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We always think we have more time….

June 24, 2013 Leave a comment

… and then it runs out.

You never expect it, even though deep down inside you know you only get so much time. So much time with people. So much time to complete tasks. So much time to do all those things you want to do.

Yet, we think we have more time, so we put off spending time with the people we care about. We don’t always complete tasks as quickly as we should, if we complete them at all. We push the things we want to do into the future citing the fact that we have plenty of time to do them.

Today my friend N. and I were unpacking more boxes. We came across a package of things that I had saved from my honeymoon to Bermuda. It contained receipts, notes, trip guides, newsletters, luggage tags, pictures, souvenirs, excursion information, napkins, paper coasters, and all sorts of cute and sentimental stuff. My goal had been to take all of that stuff and make a scrapbook out of it all.

I don’t know what happened, but I never got around to doing it. Life obviously got in the way, and the scrapbook lost its priority. It wound up in a box that sat in a closet for almost two years, and now that I got around to opening it, there was no point to creating a scrapbook. What would be the point? Mark is gone. Who would I ever show it to? My new boyfriend? How many times would I actually look at it? Somehow I think nil to none because it would not have the same meaning that it would have had if Mark were still alive.

In that box of memories, there was a card from the cruise ship saying that our good friends P & G sent us a bottle of wine to wish us a happy honeymoon. They called me right before I moved, and tonight I finally called them back. I really love this couple dearly. Mark used to work with P. before she retired. They are warm and generous people. G. was the real estate agent who helped us purchase our house in Keyport. We would often have them over for dinner, or we would go to their home in Brick, NJ. Several times they took us out on their boat.

I loved this couple the very first time that I met them, and I think telling them that Mark passed away was almost as difficult as telling Mark’s parents. I remember P. answered the phone and when I told her, I can remember her screaming to her husband saying, “Mark Clark died! Oh my God! Mark Clark died!”. It was pretty difficult to hear.

P. has called to check on me several times since Mark died, and she has, on numerous occasions, said that she and G. want to keep in touch with me. Today P. talked about having me (and Belle) over, and while I would absolutely love to see them and spend time with them, it will be very bittersweet since I have never seen them without Mark being there.

When I see them, it will be another “first” that I must do in order to move forward in my life. Some of the firsts have been more difficult than others. For example, June 21st marked the ten-year anniversary of my marriage to Mark. It was an uneventful day. No tears were shed. No sad memories. No real happy ones either. Just another day. I am not sure how I feel about that. I would have thought I would have felt more. I would have thought that I would have cried over the loss. No tears. In reality, I spent the night with G.  and gave my “old life” very little thought.

In a way, I suppose that means that I am nearing the end of the healing process, but at the same time, am I really over my “old life” too soon?

To back track a little, I threw away all those honeymoon mementos. There was no real point to keeping them. And that scrapbook would never get made because I always thought I would have more time.

When you are important to another person…

June 19, 2013 Leave a comment

…that person will always find a way to make time for you. No excuses, no lies, no broken promises!

I have no idea who said that. It was just something I saw posted on Facebook, and I realized that it was so appropriate for my life these days. After years of feeling like I was not a priority in someone’s life, I realize that at this point in my life, I really am. It’s a refreshing feeling, and for the longest time I forgot what that was like. And I realize now that I DESERVE to be a priority and not an after thought! I took a backseat in a lot of people’s lives for a very long time. Now I’ve become a priority in someone’s life, and it is a great feeling.

What the hell are you talking about, Bon? Can you possibly enlighten those of us who are sitting in the dark wondering where you are going with this?

Last night I realized how much of a priority I was in someone’s life. I had asked G. to come over after work. Yes, I know that means about 12:15 AM, but as long as I am fine with it, and he is fine with it, no one else has the right to judge me or my actions, so let’s move off that topic. He agreed. No problem. No excuses. I like that about him. He owns his own business (which he works during the day) and then he works a full-time job at night. Yet, in spite of that, he still makes time for me (us?), and he has never complained that, on the nights he works his job, he practically drives past his own house to come see me (nearly 25 minutes south).

He wound up having to work late last night due to the weather, but he still wanted to come to see me. Never once did he hem and haw about coming over so late (even though both of us had to work in the morning) or being tired (even though I KNOW that both of us were). He’d made a commitment, and he was going to honor it. I wouldn’t have been upset had he wanted to go home right after work. Maybe I would have been a little bit disappointed, but I most certainly would have understood. I mean, what kind of person would I be if I did not? He didn’t get to my house until after 1:00 AM. I’d promised him something to eat, so I kept up my end of the bargain, and I made him a cheeseburger and french fries. I figure it is the very least I could do even though I never claimed to be the world’s greatest cook!

We just watched some television while he was eating, and then we went to bed – to sleep (PEOPLE GET YOUR DAMN MINDS OUT OF THE GUTTER!!) probably close to 2:00 AM. It was nothing special, but yet it was. It was last night that I realized that I AM an important part of his life. He came over because he wanted to, because he’d made a commitment, and because I am important to him and because of that,  he will find time for me. I can’t ask for much more than that, now can I?

This is all very foreign to me. I have to keep reminding myself that I deserve to be treated with respect and care. I think I forgot that in the last 30 (plus) years. I have spent so much time caring for the needs of other people that I lost myself in the process. That’s not to say that I was the “poor, forgotten stepchild” (think Cinderella). But over the years, my needs were forgotten because I spent so much time caring for others. What did it get me? Hmm, do you really want to know?

  • Low self-esteem
  • A feeling of discontent
  • An emptiness that nothing could fill
  • A sense of fear (and anxiety) about many things
  • A sense of inadequacy
  • Lack of assertiveness
  • Poor boundaries
  • Self-sabotage

All those things are not pretty. In fact, most are downright ugly characteristics to have. I think that the worst thing about it was the apathy that I felt on most days. It was exhausting to hide behind a fake smile. It was tiring to pretend to be happy and peppy and bursting with love when you felt anything but that!

A couple of months ago, something changed. I realized that I had lost myself in the life that I had made for myself. I pushed through the pain and the fear and the hurt. I found my own strength again. It was not G. who changed me, but it was ME who changed me. I was tired of the apathetic attitude that I had. It was an exhausting way to live. G. only helped me realize how wonderful I can be, and of course, he makes me realize that I DO deserve happiness and joy and fun and someone who cares.

I should have known it all along, but, like I have said on numerous occasions, I lost myself over the years. I had good years, but I think I have been lost for much longer than I ever realized! It’s a shame that it took me 50 years to find my happiness with myself and my life. It was always there, but I was just looking in the wrong places. I think it was always right in front of me, but the obstacles and blinders were preventing me from really seeing it. But finally, at age 50, I’ve found my “Happy Place”. It does not rest in anyone else’s hands. It is not a place that others can go. It’s a place inside of me that was hidden for so many years. Others can’t visit it but they can enhance the experience.

So what’s the point of this post? Well, I think it is that I am 50 and feeling FABULOUS for the first time in my life. The special people in my life have helped me realize that I deserve to be happy. Some have helped me find the happiness with only their love and friendship. The bottom line is that I finally unearthed my “happy place”, and I never want to leave it!

 

 

 

 

Categories: Life as a Widow

What is Happy?

June 16, 2013 1 comment

Does anyone have any idea what it means to be happy?

  1. hap·py

    /ˈhapē/

    Adjective
    1. Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment.
    2. Having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with (a person, arrangement, or situation).
    Synonyms
    glad – fortunate – joyful – lucky – merry – cheerful

According to Google, happy is a feeling or showing of pleasure or contentment. It is having a sense of confidence in or satisfaction with a person, arrangement, or situation.

Yep, that’s me. I finally feel like I have crawled out of the fog that WAS my life, and for the first time in many years, I am feeling good. It’s almost scary because I can’t remember EVER feeling so free before.

I spent a lot of years always having to be accountable to a husband (first Bob and then Mark). I spent a few months shy of 30 years with just those two men. While I really did love being married, it is a lot of work to keep a relationship fresh and moving forward. It takes commitment, and it takes stamina. I had both of those, but not sure I’d do it again. It would have to take a VERY, VERY special man to make me want to do that level of commitment again.

Now I have freedom. I like being able to go to bed when I feel like it and not having someone complain because the light is on. I don’t have to hear the phrase, “Go to bed because tomorrow is a work day”. I knew it was a work day, but I wasn’t ready for bed, and now I no longer have to follow those rules.

I can go out any night that I choose. I can come home at any time I want. I can go out with anyone I feel like going out with. It’s my life!! All mine! I’m only responsible for me. I like this new-found freedom.

I think I am going to like living on my own. I’ve never done this before. I thought it would be lonely, but it is not. Sure, it is nice when someone is here, but my quiet and alone time is SO wonderful! I like being in my bed and not worrying about snoring and sleep apnea masks. I like being able to sleep on which ever side of the bed I decide I want to be on. I like being able to steal all the blankets!

I like only having to deal with my own personal mess. I have SO much less laundry these days. It’s only me. I can only wear so many clothes!!  I like the fact that I can eat or drink anything I want, and I can eat or drink it when I choose. I had two beers today, and I sat outside just watching the cars go by. Mark would have chastised me for drinking in the middle of the day, and I would have heard the word “lushy” come out of his mouth. But today, no one was here to give me attitude. And I liked it!!

Mark used to always insist that I eat three meals a day. He felt that “food is love”. Well, that was all well and good until I started to gain weight from all the bacon laden meals that he made. It was really difficult to follow any kind of diet while I was with him. He would bring home McDonald’s or Kentucky Fried Chicken or Taco Bell. Or he would buy cake and cookies for snacks. It became very easy to gain weight while with him. He loved his food, and he loved to cook it even more.

Being on my own is conducive to dieting. I don’t really cook, so most of my meals are salads or some vegetables. Or sometimes I will pick up something healthy or go out to eat with people. I have stopped buying sweets including ice cream. That was getting dangerous. I’d eat the whole tub of ice cream in two nights! Very very bad!! I’m feeling better, and I am losing weight.

I used to call it the Widow Diet. Then I realized that it’s the same diet that I followed when I was getting a divorce. Now I realize that it is not the Widow or the Divorce diet, but the “Happiness Diet”. It’s the diet that follows after I find my freedom. It took me nearly 30 years to realize it!!

So why do I feel so free after my marriages ends? And why do I seem to like being free? Did I really not like marriage? I thought I did. I thought it agreed with me and I thought that I loved being someone’s wife.  Now I am not so sure.

I do know this, I may be dating now, and it’s quite possible that I will end up in a long-term relationship at some point, but it is going to take a VERY SPECIAL (think one step below perfect) man to make me want to say “I do” ever again.  Maybe the third time is the charm? Then again, maybe not. Right now, at this particular point in time, marriage does not seem like a very viable option to me. I don’t want to do the “for better or worse”. I don’t want to do “in sickness and health”. I don’t want to do “in richer or poorer”. Been there, done that. I want all the benefits of a long-term relationship without that piece of paper that forces me to stay until the end, with the only real option of getting out being if he cheats on me. I can have that simply by being in a relationship, but I don’t have to do the hard parts. I know it sounds a little bit selfish when I say that, but right now I feel I have earned the right to be selfish.

That’s not to say that I am not going to treat someone I am with in a kind and decent manner. When G. came over last night after work (think 12:15 am), I did heat him up some pizza and get him something to drink. I certainly didn’t just let him starve. My kind and nurturing side DOES come out, but I am not sure I want to take care of another man again. Part of me enjoys caring and taking care of someone, but honestly, I am not ready to that yet on a full-time basis. I want to take care of me and enjoy my life before I get into the routine of taking care of someone else’s needs!

This morning I was going to cook G. a breakfast of eggs, bacon and home fries, but he wanted to have the leftover pizza. I had no problem with that, and it was definitely easier than cooking him a meal!! LOL

I think I have definitely changed in many ways. I’m not the scared little girl that I used to be. In the past, I needed to be in a relationship. I liked the security and the comfort of having someone always there for me. But I’ve been living on my own for the past five months, and I’ve realized that I don’t need a man to complete me. I don’t NEED to be in a relationship. I may WANT to be in one, but that is a whole different thing.

I’m enjoying spending time with G. It’s nice to have someone with whom I can spend time. I actually went to the movies this past week. I hadn’t done that since my friend N. and I went to see Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part II. That was back in November. Before that, I saw a movie with Mark in June of 2012. I love going to the movies, and I hate that I never got to go!! I also liked going out to get something to eat which I didn’t do all that often either. Did I ever mention that Mark preferred to get take out or cook at home?

Dating gives me the best of both worlds – single life and dating life. Both are good in moderation. I get to see G. several times a week, but I also get to have my “single time”, which is actually much better than I thought it would be.

I enjoy having someone take me out places. I enjoy spending time with someone. I enjoy the physical intimacy which includes the snuggling, the hand holding, and the kissing. I enjoy waking up in G’s arms, but I also enjoy sleeping in my bed alone (with Belle). I enjoy having a man hold the door for me, and I enjoy having someone pay for me. That’s not to say that I ALWAYS make him pay. I try to take him out as well, because it’s not fair (or right) to make him always pick up the tab.

I have had a much better social life in the past six months than I had in the past five years. That’s really scary to me!! I will say one thing, Bob was much more social than Mark was. Mark didn’t like to go out much. He was a home body. I like being at home too, but not 365 nights a year! He also had a problem with me seeing my male friends. It didn’t matter if they were married or single, gay or straight. He did not believe that men and women could simply be platonic friends. He  obviously didn’t understand my friendships — especially the one I had with my friend M. who I have known for close to 30 years. We’ve always been platonic friends, and we never ever crossed the “invisible line”.

Speaking of M., I am going out to lunch with him tomorrow. We used to get together all the time. I’ve had some of the best times with him. We used to get lunch and watch the trains. We’d walk around New Brunswick just talking about anything and everything. We’d hang out and cook together. We used to make HOT and spicy chicken. Or we’d grill stuff on the barbecue. After I met Mark, we didn’t see each other much at all. In fact, before seeing M. at Mark’s Memorial Service, it had been a long time since we’d spent any quality time together. I know that life often gets in the way, but geez, for years at a time?

I will never ever again be with a man who tries to restrict who I see, where I go, and who I am friends with. I was happy that G. was willing to meet my friends, my co-workers/bosses, and my brother. I like that he is willing to be social and outgoing. I’d hate to date someone who was a total home body. It worked for a while, but not any more. I want to get out there and do things, go places, see things, and start working on all the “Bucket List” items!

I did tell G. that I was going out for lunch today, but I didn’t mention who I was going with, and unlike Mark, he didn’t ask! I’m not sure how I would have felt if he did. I don’t think we are “there” yet. I do have a feeling that he wouldn’t have a problem with it. He seems really laid back about most things. I figure if it comes up in conversation I will give details, but if not, it can wait for a better time.

I realize that I am all over the place with this post. Maybe I am having an ADD day. Who knows? Maybe I’m just happy and I can’t write/type fast enough to keep up with all the thoughts that my brain is producing. That’s it!! I am going to chalk it up to being happy. I am happy with my life. I am happy with how things have been lately.

I never thought I could be happy. I never realized, until recently, how unhappy and apathetic I really was. Now I want to experience life. I want to be among the living. I want to have fun. I want to live and learn and grow and laugh! I finally have that chance, and I am going to capitalize on it in any manner that I can!!

I’m going to take my ADD self and get ready to go out for lunch with M.! I have been lounging around with G. all morning in my PJs, and now it is time to get my butt in gear and head out to enjoy the day!!! Ciao for now!

Haters and people who judge… take heed!

June 11, 2013 2 comments

I’ve encountered some negativity from people who seem to think that judging my life is the proper thing to do. Well, it is not.

Having said that, I am moving forward with my life, and I am seeking my own happiness in any way I can find it. And yes, I am dating again, and I have begun seeing someone on a regular basis.  I have no crystal ball to predict the future. I have no way of forecasting if it will work out or if I will get hurt, but then again, that would take the fun out of it, wouldn’t it?

I understand that my friends and family have concerns, and most do not want to see me get hurt. I really do appreciate that, but after losing a spouse, I am not sure what deeper hurt or pain I could endure.

I feel as though I have risen above the pain, and I have put my life back together again. I didn’t think that I could do this. I never thought I would be living on my own at this point in my life. But I am doing it. Granted, I had a lot of help from friends and family, but the bottom line is that I am doing it.

I also never thought that I would date again. When Mark first died, the very thought of dating someone was repulsive to me. I couldn’t imagine it. I couldn’t believe that I had actually promised Mark that I would not spend my life alone. But as the pain has lessened and my heart has healed, I find the idea of being with someone to be very welcoming. I know some people have expressed concern about it being too soon and not wanting to see me get hurt. I truly appreciate that, but I really do know what I am doing. And if it turns out that I don’t know what I am doing, I, and I alone, will deal with the consequences.

I’m not looking to jump into marriage and settle down with someone, but I am seeking a relationship that is based on trust, communication, caring, and eventually love. I think that it is very healthy for me to think this way. I am seeing someone who makes me laugh. He treats me nicely. He is attentive. He wants to spend time together. He is affectionate. He is willing to do things that make us both happy. I have no crystal ball to show me the future, but for now I am really happy, and that is all that really matters. I can’t ask for much more than that! All I can say is that I will enjoy him, nurture the relationship and see where this road takes me.

I think some people have gotten used to seeing me unhappy with the life that I had. If I was not unhappy, I was apathetic about most things. I’d lost me in the years that Mark was sick. I did what I needed/wanted to do by caring for him, and by adjusting my life to melt with his. He had little energy, no patience, and generally did not feel well. All those things were not conducive for a good social life or even anything representing fun and spontaneity. But I played the Good Wife, and I transformed into what he needed me to be at the time.

I spent 14 years with Mark, over 10 of which were as his wife. I did the “in sickness and health”, “in richer and poorer”, and “for better or worse” until “death us do part”. The bottom line is Mark died. I did not. I will always cherish his memory and a part of me will always love him, but nothing I do or say will bring him back. He told me on numerous occasions that he wanted me to live my life when he was gone. He wanted me to find someone who would bring me happiness and with whom I could share my life. Is G. that person?? Who really knows? Time will tell.

I am ready to live again, and I want my friends and family to be happy for me. You don’t have to agree with everything that I do. I would never expect that, but I do not want to be judged for what I do. I have my own timeline. I have my own rules. It is my life! I am sure I will make mistakes and bad choices, but they are mine to make, and mine alone.

I regret NOTHING that I have done, and most specifically, I regret nothing that I have done since Mark passed away. I have handled myself with grace and dignity. I have pushed through the pain, and I have trudged through the uncertainty.

Now I am finally finding some semblance of happiness. Please don’t rain on my parade. Do not judge me. And do not hate me. This is MY LIFE. If you are my friend, you will support and love me. If you can’t support me and you are going to judge me and my actions, I do not want or need you in my life. Please do us both a favor and walk away and do not look back.

New Home & Dating Again!

June 6, 2013 1 comment

Moving day has come and gone. I’ve been in my new home for nearly six days. My wonderful brother Jeff came out to help with the move. He planned everything and took care of all the details. That saved me from having to do it because that was never one of my strong points! I had friends come over to help out and every single one of them was appreciated and loved for all that he/she did for me.

I’m adjusting to my new life, and although it is a little bittersweet, it is very exciting to be getting a chance at a fresh start. Many people never get that opportunity, so I am lucky in that sense. I am in a much better place now than I was only a few months ago. I feel like I am finally able to let go of the pain of the past and look forward to the future with hope, grace, and dignity!

A few months ago, I was absolutely convinced that I would not be able to survive this whole ordeal. I have completely amazed myself, and I feel like I have flourished in ways that I never thought possible. Not only have I moved out of the home that Mark and I shared together and packed up our life in boxes, but I have learned so many things about myself that I never knew before. I’ve learned that I have THE BEST friends and family that anyone could ever ask for in life. I never realized how much I was loved and cared about until Mark actually died. It’s completely overwhelming to me, and I am so grateful for each and every person in my life.

My heart, which I was positive was going to remain shattered for an eternity, is healing, and I find that I’m able to feel again. I don’t cry like I did only a few months ago. Thank goodness for that because all of those tears were beyond being healthy. In fact it’s been a while since I have cried over the loss of Mark. That’s not to say I don’t think of him. That’s not to say that I don’t miss him. It’s just now I’ve realized and completely believe that everything happens for a reason. I don’t know for sure, but I think part of the reason that Mark was taken from me was so I could learn to be my own person and stand on my own two feet. I feel it was also to make me realize just how many people love me and care about me.

I’ve become a part of society again. After over five years of being a caregiver to Mark, I am finally able to join the land of the living. I missed out on a lot of life during the time that Mark was sick. I don’t regret my decision to care for Mark. I know I did what I needed/wanted to do. I did the right thing. I did the “for better or for worse”, “in sickness and health” and “until death us do part”. I stayed by his side through thick and thin. But he was taken from me, and I am now trying to find my place in this world.

datingI have started dating again. Not many people know this. Mainly it’s just my closer friends, and of course my brother. A few people have expressed to me that it was too soon, but there is no timeline for grief. As long as I can wake up each day and look in the mirror, I am fine with what I do with my life. I joined several online dating sites, and although it is difficult, I put myself out there.

Online dating has definitely changed since I found Mark. The whole thing moves much faster than it did 14 years ago. I met someone name J., but after two dates, it was apparent that it was not meant to be. Sometimes it’s like that.

Then about 2.5 weeks ago, I met someone named G. He found my profile on OkCupid.com. On May 19th, while I was surfing that site, he sent me a chat message. I responded, and we chatted for about 45 minutes. He had to go to work, and he gave me his cell phone number, and he asked me to call him to talk while he was driving to work. I normally wouldn’t call a man so soon since I do prefer to get to know someone via chat/email before I give out my cell phone number. Something about this man intrigued me, and I took him up on his offer, and I called him. We hit it off, and this started the cycle of texting and talking on the phone. He was very attentive and sweet, and six days later,  I agreed to meet him. He came over to my house after work (which on that night was around midnight), and he ended up spending the weekend with me. In case anyone really needs to know, I have not had sex with him. My sex life seems to be a big subject as soon as I mention that I am dating. So now you all know. And after seeing him for nearly three weeks, I STILL have not had sex with him. That’s not what I am looking for at this point in my life. And he completely respects my decision. I like that in a man.

I know that some of you are thinking, “What the f*** is she doing?”. I’ve heard the comments about inviting a man over who I don’t know. I’ve heard that it is too soon to be dating. I’ve heard all kinds of judging comments. You know what? It is MY DAMN LIFE! And I will live it like I please. I was not put on this earth to please others. I was not put here to follow guidelines that others think I should follow.

I am simply finding my own happiness, enhancing my own life, and hopefully enhancing the life of others. I don’t know if G. will be the man for me, and I can’t even begin to forecast the future. If I had been able to see the future, I would have seen Mark’s inevitable death, and I would have planned for it better. But there are no guarantees in life except that someday it will end. I intend to be as happy as I can for as long as I am here. Finding my happiness is based on my own personal choices, not the choices of others.

I’m enjoying my time with G. I have no crystal ball to tell me if this is going to work out in the end, but it doesn’t matter. I will enjoy each day for what it is and do the same again tomorrow. All I know is that right now, at this point in my life, I am happy. I am happy with my new-found life. I am liking my new home. I am liking my independence. I am liking my freedom. I am liking that I do not have to “check in” with anyone. I am liking that I come and go as I please. And I am liking the time that I spend with G.

It’s been a long time since I had someone take me out on a date. The last two nights I went out after work with him, and it was fun and exciting and exhilarating and special and enjoyable. I don’t care what others think. It’s my life, and if you think I am doing something wrong, you know how to walk away from me and make a grand exit from my life. There’s no reason to look back because if you are truly my friend, you will be happy for me. If you are really my friend, you wouldn’t be judging me. I don’t owe anyone an explanation. I don’t have anything nor have I done anything for which I should be ashamed! I feel no guilt. I simply feel happiness for the very first time in MANY, MANY years. I intend to enjoy and bask in this for as long as I can.

I’ve traveled a tough road, but I managed to navigate the bumps, the twists, and the turns. I have dealt with the potholes and the detours. Now I am ready to travel the road of life, albeit without Mark, but I know he is proud of me and wants nothing more than to see me happy. If he can be happy for me, why can’t the rest of the people in my life??