I started this about 16 drafts ago.  Some were too long, some weren't right, and some just weren't what I wanted to say to you anymore.  Fuck everything.  This is a bitch, and I hate having to do it, but I have to.  This is really difficult to write, because it's intricate, there's a lot to say, and it's way, way fucking important.  Also, I don't expect you to read a novel, so, make it perfect... no pressure.

It's been nearly six months.  Six months of being separated.  I've put on a happy face, and tried to make the best of this, for both of us, but the whole thing is shit, it's miserable, and I'm tired of missing you so much, when you're right next to me.  I understand why you think separating, and me moving out is the best way to accomplish the things that need to change.  Hopefully, you at least understand why I don't.  Me being away will give you a chance to miss me, and see how difficult things would be without me.  It'll be hell on the kids, it'll half-destroy me, and it will be financially difficult.  If I thought that moving out would truly be good for you or the kids, I'd have been out of here that first week.  I'm not stupid, or disillusioned, and I know this isn't the answer.  We're fucking up right now.  When we had that first talk, I said that I knew how to fix this, and I wasn't bullshitting you.  I've been a lot of things in my past, but the most important of all those things, is sure.  I'm 200% sure about this, us.  A separation isn't going to fix this.

But I know what will. 

You have lost your respect for me.  You've lost your trust in me, and you're still punishing me for all of the shit I've put you through over time.  The months of this separation, have been the worst punishment you could have ever dealt, and I deserved it.  It has been enough to break me, and there's been times where it almost has.

I'm not broken just yet though, just tempered, and more wise. 

We have a long past, and in ways, we've not only grown together, but grown up together.  We've both made mistakes.  But we can't be that past anymore.  We aren't those people anymore, we aren't defined by those parts of our past, and our future can't be assumed because out of those parts.  When everything crumbles away, we are what's left.  That's been the history of us.  We aren't here on accident.  It wasn't luck, it wasn't laziness, and it wasn't always easy, but nothing has ever been able to tear us apart.  Even though you're avoiding it, you know why as well as I do.

I'm not romanticizing anything.  We have come a long way.  Four kids, four cities, 10 cars, one vasectomy, countless pets, and almost 15 years.

We settled into roles very early on in our relationship, but, they've always been a bit of trouble, and they stuck.  You wear the pants, and I do whatever you say, lol.  The truth is, I'm not that guy.  The guy that needs you to tell him what to do, and how to do it.   I know that at times, you feel that way, and I let you.  I know that the past doesn't help that either.  You hold the one piece of leverage that keeps me in this position.  You.  I'm not "afraid" of you, but I'm afraid of losing you, and we both know that losing you is a constant threat.  I know I've done a lot of things in the past that would lead you to believe that I can't manage things on my own, that I'll always make bad decisions, and that I'm just a general failure.  What that creates, is a husband that you view as a child, that you have no respect or faith in.  Based on the past, I understand that. But I'm sick of us being chained to our past, and I'm not that guy anymore.  Frankly, you're not that girl, either. 

I saw this coming late last year.  Not the separation, but the troubles with our roles, and being stuck in the past.  I must have been too late, because despite a lot of trying, we ended up here regardless.  You were really frustrated, and I think a lot of the changes got lost in the shuffle.  This separation has given you a chance to be pretty "hands off", and I'm thankful that you've had that time.  I hope you realize though, that while you've been focused on kicking the ass out of your job, giving unicorns a following, making "Christa Collins" a motherfucking brand name, and creating the empire that is the Care Bear Lair, that I've been kicking the ass out of everything else in our lives.  Before you take this the wrong way, I'm not looking for a pat on the back, I just want your respect.  I want you to think about everything I do for a minute, and realize that you didn't have to know Phoebe and Charlie's teacher's names, you didn't have to worry about Belle's ortho appointments, know where to pick the middles up from school, get them through homework, know any of Belle's friends or where they live, pack lunches, make doctor's appointments, go grocery shopping, or cook dinner.  If I worked for "Sittercity", just watching the kids, without rides, homework, or cooking, I'd make no less than $1040 per week for four kids.  I didn't make a dime, but let it earn your respect.  You wanted me to move out, and take care of myself, but, for a long time, I've been taking care of all of us.  You bring home the bacon, and I happily do the rest.  Then, I added two overnights per week at a "real" job.  I know that with me making less than 10% of your salary with my that "job", it's really hard to throw any respect my way, especially when you keep expecting me to just fuck it up anyway, but please try, because...

I won't.

I'm not perfect, but I'm also not my past. I am not that guy.  I'm not on "my best behavior". I'm human, and like all humans, I make mistakes.  Every time I make a mistake though, it doesn't mean I'm still that guy, and it sure as hell doesn't mean I'll make it again.

This is the part that pisses me off, because this isn't a bunch of words, yet, even when I'm reading it, that's what it sounds like.  I've been trying to show you.   What I mean is, join me in letting go of the past, and trust me.  I let go, and I trust you.  I never punished you for Kurt, and I've let go of that past, and I trust you.  Not knowing where you are, who you're with, or what you're doing, but I trust you.  Across the world in Ireland, in a hotel, only hearing from you a handful of times, I just trust you.

I will never hurt you again. 

It's been six months.  There's absolutely zero temptation for me to look for attention from anyone but my wife.  I carry around a ton of self-loathing for that nonsense, and I know that if I'm not getting that attention from you, my focus needs to be on what I'm doing wrong.  There's only one girl in this world that I want.  And I want her forever.  We have to move on from that past.  The only way is to let me prove it to you, and I swear it's not as much as a leap of faith as it seems.  I want forever, and I know what I have to do to earn it, and I'm not going to let anything fuck that up.  We've come far too close to disaster, and I'm never, ever looking back.

Nothing I've said to you has been bullshit.  Nothing in this letter, and nothing in person.  Nothing in texts.  Nothing that I've whispered while you're sleeping when I bring Thea in, and kiss your foreheads.   I need you to understand.  I need you to know.  I'm not kissing your ass, I'm not trying to get out of the penalty box, I'm not looking for the quick fix.  I'm doing the work to fix this.  I don't expect it to be easy, and it hasn't been.  I told you I have my happy face on, but when I say "I love you", and you're quiet, it hurts like shit.  I'm not bitching, I'm telling you that I'll keep walking through this fire for you.  For as long as it takes.

I need you to understand something else.  When I say no bullshitting, I mean it.  I tell you every single day that you're incredible, or beautiful, or cute, or sexy, or hot, or so, so amazing.  I never forget.  If I'm not 100% positive I have, I'll text you putting your head on your pillow, because it means something.  Because it's true, and it's not just words, and it doesn't mean any less the more I say it.  Because I want you to remember you're amazing when your days are shitty, and that you're incredible when you're frustrated, that you're cute when you're by yourself, and that you're beautiful every second of every day.  I'm not a creeper either, I just think my wife is sexier than everyone else, and I'm supposed to, because you are.  This is as honest as I've ever been about anything.

I need to be clear that I don't want you to simply "change your mind", I want to change your mind.  I'm sure that you made yourself a promise, and I understand that, and why... but you're not "giving in" for trying to work out your marriage with your husband.   We have a really bright future ahead of our family, if we take it. 

I have found focus on our family, our kids, and our future.  I've changed.  We're not kids anymore, this is our really-real adult life.  I don't think about getting online to play shooty games with my friends, and haven't even turned a video game on since 2012.  I'm not going to be a liar and say that I never will again, but it's not important.  I've followed your lead, and started taking care of myself.  I've lost 27 lbs.  I'd love to extend that to swimming at the Y with you again, or whatever you'd like, I'm in.  I don't hide things from you, keeps secrets, or lie to you.  My computer and phone are open books.  I love knowing that I can share anything and everything with you.  Before you went away, I grew the fuck up. 

I promise to always take care of you, and the kids.  I know you already know what it looks like to go the other way.  but I want you to imagine for a minute, what it looks like if we go the right direction.  I'm talking about what I've been wanting for a long time.  I'm talking about you starting to trust me with everything, and me showing you that it's the right decision.  I handled the finances without incident for months before the Target bullshit.  That was a calculated mistake, that I won't ever make again, and purposefully made with good intentions, but for the wrong reasons.  Regardless, I will continue to pay that back, to show you that I'm responsible enough to do so.  In two more checks from QuickChek, I'll have paid us back for the van, and will then start toward the Target bill.  When that's paid, then my checks will just be our money.  More importantly, this QuickChek thing is temporary.  I can have two "real" jobs.  My job search has been ongoing, and I will replace the QuickChek job with something much better, and continue to take care of you and the kids.  I've made it to the interview process with three different places, and soon, something will stick.  When it does, we'll be doing very well financially.  Instead of looking for an apartment, for me to move out, and throw our money away, we should be looking for a house.  To some extent, I have been, and have been surprised to find that there are some affordable, and nice houses nearby.  Let's blow your mind real quick.  We would have to buy a $400k house for our mortgage payments to be as high as our rent is here.  Since we moved here, we've thrown away $46,200 on rent, gaining no equity anywhere.  Of course, that was our best choice when we moved, but I told you, I'm not that guy anymore, and I'm planning.  This is what we should be working toward.  For our family.  For our future.  We had goals of bettering the WV house, and now we're doing that.  Now we need to get moving on new goals.  Buying a house, and building what we want for our future.  A garden, a shed, a back yard.  We were stuck, but it's time to not be stuck anymore.  What I can promise you for our future is a budget.  A savings.  Vacations.  Plans.  Life.  Adventure.  Fun.  I'm not talking a simple promise, either.  I have this shit planned out.  initially, you only need to grant me access to make deposits to ING.  or, I'll set up a separate savings account.  But we WILL be budgeting for vacations, and moving our family forward.

Trust.  Respect.  We can do this.   If you don't flashback to my past mistakes every time I do something frustrating, like not know where your pants are hanging, you won't be nearly as frustrated with me.  You know I'll find them, lol.  If you can respect me, I can disagree with you, and be your teammate, instead of feeling like you'll leave me if I say we aren't getting rid of the dogs.  Because they're our family, and we don't get rid of family.  Even if we hate them with every fiber of our being.  They'll do better once we get a house anyway.  I'm dead serious about everything I've said, and I have a timeline.  We can be out of this apartment by the end of summer, worst case scenario, by the end of the year.

I'm not touching much on the kids.  I know that you already know all of that.  They are why we build this future.  They want this as much as I do.  As much as you do.  You just need to know I can do it, and I can.  Somewhere inside, you know that I can, or you would have divorced me.  You don't fuck around, and it's one of the reasons I love you so hard. 

I want my wife back.  I want our home back.  I want our family back.  I want to sleep in our bed, next to my wife.  I want to hold you.  I want to kiss you.  I just want you. 

You know as well as I do that Belle is a super-shitty roommate.  :)  She needs her room back.  And she's a filthy slore that filthies up the bed.  The time I spend with you will always feel like a first date, but I want the tension of this separation out of the way, so we can really move forward.  Away from the past.  Forge new memories to go with the amazing ones we already have. I want to take you on a date, and start some of these things over.  Show you who you're really married to.  You know that I love you more than anything, and I will for the rest of eternity.  I have a list of things for us to do together.  Nothing stupid that you'll hate.  I know that my Christa is right underneath the surface.  I see you sometimes.  I know you have seen us too.  These times at the beach, when you're home, when we're together.  We're right there, we just need to make the last few inches.

I know this is already too long, but the last thing I need to touch on is important.  Squarespace.  Your job.  Your fractured life away from home, that you don't share with us.  I compared it to Nordstrom before, but that's not really accurate.  Your frustration with me caused the fracture, your two separate lives.  I know that a part of you is exploring being a bad-ass executive New Yorker, and loving most of it.  Globetrotting, ass-kicking, and having people love the hell out of you.  There is zero that is not okay about that.  You spend a lot of time a work, and then more going out occasionally after.  I told you I've grown up, and I've always been the first person to support your career.  This is no different.  I listen.  I know what you're doing.  The Zappos trip, building culture, making your team a family.  I totally understand.  I've totally got your back.  I will always be here with the kids while you're making Squarespace what it is.  We moved here for this.  You're doing it, and I don't want you to think or feel like you can't have both.  I love you, and I'm your biggest fan.  You can have it all.  I trust you when you're out.  I'm incredibly proud of what you're doing.  I wish it wasn't so much time, but it's important that you have this, and I understand and fully support it.  All I want, is what's left over.  I want weekends. Vacations.  We'll find the balance.  We always do.  I think we're doing a pretty good job, and it'll only get better.

I love you SO much.  Let's move forward.  Commit to our future, our kids, and our love.  Let's be amazing together.  Forget who I was, and look at me, now.   Give me the respect I'm trying so hard to earn, little by little, and let's get back to our amazing life together.  Together.  Our life.  Our kids.  Our house.  Us.  Please, let's not waste any more time on the past.

I don't want you to talk to me about this right away, please take some time to think about this.  It's everything.  You can still have everything.  I'm in this marriage with you.  To support you.  To be here for you, and to love you.  Forever.  After you've thought about this some, I'd really like to take you out on a new first date.  Our old first date was unforgettable, but I want to do everything right.  For you to feel how right it is.  please, give this some thought, and know that I couldn't be more serious about anything that I've said, and that I am 120% yours, forever.

I love you so, so much. 

-Your baby daddy.