So much of my grief journey has been engulfed in trying to find myself, to find time to recreate who I am or I thought I was, and to identify what I have become in this process. My friend Dianne recently brought up the topic of identity on her blog and it’s no surprise that this is one of the most discussed topics on Widowed Village. Besides that, dating is another big topic. How soon after is a big question?
The two do, in fact, correlate. Just as we spent our marriages identifying as a couple, we spend a good chunk of widowhood identifying ourselves as, well, ourselves. Singular. But this is where it gets confusing.
When I began dating at less than a year out things became very confusing for me. Trying to figure out who I was, let alone to figure out who I was in a relationship, was incredibly difficult. After a few mistrials (and really really bad dates such as “talks too much italian” and “former girlfriend beater”) I realized it was time to focus on me, singular, until I could being to wrap my head around any future couplehood.
Everyone has their own time line. I know someone who was dating and married within the first year. I also know some widow(er)s who are 10 years out with no desire to be married again. We are all different.
Of course (here’s the “with that being said” moment) I do see great value is discovering who we are, as singular people, after losing a spouse. There are many complications to this discovery. Children, in laws, finances, careers all factor into how this individual timeline plays out. None of our equations are going to match because there are way too many factors that are unique to our own situations.
Even when I entered the relationship I am in now, I still had an incredible amount of individual growth to complete. Complete, not really the right word choice there. Let’s just say I still had a journey to walk. Being in a relationship certainly confused and complicated that. Nearly a year after our first date I began individual EMDR therapy that is only just “wrapping up”. I was confused, heartbroken, terrified that someone I loved would die…again! This wasn’t an easy issue to deal with while being in a new relationship. It was complicated and messy.
While I’m glad I didn’t cut ties with his man, the strain it put on our new relationship was difficult at times. The strain I put on our relationship made it difficult. I had stuff to deal with! Would it have been easier to work through it on my own? Possibly? Am I glad I had and have him to help me along? Yes.
During the months before I began dating, and the months in between dating and meeting the boy, I did a lot of things for me. I began going to the gym regularly, eating healthy, writing a lot and I went back to college. I took care of me and began routines that revolved only around my life. A lot of healing occurred during that time that (here it comes) helped me identify some key components of who I was in this new life.
I’m not saying you can’t find that path if you’re with someone else. Many people do. I’m just saying it was more difficult for me. It’s not an easy journey, and unfortunately only some partners are willing to stick out the ups and downs. Just read the dating horror stories of other widows. I am fortunate enough to have a partner who stuck through it all.
We each have our own timelines, agendas, hopes, dreams and NEEDS. One thing is for certain though: we need to make sure to take time for ourselves. Strictly ourselves. Find help to set aside the other factors in your life so you can take that time that we all need, whether it be days or years.