One of the fears I had to conquer is dating again. After being married for 25 years, I lost my husband to cancer. It was the most painful and confusing time in my life. I found myself scrambling for answers on what to do now and how to go on. First I had to come to terms with a bit of what I just went through, not an easy feat. Then decide when was an “appropriate” time to restart my life after undergoing this inexplicable nightmare.
First it was dealing with the guilt of even starting over. How do I go on without feeling that I’m minimizing what I had with my husband. It’s not like we chose to leave each other, the choice was made for us. So I decided to turn to my faith and spirituality and become somewhat “comfortable” with the notion that even the most horrible circumstances have a plausible explanation. One that we may never fully comprehend. It took unbelievable strength but I made a conscious decision that I will not let my circumstances define me. Being somewhat of a spiritual person, I chose to believe that my husband came to this world to fulfill his own purpose. One of them was to be part of my and daughters life for however long Gd wanted him to be. My daughter and I needed him in order to become us. Our souls grew in immeasurable ways from having him in our lives. By thinking this way, I realized that not going on with our lives would be a waste of all the energy that my husband, her dad put into us and our relationship. We didn’t die with him and as a result we should appreciate what life we have left and live it to the fullest. That would be the best way to appreciate all his love and efforts and continue his legacy.
After coming to somewhat of an “comfortable” understanding of this unimaginable circumstance. It was time to take the next steps. There were many things to juggle and come to terms with once again as a single person. For me the first was making a decision and realizing that I was going to date again not just as a single mom but also as a widow. You don’t expect to refer to yourself as a widow at 43. Going out on dates and being asked “so tell me about your divorce?” and having to say I’m not divorced I’m a widow with a child. How shocking that was for me to hear it come out of my mouth and for the other person to hear it and digest it period. A not so typical conversation always transpired after that revelation.
Dating life has been a learning curve. Some were fun dates others not so much. It’s a jungle out there is an understatement. Definitely not what I remember facing when I was 17 lol. I met the 20 something wanting to bring my teenage years back, 30 year old wanting to have my kid, 40 year old wanting fun with no strings attached, 50 year old wanting to provide me with material needs in exchange for a trophy girlfriend and again with no strings attached. No strings attached seem to be an ongoing theme in this day and age. Want the fun with absolutely NON of the responsibility that comes with the package. Yes today single women in our 40s are referred to most of the time as the “girl with a package.” That usually refers to having a child(ren). Like it is a disease. So imagine dating in your 40s when gravity takes over, you are wiser than your 20’s (at least you hope so), your expectation are higher, you have a child(ren) and the outside world is nuts.
Adjusting to many new circumstances at once was difficult at first. But I knew I had to face the music while keeping calmness and stability in my daughters life. To do this, I knew that I needed to take care of myself so that I could continue being there for my child. I started working out, eating right (more or less), taking mental breaks and self reflecting on every experience, embracing my fears and grief, working to pay bills and yes start dating again. I wanted to Have fun and find the Carol in me again. But I also knew that I am a relationship person and wanted to find that future partner which would need to be honest, dependable, respectful and kind. By the way there are single people like this on the market, but they might be more challenging to find and building a longterm relationship is a whole other story. I must admit while dating, I met some relationship worthy men and some that were not and now after almost 4 years since losing my husband, I met what seems like a good, honest, dependable, respectful and kind man who is ready for a long term commitment with ups and downs. But really, the reality is that time will tell how and if things work out. This is where faith comes in. I’ve learned that as long as I am true to myself, comfortable in my own skin and do my part as best I can, Gd will pave the way.
One theme that I found most difficult in dating as a single mom is being in a relationship as a single mom. It’s constantly juggling and negotiating the needs and wants of the boyfriend, child and mine. Also, the challenge of finding time to make commitments with the person regularly. It’s literally exhausting. When married to the child’s father it’s challenging, imagine expecting to meet these needs while with a person that is not the child’s dad. To be fair, dating with a child is not a walk in the park for either side. It’s having to accept two different personalities, wants and needs at the same time. It’s having to spend money on babysitting while trying to get back on your feet. Consequently, scheduling trips only with your partner, an essential thing for relationship, being almost close to impossible.
In conclusion somewhere along the way, we can all wait to find someone when we feel good and ready. The “right” time when we may feel like we have the necessary guts, patience, strength, inner peace and enough time for a partner and relationship between work, children, and friends. But I personally don’t feel that It is always the only answer. Life is not about waiting for the opportunity but getting out of comfort zone and making things happen even though it is damn hard and scary as hell. I prefer to make decision based on experience vs being fear driven. The bottom line is we don’t know when and if we will ever get the chance to do it when we are good and ready….so whatever your decision is, it is yours and only yours. No one can tell you what is right for you. Go out there, write, edit and rewrite YOUR story, with no judgment, and make it your own masterpiece.