August 19, 2019

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

I think of myself as having two lives.  One that encompasses everything leading up to my divorce, and the other encompassing everything that followed my divorce.  I do this because I was two separate people in two completely different stages of life.  Many people hear that you are divorced and either don't want to ask about it out of courtesy, or they already know.  They know the pain.  The struggle of a single mother.  The changes.  The loss.  The grief.  Some people just know.

Although my ex-husband and I are still working on our co-parenting relationship, and I'm sure it will be an ongoing and ever changing one, I do not have any negative thoughts about my time spent with him.  I don't wish him ill will or hold any bad energy for him in my heart.  We have known each other for eighteen years.  He is the father of my children and I will always be grateful to him for giving me that gift.

I mean, we've been divorced for 7 years.  I moved on awhile ago.  But, even so, it's never healthy to hold onto that negative energy for any reason.

So this blog post is about the subject that most divorced men and women avoid:  the good parts of marriage before the divorce that no one asks about and no one talks about.  Because, if there was "good," then why did you get divorced?  It's a very touchy question that is only asked amongst very good friends.  "If there is still love between you and so much that you find good about him, then why can't you make it work?" Or my favorite, "how can you even say you have good memories with a person who did xyz to you?"  This may seem obvious, but even nice people get divorced.

Sometimes people encounter problems that are just too big for them.  

My ex-husband proposed to me, not out of obligation due to having children with me or anything like that, but because we were in love.  (In fact, we didn't start having children until we were married at least a year).  At the time he proposed, we had been dating for three years and then we were engaged for one year.  We had a beautiful wedding in June 2005 with over 300 of our friends and family there to celebrate with us.

I was only 22 years old when I got married.  

I would never recommend to anyone to ever get married that young.  My ex-husband and I were way too naive and unprepared for married life.  I legitimately believed that we would seamlessly go from the fun dating life to married life with no problems at all.  Of course there were problems; every marriage has them.  I was unaware of the issues that followed the marriage certificate.

But in the beginning of our marriage, we still had so much fun together.  

He really was my best friend.  I could sit on the couch in my ugliest pajamas and eat ice cream out of the carton and he would probably say "is there any for me?"  We still went on dates, hung out with our friends, took day trips, etc.  We both did our best to make sure the other was happy.  

The sweetest thing he ever did for me was give me a piano.  It wasn't just any piano.  He found this beaten up, old, out of tune, ugly piano somewhere and took it home with him one day.  He spent weeks fixing it up and refinishing it for me so I would have a piano to play on in our house.  Anyone can buy a piano.  But someone who loves you takes something ugly and makes it beautiful for you.    It eventually became the piano I played on for our babies after they were born.  Now, our son Matthew loves playing the piano.  

We spent our first "married" Christmas together in London, England.  It was a trip I'll never forget.  The whole city seemed magical during Christmas.  We saw a show, toured the city, did the usual sightseeing stuff.  It was so special to us to have that memory together - that time and tradition, just the two of us.  

My marriage was wonderful until we couldn't make it work anymore.  I am sure I will blog about that part another time.  But, the sentiment I am focusing on here is that make sure you really work hard on your problems with your partner before throwing in the towel.  Don't leave any regrets hanging in the air just because you didn't feel like putting the effort in to the relationship.  Marriage is work.

So, divorce sucks and I hope you never have to go through it.  It was my ending, and I am fine with that, because the beginning of the next stage of my life was even more beautiful.  

~ C

August 17, 2019

Baggage Claim

When I was in college, and again several years post-grad, I traveled to Europe.  One of the most annoying things about traveling abroad is having to account for the extra baggage weight you will accrue on the way home, obviously because you buy stuff.  Sometimes, you have to pay an extra fee if you have excess weight on your luggage, but sometimes you get a really nice airline clerk who lets it slide.  In any case, paying for that extra bit of weight can either be completely worth it or a pain in the ass depending on what you're carrying. 

Filtering in and out of different phases of life will leave you will a similar frustration, because with experience comes heavy baggage.  Not one person on this earth has baggage that is worth more or less than the next, even if their baggage fee is more costly than yours.

When getting into a new relationship, I like to wait at least a few months before anything from the past is brought up.  I certainly don't mind discussing anything from my past, but the beginning of a relationship is not the best time to drop any huge bombs.  I also like to give a new relationship time to develop on its own before adding in any emotional third parties.  If you are able to establish your own bond and trust with your new partner, then discussing past baggage, if even necessary, will be an easier load to handle.

Personally, I don't like discussing my past for a few reasons.  For one, I'm over it.  The only reason anyone would want to drudge it back up again is to have fuel for a fire they can burn me with later.  That's not productive to the growth of a healthy relationship.  Secondly, I believe in having fond memories of my past, even though it may have been difficult, but dwelling on it only makes a person want to move backwards, not forwards.

The last man I was in a relationship with seemed to want to slice open every healed wound that I owned.  Then, he would label me, call me names like "insecure" and "victim" or tell me that I would be acting a certain way because "you did _____ in the past with ______."

The frustration I felt turned to mistrust and suspicion.  I would think to myself, "This man is supposed to be my partner, right?  Can I even trust him with my heart anymore or is he going to use everything I tell him as a weapon against me?"

The baggage I used to pay a high price for and carry around with me as if I was coming home from a long trip, had long since been packed away and forgotten.  But, this man was way too eager to find something to trigger in me. 

This same man had his own baggage to carry, which wasn't light, cheap, or easy to handle.  His baggage, as I was told, would always be present.  I felt the weight of his baggage in his constantly changing emotions, vibe, energy, name it.  He often took the tone of,  "I'm the only one whose baggage is worth carrying; nobody else's matters."

So, his baggage was ever present.  Mine was thrown around like a Raggedy Ann doll.

Ideally, we would have moved away from the baggage claim area and focused on us so our relationship would have had a chance.  Unfortunately, it didn't.

Two people in a healthy relationship know their partner's heart.  They know what they experienced at one point in their life.  That experience is what makes you who you are, and who you fell in love with.

The important thing to remember is that one you're finished reminiscing about your past, check your baggage, pay the fee, and move along.

~ C

August 12, 2019

Saint Anything

There's a saying that goes something like, "It doesn't matter what someone does when they are alive; as soon as they die, they become a saint."  

For some, they pronounce themselves saints while they are still alive.

And the most decorated saints alive are narcissists.

Narcissists have a deep need for excessive attention and admiration. One of the many things you'll find them doing is obsessing over their looks.  Spending extraordinary amounts of time at the gym.  Posting a lot of pictures of themselves on social media.  Another thing narcissists do for attention is use their children to show off, not their childrens' accolades, but how great of a parent they are.

"Look at me being a good parent!"  "Here's a picture of me with my kids but the real star of this photo is me because I'm a great parent and I've been around since day one."  #dedicated

If they are your children, I would HOPE that you'd be around since day one, so I don't really consider that much of an accomplishment.  In different cultures, there is a stereotype of having the father leave or abandon his children, so perhaps that is the source of some of the self-serving compliments.  Either way, a narcissist doesn't care.  They will use any source they can to turn the attention onto themselves and forever say in the spotlight.

What I learned most during the course of my relationship with my widower was the importance of humility.

Stop trying so hard to prove to the world that you are something.  In most cases, if you have to try that hard, then you really aren't what you're trying to prove.  

He had to be noticed as a great parent.  He needed his children to be successful so he wouldn't look like the father who "let it all go" after his wife died.  What others saw on social media concerning his parenting contrasted greatly with what I saw behind closed doors, but I'm not going to discuss that here.

During the course of our relationship, my widower slowly unveiled his narcissistic personality.  In the beginning, of course, was the "lovebombing" stage.  This is when the narcissist is uncharacteristically considerate with "treats" of kindness, love, affection, and shifts the attention to you.  As the relationship progresses, the narcissist slowly pulls away one "treat" at a time until you find yourself saying, "This doesn't feel like the love you promised to give me."

My widower was overly meticulous about what he posted on his social media.  He was fine with posting a bunch of "selfies" of his 40-something year old self posing at the gym, however, if we were out on a date, he might post a picture of the movie theater floor.  Or the restaurant menu.  He claimed that he was "leaving clues" and anyone who followed him "knew what he meant."  Did he really think he was that important?  I don't know about you, but I stopped being ambiguous in my teens.  Who has the time?

My narcissistic widower thought he was so important that everyone was paying attention only to him and would follow his "clues" and magically know exactly what he was talking about.  

Narcissists can't have an adult discussion about an issue, so when you try to, they see it as you starting an argument.  Every time I attempted to discuss an issue with my widower, he denied his flaws and put the blame on me for his personal shortcomings and mistakes.  If I said, "I feel that you are ______," he would say, "No that's you."  Every. Single. Time.  Did he have his own original thoughts?  No.  He just threw everything back on my lap.

I'm very intelligent.  I knew what he was doing.  He didn't want to be called out on his flaws because it would ruin his sainthood.  His perfection.  Our arguments turned into long sessions of my widower yelling at me while I sat there completely silent.  I lost my voice.  I slowly turned into a victim of mental abuse because of his manipulation.  I was in a constant state of hyper vigilance and fear.

My weapon of choice was boundaries.

Eventually, I came to understand that this man was not my forever.  He barely even knew me.  He only knew what he wanted to know; everything else was unimportant, ignored, and pushed to the side.  Like most narcissists, he didn't put any effort into getting to know me, because that didn't serve any purpose for him.  So, I slowly started to spend less time with him and more time alone, where I found peace.

Not everyone deserves to know the real you; let them think what they want.  

Our relationship ended exactly how I expected it would - with infidelity.  Narcissists manufacture love triangles to get you to compete for them.  A partner truly worthy of my love would never make me feel like I am vying for his attention.  It wasn't the first time that he did this, or did this to me as I heard from other women, so I wasn't surprised.

I also wasn't surprised that he kept possession of my property that remained in his home, leftover from the 10 months when I lived with him.  A whole bedroom set.  Kitchen table and chairs.  Flat screen TV.  Desk.  Two large mirrors.  Various kitchen appliances.  A pair of boots that I LOVED.  An endtable.  A grill.  Of course, these are all replaceable items.  It's not about the items themselves, but the act of him keeping them.  He feels entitled. 

Any other honorable man would return property that didn't belong to him, especially if it needed to be returned to an ex.  Narcissists don't have the capability to feel emotions like compassion or respect. 

My widower might consider himself a saint of something and daily attempt to portray himself as such, but to me he's just another cowardly narcissist.

~ C

August 10, 2019

Is Monogamy "last season?"

When I was about ten years old, the biggest trend for about four months was slap bracelets.  Do you remember those?  My friends and I collected and traded those things like baseball cards.  The excitement of getting a new bracelet, or better yet, stacking multiple slap bracelets together to show off your collection, was such a rush for us little girls.

Like any trend, it began with the thrill of something new.  The desire for more.

And, like all trends, we soon got tired and bored with it.

Monogamy, to me, seems like a fancy trend that comes and goes.  It's difficult to tell which side of the runway it's on at any given moment.

I've always been a hopeless romantic.  I believe in staying romantically and intimately loyal to one person once you have both decided to be exclusive.  I'm not stupid, by any means, and I understand that there are relationships that existed in both partners' lives before the relationship began. And, of course, you want to keep those relationships alive and thriving.

In a truly monogamous relationship, both partners would be capable of maintaining those previously held friendships without crossing inappropriate boundaries.  You need to build a trust with each other.  Build a bond with your partner that you don't have with anyone else.  Because, that's your person.

In my most recent relationship (with my widower), I gave my love to him completely and freely.  I bonded with him and felt as though he was one of my closest friends.  At one point in the relationship, my widower told me that I was "his person," and he was most definitely mine.  My love for him went beyond the romantic.  I cared about his health and well being.  I worried about his stress level.  I asked him often if he needed to make time to see his friends, as he did not seem to "hang out" with them very much.  On the "difficult days," as I referred to them, I checked in with him to see how he was holding up.  Those were the days where his late wife's memory would surface - her birthday, her date of death, etc.

Unfortunately for me, to my widower, despite everything I listed above, he still could not love me freely.

I accepted that my widower had relationships that he held onto from before we met; that was not the issue for me.  Time and time again, my widower was having inappropriate conversations with women.  Some of these conversations included exchanging of pictures, discussing private details of his relationship with me, telling these women intimate things such as, "I adore you" and "I can't wait to see you."  This is not maintaining a friendship.  This is cheating.

I remember about a month before our relationship ended, I sensed something was "off" with him.  He was not acting like himself.  I tried to carry a conversation with him, but it was incredibly difficult.  I would go over to his house, happy as a clam to see him, only to be instantly shutdown by his negative demeanor.  I asked him, "Is something going on?  Is something wrong?  This doesn't feel right."

He responded, "If anything was wrong, I would definitely tell you, but nothing is going on."

The night our relationship ended, I received an anonymous message from someone who told me that my widower had been cheating on me.  With two women.  I thought that was a very specific number.  So, I asked him if I could see his phone.  He gave me permission to look at his phone.  And there were all of the text messages between him and another woman.  The pictures.  The romantic texts that I wasn't receiving anymore.  All of the issues he was having with me that he promised he would talk to me about, he was talking to her about them.

My widower preferred to talk to another woman about his issues than be an adult and take his complaints directly to the person involved in the relationship.  Did he like the attention she gave him?  Did it feed his ego?

My heart felt like a huge rock in the middle of my chest.  My person.  My friend.  He lied to me.  He was having issues in our relationship and wasn't talking to me about them.  How long did he feel this way?  How long was he pretending?

I told him, "this is bullshit."  I left his house and went home.  He, of course, did not call me, text me, or come after me.  I knew what this meant.

In the days following, we argued via social media, but we never talked to each other.  I'm not important enough to him for a conversation.  It's funny.  All of his constant barking about how important his relationships are to him, and yet his actions towards the one person he was supposed to love, all said the complete opposite. So, hopefully the next girl who falls into his trap has better luck dealing with his inability to be monogamous than I did.

After awhile, I logged into Twitter to set up my teacher account for the upcoming school year.  I saw a few posts from him, as I don't follow very many people on Twitter.

You think you want to know what random messages folks get until you read them.. Sometimes it's not even as flagrant at nudes. Sometimes, you see a vibe you can't obtain with your person and you KNOW IT'S YOUR FAULT due to the bullshit you bring.. *shrugs*

I hate phone violations the most... anybody looking through a phone will find SOMETHING to bitch about. They are on a mission. You gotta look through phone? JUST LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE...

The first post is, as usual, gaslighting.  He did something wrong, but it was my fault because of "my bullshit."  I wonder if the "bullshit" is something he ever told me about.  Or, perhaps, he only told his woman friend.  That's another very dangerous problem with emotional/text/social media cheating.  The other party involved WANTS to see your relationship fail.  They will say or do anything to make you believe your partner is not right for you.  And, they're your "friend," so why would they lead you in the wrong direction?  Right? 

The second post I've already explained.  I asked for permission to look at his phone.  But, again, gaslighting.  It's my fault I complained that HE did something wrong because I'M the one who looked.  As usual.  Widower never does anything wrong.

I read somewhere that 92% of widowers have problems with pornography, monogamy, and sexual addiction.  I can now honestly say that I believe this to be 100% true.

So, is monogamy a trend?  Or, was it just a flaw with my widower?

I know one thing is for sure.  My next relationship will be equal.  Open communication.  Loving freely on both sides.  Accepting each other for who we are.

And that's a trend that will never go out of style for me. 

~ C

August 09, 2019

Beautiful Boy

I only have six years left with my son.

Obviously, I'm talking about the time period before he goes off to college.  After he leaves, however, a lot will change in terms of the structure of our relationship, how much time we'll have together, his growth and maturity, and most importantly - he will be making his own decisions.

It's amazing to me that 12 years ago I was taking this little baby boy home from the hospital.  To take care of.  I remember thinking, "do these nurses know we are leaving...with a BABY?"  I was full of anxiety.  I didn't know what I was doing or if I was going to do anything right.

I snapped into motherhood fast.  That 9 pound, chubby, bald baby was the love of my life.  Of course, I did all of the typical "first mom" crap like joining "baby circles" and going to "baby story time" and meeting other moms for evening walks - just us naive mamas and five strollers.

Twelve years and two divorces, five moves, and three schools later and I couldn't be more proud of the young man my son is turning into.

He has been through many changes  Different types of trauma.  Growing pains.  Emotional pains.  Yet, I have learned to never confuse his outward appearance of tranquility with strength.

My son holds a lot inside.  Like me, he is always thinking.  When something bad happens to him, sometimes it takes a few days, or even weeks, for him to talk about it - but it's always right there in his mind, constantly turning and marinating.

When he finally wants to talk, however, he will tell you everything.

There are only a handful of people that my son feels comfortable confiding in, and I am supremely thankful that he has these people in his life.  I am lucky to be one of them.  I love the talks I have with my son.  I not only learn so much about him and the way he thinks, but I am giving him the freedom and comfort to be able to express himself to me any way he wants.

Trust is an important part of every relationship and it goes way beyond the freedom of suspicion or knowing your secrets are safe.  My son trusts that I won't yell at him for something stupid like not putting his socks in the hamper.  He knows I won't call him names or belittle him. He knows he can come to me for a hug when he's had a bad day.  He trusts that I will advocate for him.  He trusts that I will love him.  No matter what.

My son and I have this little ritual we do every night, just the two of us.  We spend about an hour watching a show together on Netflix.  We will get a snack, curl up on the couch, and talk about the show.  What I find hilarious is that I will get a SUPER evil eye from my son if I try to pick up my phone to check my email.  No phones allowed when we're watching TV together.

So, yes, I only have six years left with my son.  But, what I have done with the twelve years I've had with him so far have enabled me to grow and sustain an amazing relationship with my child.  One that, I hope, will only continue after he leaves.

Maybe it was the "baby story time" that started it all?  I'll never know, I guess.

~ C

August 08, 2019

You Can't Ride Two Horses With One Ass

In reading through my own private journals, I found one in particular that caused a lot of heartache for me.  It was an argument W and I had in May of 2018.

This is what I am consistently referring to when talking about dating a widower.  It. Is. Difficult.

When you date a widower, you better be prepared to be considered insignificant.  You will never be a priority.  The widower may care for you, but there is a very slim (VERY) chance that they will have true feelings of love for you.

It is because their true love is in Heaven.  They have lost their soul mate and they don't know how to deal with it.  They can't possibly fathom loving anyone else the way they spent their lives loving their wife.  Falling in love again might make them feel as though they are being unfaithful to their true love waiting for them somewhere on the "other side."

Getting back to the argument.

My W and I had told each other many things we had been "holding in" at the time.  Some of the things my W told me included:

"I can't even talk about my wife with my girls in front of you because I have to think about YOU."
"I can't even blog about my feelings or about being a widower because I have to think about YOU.  It's pretty selfish if you ask me."
"Normal women would come into this relationship knowing what they were up against and if this relationship isn't for you then maybe you need to be honest with yourself about it and leave me be."
"Her presence will always be felt here.  Deal with it."

Okay. To be frank, this is his fault.  From the BEGINNING of the relationship, he should have tried to work on establishing a unique bond with me that had nothing to do with his late wife.

But that wasn't the case.

From the very beginning (VERY beginning, not even two months into the relationship), he made me read his blog full of posts detailing his life and love for his wife.  His despondent grief following the days after she passed.  His changed life now that she's gone.  Pictures of their life together.  The overall theme being "I don't know what I'm going to do without you."

Any "normal" woman would have run for the hills.  Why the hell did I stay?  This guy was NOT ready for a relationship.  It's easy for me to see this NOW, but in the moment all I wanted to do was love him harder.

In the same basket, I was also holding a lot of insecurity after reading his blog.  I know I am special, but he put his late wife on a pedestal, and nobody can live up to that.  To have him say to me, "Her presence will always be felt here, deal with it," was a slap in the face.  He didn't want to be my partner.  He had no interest in being in a loving relationship with me.  He wanted to be stuck in the past.  Loving me meant he had to move on. 

I told him:

"If you are still hurting that much that you need to talk about your wife that badly and that often and cannot move on into a new relationship with me, please do so, but know that I won't be around for it."
"If you're still in love with her, then leave me be."

Why not grieve before entering into a relationship?

What my W was doing was gaslighting me.  He made me feel like I was crazy.  He created this problem from the beginning of the relationship, and then blamed it on me.  There were never any calm, loving talks about how the relationship was going to work, how I could help him handle his grief, what his expectations of me were, or how we would proceed with the relationship.

Instead, he told me I was insecure (duh, thanks for making me read about how much you love another woman), and called me names like "dumb." When I told him to stop, he would say "stop doing dumb shit and I will."  When I would question him, for example, "Oh so I'm not a normal woman because I have boundaries and expect certain things out of a relationship?"  He would say, "Stop trying to find a problem where there isn't one victim."

That's gaslighting.  That is the definition of gaslighting.  He made me feel like there was always something "wrong" with me and it was his job to "correct" my flaws.  He only saw my flaws.

He never even thought that he was the source.  

I stayed so long hoping that he would eventually see what is so great and wonderful about me.  But I now understand that he only had enough energy for his grief.

But, his wife's memory was not enough to sustain him.  

He was double-dipping.  He was getting to wear the widower's halo while enjoying all of the advantages of being in a relationship.

Well, You can't ride two horses with one ass.

If you find yourself in a similar position, ask yourself these questions:

1.  Do you see the possibility that this will never be what you are hoping?
2.  Do YOU see what he is telling you in so many ways or are you ignoring it to save peace in the relationship?
3.  You know you deserve better.  He is telling you, this is how he is.  Why are you staying?
4.  Is this a relationship you want?

~ C

The Old Me

I'm going to refer to the days before I dated my widower as pre-w, just to keep it simple.

The subject of this post has sat heavily on my heart for a long time, and I'm going to struggle a bit to get it out; in fact, it might be rather short.

Pre-w I was lighter.  I was more artistic.  I smiled more.  I had hope.  I went on vacation with my friends, and took trips with my children.  I didn't have anxiety, headaches, or pain.  I knew I was beautiful.  I felt beautiful.  I enjoyed every day because I was so happy with my life.

I thought adding another person to my life would only make it better.  Especially when I met my widower.  I felt as though he would only add to the happiness I already had.  Instead, the baggage he brought with him drained so much out of my body, my mind, and my heart, that there isn't much left of me. 

Post-breakup, I'm trying harder everyday to gain back those parts of me that I lost.  It's a hell of a lot of work.  I'm sure a lot of you reading this are thinking "what is the big deal it's just a break up, you're being dramatic."  The reality is that during the course of my four year relationship with my widower, we broke up and got back together twice.  The trauma, abuse, and guilt that existed in the relationship on a consistent basis wreaked havoc on my brain.  Nightmares ensued.  Anxiety increased.  

Right now I’m feeling like a discarded puzzle found in the back of the closet. Your kid really wants to put it together, and you know it’ll take time and energy to do it, so you sit down and get to work.  When it’s finally completed, most of the pieces that were once in pristine condition are torn or bent.  The puzzle is recognizable as a whole, but it needs scotch tape to hold it together so the broken pieces don’t fall apart. 

~ C  

Dating an Unavailable Man

What does it mean to date a widower?

This question in itself cannot be answered in a single blog post.  It certainly has many forms, subtitles, redirections, and footnotes.

Dating a widower is not for the faint of heart.  It not for women who want commitment.  It is not for those who want a man to be exclusive.  Dating a widower is not easy.  It is lonely.  It is heartbreaking.  It tears your soul apart in places you didn't know existed.  It leaves you feeling empty, forgotten, unwanted, unloved, and broken.

So why did I do it?

My journey in dating a widower began in October, 2015.  I met a man on a dating website who seemed, on the surface, to be very charming and loving.  In the beginning, which many refer to as the "lovebombing" stage, he spent a lot of time with me.  He texted me often, gave me tons of compliments, made me feel special, and he came over to my home to be alone with me before we both felt comfortable introducing the other to our children.

His charm worked and as most women do, I fell for him quickly.

The first time he brought me over to his home was an evening I will never forget.
I nearly took two steps into his front door and he pointed to a very large framed portrait of his late wife hanging on the wall in front of us and said, "That's my wife."  Then he pointed to his sister-in-law, who was in his home at the time (that's another blog post in itself) and said "doesn't she look like my wife?"  I was both taken aback by the large picture staring me in the face, and the woman whom I guess I was to assume was her twin standing in my new man's home looking at me like I was the enemy.  I should have walked away.  Right. At. That. Moment.

But I didn't.

I said "Hello it's nice to meet you."  She said "Hi" in return.  That was it.  She and I had many exchanges of unpleasantries after that, which I will account for in another post.

My widower's home was, like any grieving man, filled with memorials to his wife.  A wind chime hanging over his sink bearing her name.  A huge collage of photos in the dining room.  Mementos sprawled through the home.  Photos on the refrigerator.  The program from her funeral still laying on his bedroom dresser.  All of her clothes and belongings still in the closet, even though they never shared this particular home together...

My heart was advancing towards him, but my head was screaming "run away!"  I don't know why I ignored all of those red flags.  I don't know why I couldn't see this grieving man standing in front of me.  I wanted to believe he could possibly love me.  I hoped beyond all hope that he could make room for me in his life and love me.

This was never going to happen.  Those "red flags" were signs telling me that this man was not ready to love anyone.  I was only setting myself up to be hurt.

Dating a widower means you are giving up your right to love the way you want to love.  You now have to love someone differently, the way they need you to love them, because they are not going to be ready to accept the kind of love you are used to giving so freely.  Dating a widower means you give up part of yourself.  You may even change, and not in a good way.

My experience is my own.  I do not project that all widowers are like the one and only that I dated, but I will discuss my experience in hopes that it will help someone.

~ C