As I pulled into the parking lot to meet Sarah, a bit of anxiety crept into my chest. I wasn’t positive that we would be taken seriously, or that my feelings were valid in any way. I felt like all of my past, and the stress that I had was absolutely my fault. It was as if I alone was the root cause of any problems in my life, and thusly, I either have to fix them, or die a lonely old widower. The fact that I was at this place after such a short amount of time proved to me that I’m broken and should be avoided.
Then there was the worry that I might be in this alone already. That Sarah was simply there to chaperone me and make sure I was telling the truth...like she didn’t feel there was anything, or anyone else involved. The point being, this initially felt like more of an intervention than a cooperative effort to ensure everything is in order between us.
We walked into the office together, filled out some paperwork, and sat down in the waiting room. Then, the counselor arrived, and guided us to her office.
I thought, at first, that I would likely be somewhat quiet. Writing on here and baring all is a lot different than looking a stranger in the eye and vocalizing it. This was a two-way interaction with someone who was not “my person”, where I had to just tell my story, and then listen to their opinion on it...who wants to do that?
I do, apparently. Everything that I’ve written on here the past few weeks, and more, was detailed to her. She heard about Megan and I’s life together, through the years or sickness, regained health, and relationship problems before her six-month decline to death. She heard about Sarah and I’s story of both being widows, meeting at camp, our long-distance relationship, our past year and a half together in Ohio, and the problems I had with Megan manifesting themselves recently in Sarah and I’s relationship.
Sarah told her story and past as well. Of issues in her own past relationships, of losing her parents. Of losing Drew, living on his parent’s ranch, and pursuing her passions with art. Her move to Ohio, away from the state that she had lived her entire life, was discussed at some length.
It was also mentioned that we are both writers here, sharing our stories with the world on a weekly basis.
Within a few minutes of our session beginning, I was immediately comfortable. It was no different than talking to an anonymous reader. Perhaps that is because I’ve grown very comfortable talking with doctors about serious matters because of Megan, or maybe it’s because I’m writing here. I’m not sure. Regardless, I didn’t feel “broken” or totally at fault after talking with her. I didn’t feel as if Sarah was there to just point fingers and say “he needs fixing”.
I was able to begin working things out with Megan, even though she wasn’t there. It was something I needed to do way back in 2013 that I never got the chance to do. I eagerly mentioned that to the counselor. It began to feel more as if it wasn’t Sarah sitting beside me, but Megan, as I bared all of the issues I had with myself, and with us.
Intellectually, I realized it wasn’t Megan sitting there, but I also knew, deep in my heart and mind, that the reason I was there was primarily BECAUSE of Megan and I’s unresolved issues. I was totally guilty of projecting my relationship with Megan into Sarah and I’s relationship.
Here’s the thing. As much as all of us widow(er)s that are dating or in a new relationship try, we can’t help but compare. We were with someone for however long, and then they died. It doesn’t matter how or when or at what point in the relationship we were when they died. It doesn’t matter if things were good or bad in said relationship. The fact of the matter is, they died, and there were opportunities that were lost. Those opportunities, whether they be chances to resolve issues, or to grow further together, are null and void at that point. It’s human nature to project that into your future person, although in general, it’s not the best way to go about things. The opportunity to resolve issues in Megan and I’s relationship were lost when she died.
Only they weren’t. The advantageous part of comparing Sarah and Megan is that I have a team mate. I have someone who is aware enough to know that I needed to talk to someone about my marriage, not necessarily my current relationship, and encourage me to do so. If she wasn’t here, I would have NEVER been sitting on that gray couch in an office. I would still just be stewing and blaming myself for everything.
Look, Megan and I’s marriage wasn’t in shambles. We loved each other, and we WERE working on things. Things were on the upswing before she went into rejection, but ultimately, like a lot of us say, the “pause button was pressed”. My mind somehow took me back to that time with Sarah, and I started acting out. Counseling is a proactive response with Sarah though, rather than reactive. We made sure to tell the counselor that, and I finally heard what I needed to hear.
“It sounds like you guys are doing a lot of things right”