For a while now, I have been nurturing a relationship that has become one of the most important parts of my life. Which has wonderfully overwhelmed me with gratitude and love for a man I wasn’t expecting. Something I truly believed would never happen because of the level of heartbreak I have endured.
Within the first year, a few people said to me, “Oh, honey. AT LEAST you’re young, you’ll find someone else”. It implies that my loss didn’t really matter because I’m young and that finding love is easy as pie. When you lose your spouse and you lose the future you had planned, you can’t just go on and believe that you will find someone else one day because apparently when you’re widowed young you have “time” on your side. And it’s next to impossible to believe you will find someone that will make you happy again, at least happy in the way you were. I wanted to add this part in this post for anyone tempted to say this to someone who has recently lost their person. I’m sure your intentions are good, but it’s not helpful to the one hurting. Let them feel their pain because their loss matters.
When I thought I might be ready to “get out there” again as they say, I really had no idea if I could handle it. First of all, dating now days is so much different than dating when I was last doing it. There are apps you can download to find a date, which is so scary for someone like me. I did try a dating app for literally 5 days. I never met anyone in person because every dude seemed way too aggressive and one was even rude about the whole me being a widow thing. Basically, it seemed like too much of an obstacle for him and his agenda. BYE BYE then! In short, it was not a positive experience for me for those short 5 days, so I deleted the app and decided that if this would happen for me, it would have to happen organically. Which is even harder to do these days. I am not saying there is anything wrong with online dating, I know a TON of people it has worked for. Just for me personally and with my background, it wasn’t going to work for me at the time. I felt terrified and vulnerable because opening your heart up to someone new comes with risk, risk of all kinds of heartbreak. I didn’t think I could handle anymore heartbreak of any form. As a widow, you know the unrelenting pain of losing your love. So, as a widow, the idea of falling in love again can cause paralyzing fear because you are brutally aware that you could lose it all over again.
Right after I decided to not focus on dating is when IT happened. Thanks to some amazing friends who had been respectively yet passively encouraging this “meet” for months. And, to these friends I am now forever indebted to. You know who you are. 😉
When I met Mark, he stood out to me right from the beginning. There was a safe energy about him I can’t explain. For both of us, it was our first date after our marriages. He had lost his marriage, not because of a death but it was still a monumental loss that he had been working through. We both had been grieving at the same time. We both were mourning the loss of the life we had plans for and yet we were both choosing to take a risk at the idea of someone new. The idea that maybe there is a chance to love after loss.
As I was saying, there was something different about him. It almost felt like I could hear someone (I wonder who?) telling me, just go for it, be brave and try. So, I did and I haven’t looked back.
Because we’ve both been through some seriously tough times, it has made us that much more aware of our gratitude for each other this second time around at love. There is a perspective we both have. We understand the bigger picture, we know what we want and what is most important. Had we not been through hell and back we wouldn’t have found each other. So, with that, I can say I am grateful for the unbearable heartbreak because of where it has led me. It has led me to become the person I am today, which turns out to be a person who can be loved by someone new.
Every single day I am filled with even more gratitude for where I’ve been, what I have now and where I am heading. If you don’t have gratitude, you have nothing. Taralee, a cherished veteran widow friend of mine has said from the very beginning of her widowhood, “Gratitude MUST win”. She is so right on with that and I don’t think I really understood it fully until I became widowed. It goes right along with that perspective I’ve gained in all this. I think that works especially in relationships. It’s so easy to get bogged down by the “everyday grind” of life. So, make the effort and look for the things, even the smallest of things you can find to be grateful for. Lately, I have noticed how much more I say “I am grateful”, so you all will probably be reading it a lot more too. Because a grateful heart is the key to true happiness. It really is that simple.
With all that being said, I am abundantly grateful to Mark and to myself for choosing to be brave enough to try. We had no idea that this would work out as well as it has, but had we not tried, we wouldn’t have what we have now, which is something more beautiful than I ever could have hoped for. Diving head first into new love after loss is probably the bravest thing I’ve done to date. My tragedy will not determine whether I get to be happy again. Because of my bravery and his, we can have it all.