I don't talk about the problems in my marriage with Dave and I don't talk much about my dating life now. There are some things I just don't want to write about here.
But what would it be like if we all had a moment or a day or a week with the inability to hide all our truths? The dark and the light, all out in the open? What would that look like and feel like? Would it feel like freedom? Is it necessary? Would it be too painful for some to hear? Is it worth it?
Something tells me that while it might be painful for some to hear and might not be fully worth it, it might make a lot of people feel a whole hell of a lot better about their own dark places.
I'm not going to begin to share these things here, in this post, today. I'm not ready for that yet. I am, though, going to talk about why I don't. And maybe by talking about why I don't, we can start to think about what the barriers are and why they're there. If they're there for me, then I'm probably not the only one.
Why is it so hard for me to talk about my dating life in this forum now? I think it's because there is a part of me that expects to be judged. I don't really expect my close friends to judge me. And I don't harshly judge any of the other writers here for their dating choices.
And if people I barely know judge me, what do I care? But I do care, or else I suppose I'd just share it all here.
There are many widowed people hoping they find love again and actively dating who worry they'll never be coupled up again. There are also many who are adamantly against dating again. And then there are those of us who've coupled up again. And there are probably some variations on those themes I haven't even thought of. What I do with my life is not what you'll do with your life.
I know, for example, that when I hear of someone swearing off ever being in a relationship again, I feel a little shudder go down my spine. Not because I think they're making a wrong choice but because it feels wrong for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed being single in my life and I have thoroughly enjoyed being partnered up. But when I imagine the rest of my life without a partner, it feels a bit empty for me.
On the other hand, I can see the other point of view too. Not once does the thought occur to me that a person who's sworn off romantic entanglements is wrong. If anything, I get that point of view, too. So, why would I fear someone judging me for my choices? Who knows? And yet I do. It's simply that 'fitting in" urge built into me, I think.
Why do I feel like a terrible person for even hinting that my marriage had problems? I don't worry as much about discussing those problems with my close friends. So it's not as though I feel really guilty in general. So it's mainly here that I feel blocked from being totally honest. It's here where I feel much more comfortable sharing about the parts of my marriage that worked well. When he died it became uncomfortable to even suggest that our marriage wasn't perfect amongst other widowed folks, especially.
I don't lie. I don't claim that our marriage was perfect, I just don't delve into the ways we struggled. It's hard to admit dissatisfaction with a marriage that ended in death. I feel the immediate urge to follow up a statement like "My marriage wasn't perfect" with a statement like "But it was a good one and I loved him!" As though the first negates the second. But of course it doesn't. If anything, not admitting to the bad isn't doing my marriage justice. It's ignoring the entirety of the relationship. It was good and beautiful even with its problems. Why pretend it was something it wasn't?
Or maybe it's not so much that you all are widowed but that I'd need to know you more intimately first. Then maybe I'd hang out all my dirty laundry for you until you'd wish I wasn't quite so comfortable with you.
I don't yet have answers for these questions and thoughts. I've just been thinking about them lately and wondered what you, as the audience, are thinking about them too. Are there ways you hide aspects of your marriage from certain audiences? Are there things you feel safe discussing and things you don't? Do you wish you'd hear more people address the dark or hidden parts?