I’m going to tell you a story.
It is an intensely personal one; one I haven’t felt open to sharing until now. But it has persisted at knocking at my brain, and I finally feel ready to let it out.
So here goes. And since it is so long for a blog, I will be dividing it into several parts.
Today, as I sit down to write with tired eyes, I must admit that although I miss Megan as much now as before, it has shifted over these past few months from an intense grief at the thought of her death to more of a longing for her to be present to witness where life has taken me since that time.
I have just returned from an extended weekend in Kentucky with an amazing woman named Sarah, who also happens to be the same Sarah the writes here on Widow's Voice every Sunday. We met at Camp Widow East in February, completely by chance and/or fate, depending on your beliefs. Neither of us had any intention of finding someone new at that time, but here we are. Three months after meeting, Sarah and I are a couple. Not a day has passed since February 5th that we have not talked, and this past weekend, we were finally able to close the 1400 miles of distance, and bring our lives into the same physical space for a few days. It was wonderful.
I've been feeling the strains of beginning anew lately. Let's face it - starting to date someone is always messy. New person, new energy, new triggers and sensitivities. But being widowed makes it even trickier. After almost 3 years without a man by my side... I am a completely different person than who I was with Drew. I am far more independent. I don't even think of it as being alone these 3 years, but that I have been in a very deeply committed relationship to myself. I'm discovering this is making it hard for me to navigate the landscape of a relationship with someone ne
Over the past couple of months I have been very quietly thinking about that terrifying concept of dating again. The feeling that I might like to dip my toe back in the dating pool started creeping in around late January, at my 18-month mark, and completely took me by surprise.
After Dan’s death, the thought of finding another partner filled me with such dread – I didn't want anyone else, the idea of another man’s touch repulsed me and I couldn't understand how someone would ever make me as happy or complete as my husband had, or live up to the expectations that he had set. I had married him six weeks earlier knowing undoubtedly that he was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I couldn't contemplate an alternative.Read more
Another week has passed, and I've had some more time to reflect back on the NYE experience I had with a guy. It was the first person I became physical with since my fiancé. You'll recall, he had less than admirable intentions with me - which he hid well. Intentions which I found out after several dates and a lot of letting my guard down. Intentions Infound out after we messed around NYE and he left and never called. Yeah. That.Read more
I have so much now in my second chance. I'm forever scarred and forever missing someone I expected to be with until I died, but I get to live on for some reason and I'm doing it well. I've been lucky in some instances but in most, I've worked hard to be where I am now. I have a lot.
I'm in a healthy, loving relationship. I have a beautiful home, healthy pets, a new career field to explore while going back to school for art. I live in the best city EVER. Seriously, Portland seems like a fairytale more often than not. I'm healthy, my guy is healthy, I'm financially okay and I have the love and support of wonderful friends and family.
I'm finding that even still it's hard for me to accept the good things. My mind is rigged to search vigilantly for the disaster right around the corner. When will the next bad thing happen, not will the next bad thing happen is the question I ask the universe over and over. I wake up early in the morning with my mind on automatic pilot - listing things to worry about that haven't happened yet. To stop the thoughts and focus on the positive is uncomfortable because it means I will no longer be vigilant. It means that bad things could be coming and I'd have my back to them. Face them head on, says my subconscious. Be ready for them! Worrying is more uncomfortable, but my brain has its patterns and it likes those patterns, regardless of how awful they make me feel.
Here's what I'm noticing as I begin to build a life with someone since Dave died. I'm struggling to let myself be helped.
I fight against the idea of my boyfriend doing things for me. I'm torn between the desire to let myself be a part of a couple again and split the work up - You do the finances because you love it and I'm terrible at it. I do the gardening because I have the green thumb. You do the litter boxes because you always remember to and I leave them for weeks before I remember- and continuing to learn to do it all by myself.
Being with Dave for almost half my life meant that I got away without doing certain things. I never had to learn to a whole host of tasks that he took care of. Just like he never had to learn to do certain things too. He took care of his stuff, I took care of mine. All those tasks he did, I'm learning to do now. From scratch.
In less than 3 weeks, it will have been 3 years since Dave died on a heart-breakingly beautiful June day. It has been the most terrifying, wrenching, altering event of my life so far and I will spend the rest of my life dealing with it to some extent.
I'm beginning to understand just how much we learn to carry our grief rather than get over it. It's not that it never fades in intensity. It does. It's just that it's not something I can finally set aside. It colors my every moment. It won't always be in the forefront of my mind. It won't always cripple me. It's impact on me is permanent though. Like scar tissue.
I'm not sure how I'll be able to handle my new partner getting sick, especially. I can imagine the fear being almost too much to bear.
... well lost to me anyway.
The last time I did "flirting" (without knowing that the flirtee was already very interested - ie Greg), I was in possession of a rather hot 22 year old body, flawless skin and a geeky naivete that was somehow attractive (who knew?).
In other words, the most flirting I did was glancing in the direction of someone I fancied .... and smiling. After that it wasn't me who was trying to do the impressing.
"I hate goodbyes" Every time Dave and I would say goodbye for more than a day or so, we'd reenact this scene from Dumb and Dumber.
I'm in the disorienting world of goodbyes again as I navigate the end to the first real relationship I've attempted since Dave died. Fortunately I have the most amazing friends who have helped keep me afloat but the sadness is right there at the margins, waiting to take over if I stand still long enough. I'm beaten down and tired of goodbyes and of crying until my eyes are alarmingly swollen. I've become almost fascinated with the levels of redness and swelling my eyes have achieved in the last few days. I'm thinking of documenting it for a medical journal.
A friend is also facing the end of a relationship and we were talking about breakup basics: how to know you've tried hard enough and it's time to let go, how to know someone is "the one", previous embarrassing relationship mistakes. I found myself explaining how I knew Dave was TRUE partner material for me. I had so many stories of how I knew he was my one, that finally it dawned on me. If it is to happen again for me, I will recognize it when it comes. It will be obvious. It will not be hard to figure out. DUH.