Before I was widowed, I most often thought of relationships in a more conventional way. After being widowed, sometimes I wondered how things would work if I ever met someone I was interested in pursuing or who may be interested in me. There were so many more things at stake. There are not just my own issues, but the issue of protecting my boys too. As the years passed since Dave’s death, I often wondered if anyone would ever fit again. I’ve set up my routine, I manage my home, my kids, well really all of my life, on my own. Of course this all happened by default, but it happened nonetheless.
So, since my husband’s death, I have marched hesitantly into the unknown future. In the beginning, I didn’t know which way direction to follow. I was only in pain. I was searching to end the pain. That was all. I wanted to survive. I wanted him. I wanted to go back, but knew I couldn’t, so I did my best to keep going. When I look back, I think I’ve done ok. I have survived, I’ve carved out a path and even had the courage to look forward sometimes. Most the time though, I am quite content to appreciate the moments of my life one by one as they come. I truly think that this is one of the gifts that grief has brought to me. I am so much better at sitting still in the moment and appreciating that moment.
When it came to what I wanted in my life as far as relationships with men again, I really didn’t want to think about it for a long time. Sure, I would day dream about it occasionally, but I really didn’t pursue anything and carried my married status into widowhood for many years. I’d watched as widowed people around me dated, got serious, didn’t get serious, and basically felt their way through finding a new something and someone. It probably took me five years to even give what I wanted any serious thought. By this time, many of the widowed folk around me had at least dipped their toe in the water. I hadn’t. I wasn’t sure I wanted to, so I waited and thought that when the time was right, someone would show up. I figured when the time was right, something would happen. What it would mean when he did, who knew? I hoped that my heart would remain open and I would recognize it when it arrived.
What I didn’t realize was that many of the lessons I learned during my marriage, would leave my brain. One of the most important is being clear about what I need and expect, I need to be true to my heart and not worry about what others think to find what I desire. This was one of those lessons that I had to learn over and over when I was married. I was always amazed how simple it was and how hard it was for me to do. I often carry thoughts around for far too long and agonize for no real reason. My husband was very patient with me and when I finally learned this lesson, our relationship really ran pretty smoothly. He couldn’t read my mind…who knew? This doesn’t mean he didn’t know me well, he did. What it meant was that in any relationship, we do have to communicate…even me. What may be perceived as eloquent expression when I write is just that…perceived…it never comes out of my mouth in the same manner. I am terribly shy when it comes to expressing what is meaningful to me in person with my mouth! I fumble over words and have difficulty expressing myself verbally.
Over the last months, someone entered my life who was interested in me…much to my amazement. He is a great guy, smart, funny, handsome, kind and patient. We enjoy our moments together, but that is what they are, moments. We live very different lives in different places. We are drawn to each other, but there are miles in between us. It is not conventional at all. I enjoy him thoroughly, but lay no claim to him. I know when we are together that we are totally present to each other. When we are apart, we live our lives. I am confident that he cares for me and I hope he knows the same from me.
I also need to remember that it is ok to let things be what they are. It’s ok to enjoy something and look forward to it even if it may seem unconventional. It is also ok for me to let my needs develop and let what someone wants from me develop in its own time and place. I think sometimes I forget that things don’t start in the middle. It’s that middle set brain of mine. I think this happens because my last relationship (with my husband) ended in the middle and it’s hard to get into a different mindset. I remind myself that there are many different ways to be happy. My life has changed so drastically why wouldn’t the ways I find happiness change too. Happiness can be found in very unconventional ways. Many new people have enriched my life since I became a widow and many of those relationships have been unconventional, now I’m giving myself to permission to be unconventional as I pursue my needs when it comes to men too.
As long as I am honest with myself and with whoever is on the receiving end of my heart, I think that it will be ok, and may even be great. It really is only between him and me. There are my kids to always consider, but I think I’m learning how to balance my needs with what they need to know. Most often taking a risk is worth it. Risking doesn’t come easily for me, but when I do and follow my heart, it usually pays off. What relationships or moments or happiness look like for me in the future, I’m not absolutely sure, but in those moments if I’m honest and my heart is open, as unconventional as it may seem, it may be just what I need when I need it…and in this moment I’m good with that!