Monday, December 13, 2010

Relationships: No One Can Push Them Away Like A Widow Can

Someone posted something on the Facebook page the other day and back then I had no idea how “timely” it would be for me.  But now I’m thinking back to that comment with a complete understanding of what she was talking about.

The fear of investing myself in someone else.  And then going through this loss all over again.

After 3 ½ years, believe me...I’ve wrestled with this fear.  And by now I thought I was over it.  But something happened last night to let me know...I’ve still got a ways to go.

Now, I’ve never been afraid of dating.  Some would say that I started early and that’s okay...we all do these things at our own pace.  I’ve learned by now to really not worry about what other people think.  Back then...anything that gave me something to look forward to on a Friday night and just got me through my week was worth any judgment that may have been passed.

I’ve been through different stages of dating.  When my husband first died, I do think I was trying to replace him in a sense.  I hated having that hole in my life.  It wasn’t necessarily that I was afraid of being alone...I just didn’t know how to do it.  I had never done it.  And then loneliness was there, staring me in the face, daring me to do something about it.

The truth is...I’m pretty lucky that I didn’t marry the first guy who came along.  I was definitely in that mindset.  And for me, that would have been a huge mistake.  I still had a lot of things I needed to learn about myself.

Then I went through a phase of just wanting company.  I wasn’t interested in getting married at all.  I didn’t want to be “casual” about it, but a long-term relationship where we met for dinner about twice a week sounded pretty darn good.  The relationship I dreamed about was with a faceless pilot who had an overseas route and was only home a couple of weeks out of the month.

But that seemed impossible to find.

It seemed like most men were either looking for something really casual or to get married within the first few months of dating.  There was really no middle ground.

As everyone says (and I’m not entirely certain of the validity of this claim), I met someone when I was least expecting it.  I met someone who, little did I know, was exactly who I needed, but on paper...was nothing like I was looking for.

This sent me into a new stage of dating in The Widowhood...the TESTING stage.

I had no idea I was doing it at the time, but now I can see that I’m damn lucky that my behavior didn’t just send this person running for the hills.  I would let him in, just enough...and then get completely terrified and push him away as hard as I could.

Now, this, of course, caused arguments and confusion for the both of us.  For me...I had no idea that I was doing it.  And for him...he had no idea why.  I mean, how confusing would it be to have things going really well...only to have the other person just suddenly on a Tuesday morning say, “I’m not sure if this is going to work out.”  To say to someone one minute, “I need you to be here and comfort me now,” only to have him show up and you say, “Wait...I’m not ready.”  To say to someone, “Yes!  I’m completely ready to commit,” and then have an anxiety attack so bad he doesn’t hear from you for a week.

In the battlefield of love...this man has earned his stripes.

It’s taken me a long time and a lot of soul searching to get past this point.  To get to the point where I know that no matter what I do...this person just wants to be with me.  So, now I’m someplace I never thought I would be again.

Completely comfortable in a relationship.

You have no idea what a...well...relief that has been.  And yet terrifying to me at the same time.  I’ve spent the last few years wondering if I would ever be capable of being that open to someone.  I wondered if I would ever be able to invest myself again (not for lack of trying) and know that someone else wanted to be around me...even during the ugly cry.  To come to the realization that I haven’t been holding anything back...this person knows me...the complete me.  And still wants to hang around anyway. 

So this brings me to last night.

Last night I found out that he had a toothache.  A pretty bad one.  He knew he needed to go to the dentist first thing this morning and, at the very least, probably get medicated if not have major dental work done.

After I heard this news, I literally sat up in my bed, worrying about what was getting ready to happen.

Let me ask you this...who else but a widow would get a call from someone about a toothache and 5 minutes later envision that infection running through his body and know, without a doubt, that he would be dead by morning?

In the calm that comes with daylight...I can now recognize how crazy that was.  But in the fearful dark...all I could think was....

He’s never going to make it.

Now, this is a person who actually has a semi-dangerous job.  So any rational person would probably be a little more worried about that and not a toothache.  But my own personal widow experience has had me so afraid of the “every day.”  Because that’s when bad things can happen too.  And when you least expect it.

I know this is because of how my husband died.  I mean...we’re talking about a man who once launched a rocket that had 75 pounds of plutonium on it.  And how did he die?  On his commute to work on a Monday morning when I didn’t see it coming at all.

The truth is a reality.  It could happen.  I could lose all over again.  But I wouldn’t trade any of the time I had with my husband...even if it meant skipping the pain of losing him.  When I think of it that way...why would it make sense for me to shut myself away from possible happiness again...when what I fear may or may not happen?  Where would that leave me?

I know that this is something I will continue to struggle with.  I can’t just make the decision and the fear and anxiety will magically disappear.  It could very well be something I worry about a little for the rest of my life.

But right now I’m just trying to concentrate on what’s here.  In front of me.  Today.

So I guess I should go.  I’ve got to go pick him up at the dentist.

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© Catherine Tidd 2010


  1. Thank you so much for sharing that. You are my idol/mentor because of who you are becoming. You give me the hope and strength to be the person I deserve to be.

  2. Indeed sister mine, and just soz ya know...everything is also cancer too ;-) and heart failure...but you probably could have guessed it coming from me.

    I reposted this, it was too cool to keep to myself <3

  3. One of the hardest things about being widowed is that stupid fear of the "what ifs". What if...he dies too? I truely believe that "knowing" we have this irrational fear is half the battle. So GOOD JOB!!

  4. Too true, my friend. Just went through this the other day. No, I haven't come out on the other side. But every day I'm more certain that he really does love all of me (even all red and puffy from crying). He makes me want too be a better woman. And really, what better motivation could there be but that?

  5. wow- this article enlitened me. When I find someone that is interested in me. I hold on to him so tight. I squeeze the pudding out of him! Scare him half to death and he runs as fast as he can from this widow chick. Now I see what Im doing. Thank u

  6. I cannot get past the guilt to date. I'm very very lonely, and wish that I did have someone to share my life with, but I cannot get past the guilt that I am "cheating" on my husband. Also, the in-laws would probably never forgive me, and instead of having little cheruby-cute toddlers, I have 2 teenagers who would probably be a little ticked off at me too, and would run the guy off in no time. Not that I really need to worry about it...they aren't knocking down my door. I don't even know where to meet guys anyway. It's been a long time (20+ years) since I did the flirting thing, and I was a lot cuter back then. That said...I'm glad you are happy.