Something that catches you kind of by surprise – even though it shouldn’t, is just how lonely you are as a widow. It’s so obvious when you say it, of course you will be lonely, your favourite person is no longer there – but it is so all encompassing, so huge that it takes your breath away!
People tell you all sorts of things in the immediate days after it happens, when you are still in such a foggy, shocked state that nothing makes sense. With all good intention, they tell you that they are there for you, to call if they can do anything for you, anything you need…. And in those first few days and weeks they are; but then life gets in the way of good intentions. People are busy in their own worlds – and they absolutely should be! It’s not someone else’s job (and it would be impossible in any case) to fill the gaping void in your life that is left after death. So you improvise… it’s kind of all or nothing, curled up alone at home or you try to fill your days as much as possible if you’re a social person, a people person like I am. Realistically though, there are only so many times you can invite yourself into someone else’s world, interrupting time with their favourite people before it feels desperate, and intrusive… but doing things on your own is really hard.
There is also a real envy of their situation. I want what they still have. I want my person to be here with me! I don’t want to be the odd one out in a group, feeling awkward and not quite fitting in anymore because my person is gone. I too want to hold hands and touch, I want to share looks that speak volumes, I want lazy days and date nights… I want what I used to have!
The best person in my world is gone. I can never have him back, except in my dreams. But if I’m lucky – and I have been so incredibly lucky, maybe there is another person out there for me!? It would never be the same. It can’t and shouldn’t be – that would take away from what I had, and I don’t ever want that! But potentially I have a long time left ahead of me, and I don’t want to spend that time alone.
So what are your choices!? It’s hard meeting new people… where do you go to find them? If you’re lucky, it might be a friend of a friend, an introduction at work, joining a social group or a spark with someone you already know. But that, these days seems to be a rarity. Your other option, and something I have recently delved into, is the weird world of online dating.
The sites that I have looked at vary wildly in terms of their approach. Everyone knows that Tinder is only for hook-ups (hey let’s f@&$) – this one is not for me and was never a consideration! Bumble was slightly more friendly, with a hello offered before the hook-up invitation. The prospects on Plenty of Fish will tell you that you’re pretty and then tell you why you should join them for a good time. Hinge has involved actual conversations, and Eharmony requires cash before they will let you look.
I have found the experience to be incredibly shallow…. You are forming an opinion about a person based on a very brief look at a photo. If that appeals, then you might look at the information people give about themselves, which will determine whether you swipe left or right. Too short, too tall, fat, thin, ugly, handsome- swipe, decision made.
A left swipe – you’re not my type. But a ‘right swipe’ (fingers crossed they also chose you) will lead to conversation…. Sometimes enjoyable, but a real struggle for others! Spelling and punctuation are suggestions rather than rules, questions are fired off to get the ‘getting to know you’ stuff out of the way and then suggestions are made to continue the conversation on other messaging platforms. This comes with its own risk… names and contact information are exchanged, and then there is a freedom to be shown more – confronting if you’re not expecting it!! Conversations I have had with girlfriends indicate that one should keep a picture gallery of such treats (??) to show off to them….! Dick pics for the uninitiated are a very real thing!
The first time I joined one of the sites, I freaked out pretty quickly. It was all a bit too much, too soon – but loneliness makes you do strange things! Then there is the stuff in your head… the feelings of judgement, whether real or imagined… is it too soon to be doing this, should I wait longer, what will people think, and in my case, how will the boys cope!? People will say that everyone’s grief journey is different, and they are absolutely! There is no right or wrong, only the things that feel right for you… but I am still conscious of how that looks to other people!
I have been on and off the sites a few times, and have had all sorts of conversations with different people. I met one very nice fellow fairly early in the piece and have had some really lovely conversations with him- both in person and online, but have been told he doesn’t do proper relationships because they hurt too much, but is keen on FWB (friends with benefits) – and while I know it has a place, it’s not for me in the long run. – short term maybe !?
What I have discovered, is that you have to chat with – or kiss if you so choose, a lot of toads, frogs and other reptiles to try and find a prince! …. My search continues, (and I will have more stories to share!) but let me tell you, it’s a very strange thing navigating the next that is now!