***Please note this is not an article for advice – and is based on my experience and my experience alone**
Dating scares me.
It terrifies me.
I have dipped my toe into it a few times after my husband passed away about a year after his death. I dip back out of the kiddie-sized wading pool and back far, far away.
I was lucky to find the person I was going to marry when I was 13. David was it for me. We were going to go the distance.
I never had the dating disaster stories – the ones that I could share amongst my friends. I was often not included in girl talk of awkward first kisses because “well my husband and I…” were never technically counted.
I didn’t have the sexual escapades to write an episode of “red shoe diaries.’
No awkward and funny anecdotes and I was happy about it. All of it.
I wouldn’t change it.
I never thought about anything different. We were going to be that couple celebrating 60 years together. We were going to be like my grandparents.
Then David passed away. I was sleeping on the couch instead of our bed, working myself to death, and feeling touched starved. A condition that happens when you don’t get as much physical touch as you’re used to — or any at all. You crave contact but can’t interact with others for some reason. There were days where I thought if I didn’t hug someone I was going to go crazy and die. Could you picture it? Being able to kiss, hug and hold hands with someone every day for 17 years whenever you wanted. We could link pinkies discreetly in public, have a caring hand on your shoulder as you wash dishes. The act of intimacy of fingers lazily playing your spine like a talented pianist. Overnight. It is taken away from you. You go from 60 to 0 in 4.2 seconds.
I downloaded tinder. Maybe nothing will come out of it. Maybe nothing has to. Maybe I will make new friends and get out of the house, try a new Ethiopian place, or a new craft beer. Maybe laugh – I don’t remember what laughing was like, could I find someone that made me laugh. Like He did? Do I want that or do I want something different? Do I want any of it at all?
One friend convinced me I shouldn’t do this. It was unsafe and I was going to be murdered “dating is a lot different since you have been dating.”
“I never dated so…”
Dear people who are friends with widows:
Sometimes we just need to hear we look cute. Okay? Good talk!
For a brief moment, I did wish that I did have stories of dating and of one-night stands. What if they thought I was too used up? too full of baggage? Too old for first dates? Too soft? Too not ready.
Too still married.
I was married.
I know our vows were until death do us part but was that enough?
Am I dishonouring him?
Am I cheating on him? Is this adultery? Am I going to Hell for this?
Should I shut up and enjoy myself as one human meeting another human and take it as an adventure?
The result was so many red flags I could have made a cute blanket for my couch
If anything it goes towards stories and anecdotes for a new one. If there is a new one or another one.
I date occasionally because I like to meet people, even though I took Tinder off my phone for a while and had some better outings with Facebook dating…first dates never get easier…
I find myself always being TOO something (Queer, Fat, Nerdy, Widowed,) and it is hard to keep up. So, I will go on a date and then lick my wounds and test new waters three months down the line again. When I am feeling a little more adventurous.
When they find I am widowed and I usually get one of three reactions:
a) Treat me with kid’s gloves!
b)They want to know every horrifying detail. I often wonder if they are like that with divorced people or first responders (yes! Let’s relive our trauma for your entertainment)
c) they try to relate in ways that aren’t relevant. “Yea, I know what that is like, I lost my (fill in the blank – dog/mom/boss/brother)” “Yeah I know what that is like too, I’m Divorced.”
And I often ask myself “why am I doing this?” is it worth it?
There have been good ones along the way:
The guy who fought through his anxieties and insecurities to kiss me…
Wedding date friend…
The guy who surprised me with sunflowers…
People who made me feel valued, wanted, desired in both the same ways David had and in ways I have never felt. Ever.
Like I was worth taking a chance on.
Why is that the scariest notion out of all of this? Someone other than your husband finds you loveable. Wants you. Would want to see all your scars and will still be standing.
If you get into a serious relationship again, they can die. Can you go through widowhood a second time? (To my sisters who have done this more than once, I bow to you)
You can die. Could you make someone a widow knowing the pain you are being put through?
Dating scares me. Terrifies me. Sometimes I want to dip more than a toe in.