Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ode to a Frog

(photo from: kissingfrogs.net)


Kim's blog this weekend got me thinking...fondly reminiscing about the "joys" of dating again. This blog isn't really a poem...more of an epic journey, the story of a quest.

I met my husband at the ripe old age of 16, and married him at 22. We did date other people for a while in college, but really - he was "the one" from the beginning. Fast forward through marriage, college, grad school, the birth of a wee one, and a deathly battle with cancer....(not to go quickly through that important stuff, but those fabulous years are not the topic of this blog). The scene is set with a suddenly widowed 36 year old woman wondering...WTF now?

At first, I had no intention of dating, and had clearly stated "NEVER". Really? Who wants to go through that? If there is a 100 percent chance that we don't make it out alive...I was not interested in the odds of reliving widowhood. It sucked once, but twice? No way. Besides the obvious risk of death, there was also the equally obvious: my husband was awesome, and those still single this late in the game are single for a reason. I didn't want to find out why they were single. They could stay single far, far away from me.

But, as a woman who had been happily married and really missed it, I eventually became curious. Could I find something like that again? Initially, I went out on a few dates as a horrible experiment. Horrible is really the magic word here. Not good at all.

I had a couple of dates with "sensual in public man" - quite charming and entertaining, but inappropriate PDAs when there was no private interaction to back it up. Cool as a cucumber when we were alone, and hot for me when we were in public. Awkward. I'm pretty sure he was gay and trying to prove to his friends that he wasn't.

Next came "I will fix you" man. This one saw me as his pet project. His goal was to erase my past and replace all hurt with happiness and light. We only went out for a few weeks, but his agenda was clear: make poor hurt woman forget about past - eradicate all painful memories by replacing with flowers and jewelry. This was interesting for a short time, but the pressure was intense. I took a break from him and from dating...I think I was dating out of boredom, but my heart just wasn't in it.

About a year later I met "Delegation Man" - this guy was charming and fun for a while, but was intent on engaging me in the running of his life. He effectively managed all things in his life via delegation. It took me a little while to figure out how useful I was to him and how much my work load had increased since I'd met him. I was an only parent with a full time job and suddenly had an additional dependent. Not good, and his expectations only grew over time. He wasn't looking for a partner, he really needed an executive assistant. On the other hand, the experience with this one made me realize that although he wasn't the right one, I missed having a last call before I went to sleep at night and a date for the Christmas party. Maybe dating wasn't all bad, just dating this one wasn't good.

Shortly after ditching "Delegation Man" - Michele and I dared each other to try eharmony. She signed up first and a day later I joined the madness. She met Michael the first day...and is now living happily ever after. I was not so fortunate. The list of frogs grew with my eharmony membership. Fortunately, it was a relatively short list. I can usually tell in a single coffee date whether there is something amiss, so no kisses required to weed out the bulk of them. BUT, a few made it passed my initial inspection. I went on a few dates with a fellow widower, but the chemistry just wasn't there - he wasn't really a frog, and I didn't kiss him, so I guess he doesn't really count. Next, I dated "I'm almost divorced" for several months before determining that "almost" has a variety of definitions. He served an important purpose though, "almost divorced" made me realize I was capable of letting down my guard and allowing someone in my life. He wasn't Mr. Right, more Mr. Right Now, but he wasn't without value. He taught me a lesson and prepped me for the future. He helped me to see some of the things I didn't want and solidified for me that I did really want someone in my life.

There were several others, most one or two dates at the most - "gift giving man", "i hate women but you seem different guy", "dirty txting guy" (only a single drink for 30 minutes led to a dirty txting episode...awkward), "you're my best friend now guy", etc. I hope you get my point here. There were multiple attempts to try to get back into dating, and multiple breaks to decide if it was worth the hassle. I kept telling myself you have to "kiss a few frogs", but how many???? I'd taken about an 8 month hiatus when I decided to try eharmony again at the suggestion of Grayson, who said "how do you expect to find someone if you're not even trying?". Whatever, don't use your powers of logic on me, punk kid....
Okay, okay. I'll try.

I'd been back on eharmony for a day or two when Carl turned up in my matches. A few days of fun electronic correspondence followed by a drink that turned into a four hour conversation, a few fantastic dates and a crazy impulsive trip to New Orleans (we booked the trip on our 3rd date and hadn't even kissed yet...stupid....but it worked out!) and suddenly we were inseparable. It was a few months before I could believe the frog was indeed a prince, but he's fabulous and I can't believe my luck.

Wait a minute....LUCK? No way. Perseverance is more like it. I'm lucky Carl came along, but it wasn't because he fell into my lap. I decided I really wanted to find someone special. I kept looking, hoping he was out there, and I kept risking the frogs in the hope that the prince would appear. Thank goodness he did.

Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.~Charles F. Kettering

29 comments:

  1. Love it! Thank you for sharing and making us all braver. It is a great reminder to never settle. Eventually, the person who we are meant to share our time with comes along and if they haven't we aren't done yet.

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  2. It's almost as though you read my mind because I was thinking "please, someone post about their dating experience again". I needed more stories. More reasons to hope that it might actually be worth it to face the awkwardness of online dating or ANY sort of dating, for that matter. I feel like I can't handle kissing any frogs, but I love what you said about perseverance, vs. luck. That makes sense to me.
    Thank you.

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  3. Like you, I tried the dating on my own for a while, and had many infamous "first/last dates" Also tried eHarmony, and met a 60 yr old never married doctor(there are reasons for that), pilot guy married 3 times, and others who are now a hazy memory. Took a break and joined again (hope springs eternal) and met Mike. A widower, father of 3 grown daughters, hospice doctor. Our first date was lunch, Jan. '10. We eloped Jan. 1, 2011 and say every day "I never thought I could be this happy again" The key word is "again"
    Charlene

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  4. I, too, was widowed at 37 with a wee one, after years of fabulous marriage. I tried eHarmony, JDate, and finally Match. After 100 first dates, I was bewildered by the lack of worthwhile men. But, determined, I kept going back out there and finally met a man on Match who treats me like a queen and my son like a prince. Our ability to have fun and enjoy life over the past 2+ years reminds me of my days with my husband. His son gets along well with us, and I feel like we are a modern family. Not the one I imagined when I embarked on motherhood. But, a reasonable facsimile nonetheless.

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  5. Is there ANYONE out there who is happy being on their own? Would love to hear about that. Enough of the dating, remarriage and new love. We see it every day in the couples that surround us, must we constantly read about it on this blog, too?

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  6. I agree, with everything, especially not settling, I've only dated a few people, dating is not something that I've ever really done, I sort of get to know a person, and then just end up in a relationship. I too met my wife, knew she was the one, broke up, dated other people, and when we got back together it was to get married. The few ladies I've dated were "I want you to rescue me widow." and "Soon to be divorced awkward mother.", I don't really count the brief dating of late wife's older never married friend around the 6 month mark, that was just loneliness. The later two were a valuable learning experience, with both there were loads of warning bells early on that they were wrong, but it'd been almost 2 years, I didn't want to be alone, I didn't want to do everything alone, I wanted to happiness that comes from coming home to someone again every night. But also realized that requires the right person. With both I did find myself thinking, I could make this work, this would be better than nothing, but that is no way to end up in a functional relationship. I actually decided that I'd take a break, see who maybe just fell into my life. Actually, this is getting long so I'll just continue it as an entry on my blog...

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  7. So glad you posted on this topic again. I needed to hear someone found a frog - kissed and it is still working. I want to be where you are one day sooner than later. I know I am not ready because the photo I put on dating site is so I don't give shit what I look like either like my frizzy hair - if your a shallow piece of shit I don't have time for you anyway. Ok- a bit over the top- I did not actually write that exact phrase in the bio - but that is what I feel like-writing when I get around to posting a better photo. I am starting to feel better and I am confident that when the time is right for me to start really feeling like I can handle going frog catching, dare we be actually kissing? Anyway the law of attraction worked pre dating sites and other than dabbling and lurking on them- after approx 3 frogs last year- ugh...getting dressed for another man other than my husband was a good hurdle to put behind me. Also going to a movie with the "are you OK guy?- in the movie when the widower in the movie was talking about his wife gone five years from cancer. Well this never married dude no kids man- all he wanted was one thing and one thing only one thing- it was a second date going to the movie but I was so unattracted to him that I turned sideways when he came in for a kiss at the end of the movie. I gave it one more try before my break from dating for a bit. The guy that lead me to believe he was a widower. Met for dinner and when I asked him how long his wife had been gone--well the truth came out - people misunderstand my posting all the time-duh when you lie yes people misunderstand because you decieved them. He was the I need a break - breaker. Gathering strength and going back to the froggy pond when up for it. So glad I have you all to share the journey no one married/coupled wants to hear.

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  8. GREAT post! Thank you for being so honest with us. It really does help me to want to keep trying! And I hear you out there who isn't to happy with the dating posts. It is hard to read happy stuff, we all know. But some days, it is so good to hear there may be another partner out there for us if we put ourselves out there. Just me and the cats gets old........

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  9. I LOVE this post! And so glad to know others really do meet decent people on the dating websites. I must say I did meet someone online that was very nice and we dated several months. However even though it had been 5 years since his wife died and he SAID he was ready, he just still could not get past his late wife.
    However, I am still online and in hopes of meeting another sincere, nice person, but admit there are certainly lots of frogs you have to weed through!
    So, my question is this - what did you say to others such as...my sister and friend that have shared EVERY bit of my agony from the get go of this widow thing, along with my college son that still lives with me and I might add has taken it upon himself to keep track of my every move since his father died??? Not to mention I went from NO ONE in my life to suddenly dating via the online dating sites. I have mentioned the websites to my friend and sister and they both look at me with that wary eyebrow and then there's my son - as he put it the other day "Only LOSERS date online".
    Believe me, I realize it's my life and I do exactly what I want,and would have no problem telling anyone I met someone online if it turned into a good relationship, but when it may only be the "first meeting" date??? And in this case a person can have more than one first meeting date! I just don't feel like dealing with the explanation and remarks, but at the same time they will ask, especially my son. So...any suggestions? I would love to hear them!
    In the meantime, I agree it has nothing to do with luck, but you have to be available for the special "one" to find you!
    And, Michelle, I am so happy YOU did!!!

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  10. To the anonymous commenter about being happy on their own - thank you for bringing that up. I spent a great number of my weekend nights on the couch watching movies on the women's network, and am surprised at the number that involve widows/widowers. It seems like in the movies, there isn't a 'happy ending' without the widowed person finding new love (though Michele made a good point on PS I Love You that they showed her entire journey of finding a new passion in life, outside of the new relationship...).

    I'm stuck in a place right now where I DO feel rather content with my day-to-day life (and am not really sure I have time for dating anyhow!), but also feel it would be 'nice' to have someone in my life again.

    I'm pretty damn proud of what I've been able to accomplish on my own and how far I've come. It does make me sad that Elias isn't here to experience it, and I do struggle with the fact that there isn't anyone to share it with at times - but I love my kiddos, I love what I do, I have found more love for myself in the past 2yrs, and I am on my own.

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  11. Dear Anon,

    There are people who are not only okay being by themselves, but thriving and creating a life they may not have imagined was possible after the despair of losing the person you thought would share every day of your life.

    I meet thousands of widowed people who are at all different places in every area of life, and I understand that reading about dating if you are either not at all interested or not at all ready is likely annoying. Further, there is somehow always the implication that the ONLY way to be happy is to re-partner, though you have never read that here on this blog. Widow's Voice endeavors to share the personal journeys of our writers through whatever ups, downs, and life circumstances they find themselves; from dating, to parenting (some of our widowed readers with no children get very tired of reading about the parental challenges of widowed parents), to filling roles that are new to us (from fixing cars to braiding hair to figuring out what to cook for one), to facing family gatherings and in-laws who are either wonderful or terrible. We span a huge variety of life experiences, but can assure you that not one of our writers thinks they have the recipe for happiness in our after that everyone should follow. We just do our best to honestly write about what life holds for us on a day to day basis through the eyes of someone who has loved and lost.

    Please know that what we can only write about what we know, our own heart. We hope that the sharing of our feelings, struggles, and joys somehow touches those who come here for comfort as well.

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  12. I loved this blog post, your humor, and your honesty! Thanks for sharing the "dating" journey.

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  13. Perhaps it might benefit the masses to hear from some of the other non-dating people on their grief journey, since we have heard so much from the daters.

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  14. Taryn is a great example of this (our Saturday blogger), and she has written often about how much she is enjoying living life....sort of soaking up all that life has to offer for both her and her Michael. I will ask her for a specific post about this for sure.

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  15. To those above who want to hear from a non-dater..I am one. I just hit two years out after twenty eight years of a very happy marriage. The last six were coping with devastating illness. I can't imagine dating at this point. I am lonely, but the problem is, I am lonely for the one person I can never get back. I am still in the healing process, and would have nothing to give to another person. I have just recently started socializing with friends a bit. My philosophy from day one was to heal by living life one day at a time, and not trying to do things until I was comfortable doing them. When I don't feel awful about something anymore, I do it. I am not into caving in to societal pressure. I have a demanding career, and friends, but I'm still pretty low key in terms of a social life. I'm taking life as it comes and as I heal. All of the posts just show how different we all are, in our grief, our personalities, and energy level. It's all OK. Some people are more resilient than others, and I think if one is younger, or has young children, they have a greater need to find a partner. Let's not judge one another, we have all walked through the fires of hell and are trying to find our way back, whatever that means to each individual.

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  16. I agree that it seems like there have been a lot of posts about dating lately. I think that speaks to the fact that most of the writers are several years out. Even if they aren't dating, they are probably dealing with issues in a much different way than newly widowed people. It would be interesting to hear from someone still in the early stages (if they can bear to write about it) so people like them have more to relate to.

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  17. To "Anonymous" right above this post- Thank you. I am in the same spot as you right now and you have verbalized it so well.

    "I'm lonely for the one person that i can't get back"...."to heal by living one day at a time".

    I can totally relate to your post.

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  18. To Anon above - I wanted to share that I have been happy on my own, creating a new life for myself. I have really grown in my career, lone parenting and my personal self. I enjoy the new me to which my widowhood created and after 4 years, I would just like to share my new life with someone. If that special someone does not come along, I'm okay with that too as I have already proved to myself that I can do this all on my own. I really think that being happy with your single life and personal self is the best step forward.

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  19. I also noticed that pattern in books and movies about widows. The "happy ending" was the widow back in love again. A new man to rescue her.
    I wish it were that easy. Unfortunately I realize now that I have to rescue myself.
    However, biologically or emotionally or chemically, I just crave human contact. And not just a stranger masseuse. I can separate this urge from the desire to be in a new relationship, but in my history, the two have always gone together. Don't know how to have one without the other. Nor do I really want to. How do you get past that urge? Does it fade a little more with time? Do you learn to live without? I don't know if I want that.

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  20. Yes, yes to the anonymous-es who have spoken up about the continuous posts on dating/Chapter 2/remarriage, etc. It seems to have dominated most posts lately. Yes, the writers can only write what they are experiencing and we are so glad that they have found happiness through love, but there is so much more to widowhood than searching for another love. What about talking about the tough financial struggles that have been experienced by many and what that can entail, changes in friendships, lack of support from family members or no family members at all, losses that occur after, raising children, and so much more. Maybe it would be good to get some fresh perspective once in awhile for those who are not ready to date or who choose not to. Just my opinion.

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  21. And, on a similar note with Anon above, what about some suggestions how to deal with the upcoming holidays, all the festive events that will happen, whether we want them to or not? I'm sure this has been addressed in the past, but for all those new to the site, any input would be helpful. I am dreading these next few months, this was the time of year my husband was diagnosed, and the downward spiral began.

    Thanks for all the frog tales, not sure if I'm ready to add my own, but it was fun reading about yours.

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  22. To Michelle and all the other writers: I see both side of this. I found this site a year ago and you all helped me more than you will ever know. I read every single day, even went back and re-read. I think it's all about timing. When I went to a Hospice seminar about grief during the holidays, they said that grief isn't a line with ups and downs, but it is a circle with ups and downs that just keeps going around. In some way a lot of the bloggers seem to be in an up, which is great, but can be hard for readers who are new and can't relate. Maybe since the holidays are coming, you could post a weekly "retro" blog. Readers can search for a topic, but sometimes that can just too much work for in a "down" time. Who knows, I am just along for this shitty ride, but can relate to both sides.

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  23. To Cassie... I saw that your husband died just this past June. I'm so sorry... but I wanted to respond because I remember so vividly the 'withdrawls' you discribe. At different points I would say it was like a drug addict coming off drugs. Not that I've had that experience, but it seemed to fit the intensity of what I felt. You're used to someone touching you damn it! (I was 28 when my husband of almost 10 years died). But in answer to your question, yes it does fade with time (at least in my experience it did) and you are more content and settled even without it. HOWEVER, I didn't learn that untill going through a HORRIBLE rebound relationship... I was so needy and desprate that I attracted 'Mr Psycho stalker super needy old guy' and fell madly 'in love'. Got the touch and the attention but it was TOTALLY not worth it. I think that whole thing screwed me up worse than my husband dying. You're right, getting those needs met usually does go along with some sort of relationship, and in a needy/desprate state, the relationship is usually not healthy... Give yourself space and time. I'm convinced that Something beautiful and healthy will come to us when the time is right. Love to you!

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  24. I am almost 8 years out, and I am still 'alone'. I am relatively happy, and really don't mind being uncoupled. Widowhood has brought alot of perspective about what my marriage really was. I was married to an addict, and I overlooked so many things, making excuses for him all along the way. I feel like I sacrificed so much, and don't want history to repeat itself.
    Maybe I am just making excuses for myself as to why I don't want another relationship. My self esteem has taken a horrible beating, and I really don't believe anyone would want me.

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  25. When I found this blog, almost a year ago, I actually went back to Day 1 and read every post by every writer. It took months, but it did give me a look at all of their journeys. All of the above suggestions have been covered periodically over the life of the blog, and will surely be covered again and again. I'm one of those people that isn't interested in dating (btw,it's been 2 1/2 yrs since my husband died, and I'm 59.) I don't relate at all to the dating stories - I just don't get it- and sometimes I react in a testy way - but what I've figured out by reading every post from the beginning is that there are definitely some topics and bloggers that I do not relate to. And that's okay. And yes, there are more "dating/Chapter 2" stories lately, because this is where most (not all) of the bloggers are in their life right now. I think this will become a even bigger issue for the site as a whole, as new widows arrive - and they're reading blogs from folks with a longer experience and perspective. I think it's impossible to manage a site like this and be able to please everyone at every moment, but I do think some thought should be given to maybe expanding the number of bloggers, to balance out the new vs experienced ones. Easier said than done, of course. Lots of good stuff in the archives - I recommend reading back.

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  26. To Anon who's almost 8 years out: I wish I could reach through these computers and hug you. Hard.
    I understand the feelings of being happy .... of not having to overlook things anymore. In a sad way, it must be a relief.
    I can understand the problem with your self esteem after going through all of that.
    But you've got to know ... and believe .... that you are worthy of receiving love, of being wanted. We all are. No mater what our past holds. You are a woman who has survived so very much .... you are most definitely beautiful, inside and out. Please believe me.

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  27. I had a really busy work week and missed this whole discussion. I'm at 13 months and have made the comment to friends, in my blog and over in Widowed Village that I do not intend to ever date. I always get a response to that comment ... ALWAYS ... and, without exception, it is that I can't possibly say never, that I'm too young (at 60?!) to spend the rest of my life alone, that I deserve to be loved, etc. etc. I don't necessarily disagree with those statements, other than that I certainly CAN say that I will never date and believe it with my whole heart.

    I was very, very lucky to have 41 wonderful years with the love of my life. And it ended after a long, hard cancer battle. I still feel married and, for me, it was forever. I went from being a high school senior living with my parents to being married. My last date was in 1969 ... gosh, the thought of having to date scares me more than being alone the rest of my life ever could!

    I make no judgements on others who find love again. In fact, I'm sincerely happy for all who are able to do that ... truly and deeply happy for them. But I guess it would be nice to occasionally read posts from those who have chosen to go it alone after their loss and have found fulfillment and happiness in their new life.

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  28. Cat Grace-CrisologoDecember 5, 2011 at 8:01 AM

    I wish these comments weren't anonymous. I would love to get an online group going for widows and widowers who are moving forward by learning to have a fulfilling life on their own, without going through the whole online dating thing, making deeper connections with their friends and their community. Not that I have anything against those who are searching for new partners, just that I am not, and would like to be in the company of those who are continuing to search for themselves (perhaps with their beloved participating in spirit). I have written my facebook name if anyone is interested in starting something like this.

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  29. I found someone online two years after my husband died. I was really just looking for someone to chat with and not to date. But...it turned out that his sister-in-law worked with my husband and lives just a couple blocks from me. We had socialized with her many times. Figuring maybe this was meant to be, I started dating him. After four years of seeing him, I recently broke it off. He is a very kind, giving, and loving widower. He treats me great. He has amazing kids and a wonderful family. He is deeply in love with me. I feel like it should be enough. But I am not in love with him. I enjoy his company, but don't miss him when I don't see him and don't feel for him as he feels for me. I sometimes think I should just "settle", since he treats me so well and so I don't end up alone. But that would be so unfair to him, as well as to myself. It's been really hard. He calls every few days to say hi and I've seen him a couple times. I feel so bad for hurting him and I really miss hanging with his family. But...I just want to feel more.

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