Maybe I'll Get A Cat

I'm finding it a bit lonely, this whole “being alone” thing.  Back in my real life I often craved alone time.  Just one hour of peace and quiet was like winning the lottery, because the last time I had such a thing was somewhere around 1992.

The last couple of decades have been filled with career and intermingled with babies, followed by toddlers, followed by teens. Several of those teen years were particularly difficult, even before Ben got sick, so it has been a long, long time since I experienced peace and quiet.

Now it seems that all the hours are quiet. Not much peace, just endless quiet.  

Our son was 18 years old when Ben found out that he was dying, and a mere two days earlier he (our son) had celebrated one year of sobriety.  He had returned to being the awesome kid he was before addiction wrapped its evil self around him and started choking all the joy and spirit from his body.  We were grateful he was alive and we were thrilled that we were finally going to get to enjoy our boy again. He had been in a treatment centre for a year and we were all excitedly in the midst of preparations for him to return home.  Sober.  Happy.  We were all finally happy.  It was an exciting time, those whole 48 hours.

At that same time our daughters were 15 and 13 years old.  Both had had their childhood seriously disrupted by addiction and could hardly a remember a time when life had been peaceful for them.  Finally they were not only getting their big brother back, but they were going to experience peace again. 

And they did … for a few days.

For years our lives have been consumed by addiction, cancer, chemo, surgery, radiation, experimental treatments, death, grieving, and depression.  Every day ran into the next, year after year, and no one remembered such a thing called peace and quiet.  I missed it and I longed for it.  Now as the fog begins to lift, I am opening my eyes to find that the kids are older and far more independent, and that means that I am often alone.   Not much peace, and too much quiet.

I miss Ben terribly but the evenings are long and lonely.  I miss conversation, I miss having a partner, I miss knowing that there is someone who loves me but doesn’t call me “Mom.”  And so, after a conversation with a friend who met their partner on a dating site, I decided that I would quietly take a peek online to see if it could ever be possible for me to meet a Chapter Two.

I’ll leave the bit about the overwhelming guilt I felt out of the story for now (that’s for another time) and tell you about how my venture into online “dating” panned out.

I decided that I would just take a little look at who may be out there searching for love.  Just a peek and nothing more.  I told myself that no one needs to know that I looked and it could forever remain my little secret.  So I began, or at least I tried to.  I discovered that if you want to see people online you actually have to create an online profile for yourself.  Seriously?  Is there nowhere I can just dip my toe in the water by cyber spying on single men?  A little random stalking is no longer acceptable? That’s a shame.  I did not want to create a profile, especially since someone I know could possibly end up seeing it online and judge me.  The thought of going onto Match or EHarmony where someone I know could discover what I was doing made me want to climb into a hole and bury myself.

I decided that if I must create a profile in order to see what is out there then I had better do it on a less popular site, in order to minimize the risk of being “caught.”  (Oh, the guilt.  I felt like I was cheating on my husband and possibly destroying my kids’ lives even further.)

I found a site I had never heard of before and began creating my profile.  Holy shit.  There were a LOT of questions to answer, and I am a truth teller.  About five hours later (not joking) I was finished with the questions and breathed a sigh of relief.  Finally I would be able to do what I had intended all along … spy.  But just when I thought I was getting to the good stuff the site told me I had to upload a picture of myself.  WHHAAAAATTTT??????  No way.  No how.  Not happening.  Even if I wanted to post a picture I could not, because I rarely let anyone take pictures of me and I don’t keep any of myself on my phone.  (Well, not any that I would actually post).  Also, there was exactly a zero percent chance that I would ever tell anyone that I had created an online profile, so I certainly wasn’t going to ask someone to take pictures of me that I could post.

What does one do when they’re in my predicament?  Well, apparently they lie.  At least that’s what I did.  I lied to my daughter and told her that Soaring Spirits needed a picture of me and asked if she could please take one.  After rolling her eyes at the inconvenience of it all she quickly took several pictures of me and I rejected every last one.  I criticized her photography talent, she quit in a huff (and called me crazy under her breath) and left the house.  Buh bye.  But I still didn’t have any pictures. 

Thank heavens I am a good problem solver.  I realized that I could try to take my own picture by using the timer on my Iphone, since I'm betting that selfies are not really the way to go.  I spent the next several hours changing clothing (I didn’t want anyone to think I took all my pictures on the same day, of course), propping my phone up in various places in the backyard and trying to look like I didn’t really know my picture was being taken. I also had to continually duck down every time I heard one of the neighbour’s back doors open.  I live in a bit of a fish bowl and didn't want to be seen.  It was a frustrating afternoon, although I did see the humour in it. 

After hours of modelling for myself, guess how many pictures I found to be acceptable?  None.  Zero.  Twelve outfit changes and an entire day of pretending to look surprised that my picture was being snapped by someone other than myself, and I gave up.  I was dripping in sweat.  My girls walked in right about that time and saw all the clothing strewn about the house.  They gave each other the “Holy shit this woman is a nut bar” look and walked away.  Lucky for me, I didn’t have to explain.

Anyway, I gave up the whole idea of creating an online profile.   It was too exhausting and clearly not meant to be.  I deleted everything I had written and decided that for now, all this quiet and alone-ness is better than the stress and anxiety of trying to find someone to have a cup of coffee with.

Maybe I’ll just get a cat.

PS.  Just incase anyone thinks I may have disclosed too much about my son's personal business, I should clarify that he is not only extremely open and forthcoming about his past addiction issues, but he has been interviewed on tv and radio both locally and nationally.  So I am not telling any secrets.  He does not run from his past but instead embraces it as having brought him to where he is now. (And where he finds himself now is living happily, finishing his Level I Mechanics course, holding down a job that to complete his apprenticeship hours and eventually working towards his Journeyman's ticket.  He's inspirational.  He's also three years and four months sober, and counting.  Too bad Ben didn't get to see it.)

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  • Marissa Hutton
    commented 2017-08-02 17:09:42 -0700
    I’m a little tardy reading this but Wendy, you are spot on! It’s been 5 years since my husband died and the silence is still deafening sometimes. I’m trying to buy a house again and if I’m able, I’m definitely getting a cat and maybe a dog but they have to be compatible or one of my dons will have a new dog. 😊

    Joseph, it’s entirely too soon for you to be “over” talking about your wife. If I remember correctly from your other comments, it hasn’t even been 90 days! I believe your wife died the same day I celebrated my 25th birthday (for the 25th time).

    Wendy is right. Don’t ever apologize and if folks are uncomfortable with your grief, too bad! Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. Glad you found a group where you feel comfortable. You need a safe place and place to talk about Karen. Take your time getting back into the dating world. I’m still not sure I’m ready to meet my Chapter 2 but I need some adult company of a good friend because my sons are a little tired of hanging out with me and there are just some topics I don’t want to discuss with them because even though they’re men, there are certain things and experiences I don’t think they could identify with. They’ll get there one day with their wives’ but for now, I just need a male companion who doesn’t want to be more than just friends. He’s out there somewhere, I’m sure but for now, I’ll get a cat. 😊
  • Wendy Saint-Onge
    commented 2017-07-31 17:25:53 -0700
    Joseph I’m glad you joined a grief group, but I say do not ever apologize for wanting to talk about Karen. Ever. They don’t understand and that is probably a good thing, because it means they haven’t experienced this type of loss. But never, ever apologize for loving Karen so deeply that her name is always on the tip of your tongue.
  • Joseph Kearney
    commented 2017-07-31 06:44:17 -0700
    Wendy, I know exactly how you feel. Putting yourself out there and trying to find Chapter 2. A sibling said I should do the same thing and I felt it was too soon for me but I did anyway because I felt so alone. I needed some company, a friend who could identify what I was going through. I put my self out there for a few weeks and there were few inquiries but after meeting the 1st person I just decided I just wasn’t ready for this and took my profile down. I hope one day I will be ready. This past weekend I took a few steps back. I’m in a state of “When Am I Going To Stop Feeling Like This”. I miss Karen immensely and her memory and our memories consume me. As I type this I’m tearing up.

    My family is at a point now where they are getting tired of me talking about it. My sister told me that I need to stop talking about because it makes people uncomfortable. I don’t wish what I’m going through on anybody, but maybe if some of these people experienced what I’m experiencing now they’d have a clue. I met up with a friend I met in a Men’s Grief group and had dinner with him last night. That group therapy stuff is the best. I felt relief because I was able to talk about Karen to someone who actually listened and could identify with me. It was the best I felt all weekend until I woke up this morning after having a dream of Karen and I kissing.

    When Karen was still with me, we had 4 children between us and I was always in search of the solitude you wrote about, I would mow the lawn, do yard work or some other project to escape the chaos. It brought me peace. But I would do anything now to have that chaos back. I have too much solitude now. I have so much solitude now that I don’t have any peace.