I have struggled my entire life with self esteem. I never have understood why I allow comparisons to sneak into my mind and leave me wishing I was skinnier, prettier, smarter, wealthier, happier, etc... but I do. And now I wish I could have what I want like so many people.
I wish it.
I have recently found myself comparing journeys of widowhood and comparing my personal journey in this stupid club with other widows'/widowers' journeys.
I see so many widowed people who appear happier than I am. Some of these people I envy are ones I actually know, and some are ones with whom I have connected via social media. They are in relationships, moving forward from their grief with a new love worthy of their tender hearts. And I am SO INCREDIBLY HAPPY FOR THEM. I am so proud for them. I just wish I was them.
My story is unique. It is mine and mine alone; therefore, my journey moving through this tragedy of loss is mine as well. Everyone of us has a unique story.
So why in the world should I, or any of us, compare our grief or our moving forward from it to others'? Why do we find ourselves envious? And I am not the only one to feel all of this; trust me, I have made plenty of connections in the widow world and there are several of us who talk about it all the time.
And we have a one word answer to the why: LONELINESS.
I have been widowed 2 years, 8 months, and 254 days.
I am alone.
I am lonely.
For the first six months post-loss, I was in shock and in the deep throes of grief. I could not breathe or dare imagine dating anyone again, falling in love, any of it.
Then for two years I was immersed in the life of a high school principal and had about 5 seconds to myself. I was so busy going to events, supervising various functions, throwing myself into my new role, that I never had the experience of the depth of loneliness. I was never alone.
And when the rare moment came when I was alone, no event to supervise and the boy with his brother or something, I relished in those moments. I caught up with house work. I wrote. I watched meaningless tv. I escaped and very rarely felt the true magnitude of lonely.
Now, holy cow has it hit like a ton of bricks.
I am lonely.
And lonely SUCKS.
It does not matter where I am, what I am doing, who I am with or without, what time of day it is...I am lonely. Some friends have stopped inviting me to events. Many have stopped calling or texting to check in. A couple still remain, but mostly, it is me and the boy. And being with Conner is totally different than the companionship I miss. My heart literally aches for companionship. I ache for the comforts of love and togetherness.
And then with this lonely ache, I also become so frustrated when I'm still "alone" after this long because of what some people have recently said to me.
"Your intelligence, success and looks intimidate men. Maybe that's why you haven't found someone yet." Or, "You need to be alone for a while. Figure out who you are."
First, I know who I am. I know my worth. I know that I am happiest when I am with someone who makes me happy and who I can make happy. I love being in love. I love being in a relationship. I love sharing the adventure of life with someone.
And second, are you kidding me? What the heck does the first question even mean?!?! I'm supposed to look like death warmed over, NOT work hard, NOT do anything positive or productive in my life and THEN I'll have a man?!?! I am intimidating? HOW in the world am I intimidating? I wear my heart on my sleeve. I am a caring person. I am gentle and kind and giving. So, I'm supposed to NOT be me in order to NOT intimidate a man, so that I can have a man???
Um, what?!?! Why???
Why do I have to be and do LESS to "get a man"? Why do I have to stop working hard to advocate for widows to get a man? Why do I have to lower my standards and expect less to get a man? Why do I have to change how I think and how I behave when it comes to dating and my routines to get/keep a man?
Now, don't get me wrong. I am NOT above anyone. I'm not by any stretch meaning that I have to "lower my standards" and "settle" for any man. I simply mean in the process of dating and communicating, spending time together, making a relationship work, I have expectations and wants. But never have I been and never will I be "above/better" than anyone else. Does that mean I want to date a man who dates multiple women, drinks in excess, etc??? No.
It means when a man in whom I am interested and to whom I am attracted comes along, then I am so ready. It just means when I date someone, I want to DATE them. I want more than just casual. I've never dated casually and I honestly do not know how to date without establishing feelings.
I have dated two men since becoming a widow. They are both equally great men. One, I felt less of a connection to, even though I tried to make myself, and I ended it because I knew I was not feeling in my heart any chance of moving forward and developing an actual relationship.
The other one, I wanted everything with.
Either way, I am not above anyone, but I am not about to change my expectations of an "old fashioned, this is how it's supposed to be done" dating scene.
I learned at a young age that dating means something. There is a point to dating, at least at my age: a relationship.
Of course I know many young people, in their late teens, 20s, and even in their early 30s, who have no desire to settle down yet. And they date casually, or they bounce from "boyfriend/girlfriend" to the next one. There is nothing wrong with that whatsoever, but dang it, I'm 39 years old. At this point in my life, after two marriages (first one ended in divorce), a 13 year old son, my own house/land, etc... I don't know if I want to get married again. I honestly don't. But I sure don't want to just go from one date to another, with a different man each time.
I'm a relationship kind of girl. Always have been.
I had two relationships which gave me chances at happily ever after already in my life. They each taught me valuable lessons.
The first, taught me how to be a better wife. I wasn't the best wife to my ex-husband; I was a kid who didn't grow up until our last year of marriage. He taught me the value of compromise. He prepared me to be a better wife when Mike came along.
Then in my marriage to Mike, I compromised all of the time. Sometimes I think I compromised too much. He was stubborn. He kept things from me. I didn't know it then, but I do now. But, I loved him with all of myself and he loved me back. He taught me to never take one day, one breath, one second for granted. I lost him way too soon.
And now I am alone. I want a final chapter. We won't be each other's firsts, but I want so much to find someone who loves me enough to be my last and for me to be his.
I want so much more out of life. I deserve so much more out of life. So does my son.
Life is precious and I don't want to do it alone.
I want someone to share it all with.
I want happiness again.
I want love again.
I want a relationship.
I want to hold hands and go to a Cardinals game.
I want to take rides on the four wheeler or ranger and laugh together.
I want to hunt together.
I want to gig together.
I want to plan weekend getaways together.
I want to be held and kissed and wanted.
I want to have meals together at my dinner table.
I want to snuggle on the couch and watch a movie.
I want to be seen together in public, as a couple.
I want to be a priority.
I want to be loved again.
I want to see him with my son, laughing, teaching him important "man things".
I want to go to church together and pray together.
I want to laugh until tears run down my cheek.
I want him to look at me, really look at me, in awe of what we have together.
I want texts throughout the day.
I want an occasional surprise bouquet with a simple card that says, "I love you."
I want him to have his guy time and me to have my girl time, but come running back to each other after.
I want to hang out with him and his buddies and hear stories of their friendship.
I want him to join me and my friends at our impromptu class dinners and I want him to be proud he caught me.
I want to feel safe in his arms.
I want to feel secure in knowing I am all that he wants, for the rest of his life.
I want to make him feel the same.
I want happiness again.
I want love again.
Because grief is hard.
Widowhood is hard.
I didn't choose either.
And they have robbed me of all that I had and all that I want.
And they have made me so lonely.
And being lonely SUCKS.