Friday, October 17, 2014

Sit With It

Someone else.

For three years and a couple of months now, those words and that concept has been one that I simply cannot deal with or even picture. For 3 years, the very idea of someone else, someone other than my husband who I'm supposed to grow old with decades from now, sent me into instant panic. It still does. It still makes me shake and feel like maybe I'm coming down with something. In the beginning, and for maybe the first 2 years post-loss, whenever anyone even mentioned me possibly thinking about "dating" again or "getting back out there" or any of those other cliche and expected things put upon me, I would instantly feel sick to my stomach. The very concept of someone else literally made me sick.

Not too much has changed in 3 years. I no longer feel physically ill at the mere mention of a non-Don human coming my way, but now it is more of an extreme intense sadness. About a month ago, my grief-therapist innocently asked me in session: "So how are you doing with the whole relationships thing? Have you thought about it at all?" I started sobbing. Just instant sobs. Another time, more recently, she asked me if any "opportunities" had come my way, and how I felt about it if they had? Again, sobbing. She looked almost shocked, which is rare, and like she truly felt empathy for me and didn't know how to help. She just said: "Wow, this topic is really loaded for you, isn't it? I think it might be a very long time before you are ready to even be able to consider this as a possibility in your life. And that is totally okay. Don't let anyone push you. You aren't ready. But that doesn't mean you won't be one day. Just sit with it for now."

Okay. Sit with it. She says that a lot. At first, it kind of annoyed me. Sit with it. What the hell does that even mean? But now I get it, and I actually sort of like it. It means I don't need to be ready to move forward in this particular area right now, and that I will be ready whenever I'm ready. So don't stress over it - just let it marinate inside your heart for awhile. Sit with it.

So that is what I have been doing. The problem is, when it comes to the concept of "someone else," everyone else on earth seems to have an opinion and a judgment about it. Not only that, but people of the male variety have been approaching me a lot lately, asking for my number, talking and flirting with me out of nowhere, and generally making themselves known to me. This is very foreign to me. I was married for almost 5 years, and before that, I was with Don for an additional 8 years or so. So for about 13 years, I was with Don. And then he died. And now, it seems, the way that guys approach women has changed severely. Lots of times, I will be walking home from the subway, and a  guy will just appear out of nowhere, and start having a conversation with me. "Hey what's up? Are you single? Can I have your number? ", and that sort of thing. I really don't understand this. Is it a NYC thing? Is it a modern-day thing? Or am I just running into lots of extremely aggressive men, over and over again? And the thing is, with 95% of these men that come up to me, they are not the kind of men that I would ever be interested in. Lots of them happen to be weird-ish or just too aggressive for my liking, or tilting on borderline creepy.

However ...

One night, about 2 months ago or so, I was walking home from the subway in my very busy neighborhood in Queens, and I was about maybe 7 blocks from my apartment, when a man seemed to appear out of nowhere and started a conversation with me. "Hi", he said. "Hi," I said back, as if it was normal this person was talking to me so casually. He continued walking with me and having small-talk. His existence threw me off a bit, because he was, in many ways, very Don-like. He was wearing some kind of security uniform, which was blue, and looked a lot like my husband's old EMS uniforms. He had dark hair like Don, and he was wearing a Mets hat, which I immediately mocked him about. "Mets? Really?" He playfully mocked me back about the Yankees jacket I was wearing, and before I knew it, we were only a block from my apartment. I made the decision in my head to tell him I was stopping at the Dunkin Donuts that is on that corner, because I did not want a total stranger knowing where I live. So we stopped, and he said: "Can I pleaase have your number?" I told him no, that I didn't think so. He said: "Are you single? Cuz if you're not single, I'll leave you alone." I said: "It's complicated. " He said, in a kind of funny way: "What's complicated about it? You're either single or you're not single. Which is it?" I said: "My husband died 3 years ago, and I'm just not anywhere near ready for giving out my number and things like that."

It just sort of came out - me telling him that. He was the first guy that had approached me that didn't give me a creeper vibe. He said, very sincerely: "I'm really sorry. That is awful. I'm going to just write down MY number and give it to you, and this way if you feel like talking or just wanna get some coffee, you can call me." So he gave me his name (Stephen), and his number. He said he lived right here in the neighborhood and works as Security in the local Mall, and I said some crap about how maybe we will run into each other again sometime. Non-commital. Vague. Weak.

We parted ways, and I walked around the corner and dissolved into hysterical sobs, right there in the open, autumn air. It affected me for days afterwards. I kept crying over and over. Crying because I'm not ready. Crying because I don't know if I'll ever be ready. Crying because I don't WANT to have conversations with strangers on the street and have to try and decide whether they are sane or not - I want my husband back. Crying because the fact that this person is talking to me and asking me out, means that I can't just sit with it forever. I can't just put "relationships" on a shelf somewhere and pretend that I no longer need that. I can't just keep myself super busy with life and friends and work and creative things, and hope that I never notice that it's been years since being intimate with someone or being someone's priority. Crying because the world moves much faster than what I feel ready for. Crying because I miss my husband, and talking to a perfectly nice guy for 10 minutes, does nothing but put a huge exclamation point on that fact.

So two months went by. I didn't think about it much. I did not call him or even think about calling him, honestly. Then last night, I was walking home again from the subway, after a super long day working and then some fun with friends in the city, and suddenly I hear from behind me: "Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey Yankees! Yankees!!! Hey Yankees!" I turned around, and he is running after me, to catch up to me. I am a block from my apartment, on my street. I stop. He says: "Sorry to yell out Yankees like that. I don't know if you even told me your name last time. Do you remember me?" "Hi Stephen", I said. We did the small-talk thing again for a few minutes, and then he said: "So you gonna give me your number this time?" Again, I said no. As nice as this guy seems, I dont know him. What if he is some stalker who won't stop calling me months from now when this all goes haywire? What if he sends me a "dick pic?" (that's what people are doing these days, right?) What if he wants to start "sexting" from our cell phones? No. No, no, no, no, no. I just cannot live in that world. So again, he wrote his number down on another piece of paper, and we left it at that.

And now, I am not sure where to go from here. He seems like a nice person, and what could it hurt having a cup of coffee with someone? Then again, a guy who randomly approaches strangers on the street must have issues. The whole thing is just odd to me. And why me? Why did he pick me to approach? Both times he stopped me, I looked like absolute hell, so it can't be that I was just so alluring and gorgeous that he HAD to talk to me. It doesn't feel like it's a match of any kind. I didn't feel any "spark" or anything like that with him. He was simply a nice person. There is a small part of me that wonders if Im supposed to have coffee with this dude for some reason - because now it is TWICE that I have run into him this way. I don't know. I am not ready for any of this. I really don't want to be a widow anymore, and I really hate the reality that I am now "single." I am not quite sure what to do with this place that I find myself in.

I suppose I will just have to sit with it. 


  1. Dear, dear Kelley,
    Once again I can identify with you. We have so many of the same thoughts and emotions; maybe because our timelines are nearly the same. I, like you, have no desire to date and I may not want to ever again. I've had pressure to "meet" someone from strangers that don't even know me. This has affected me to the point that I hesitate to socialize. For now, I'M VERY MUCH OK TO JUST SIT WITH IT. I hope you can decide what is best for YOU. Sending a (((hug))) your way.

  2. Maybe you are supposed to have coffee with him. The part that I'm amazed with is that he has never pushed you to give him your information. He has asked but it sounds like when you declined he has graciously said okay but here's mine in case you change your mind. While I certainly don't have the answers, maybe he's the nice guy that will show you that it's okay to meet someone new. It doesn't mean you're going to marry him or have to have any sort of commitment, but maybe coffee would be okay. Given how laid back he's been about getting your number, maybe he'd be okay with just being friends. He knows where you stand and seems to respect that. After you've sat with it a little while, maybe send him a text message telling him that you think coffee might be okay. The worst that could happen is you have to block him on your phone if he does go haywire. But maybe he won't. Maybe he's just what you need to get out of the chair...when you're ready. Sounds like he's okay waiting until then. Hugs to you.

  3. I agree With SmileyGirl. I live in NYC too, and even to me, I find that unusual. The first person that I went out on a date with after my husband died was very sweet and patient. He didn't ask lots of questions and just let me be. It was extremely scary ( I met my husband when I was 18 and widowed at 32) but he helped break the ice. I came home and cried after our first date and when he touched my back on the second, I cringed. Poor guy, but I am very thankful for him. He was the perfect person the have 2 first dates with.
    Do not feel pressured. Everyone walks in different shoes, even us widows. It's been a process for me and next month, after 3.5 years, I'm moving in with a man and starting a new life with him. I still cry, I am still sad, I still love the husband I lost, but this new man feels right. Above all, trust your gut. Deep down, you will know when you are ready, even if it is just a cup of coffee. Hugs!!!

  4. A cup of coffee can't hurt??? That said, I think you will know when you are ready. Best wishes!

  5. Kelley, I'm still "sitting with it" 4 + years later. Many have approached, but like you, I am just not ready to start a relationship. Too many other factors for me, in the end it just boils down to not wanting to fake a smile when I'm still crying inside. Moving from "our" home to "my" condo soon, perhaps that will be the catalyst for me. I get the 'but your so young to be alone, start dating" all the time, they just don't understand it doesn't happen so easily. So I'll be sitting a bit yet, too, and that's the way it is. We could have a sit in! Take care.

  6. Kelley, reading this just resonated with me, as I am approaching the three year mark, yet I find the idea of being with "someone else" painful as well. I did go on three "first dates" and I learned that I was definitely not ready as when I came home, I just bawled. Everyone's grief journey is different, and we can't force ourselves to date to please anyone.

  7. Maybe you can sit with it, and still make new friends. Maybe Stephen will be a friend, or maybe he has a super cool friend or friend group. It can't hurt to try new friends on for size. I'm still struggling with Marc being gone. So far nothing has really changed. I'm not in a big city, and I know no one my age with a preschooler at home. I'm just making the suggestion that came to mind. I have developed no philosophy about starting over. F'ing death anyway.

    1. Thanks Danille. I feel like I still need to sit with it, even if its just friendship. Just knowing that HE is interested in more than that makes me nervous and weird-feeling. I just need more time to wrap all this around my head.

  8. dear Kelley,

    I am no way near where you are - just nearly 18 mos. so what do i know? only that we humans, especially when we are vulnerable and feeling confused, have a hard time with stuff like yes/no, why not/never in a million years, could be/ain't gonna happen. that damned pendulum seems to never land it's stroke somewhere in the middle! I think it's perfectly okay if you don't know what to do. no one else but you can decide when you are ready. and if you are not sure, no matter the latest circumstance with the HEY YANKEE thing, just keep trusting in yourself. sometimes it helps me to just stop thinking about what is perplexing - you know, like putting some distance between the last encounter, going on with your life, and believing that if it's meant to be it will happen - whatever that means?! it's such a crock that grief makes everything so much more complicated on one hand, but on the other hand, you have never pushed it away and worked hard to begin to try to envision the new after life you want to create. your own truth will guide you, Don and the universe is on your side. you will know when/if you are ready, no matter how long or how soon it takes.

    much love,

    Karen OOxOO

    1. Thanks Karen! That is actually exactly what I did the FIRST time I ran into this guy couple months ago. In my head, silently, I made a little pact with myself that if I ran into him a second time, maybe Id give him my number at that point or agree to coffee. But then when faced with it, I found myself declining again. I just still didnt feel comfortable. It wasnt HIM - it was just me being not in the right head space, even for coffee, and feeling like I couldnt wait for him to leave so I could go cry again. Whenever guys talk to me, I feel like I want to cry . Whats up with that? Im sure its not exactly a turn- on for them lol.

    2. oh Kelley, about what's up with that? just wanting to cry? maybe it's because those guys aren't your Don. and it brings your grief right up again, and catapults your heart and mind back to the thoughts and feeling that his death is REAL. even though I haven't even come close to those same circumstances, I have had other things that throw me back into that terrible feeling which is the absolute worst - feeling again both real and surreal. I am so sorry for you having to go through that. keep writing and sharing what you feel comfortable with so all of us who care so deeply for you can show you our love and support, and so that others can know they are not alone. much love, ox, karen

  9. Kelley I've always loved reading your posts. I rarely comment here, but tonight your blog rang so true for me. We have a similar timeline you and I...three years and a few months. It could be me you wrote about. I'm nowhere near ready, and on top of that I'm 56 years old. The creepy factor just gets worse the older we get. I'm still wearing our wedding rings (his behind mine to keep it on) which I think keeps most of them away. Sometimes I wonder if I'm ready to let someone in, but then I cringe at the thought. Don't know if I'll ever be ready for that level of a relationship again but what I wouldn't give for a nice evening of conversation on the same level my Tony and I used to have! Thanks for helping me to feel not so alone and not so different.

    1. HI Lisa. Im soooo happy you decided to leave a comment today, and that this resonated with you. Doesnt surprise me that the creep factor increases with age - as does the ear and nose hair, Im sure LOL. Yuck. I feel sick again ...... :)

  10. I think it is a 'process'.
    And 'sitting with it' is a good term.
    Things like that really have to marinate in your brain for a while I think.
    I too remember as friends started asking me if I'd start dating that I'd furrow my brows and stare at them in confusion. But it forced me to think about it.
    Then months later somebody offered to set me up.
    I politely declined, but was no longer deeply offended by it. I just said that I didn't feel like I was ready for it.
    Then more months went by and somebody offered again to set me up. This time I said yes but later that day I started to panic and then couldn't sleep that night. The thought of dating becoming a real possibility was too much. Still too early for me. So I emailed my friend overnight & told her that I'd changed my mind.
    Then a few more months passed and a different friend offered to set me up.
    I nervously agreed again and about a month later I finally went on a date.
    For coffee.
    It was fine and a few years later I'm still with him. I'm no where near wanting to move in together but am very happy to be with him.

    It was definitely a process for me to get into the dating head space.

    Don't sweat it.
    Whatever you decide is the right decision.

    1. Thank you Valerie. That is very helpful. Yes, It is a LOT about getting into the headspace of dating, and thats why 2 years ago the idea made me physically ill - now Ive graduated from that to sobbing. But nobody is setting me up, ever. Where you finding all these friends who wanna set you up? LOL. Thats literally never happened to me ....... funny.