my own family, all due to being gay. So, I simply tried to live a ‘normal’ life and see if it could work out for me. Unfortunately, after a number of years trying to do this I realised that I was never truly going to be happy and made the decision after a trip away with my business partner and one of my best friends, who had absolutely no idea that I was gay at the time, that when I got back I was going to change and actually tell everybody. A huge decision for someone who loves football, boxing and all the normal laddish things in life, if we go by the typical stereotypes. But I knew that my own happiness had to come first, if I was ever going to be able to find that with somebody else. Gemma then cuts in and asks “do you think you have now found that with Lewis”, which got a very simple and quite loving response of “yes absolutely”. I know have already opened up and shown some of my emotional side here, so surely I need to be careful not to open up too much otherwise I will have to ask for a tissue, but my answer to this difficult question actually felt amazing, as it was the first time I had ever really said this out loud to anyone, including myself. Gemma smiled and moved on to some more standard questions about how I would describe Lew and what I like about him and dislike about him, which wasn’t hard as I love absolutely everything about him, other than the fact that he is such a good dancer and laughs at me all the time, as he says I just do the same move over and over.


The next difficult question then comes flying in “what would you say has been the hardest test of your relationship so far” and immediately I feel like I am on some sort of morning chat show talking about my relationship, but instead of telling of all the problems like they usually do, I now need to think of a difficulty that I cannot think of. But I don’t want to be one of those people who doesn’t ever talk about weaknesses. After a short pause, a real difficulty we experienced came to mind, all linked to when Lewis was working away on the Sesame Street tour quite a lot and the summer 10 week period meant six days away and only one day at home, where he would try to see everyone and I would be one of those people fit into the schedule. As much as it was super exciting and fun seeing him every week for this short period, it felt like every week we were saying goodbye and then having a week feeling a bit lonely. Even though we have plenty of friends and was always busy, it was just that feeling of not having your other half with you. It was something that was really affecting us by week seven and eight, so we went for dinner and had a chat about how we felt and it was clearly affecting both of us in the same way. Lew had already somewhat decided that he wasn’t going to continue with it at the end of this third tour, as he felt his life was ready to move on to a new stage. I agreed that it would be great and would really need to happen if we wanted to move our relationship forward, but didn’t want him to give up his career in the entertainment world just because of me, a bit like he didn’t want me to come out as gay to everyone for him. I’m sure this gave a clear example to Gemma of how we deal with things as a couple and try to come up with joint solutions about everything and thankfully she seemed really happy with my answer.


I then offered Gemma another drink, as I was now feeling like I need a drink myself and probably another biscuit without her knowing, if I could break out into the kitchen to make a drink. Gemma then said that she didn’t want another drink as we are nearly finished, so I decided not to make the drink or indeed get the biscuit and just motor through until the end. Gemma then says, my final question for you is “how do you think Lewis will be as a parent, do you think there is anything he will struggle with?” and this was a very easy answer for me. I absolutely know that Lew is going to be the most amazing parent to our children, not only is he basically a home nurse for anything that we need but he is the most caring person that I know. He doesn’t like to let on how much he really cares about people and enjoys being nice, but he is just so thoughtful and ever since we started this process I can tell in his eyes that he isn’t just excited but he is genuinely in love with the idea of us having our own little family and growing old together, hopefully with grandkids around us. Lew always talks about the special relationship that he had with his own Nan who unfortunately I never got the pleasure of meeting and his amazing Grandad who we regularly see for breakfast trips. Gemma then probed a bit and said “but do you think there will be anything he will struggle with” which I totally avoided answering originally but then went on to say, yes, I really do think he will struggle with perfection when it comes to being a parent. I know he is going to be one of these parents who wants to feed their children organic this and organic that and will want to be seen as a good parent, but I am not sure that is always the reality and he will struggle with not feeling good enough if it doesn’t always seem to be perfect. Worrying now that I have made a bit of an admission of weakness, I quickly back this up wit the fact that I know and believe he will be the perfect parent, you know what I mean don’t you Gemma. She replied with a little chuckle “yes of course I know what you mean, I have two kids myself and we all feel like this, more often than not actually, so you have nothing to worry about”. It was this sort of finishing statement that Gemma was so good at, constantly being supportive and reassuring while teasing out absolutely everything that she really needed. Weirdly I felt great, as if Gemma had got to know me that bit more in depth and is probably no longer thinking I am one of these people who just stick to a plan and act like they are at work all the time.


Gemma got herself ready to go and asked to arrange a time for next week but as I was simply not in the right headspace to think about planning another session, I asked her to contact Lew which was the norm and she agreed to message him to arrange. I gave Gemma a goodbye hug and showed her out, feeling very proud of being able to portray myself and more importantly us in exactly the way that I would have wanted to. We really do make a great team and are always helping each other to achieve the best that we possibly can for one another. I gave Lew a quick call on the mobile and explained that I was really pleased with how it went, but as usual Lew wanted to know everything and I am useless at explaining things in detail over the phone, so told him we would chat when he got back from his Mum’s where he went for a morning coffee to ensure the house was free. I knew that doing this would get him to leave in a split second, as he just wouldn’t be able to wait any longer to hear all about what we spoke about. Only two more sessions to go now and the outcomes of the references, before we can go to approval panel and hopefully move on to the exciting stage of matching.

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