Sewing My Widow Oats

Okay. 

So let's just do it. 

Let's talk about it. 

Let's talk about love and dating and sex. 

Yeah, I said it. 

Sex. 

And widowhood. 

Lets not forget widowhood. 

I need to talk about this. 

It's time. 

The first thing that I will say about this, is that each of us is completely different, when it comes to our feelings about love, dating, and sex - after becoming widowed. And often, those feelings change and shift, depending on our circumstances, or with the passing of time.

Some people start dating again right away. Other people wait a very long time. Some people choose not to date at all. Some of us use dating sites. Some of us meet people through friends, or by socializing and going out. Others leave it to chance or fate. All of us do these things in fear. All of us. 

When it comes to love, some of us really want it again. Some of us don't. Some of us might want it again, somewhere deep inside, but are too terrified or too heart-damaged to believe that it can happen. Some of us want to love again, but are so scared that our new love will end the same way our other one did - with them dying and us being left here to pick up the pieces. Again. Some people will close their hearts off forever, because they are so afraid of getting hurt. Some of us will open our hearts again and again, because we really don't want to be alone for the rest of time. Some say they will love their person who died forever, and they will never love anyone else. Others say they will love their person forever, AND they would also like to love someone else. Some are doing a fragile dance, when it comes to love. A balancing act of shutting down and opening up. All of us are living and loving, or not loving, in fear. All of us. 

When it comes to sex, everyone is different. Some can seperate sex from love, and enjoy the physical act of it. Some use sex just to feel something again - or to zone out from the pain of grief and feel nothing. Some find comfort in sex, because of the intimacy, the skin-to-skin touch with another human being. Some need to feel sexy or wanted or desired again.

Some of us turn off sex like a light switch, and don't even think about it after our loss. Some of us feel sick to our stomachs or nauseous, at the very thought of anyone else who is not our dear husband, ever touching us again. Some seek out safe and fun "friends with benefits" situations, so they can have the intimacy without the worries of love creeping in. Some people don't have sex or want sex again after their loss. Some people convince themselves they don't need or want sex again after their loss. Some can practice "self love" and be content with that. Others have trouble doing that, because when they go there, they think about their husband, who is now dead, so it kind of kills the mood. Some people change their minds about sex, or their libidos want it eventually, even when their stubborn brain doesn't. All of us are in fear. All of us.

Why do I feel the need to talk about all of this today, right now, in this moment? Because it's time. Because I'm scared. Because Im lonely. Because I miss my husband every single moment. Because I know the reality that he is never coming back. Not ever. Because the fear of being alone forever, and never feeling great love again, is now greater than the fear of having my heart broken into tiny little piece that shatter into oblivion. Because humans need humans, and because nothing is worth much of anything, without love. 

It will be 6 years this July, since my husband's sudden death. Six years since the life I knew ended, and this uninvited one began. For almost four years after he died, I was one of those very people described above, who felt nauseous and sickened by the very idea of "someone else." For four years, I did not date. I did not have sex. I did not have intimacy in any way. Self-love did nothing except make me depressed, because every time I tried, my heart would start thinking about being with my husband. The pain and the realness of him being dead, overwhelmed any "turned on" feelings, and I would stop. And then I would cry. For a long time, I didnt like it when anyone touched me. I hated being hugged. By friends, by family. By men. Im not sure why. It just made me feel sick. I wanted to be alone with the thoughts of my husband, and if I could no longer feel his hugs, then all hugs were nothing. 

One day, for no real reason whatsoever, the nausea feeling I got from thinking of dating or "someone else," turned into more of a neutral feeling. It was around that time that I began what turned into a beautiful friendship with a widower that used to know my husband, and contacted me after reading my blog. We got close. I felt connected. I felt a kinship and a bond with him. It felt like it was coming from my husband, like he wanted me to have this person in my life, so that we could help and support each other. I experienced my first "feelings" for someone - someone that wasn't my husband. I had my first kiss. Held my first hand. Felt my first butterflies. Made my first mistakes. Did so many things wrong. Didnt know what I was doing. 

Last summer, I had my very first relationship, post-loss. It was while still living in NY, and it was with another widower who I met on a dating site. We were together about 5 months or so, and he was my "first time" after my loss. Sleeping with a man, who wasnt my husband. I think it was made easier, and less weird, because he was also widowed, and understood the strangeness of sex for the first time after loss. This person ended up hurting me pretty badly, because I trusted him and he chose to throw that away and disrespect me in the way he ended things with us. My self-esteem took a hit, and my walls went back up, into protection mode. 

Last month, I flew to Tampa for Camp Widow, and my heart was broken again, when I was blindsided by my dear widower friend not only refusing to see me again while I was in Florida, but by his non-response to my every attempt to contact him. This is the last time I will mention of him in my public writing, because even though he hasn't spoken to me in months, I told him I would stop writing about him publicly, and so I will. I dont know what happened between us, why it fell apart. It breaks my heart into a billion pieces to speak of it, because I miss him every day. It feels like he is dead, because Im no longer allowed into his world. And I truly thought we were friends. I thought we were life-long friends. Im not giving up. I cant make him be my friend, but I can still have hope that he will reach out to me again, and that I can hear his voice, and sigh. 

When I returned from Tampa in mid-March, my heart was hurting. I had gone from talking with this person almost every single day, to nothing. And I didnt understand why. I still don't. It just felt like yet another person who chose to leave me behind again. Another person who disappeared out of my life with no explanation, with me not having a say about it. I felt like I didnt matter enough to them, to deserve a conversation. It hurt. It still hurts. It will always, always hurt. 

I got back on the dating sites, and soon after, met a great guy. We went on a couple dates, shared some really great moments, and have decided to keep things casual and always be friends. Soon after, I met another great guy. This time, everything happened fast, but it didn't feel fast. It felt good. It felt right. We connected on many levels. We bonded over our different experiences in life with trauma and loss. He made me laugh. He brought me Easter lillies. We saw each other several times in just a few short weeks, because we simply loved spending time together.  We had breakfast together at a mom and pop little local place, where everyone knew him. He cried in front of me while talking about his 2 sons being proud of him for a recent accomplishment. He lived on a farm. We kissed in a barn with donkeys and chickens watching. We kised more on his couch in the dark. We got intimate, but not fully. But enough for me to care. Enough for me to feel very real feelings. I know he felt real feelings too. 

He loved sunsets like I do. He made me feel safe, like my husband used to. He was a paramedic, just like my husband. The day his life changed forever and the day that my husband died, was the same day on the calendar. July 13th. There were so many signs that we were meant to connect with each other. I had never gotten closer with someone, in such a short period of time. We talked and texted all day long. We flirted and made each other feel good, all day long.

And then it was over. Just like that. He ended it with a text message, informing me that he was still in love with his ex-girlfriend, and that he was devoting all of his energy into a relationship with her. He wished me well in finding someone, and said I was a "good person." Just 2 hours before that text, everything was normal. And then it was gone. It felt like a business letter. It felt like shit. I felt blindsided. Another death. Another person who brought me into their life, and then snatched away access. Another person who didnt choose me. Why do people keep leaving me? Why is my love either not enough, or too much? Why am I never the one? 

Which brings me to today. 

My heart has been shattered. Torn apart. Busted open and cracked and damaged. 

Yet I still keep trying. 

Because for me, I do not want to live a life with no more love. 

I do not want to live a love-less life. 

I do not want to live alone, or grow old alone, or die alone. 

I want my next great love, and Im not stopping until I find it. 

 

In the meantime, the heartbreak I went through in Tampa, led me to a new feeling. Its a feeling of courage. A feeling of taking risks, when it come to men and dating. Its a feeling of "why the hell not?' The day before leaving Florida, I took a last minute boat tour of Tampa Bay. The co-captain on the boat was flirting with me, which I was completely unaware of, until my friends pointed it out. Upon learning of this, I went back and gave him my card. He called, admitted to the flirting, and we have been in touch ever since. He sends me pictures of the Florida sunsets, and we talk of maybe spending some time together the next time I make a trip down there. That wouldnt have happened without my new brave attitude. 

Lately, on the dating site I am using most often (Plenty of Fish), I have had an endless stream of men who are interested in meeting me, dating me, talking with me. Some are nice, others are weird, some are not for me, others might be. The point is, something has changed inside me, to where Im attracting people toward me. Im not sure what it is exactly, but it wasnt there before. Right now, Im talking with 2 potential future dates, and we will see what happens. Im trying like hell not to take anything too seriously, or too personally. Im trying to not get hurt, and the fact is, I will probably get hurt many more times. Im terrified. Im lonely. Im ready. 

And now, almost six years later, the same woman who didnt want anyone touching her or hugging her, is feeling incredibly sexual lately. (sorry, mom - if youre reading this) Maybe its the fact that I had zero intimacy for FIVE years after my husband died. That I waited five years before I slept with someone. Maybe its the fact that lately, I have had "some" intimacy, but it got stopped short for various reasons. Maybe its the fact that at age 45, my sex drive is through the roof, and I have nobody to share that with. I dont know what it is, but I can tell you that while Im waiting for the next great love to appear in my life, Im having a lot of fun. Flirting and chatting and accepting words from men who want to call me sexy or beautiful, or who spend time talking with me online, or on a phone call, where we make each other feel really nice and then continue on with our friendship.

There is a special bond that exists between widowed men and women. Its a friendship, but its more than that. Its a deep understanding of all that is missing,when you lose your spouse or partner to death. The person who used to call you handsome or pretty. The person who used to cuddle with you. The person you said goodnight too, and good morning. There are private, secret groups on social media, filled with widowed men and women. We talk. We flirt. Sometimes people find love with one another, and the rest of us cheer. But other times, men and women can provide some innocent flirtation in the middle of the night. Or some words of intimacy or comfort. I have many widower friends in this new life. Some are just friends. Others I have dated at some point, or maybe even just once. Some, I have an understanding with, that if we are both ever single at the same time, maybe we can spend some intimate time together, no strings attached. Some live in other parts of the country, and some live international. They are special to me. They know the pain. They know how hard it is to open your heart again. They know that not every non-widowed person understands the loneliness, the isolation, the judgment. They know, and so they become like anchors we can hold onto, until we find our way. When one of us finds love, we send them off bitter sweetly, wishing for them, every good and beautiful thing.

I want to find love. Im here. Im ready. Im looking. 

 

But until it finds me,

my heart has been damaged, 

my wings are torn, 

It hurts to fly. 

 

There's a lot of birds out there,

all trying to find their piece of the sky. 

So until i find mine,

maybe I'll just keep fluttering around, 

and enjoying the view. 

There's a lot of great birds up here. 


Showing 9 reactions

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  • commented 2017-05-02 08:08:43 -0700
    Hi again, Kelley Lynn – I have been to your FB page twice but don’t see a button on there to ask to be your friend. I am a follower (that’s checked) but not sure what to do now? Wd really like to connect with you & learn more about the secret widow groups. Help?? Pat K eller
  • commented 2017-05-01 12:34:28 -0700
    It’s taken me a few days, but I wanted to respond as well. Thank you for writing this entry. We might all come from different backgrounds and situations, but what we all have in common is that we lost the love of our life. And life goes on.

    I was married for 25 years when my 52 year old husband died suddenly of an undiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism in May 2012, leaving me as a 50 year widow with 2 teenage daughters.

    It’s now 5 years later, both girls are doing well, and I want to “move on” but not sure how. I tried online dating and most of the guys were creeps or liars or both. I’m from the South and most of the guys were wearing camouflage or holding a dead animal in their profile picture.

    I actually spent the last 6 weeks staying with friends in the Los Angeles area, working as an extra (Background Actor) for 12 different TV shows. It was fun and I enjoyed it! On my last show, I met a guy who I had worked with on another show the previous week. During the whole shoot, we kept complimenting me, getting me candy and drinks from craft services and gave me a ride back to my friend’s house.

    I didn’t know what to think. I’ve spent the last 5 years struggling to move forward, dealing with financial issues, work, inlaws… When a guy talks to me now, I think one of 3 things: 1) He’s just being friendly 2)Is he really interested in me or 3) What does he want?

    After my husband, I just “shut off” any romantic feelings. Now I’m 55 years old and I don’t know what to do.
  • commented 2017-04-29 20:31:14 -0700
    Kelley Lynn, could I also friend you on Facebook? The only widow/ers I really have contact with are the ones from the local support group I meet with once a month.
    It’s only been 10 months for me, and with four young kids I’m not ready for any kind of dating, but I miss the intimacy and closeness of another person. It’s difficult and right now I’m living vicariously through the relationships on tv and movies. It hurts and I find myself trying not to cry at simple things I see on the screen, but it also helps me feel things again, the things I used to have, but now have lost. Things, thanks to these shows, I can have again, even if just for a fleeting moment. One day I hope to have them for real again.
  • commented 2017-04-29 13:01:48 -0700
    It took me 7 months to even think about sex and then only a FWB relationship with a guy I’d been in love with and vice versa for 15 years. Since then I’ve had 3 one-nite stands 3 “boyfriends” and an on-again-off-again girlfriend…I fell in love with 4 of those individuals (still dealing with feelings for 2.5 of them. I want to have future relationships but haven’t given it much concrete thought. I will admit though the physical needs get irritating often…38 is a sh*tty age biologically to become a widow.
  • commented 2017-04-29 08:54:24 -0700
    Kelley Lynn,

    I write to you as the “significant other” to a friend of yours who will remain nameless, mainly because she may consider murder after reading this. I come to you as a widower who is dating, and planning a life with, a widow. I know she’s your friend or at least a follower of yours after I scanned some of your blogs and realized she did not coin the phrase “Widow’s Card” and the like. Last evening, after attending the neighborhood purse party as the “Token Man” of a group of divorced, married, and pregnant women, and over-drinking what I can only describe as vanilla vodka and some kind of florescent liquid swirled together in a solo cup, I received a text from “Significant Other”, as we will call her, with a copy of your blog about sewing widow’s oats. Reading it in the state I was in threw up a bundle of questions for Significate Other like “What are you trying to tell me?” and “Is this your polite, quiet way of saying you’re done with us?”, so on and so forth. This morning, after re-reading both her texts and your blog, I move from questioning her motives in sharing to what the full story is. Men, for the most part, are simple creatures, needing three basic things: air to breath, food, and sex. As we get older, we men need more things like relationships, monogamy, and cuddling. I guess my questions are what happened in the two relationships you mentioned, and what were the men’s reasons for the split? I realize men can be pigs, where women are complex creatures, overthinking everything from what to make for dinner to how to cure cancer. Without sharing names and dates, what were your men unhappy with? Were there any signs they were going to do what they did? My concern is that women think your men’s behavior is the norm rather than the exception. We widowers are not a flighty bunch of relationship hoppers as a whole. Not to sound like The Hair Club For Men advertisement but not only am I a widower but I’m also a funeral director, and have seen widows and widowers at their rawest. It’s not like I’ve tracked my clients activities, but seeing them out in public with their new significant others seems to bring them happiness. Even in my current relationship, after my wife’s abuse of prescription medications and her overdose death, my family and friends say I seem happier than I’ve been in a long time. Yes, Significant Other and I met online, on the worst site ever to forge a real relationship, Tinder. I was on there from a suggestion of my twenty-something son who said the site may be different for the over forty crowd, and may be not just a hook up site. Significant Other may have been on there for different reasons but has never shared her opinion on the subject. Our situation isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, we had many obstacles to hurtle, like first living three hundred miles apart, to now living within twenty miles of each other and respecting personal space. It takes work to keep us together, work we both seem to enjoy. For me it’s not difficult to show that beautiful woman attention and do things with her. What is hard is to not be needy, to make sure she stays the strong, independent woman she wants to be, and not be nosey. Things seem to be working so I try every day not to screw it up.

    So, as a widower who’s interested in keeping this great thing I have, give me a clue at what went wrong so I don’t mistakenly go down the same path they did.
    Thank you in advance,
    -D
  • commented 2017-04-29 07:56:48 -0700
    pat if you can friend me on facebook I can tell you the names of the widowed groups. they are private and/or secret, so you have to be asked in or know someone who is in it . You can find me under Kelley Lynn on FB if we arent friends already. Im FB friends with lots of widowed peeps so I lose track lol.
  • commented 2017-04-29 07:20:40 -0700
    Great piece!!
    Thank you for sharing—I just reached the “I don’t want to be alone point”, but have no idea where to start
  • commented 2017-04-29 07:03:37 -0700
    Wonderful piece, and I wish you all the joy of new forever love. How can I find the widowed groups on social media? I am in year 5 and beginning my awakening….
  • commented 2017-04-29 07:03:37 -0700
    Wonderful piece, and I wish you all the joy of new forever love. How can I find the widowed groups on social media? I am in year 5 and beginning my awakening….