Dating After Grief - A Widows Journey
It has been a while since I have written a blog post. It’s a shame really because I had forgotten how incredibly healing it is for me. I was caught in the trap of 34 second messages because that seems to be where the world is right now. The reality is that “right now” is not working for me. I have really been struggling to find my way, discover the “who I am” part of this stage of life. One minute you think you have it figured out and the next, well you don’t. You spend hours of negative self talk and spend even more hours trying to define your purpose. When in reality, embracing that deep vulnerability is so needed at times. And is your purpose.
Dating after loss has been one of the biggest emotional lessons for me. You never take into consideration that in your mid fifties you would be starting over. Trying to not only discover who you are now but also trying to find the way, with another person, their emotions, needs, expectations and their own vulnerabilities. What a hell of a ride that is! The voices in your head constantly scream RUN. Then the softer voice says quietly, just breathe. It is like you are having a constant voice war within your own mind. At times, it feels like you are literally losing your mind.
I hear people say things like dating in 2022 all the time is insanity. No, the year and time have nothing to do with it. Dating has always been hard, it just gets harder as we get older because we are tired and we have expectations that at times, are completely unrealistic. Many of us had long term relationships so we have an expectation that it should just be like that. Forgetting that the “that” took years to develop with another person. Defining your expectations, goals and needs in another relationship is not something that just rolls into a new one, like a red carpet. It simply does not.
You move forward behind this façade, only giving little pieces of yourself so they never fully see you. Because you see, if you allow them to see you fully you lose that power. The one created in your own mind because you are certain if you allow anyone else in that they will take away your sense of wonder, your internal beat, and your heart. So, you move forward leaving little breadcrumbs, just enough to keep them there.
Discovering yourself through this process is exhausting. You literally spent most of your adult life being that person for someone else. Your kids, your spouse etc. Somewhere in all of that we lose ourselves and our own internal light becomes dim. You never through all of those years, defined your own passion and your purpose was to be a mother, a partner, a sister, a daughter, a wife and in my case, also a care giver.
I have had people say to me “oh, I know you better than you know yourself”. That is a wonderful thought however it really never mattered how close we were I never allowed anyone in that deep. No one to really, fully see me. I only allowed them into see what I wanted them to. Many times, being a chameleon to adapt to situations. Many times, only allowing the first couple of chapters to be read in my story. To literally mimic my surroundings. So, few people could see through this. I was simply called adaptable. The reality is that it was one of the biggest emotional cons ever. My late husband was able to peel away those layers and expose my deepest vulnerabilities. He was one of the very few who has even seen me at my most open. He was also able to pull me back, build me up and simply just be there with no expectation or requirement. Just be.
My whole life has been one of risk taking and literally pushing life to its absolute limits. Always chasing, always building and always dreaming. I can attest that you suddenly wake up one day and decide it is time for peace. But, is that because you are emotionally tired and once rested you will dive right back in or are you literally ready for peace? Such an intense question
I have always called myself a gypsy soul, but it really wasn't until just recently that I started researching the term gypsy soul. I started doing this to fully understand this mindset within my own coaching practice. What I didn't expect was for it to fully open my thinking and understanding the way I have lived my whole life. It was always one of risk, one of dreaming, one of running so fast forward that I was never able to sit within the present and embrace it.
It wasn't until my husband died suddenly in January 2022 and the subsequent lockdown of our whole world, was I forced in that moment to sit within the present. What a dark and crazy ride that was. Going through deep grief in isolation, in an environment that was not at all healthy for me, was one of the most challenging and difficult things that I have ever had to work through in my life.
I'm a firm believer that every situation whether it be negative or positive holds a lesson for us to take from it. My lesson from all of that was allowing me to fully understand the unhealthy generational trauma that I had been through my whole life, and how I continued to push forward in my own life, was extremely unhealthy. I was immediately a small child in an unknown and terrifying environment. Being forced to sit within that environment, allowed those emotions and trauma to come to the surface. I didn't realize how effective that had been for me until I started seeing a professional in January of this year to help with trauma work. All of this has allowed me to really see a lot of what I had been running from my whole life. It was hard, it was messy, it was exhausting and it was so worth it!
But how does that change today? How do you move forward from a place of understanding, wisdom, and growing; to allow someone else into your life? How do you allow yourself to be vulnerable? How do you find the energy from within when you are still growing? Then to place that energy into building something new, with a completely different person? How do you allow your boundaries, which are very rigid and unhealthy and open to allow someone else in? How do you determine that person is the right one for you? At the age of 55 these are questions that I never thought I would have to ask myself. This is a time in my life where I felt I would be winding down my work career and preparing to enjoy retirement with my husband. Those are the kinds of dreams little girls have when they are young. The perfect Prince Charming, the successful life, the wonderful experiences, and then as you grow older you are able to look deep within the eyes of the person who you love unconditionally. And that person is the one you are supposed to be spending the rest of your life with. Then one day you wake up and you realize that yesterday took that away from you. How does one move forward from that?
And then one day you meet someone. This person who starts as someone who you have great conversations with, someone who allows you to laugh again, someone who gives you a sense of romance, connection, friendship and understanding. And then one day you get scared. Because that one text changed everything. Because this person opened up your heart, which is something that you had so tightly locked. You had decided after feeling such intense grief that you would never allow anyone ever to become that close to you again. That you would never define who you are again as sharing space within your world with another person. That you would never again be a piece of someone else, that you had made this emotional decision to become this warrior, this powerful woman, this awoken human, this person who wanted nobody in her life. And then one day she woke up and realized…. she did.
Then, that realization became a quest, a hunger and an acquisition. The right formula, the right person and the right moment.
The most wonderful thing about relationships in our 50s is by choosing to have one that simply starts with a friendship, someone to talk to, someone to laugh with, someone where you have absolutely no expectations about your future. Simply just someone who you can be yourself with. But then again one day you wake up and you get scared. You get scared because you have let this person in, you have allowed vulnerable pieces of you to be exposed to the elements of life, to the elements of another persons interpretation of you, and to the world around you. You have kept those vulnerable pieces tucked so deeply within because you didn't want anyone to ever use those against you, because the unfortunate part of life, is those that you trust in friendship, will.
Dating after death is something that requires patience, understanding, faith, commitment, vulnerability, passion, trust, and needing to use that amazing superpower within your own mind; to change the negative self talk that attacks your brain every single day.
It is something that pulls pieces of you to the surface that you really didn't think would ever come again. It's a connection with another human being who like yourself, has also been in a long term relationship so you are both trying to navigate these difficult emotional waters together. Unfortunately, there are times where you will see the perfect storm. It is finding the strength within to navigate through that storm because somewhere in the depths of your soul you know this is good for you and you know this is good for him. It is finding the way to make it good for each other, at exactly the same time.
During the journey of becoming a widow people come and go from your life. They are all there for a reason and at times that reason is unclear. But many times, the reason is so very clear. And you were so grateful that the universe continues to guide you and to take care of you. Even in those moments where you have very little trust in what the universe is providing. There are times at some point where you will look back and have an a-ha moment because then, it all makes sense.
Defining who you are as a woman after the loss of your husband is not something that ever comes with an instructional manual. There are many times you fall down, there many times you get back up, and there are so many times that you just lie there in the pit of your own grief trying to breathe.
It's those moments that are exhausting. Grief has no timeline; it is a very individual process. It changes for people based on how much of yourself you gave away within that relationship. And I don't mean that in a negative way or an abusive way; what I mean is in many relationships we connect and combine as one. When we do that and a piece of that intricate puzzle of life is taken away, you literally have no idea who the hell you are anymore.
You go back to who you were in your early 20s as an example. Then you realize she doesn't really work for you anymore, then you go back to who you are as a young mother and realize, she doesn't really work for you anymore either. Then you look at who you became after your husband took his last breath and realize there were pieces of you in her but many of them were very broken.
It is a process that should not be taken lightly. It is a deep vulnerability that should be accepted, honored, and nourished and never ever judged by anyone. It is a time where you are learning to integrate your shadow side which many times, we bury deep within our psyche growing up.
It is a time where you are learning all aspects of who she is, what she wants, what makes her feel complete, and how she sees the rest of her life. If anyone doesn't think that is not a hell of a lot of shit to deal with, I truly hope you never have to.
I have lost friends, I have last acquaintances, I have lost family, I have lost so very much through this process. But I have no regrets. Waking up to fully understanding that what is important at this stage in my life is to nourish my soul, is to align myself with those who match my vision, my energy, and my peace. Is to fully understand that however many days I have left here in this body, I choose to make them the best and most fulfilling as I possibly can. Will it be easy? Will there be speed bumps? Will I get hurt? Absolutely! Will I stop trying? Never!
I choose to wake up every single day and have a breath of gratitude. In doing so I'm being grateful for the fact that I simply can. While the world around me tends to be spinning in chaos, I choose to walk with grace. I choose to limit what energies I allow within my space. I choose to allow only people who align with my heart and my soul into my space. I also choose to no longer keep relationships and friendships out of obligation.
Am I going to continue to make mistakes? I can say with absolute certainty that I will. Will I allow those mistakes to define me? I can say with absolute certainty that I won't. Will I be able to find someone who loves me for my gypsy soul, who accepts me for all that I am, and all that I bring to the table? I have faith that all of the stars will align and trust that those brought into my path are all there for a reason.
If you have lost a partner and are feeling some of these things please step back and honor yourself because you are a warrior, you are strong and you will get through it. I am not saying it will be easy but you will. I promise