Life Update and Thoughts on Dating

Gosh, I have so much to write about that I don't even know where to begin.

As much as it scares me, I think it's time to talk about what's going on in my life lately...and what's been going on is that I'm dating someone. There. I said it. I said it.  Bring on the hate and judgement.

Ohhh, life.

Life. is. just. weird. You never know what it's going to bring. If you would have told me a year ago today that I would be dating someone, I would have told you you were crazy. Actually I would have been angry and disgusted at the thought.

But our lives often don't turn out the way we have them planned in our minds. Mine sure didn't. I thought that Matt and I had the rest of our lives before us, that we would grow old together. I never thought about the possibility that there would be an alternate ending than the one I envisioned in my mind. The one of us being 80, still holding hands, still being happy and in love, laughing together and enjoying each other's presence every day.

It's just so strange that a few years ago, I was happily married to the man of my dreams and thought I was set for life...and then suddenly I was 34 years old, single, and back in the dating world. Even now sometimes I am still just like, how is this my life? This isn't where I was supposed to be. I already did this once. I found my person. I can't tell you how weird it is to be doing the dating thing all over again. I would have never ever imagined this for myself in my wildest dreams.

It's been a few months, so some of the bizarreness of it all has worn off a bit, but I'm still processing everything. Dating after being widowed comes with SO many conflicting thoughts and emotions. Some days I am "okay" with it, and then some days I am still just all over the place. I feel scared, torn, hopeful, sad, guilty, thankful, happy, empty, unsettled, excited, anxious, confused, and happy...all at the same time. And I question everything, I doubt everything. I over analyze. I don't trust myself. I self sabotage. I think of reasons to run.

I did NOT expect this and was NOT looking for a relationship this soon. Not at all. When Matt died, I could not comprehend or even think about ever loving or being with another man. My brain just couldn't even go there. Matt was the one I chose, and when I chose him, it was for forever. It was supposed to be until the day I died. He was the only one I ever wanted to give my heart to and share my life with. I didn't think I could ever love or even want to love again for that matter. My heart was Matt's. The very day I met him, I knew I never wanted anyone else.

But in the months following his death, I started to slowly open to the idea of hanging out with other guys, just as friends. I didn't want a relationship or anything, I simply missed companionship, having someone to talk and laugh with and to and go out and do things with on the weekends. I had not anticipated how horrible the loneliness would be.

Y'all. The loneliness...I think something that people can never understand about being a widow unless  they've gone through it themselves is how utterly lonely you feel. Even when you have friends and family to support you, it's still so lonely. When you are so used to having your best friend and partner with you pretty much 24/7, someone to talk to and laugh with at all hours of the day, not having that anymore is excruciating. It's really, really, reeeally hard. And there's also just something about having a male presence in your life, at least for me. I've never been much of a "girl's girl"... I've always felt more comfortable hanging out with guys. Most of my friends in high school were guys. I've always felt I can just be myself and talk to men better than women for some reason.

So about 5 months after Matt died, a guy approached me in the gym and asked me out. I actually turned him down but didn't give him specifics on my situation. Well, the next week he came up to me again, and for some reason I thought, what the heck,what's it gonna hurt? And I gave him my number. Now, mind you, I was NOT thinking about dating at this point whatsoever. I was still grieving my husband hard, and the thought of being with another man was NOT on my radar. I sobbed the whole way home from the gym that day. I felt so guilty. I kept saying, "I'm sorry, Matt. I'm sorry." I hated the fact that I was in this situation, where I was talking to a man who wasn't my husband. But I was so lonely, and I thought I would just give it a try and see what would happen. I told myself it wasn't dating. I just wanted someone to hang out with, that's all. What's so wrong with that?

I'm telling you, though, it was bizarre in the beginning, the first guy I went to dinner with, even when it was just as friends and not even a "date" in my mind. It was strange to be sitting across a table from a man who wasn't my husband. I just kept thinking, "I am not supposed to be here. I should be at home, watching TV on the couch with my husband right now." But after the weirdness subsided, I'm not gonna lie, it was nice getting out and about, talking and laughing with someone. It didn't make me miss Matt any less at ALL, but it did somewhat ease the loneliness. It got me out of the house, it distracted me, and to be honest, it was thrilling and exciting, something I haven't felt in a while.

When I went out with him, it was like for 2 hours I could feel something besides pain and loneliness. It was a break in the monotony of my life, which at that time felt pretty purposeless. It made my days not feel so empty. It was a few hours I could almost live a different life and be someone besides the woman who just lost her husband. Plus, I was going through this phase where I wanted to be rebellious and not be the rational, responsible Lindsay I've always been. If I didn't have my old life, I didn't want to be the old Lindsay anymore. I was trying to find my way in this new world and a new identity without Matt. Or maybe I was just doing anything I could to distract myself.

Well, long story short, we hung out for a couple months....and then he ended up being a jerk(I won't even go into that story!), so I said peace out ✌. I did hang out with a few guys here and there after that for a few months, though. I always made it clear right off the bat that it was just as friends and that I wasn't looking for any kind of romantic relationship, and definitely no friends with benefits type thing. It sure is a different world out there there from when I was last "dating" at 18. I had no idea what I was even doing...soo it was interesting, to say the least.

So even though I wasn't ready for anything at the time and wasn't looking for a future spouse or anything like that, in the course of talking with this guy, I began to realize that I didn't want to be alone forever. I didn't want to be sad and just go through the motions every day for the rest of my life. I didn't want to just stay busy with things to make the days pass by. No, I don't think you need a man or significant other to be happy, but because I had something so good with Matt, I just couldn't imagine going the rest of my life never feeling that way again. I know it won't be the same, but I want something like that again some day. So that was when my heart slowly began to open up to the possibility of loving again.

Anyway, sooo then one day I met this guy....

I was out with my best friend and her husband one night, and I'll never forget when I saw him walk in. I said, "Melissa. Hold. up." Even though I wasn't ready for a relationship at that time, it seemed that since Matt died I had suddenly reverted back to my 18 year old boy crazy self. And I'm not gonna lie, he walked in to that place lookin' fiiine...then I realized I recognized him from the gym, and it also turned out that Melissa actually knew him. Sooo she went over to say hey to him, and of course, dragged me along. I didn't complain, though. ;)

As soon as we met, we instantly "clicked" and had that chemistry, something I wondered if I'd have with anyone again. He was the first guy I actually liked...like, more than a friend. We exchanged numbers and started texting, and then the next weekend I let him take me out on my first "real" date, as in I actually let him come to my house and pick me up- something I hadn't let any other guy do. Things with him from day one just felt good and natural, never awkward or forced...and it just kept getting better and better the more we hung out.

I tried to resist in the beginning. I fought it. I didn't want to be exclusive. I still talked to other guys. I told him a million times that I didn't want to have anything serious and that I didn't want to rush into anything. He was patient with and let me have my time to live the "single life" I felt I needed. He told me  he'd be here, waiting, for when I was ready. But over time I realized I was starting to really, really like him. I started realizing I didn't want to hang out with other guys anymore. It was when I went out on other dates and only thought about him that I knew there was something there.

And you know, even though it's been really weird at times, doing this whole thing all over again, it's also been nice having someone in my life again, to have that connection and chemistry with someone, even if I don't know for sure where things will go. It's nice having someone to hang out with on the weekends, someone to grill out with in the evenings, someone to laugh with and talk to every day.

But you know what else it is? Terrifying. You know what it's NOT ? Easy. At all. I have had SO many conflicting feelings in all of this in the last few months.

There has been guilt, even a feeling of betrayal at times. More so in the beginning. I felt guilty for another man making me happy and having those feelings again for someone.... Because it was supposed to be Matt, just Matt, forever. So at first it felt "wrong" to feel happy again. That has gotten better with time, though. I have to remind myself that I didn't choose this. I loved Matt with every ounce of my being for our 12 years of marriage and still do, and I would have for the rest of our lives together on this Earth if he were still here. But I can't get him back. And I can't feel bad about wanting to feel happiness again. Wouldn't he want that for me?

Along with the guilt, there has also been a strange fear of being happy, and that's something I'm still struggling with...It's pretty terrifying, actually, putting myself out there again after all the hurt I've been through, opening up my heart, knowing it could get broken, knowing I could lose it all and have it all come crashing down again...I just don't know if my heart can take it. I'm still so scared of getting my hopes up, of letting myself believe I can have something good again, only to have it taken away from me.

It's definitely a risk. At times I've wondered, is it worth it?  Is it worth having my heart shattered again when I've finally gotten to a somewhat "okay" place on my own? Is it really worth the heartbreak if it doesn't work out? I had somewhat come to a place of being "okay", doing my own thing, getting used to my own routine and life alone. I wasn't "happy" per say, but I was okay. And you know? It's almost easier to stay in that place, to get used to the sadness, to protect your heart from ever being broken again, for your world to come crumbling down again... But if you do that, you may miss out on the chance for something great, right?  Isn't love worth it? I think it is. So...I'm being cautious, I'm taking things slow, but I'm making the decision to risk it and go with it, taking it day by day...even though I am still scared out of my freaking mind sometimes.

And then there have been times when I have these weird thoughts that I don't deserve to be happy, that I need to suffer longer. I know, it's crazy....As if I didn't suffer enough watching the love of my life die, right? As if picking up the pieces of my shattered life and forcing myself to keep going every day for the past year when some days I didn't want to wasn't enough? I often just can't help but think that this is just too good to be true. Who am I to deserve something good twice? It just can't happen, it just can't be, this is going to end, and I'll be devastated again...Grief does weird things to your brain, I tell you. It makes you fear happy. It makes you anxious. I never was such an over thinker before! It's crazy because it's like I'm crying because I hate what my life is now, but then when I start to feel happiness, I'm crying for feeling happy! Like what the heck is this life?

I'm filled with so many doubts and questions... the fear that this isn’t what’s best or "right" for me....wondering if I’m not ready or that it’s too soon.... I just don't trust myself right now. Am I wanting and craving love and affection so badly that it’s clouding my judgement? Why is my mind going to the long term already? Do I just want to have a “place” again? A part of me thinks it’s “wrong” for some reason. It’s wrong of me to fall for someone so soon. Wrong to be happy again. Wrong to be with someone else when I miss my husband still so much.Yes, I'm still grieving, and I will grieve and miss Matt forever, but I don't want to be stuck here. I don't want this to define my life. I don't want to be stuck in the past, stuck in the sadness, stuck in my grief. I want to move forward. I want to truly live. I want to smile again. I want to be happy. I want to love and be loved again. Is that so bad? Does that make me a weak person?

It’s all so confusing and scary and like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. It's strange to feel happy and excited about life and the future at times, but then to also have this fear and constant sense of unease... this void... this underlying sadness at the same time. The feeling that something isn't "right". Because it isn't. He isn't here. Sometimes it feels like I’m living it two worlds...my old life with Matt that I still miss...and then this new life without him, with someone new. It doesn't happen often anymore, but  at times I have had the thought,"This should should be Matt". But even though I miss him so much, I have found that I don’t compare them. If I can’t have Matt back, I want something and someone new and different. I am not the same person I was. Matt was who I needed when I was that 18 year old girl, and this is who I need right now in this new chapter of my life.

I want to just relax and enjoy it, be all in, and savor these moments of happiness that I feel....which is getting better as time has gone by, but sometimes all the thoughts and the conflicting feelings keep me from being able to fully enjoy it. It's all just so weird to feel such extreme opposite emotions, to be happy but feel so sad at the same time. I still can't get rid of the fear that it's going to be taken from me. I have thought of every worse case scenario for this to not work out or end badly. Is that just want happens when you've experienced a loss like this? Your brain just goes into protective mode I guess?

But as much as I have tried to fight this, I can’t deny the instant connection we had, how everything has just flowed so naturally. And he’s a good guy who’s not out there trying to play games or hook up with a bunch of girls. I've heard so many dating horror stories and have experienced my own, so I should be doing everything in my power to not let this one get away!

He’s sweet and thoughtful and sincere. He gets the situation and knows what he’s getting into. He listens and lets me talk about Matt, which is super important to me. I can't be with someone who won't let me talk about him. I won't pretend like he didn't exist. I have had multiple meltdowns in front of him, which says a lot, because I don’t let people see me cry... and I have all out cried in front of him. And the thing I love is that it doesn't freak him out. He never tells me not to cry. He tells me to let it out. He knows I’ll have those moments and that I’ll always miss and grieve Matt and that he’ll always be a part of my life. It takes a special guy to come into a situation like this, dating a woman who is still grieving, who will always love and have a place in her heart for another man.

But... he genuinely wants to make me happy. We have deep conversations, and he opens up and talks about feelings, which I really like. I also love that I feel like he truly likes me for me and not just my looks, just like Matt did. He likes my weird, goofy, awkward side, and I love that I can be silly and act myself around him. He’s given me moments of happiness that I haven’t felt in a long time and didn't know if I'd ever feel again. He’s made me excited about life again...and why would I close myself off to that? I know I can't rely on someone else to make me happy and that I still have to learn to be okay on my own...but I also don't want to risk missing out on something that could be really good.

In the beginning, I had a huge fear of people judging me for dating so soon. I still feel ashamed about it sometimes. Widows are judged harshly, it's just a fact. I don't get how people who get divorced, who CHOSE to end the relationship can be encouraged to date, but then widows get judged for it? We honored our vows and loved our spouses until their last breath, yet we're judged for falling in love again? For so long, I felt like I had to keep it a secret, even from my family. But I'm finally at the point now where I'm somewhat okay with it. Because no one can understand how any of this feels unless they have walked in my shoes. I feel ready to move forward. Not move on, but forward. People are always gonna have their thoughts and opinions-that you're either grieving too long, or not moving on fast enough, or too soon, or whatever. But unless you've lost a spouse, your opinion is not valid. So, byeee.

Another concern of mine in this has been that people will think because I'm seeing someone, that I’m instantly just fine and that everything is better now, that I suddenly stop grieving or missing my husband, or that I'm "over" him. It does NOT work like that. You don't get over someone who dies, you simply choose to continue living on. Yes, I'm with someone who makes me happy right now, but I still constantly think about and miss my husband. Having someone new in my life doesn't just instantly "fix" things. I still have a dead husband. I'm still sad. I still feel some days like I've lost my anchor, and I'm just drifting about at sea...
"You never really stop missing someone-you just learn to live around the huge gaping hole of their absence." ~Alyson Noe
And most importantly, it doesn’t diminish the love I had and still have and will always have for my husband. That has probably been my biggest fear, even more than the fear of being judged-that people will think I must not have loved him that much if I can "move on" so quickly. I loved Matt with everything in me, and that will never change. That love will never die. I'll never be "over" him. My grief for him may change, but it will never be gone completely. I'll always ache for him. I will always miss him. What I truly want is to have him back on this earth, but that's not possible. So I look forward to reuniting with him in Heaven some day. But until then, I don't want close myself off or be alone for the rest of my life...what would that prove?

Another thing is that I'm not trying to replace Matt. I will never replace him and am not trying to-that's not possible. No one could ever compare to him, and no one could take his place. I'm not trying to find another "Matt". He will always be my first true love and will have a unique place in my heart forever. But my life is different now. I am different. And if I can't have my husband back, I want someone different to move forward into this new life with. As much as it sucks, my old life is gone. I won't ever forget it, but it's time to move into a new chapter, a fresh start. It's hard, though, stepping into a new life, and it does trigger the grief. Because it feels like each step forward is one step away from my life with Matt...
Some people may also wonder how you can love two people at the same time....but I think it's kind of like when you have a child, and then you have a second one-you love them just as much, right? I feel like you can absolutely love two people at the same time, even if it's a different kind of love. And if I do love again some day, that will NOT diminish the love I have for Matt in any way, shape or form. Nor will the love I have for Matt stop me from fully loving someone else. It may not be the same, but that's okay.

Things are going to be different this time around. I still have to remind myself of this. It's not going to be like it was when I met Matt-that giddy, overwhelming happy feeling of finding the man of my dreams, feeling like I was floating on air whenever I thought about him. He came into my life and swept me off of my feet and just made everything right....and that continued for 14 years. I was 18, young and carefree, unscarred by the stuggles of life...and I didn't have a dead husband. I wasn't grieving. I didn't have to doubt and question and overthink things, or wonder if the timing was right, or if it was "too soon", or how often it was okay to see him. This time around, someone isn't going to come and just make things "right", because they'll never be right again. This time, someone isn't going to come and sweep me off of my feet, because I've already had that. This time, I fought it, because I wasn't supposed to have someone besides Matt. I wasn't supposed to have a boyfriend...something just isn't right about that. So of course I'm not going to have the happy, giddy, everything is amazing feeling this time. That makes me doubt things sometimes, but from what I've read from other widows, that is a completely normal thing.

Someone posted this in an article I recently read, and I can relate to every single word:

"I had only loved one person in my whole life... When C came along, and we started dating, it was different. I knew things would be different, because he was not Jim. But I didn't know that love would feel different. And so as we became more serious and had deeper feelings for one another, I started to worry. A lot. I questioned myself and my feelings. Because this did not feel the same. I wasn't feeling that my heart would burst from how much love I had for him. I didn't wake up each morning almost counting the hours until we'd be together again. So I wondered if I truly loved him. I stressed a lot over this, not wanting to give up on the relationship, but wondering if I was being fair to him if this truly wasn't love. It's hard to express how much pain I was in. He loved me a lot, but although I was not sure that it was love for me, I was not willing to stop seeing him. I thought I was being selfish. Or worse... maybe I was settling. And then [after talking to another widow] I began to realize that the way I was loving this second time was ‘normal.' And that I had to let go of my expectations. How could this love feel the same as my first love? I was younger then. We were both worry-free. We had no children. We really didn't have many bills. We had no jobs. We had time. We had freedom. We had youth. We had only each other. And we had a long future ahead of us. ...It's 27 years later. I have 6 children. I have bills... I have a dead husband... I have a scarred heart. I am in a different place. 
Love after love will not feel the same. But that doesn't mean that it's not love."

Will I ever have anything close to what Matt and I had ever again? Something so special, so amazing, so rare? That's hard to imagine, and maybe I don't want that again.  I want what Matt and I had to be special and unique to us. What's the chance of having something like that once, much less twice, in one lifetime? I will always treasure and be thankful for what we had. It kills me that it was ripped away from me, that our story didn't get to continue on. But while I know that I may never have something just like that again, I do now believe I can love again, even if it will be different the next time around.

I used to think, "This is it. I'll never have something good again. This is all I'm going to get in this lifetime is what I had with Matt..." And hey, if that's true, then it was enough. Because I was so blessed and SO loved for the 12 years I had with him. What a gift God gave me when he led me to him. But one day the thought crossed my mind that maybe there could be the possibility of being blessed with having something good twice...Can I dare to hope for that? Should I? I'm choosing to believe that whatever God has in store for me will be good, whether it works out with this relationship or not. Like I said, I was NOT looking for this. I definitely wasn't trying to find a boyfriend, especially not one with three kids! But it happened, and here I am....so now I'm just choosing to trust that God will get me through whatever is to come, just like He's gotten me to where I am today. I trust that He'll lead me and guide me to right where I am supposed to be. I'm just going with the flow and praying that God will give me peace and joy as I continue on in this new life.

"I had somehow convinced myself that suffering was the only way to show my undying love. But it wasn’t.
Whether I am in a crumpled heap on the bathroom floor or trying a new hobby, I still miss him.
Whether I pull away from friends or take them up on an offer to enjoy drinks after work, I still love him.
Whether I opt to be bitter and angry on his birthday or join my widowed tribe for a birthday celebration, I’m still his widow.
Nothing – absolutely nothing – takes away from my love for him. Not traveling, not dating, not getting remarried, not moving forward.
I can live while missing him.
I can laugh while missing him.
I can be happy again while missing him.
I can love while missing him.
Don’t let anyone – including you – tell you anything different." -Kerry Phillips

Comments

  1. You're allowed to be happy and I'm glad you're dating. It's not easy and you shouldn't be alone! Matt would want you to be happy and if you found someone who makes you happy that's great! You have a lifetime of amazing memories to cherish with Matt but you deserve the opportunity to make some more memories. I'm so happy for you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I agree with Dawn. You deserve to be happy. Know that our family has not stopped praying for you as you adapt and go through this new life that you never chose.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lindsay there is no way you will ever forget Matt. And you deserve to be happy again. Your husband passed away. You have suffered so much and I know Matt would not expect you to be a lone the rest of your life. We know through you what kind of man Matt was and selfish he wasn't . Go on with life and you are not replacing Matt , you are starting a new life ,but Matt will always always be in your heart . This man you are seeing seems to be a great guy who is allowing you to still grieve and talk about Matt . This guy is a very mature man. Enjoy life because Matt will always be with you .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I appreciate you saying that. It's hard... and I still miss Matt so much!!

      Delete
  4. I can relate to this so much. I’m currently struggling in this area too. It’s good to see someone else going through it also. I’m happy for you

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry you're going through this. And thank you so much,

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Putting My Heart Out There

One Year...