Back out there, first date

The first official try at dating was a bit of a disaster.  Fearful of dating sites, I thought I would start out with someone I’ve known a very long time.  A man who had kids the same ages as mine.  I had worked with his wife years ago, and they’d actually socialized at my house, but had divorced about 10 years ago.  I knew him … so no worries about his sanity.   Call him Fred.

So Fred had asked me out several times in the past year or so, and I’d always declined.  The invitations were to stop by his place for a drink, or hey, the kids will be home on the weekend, why don’t you come over and see them.  I never felt inclined to do so, simply because he wasn’t my type.  So, one night I’m out for dinner with a friend, and my friend says to me, “The next time someone asks – go.  Don’t over analyze, don’t think twice, just go with the flow.” Ironically, after we finished dinner and as I am heading home, I duck into the grocery store, and there he is – Fred.  And, as always he says – come over for a drink.  Just a quick one, before you head home.  I say yes.

Looking back I realize that my concern had always been that by going to his house I would lose all my power.  Just like when you get into a car as a passenger, you cede control to the driver.  I am, most assuredly, a control freak.  So, it was outside of my comfort zone, especially on a sort of informal first date, to spend it in a man’s home, and yet I made it through.

As I left his house a couple of hours later, Fred asked me if we could get together again, and I said sure.  It had been a pleasant evening, we had lots in common, why not?  By the time I got home I was plagued by guilt, filled with doubt and all the emotions associated with infidelity (at least I think that’s what it was).  Was it right, what would the kids think, what was I doing, what would Kevin think, what would my friends think, was I even ready?  The emotional churn was exhausting.  But at the end of it remained the ultimate and most important question: did I, do I, want to be alone for the rest of my life?  I knew and I know that I don’t.

So I resolved to give this a dating thing with Fred a try.  A day or so later he asked me out for the second time to a party set a couple of weeks away.  I accepted, totally unaware he was taking me to a family pre-Christmas party.  Who does that on a second date?

Living Alone

So, I now live on my own.  Entirely.  Well, me and the cat.  Its a different existence for sure.  I have found that I need to be somewhat disciplined to make it work.  Seems contrary to what one would expect.  Really, the notion of living alone could suggest utter independence, self-sufficiency, self-reliance, and freedom.  It can be all those things for sure, but it can also be lonely, isolated, and frustrating.  Frustrating in that I am it, just me.  There is no sharing of chores, no in-house second opinion or sounding board, no voice of reason. Isolated in that once I am inside my little house, it’s on me to reach out and engage my friends if I am feeling low.  Lonely obviously because the cat, charming as he may be, is not the most stimulating of company.

As a result I have learned some coping mechanisms that work for me.  I have learned to be more structured in my activities.  It’s easy to zone out in front of the television, but it’s not healthy.  So I ensure I work out before the tv goes on.  My go-to for dinner for the first year or so after Kev died was a cup of tea and about 8 Ritz crackers (god I love those things), but that’s not very healthy.  So now it’s a planned meal, always a little prep involved because that uses up some time too.

I tend to plan my weekends well in advance.  Have someone over, or go out some place.  There are a lot of people just like me, on their own, not in a relationship, and just looking for stuff to do.  It takes a bit to get used to arriving places solo, or going someplace on your own, and I am not quite to the point where I will go to a movie on my own, but I’m getting there.  Oh and then there’s on line dating…. lol that’s a story for another time.  I never would have ever expected to be where I am, but that’s just the way the cookie crumbles, isn’t it?

The Fire

For the first time ever I was at a function where the widows and the divorced/marrieds were present in equal numbers.  In my world the divorcees and the still marrieds are loosely grouped in the same category.  For a divorcee, a relationship may have died and there may be torment, sadness, grief; but at the end of the day it is a thing that has ended, not a life. The same range of emotions may be felt, but ultimately the pain is associated with the loss of something (the state of being wed). So, much like those “marrieds” amongst the group, the divorcees, although now on their own, got to that state through litigation.

For a person who has had a spouse, parent, sibling or child die, the loss is a double whammy.  It is the loss of something – the relationship – and also of someone.  It’s finality – the person who died will never ever grace a room with their presence again.  This is a huge distinction from divorce or separation.  I have had divorced friends empathize with me, and at some point I am likely to hear the words, “I know, it’s awful, I’ve been there.”   No they haven’t.  But I certainly didn’t hear anything banal like that today, I wouldn’t.  I was with a group of women who all “got it.”  For those of us in the group whose husbands had died, there was an unquestioning recognition that aspects of life can be quite arbitrary.  In this little group there was a silent nod of recognition accompanied by the unspoken statement, “ah, so you’ve been through the fires too.”

Through the fires, not me, not yet.  I’m still very much in the midst of it.  There are quite a few firsts that are ahead.  I wonder how hard it will be to look and act normal?  It’s been stated that forcing a smile can actually make you feel better.  So, is it a matter of smiling like an idiot for the next couple of months?  I guess it won’t hurt.  In all likelihood, no one but me will realize how much work it is to get through the day.  And if I am able to get through the day with no one the wiser, then really that’s all that matters.