Dating is not something that I decided to take on lightly. This November, Mike will have been dead for three years. Not that this really matters in terms of dating. Or does it? It doesn’t. But, the fact that I mentioned it means that to me it is significant in some way. I wish I could explain this more sufficiently, but I can't. I suppose I know that as a widow I will be judged for dating or not dating. I can't win here. If I don't date people will say I am "stuck" in my grief. If I date they will say I "moved on". Anything I do will be scrutinized by those outside of this community because to most people romantic love seems to be something that we hope is singular if it is indeed true.
For me, the only thing that really matters is that I am clear about why I am choosing to date. I am going to date for reasons that go far beyond the superficial. I am not dating because I am lonely. Sure, absolutely, I am lonely – duh, my person died. How can I not be lonely without him – but loneliness is NOT why I am dating. Secondly, I am NOT dating because I can’t be alone. I can be. I have been on my own for nearly three years. I have learned to like and appreciate my own company. I am solid. I like myself way too much to settle for a cheap imitation of what I had with Mike. I am in no danger of "settling" for less than I want and deserve.
To date, I have never blogged about dating because I know that I will be judged by certain people who knew Mike and I. I know if this particular blog is read by some of the people from my past - most of who no longer speak with me and are no longer in my life - they may conclude that these words prove my disloyalty to Mike. To these people, this may serve as proof that it is lucky Mike never married me because clearly I am moving on after "only" three years.
All of this is untrue and complete bullshit. These three years have been the longest years of my life. Grief years are like dog years. To me, it seems like Mike has been dead for years now; and, at the same time, it feels like he was sharing my life with me only moments ago. I know my heart. I know the depth of my love for Mike and that is all that is important.
And, in truth, whatever judgement I do face it will be done behind my back. I will never hear about it because the people who will talk or cast judgement have long left my life. So, why does it bother me that I will be judged? I think it irritates and worries me because their snide judgments and accusations will make Mike look poorly. Their judgement of me will serve to cast Mike in poor light. Their words will make him look like a fool for loving me and this bothers me a lot. Mike was a lot of things, but he was not a fool.
Recently, after much thought, I know that I am "ready" to date. I have arrived at a place where I know who I am and what I what. I know a new love will not be Mike’s love. I am not expecting it to be. Since he died, I did connect with a man who showed me that the heart can feel deeply again. He showed me that I can feel things for another man that I never even felt for Mike. This man showed me that I have the ability to move forward and like someone again while I concurrently love Mike. This “relationship” did not develop in the way I thought it would, but it served its purpose. Knowing this man taught me a lot about feeling again after your spouse dies.
So, after three years, am I still grieving? Yes, of course. I will be Mike’s widow for the rest of my life. And, I “still” love Mike - I will always love him. No amount of time will ever change this. However, I do love him differently now. I love Mike in a deeper, but more removed way. Now, it is simply a Soul love. There is no physical aspect to our love anymore and this makes it pure, almost sacred. (I do ask myself what new man can accept this devotion I have to Mike? Maybe no one. Time will tell.)
In this dimension, Mike is no longer part of my everyday. Physically, he is gone from here and this remains horrible because this is where I am. Here is where I exist – without him. I miss him. I yearn for him, but now I have earnestly begun to accept his death in both my head and my heart. I have no choice but to accept his death. It is what it is. He is gone. After a lot of hard work I have begun to accept his deadness.
And, by accepting that Mike is gone forever, it has given me the ability to consider dating. I do want to meet a man organically in suburbia, but the way my life is set up the chances of this happening are slim. I go to work, socialize with my girlfriends and attend to my kid’s needs. In the last three years, while circling the wagons in my life, I have not serendipitously bumped into a man who has become a romantic interest. So, I figured I would give online dating at try. It is not my first choice as a means of meeting a man; but, I do not want to rule it out.
When I encounter various challenges in my life, I always go about creating a plan. I engage in problem solving and I work to “fix” the issue. Traditionally, I throw everything I have at it, whatever the problem may be. So, I had to ask myself why I was I responding differently to love? Why was I playing small in this department? Maybe it is my sense of duty to Mike? Maybe it is my fear of falling in love and really not being “his” anymore. Maybe it is fear of STDs. Maybe it is fear that I am not enough for someone who is not Mike. Who knows what “it” is. I don’t know exactly what made me hesitate, but, I do know that all of this fear and worry isn’t going to help love find me again.
I have always believed that love finds you when you are not seeking it. At least, that is how it has always happened for me. Anyhow, I guess I have grown impatient. I miss being in love and I want to fall in love again so I am trying to increase my odds with online dating. In honesty, I don't think that I will fall in love with anyone I meet online, but I do think that my act of joining the online dating world is opening me up to the potential of love again. It is me declaring to the Universe that I am optimistic and open to the possibility of loving another human being who is not Mike. This is profound. This is big stuff.
Finally, after almost three years, I am publicly acknowledging, that my romantic life should continue in some capacity. I have accepted that Mike is never coming back to me. And, most significantly, I am finally admitting that being in love with a dead man is not enough for me. (Trust me, I have tried to make it enough. But, for me, it just isn’t.) Mike died. I didn’t. I have to start acting alive. I have to action things in my life that will bring me closer to the woman he fell in love with. Dating is simply one of these things. And, now I know that I have to started including dating in the list of things I must do to live forward.
In closing, I miss who I was when he was alive. Mike made me a Fan Girl of Love. I can still feel how I used to move and laugh when I was loved by him. Now, I look through my saddened eyes and sometimes the twinkle that lived there once before flashes before me. I still remember being a carefree, happy woman in love and I will be damned if I give up the fight to be a new version of her again. If there is anything Mike wants, it is for me to be “okay” and for me to live my best life. And, I will do everything I can to claw my way back to life. Even if it includes online dating.
This said, it has not been easy. I have to admit I have been mad at Mike when I am browsing through my online matches. I am pissed off that this is my life. We had our life in order and now I have to recreate a life from the ruins of the beautiful life I shared with him. I am not happy about this, but what else can I do? I have to play the hell out of the shitty cards I have been dealt. The girl Mike loves would not fold. I need to play - all in. I need to put my cards on the table and let it ride… (I feel him cheering me on as I type this.)
I know some people chose not to date after their spouse dies. Some do this because they feel they can never love again the way they loved their spouse. And, they are right. They will not love this way again. But, I know that the human heart has the capacity to love again and that is enough to spur me forward. This makes me willing to give love another shot. I respect the choice others, choosing to remain alone; but for me, I can not imagine living my entire life without feeling romantic love again. Some argue they will never date again because they “can’t go through this pain again”. Well, I can assure you that this isn’t my end game either. But, I am a fool for love and I think that love is worth the pain of widowhood. I would choose to love Mike over again and again, even knowing what I know now.