Friday, July 8, 2011

are you ready for this?

Photo from here...

One of the questions I've asked myself frequently since Jeff's death is "Am I ready and do I want to date?"

Aside from the need for physical contact, I can't say that in the first year I was at all ready for "dating". Last year, my second year of widowhood, I thought I was. With trepidation and large amount of humility, I took a look at online dating.

I "chatted" with a couple of men. I was embarrassed by this and certainly didn't divulged to many of my friends that I was looking to date....especially via an online dating service. I felt that if these people were indeed single, there was probably a very good reason for it and they were most likely society's dregs.

Despite these prejudices, I agreed to one date after many emails and a couple of evenings of instant messaging one eligible bachelor. I felt I was ready to know more about this single father who lived aboard a boat with his young son. I was sure there was some flaw within him that rendered him "broken" but I thought I might as well get my feet wet without any strings attached.

After gearing myself up and looking fabulous (if I do say so myself), I sheepishly left my children with the babysitter. I felt terribly guilty. I almost turned back a few times as thoughts of "Am I really ready for this??? I can't believe I am paying a babysitter to be with my children when I am going out with some man....not their father. What must she think?" and "How can I still love Jeff if I am going to meet another man for a date?" and "What would my family say?....What would JEFF'S family say?"
I told myself I was ready for this. That it was time to reach out and feel cared for again. That Jeff would not mind one bit and that probably our families would celebrate that I was trying to keep living.

As I sat across from this man, this relative stranger, I heard myself telling him about my life thus far and vaguely listened to his tale of what brought him to this place. He was kind and funny. I grew more comfortable as the evening progressed. After dinner, dessert and coffee, he walked me to my car.

I felt almost nauseous, however, when we arrived at my car and he asked, "Can I ask you a question?" Thoughts of "Oh my God. He's going to ask me to kiss him. I don't think I can. What the hell? Maybe it won't be so bad. This is awful. Why have I done this?" sprinted through my addled brain.

Instead, with a smirk, he asked, "Do you think it's a good idea to show your date a picture of your husband the first time you meet?"

I am sure I turned purple with embarrassment as I thought of how this must seem. That I was pining for my husband.....And then I realized. I was. I had just shown a man that I was hoping to "date" a picture of the love of my life and extolled all my beloved's virtues all night. I was far from ready.

I thanked my date for his company, dinner and the lesson. Until I am ready to share a meal with another man without whipping out Jeff's portrait or talking endlessly about him, I am not ready. Like the other singles out there on the online dating services have a very good reason for being single...I'm messed up too.

But this year, my third, I think is the year. I no longer only talk about Jeff and his death. I am sure I am a much better listener and make far better company than I have in the last couple of years. And I can imagine myself sharing the company of another man without guilt.

But, maybe, just in case, I'll remove his picture from my wallet before any date just to make sure I am not tempted.....


  1. Jackie,I am also at the same point you are. I think it is really difficult to know when you are ready after being a widow.I like you feel like I am not ready for a physical relationship, although companionship would be nice. Does that mean I should date? Who knows?
    I keep thinking that if I find the right person desire will follow, yet I am afraid to even try because I do not want that question to come up when I am not ready for it. But isn't that how dating is for the normal woman? How do I know?

  2. I LOVE this. Jackie you are a wise wonderful woman, and trusting yourself to know when the time is right is the best thing you can do. Allow yourself to have fun with this, we only live once. xo my friend...can't wait to hug you!

  3. Interesting post. I am not ready for a relationship (not quite two years out) but in regard to you talking about your husband all night, allow me to share. I have always been reserved. I have always kept my private and professional lives very separate. We were always private people. After my husband passed, I found that all manner of babble was coming out of my mouth. I was embarrassed by it but would find myself yapping on, whether I was on topic or not. This is not a trait I admire in anyone. I finally chalked it up to grief insanity and tried harder to control it. My goodness, what grief can do to a person. Another woman at work was widowed about 10 months after I was, and I would hear things coming out of this very educated womans' mouth that initially surprised me but of course I then understood her brain was experiencing lightning storms. UGH. We are not to blame!

  4. I am also in the early stages of year 3. I have only recently let myself acknowledge that I just Might like to consider companionship. As Anonymous states I, too, do not think I am anywhere near ready for physical relationship. Affirming to know I am not alone!

  5. This entry was adorable and speaks volumes of the love you have for your husband. Someday when it feels right(er) it will happen - and some man out there will be able to share in your awesomeness.

  6. Love this post, Jackie. I loved the way your date handled the situation, too...humor is a wonderful way to diffuse an awkward situation. My husband will be gone 7 months this Monday. I cannot imagine dating. My husband, too, was the love of my life -- can't date someone else when I am in love with someone who is not alive. I know it's too soon....but I just don't picture myself dating, ever. Thank you for sharing your story.

  7. I love the sweetness of this post. However, I am disturbed. Forgive me for saying this but I have to say it - it is not noble or honouring of our lost spouses not to date, love, or have sex again.
    That in no means implies one should do anything before you are ready. But I sense there is a great expectation especially amongst widows to put that aside. The need for love, companionship, relationship, physical affection and that if we choose to seek it again, we didn't love them enough or grieve their death. There has been so much criticism of Joyce Carol Oates on remarrying so quickly after her "loves" death. A good friend of mine who married again after widowhood said "of course, I wanted a relationship again. Those years were the happiest of my life, why would I not want to have some of that again".
    So bravo, for you Jackie for seeing yourself so clearly. It doesn't matter when or how, what matters is that love for life and for living it will draw you in.
    I feel very alone in this voice because I adored my husband. Still do and will to the very last moment of my own life. But I know life is short, I know I will never love like that in this life but I will love.
    I believe I can carry both in my heart. The great love I will always have for him and the possibility of letting someone love me some day. My husband told me "love again" and it is only because of him that I would ever want to.

  8. If only there were a way to skip the awkwardness of dating. To skip right back into 'comfortable' again somehow. I'm one year in. Not ready. Wish I were, but I can't picture online/blind dating for myself.
    And I find myself looking at stranger's hands for wedding rings! How weird is that?!

  9. Love this post! Thank you for sharing.

    And Anonymous - I'm with you. I loved my husband dearly and we were well matched. I loved being married and parenting together. I am absolutely sure that I want that again. Doesn't make me love my husband less. I am also sure that the next husband will be a completely new and different love than the first was.

    My first date was with an old was a good way to ease into the idea of dating. But that first real date was definitely a milestone!

    Our paths are all different and there is no right or wrong.