I have had a tough time with this widowhood gig. It has not matched my personality or who I am. I live and function better as a part of a team. I have a difficult time making decisions on my own. I need someone to lean on, if only to tell me that the engine light may be on because I improperly screwed on the gas cap. I glow when being able to nurture and think about a partner. These past six years have snuffed out some of that light and in ways I have become bitter and despondent. It has certainly not been the way I have wanted to live and raise my sons.
In my situation, certainly a lot of this is related to the unfortunate circumstances that culminated so soon after my husband's death. I believe that my road would have been far more manageable if I had been able to concentrate and focus more directly on just me and the boys. Having to deal with my youngest son's medical diagnosis and then helping care for my parents (and they had extensive issues) blew away the time I needed to reorganize my house and my life.
Six years of winging it - functioning and coping as best I can under whatever current crisis has reared its ugly head. The divorce crisis in particular. I am just beginning to recognize that it has been the most damaging event in my life. Maybe that is because it is representative all of my abandonment issues tied up into one package. The divorce destroyed something inside me and I am still struggling to heal and lay that to rest. I do not believe we move on and shed our hurts. My first husband's death and the divorce from my second husband will remain with me forever.
Hardship has led to more pessimism and such extreme stress that I worry about the health of the boys but myself more than ever. This has not been a fun ride. I am overworked, overwhelmed, disorganized, distraught, anxious, upset and unhappy more often than not. I have absolutely despised living alone without a man in the house. Those first few weeks after my husband died I could not believe how much his presence had reassured and comforted me. I had to learn to live on my own and subdue the discomfort. And over time I learned to tolerate it but I still didn't like it.
I have missed having a warm, strong male body lying next to me in bed. Smelling male sweat and the scents only males have. I went three and a half years without sex and during that long, lonely spell told myself I would never ever ever take another sexual encounter for granted no matter how ordinary or mundane it was. Because it is all a miracle and wonderful! I have missed sex, bear hugs, coming home to someone, having someone coming home to me, getting flowers, holding hands, having someone hug me from behind while cooking, hearing compliments that I look nice, talking about world news events and parenting issues.
I have missed all of the little day-to-day stuff that comes with sharing a life with a partner. All the emotional, physical and social aspects too numerous to list. And if I did, the ones most prominent would be all the little things. Not a big diamond ring, or opulent wedding. Just the normal routines of making dinner after work, talking about one's day, being there to offer advice and support.
I've read that in living through trying circumstances we can come away with more knowledge about ourselves. And what I am realizing and accepting is my need and desire to live with a partner - to be remarried and part of a team. To chuck this widowhood label and lose the minority status and identity it has brought me. I'm not ashamed of this, nor do I feel I need to justify or explain who I am and how I tick.
But on the same page with this strong desire to be remarried is the devotion and loyalty I have for my sons. This was partly what damaged my second marriage. I agreed to let my oldest finish middle school before moving because the boys were having such issues about relocating to another state. But I also needed that year to work on and sell the house, etc. In the end, the plan blew up in smoke because my poor Mom was dying the summer I had agreed to move. And my new husband didn't tolerate the delay that brought to my moving. To be fair to him, it was not the total reason. He was financially and emotionally strained maintaining two households and lost his patience. I was too caught up caring for my sons and worrying about my Mom to devote much attention to him (he drove two hours one way every weekend to live with us). Our marriage didn't survive those challenges.
But I have to admit that I did put a lot of emphasis on my sons' needs. I suppose I did put their needs and wants ahead of my own and ahead of my second husband. In part, because they are fatherless boys and we have had little family support. I always felt someone had to look out for them - no one else in the world was.
So now flash forward a couple years. The divorce ravaged us - destroyed us emotionally and financially. Wounded our hearts. But a new guy who started out as a friend hung in there by our sides - was there every step of the way on the long and challenging divorce road for me. And helped soothe and balm the heart of my youngest, who was especially wounded by the actions of Husband #2. And now this guy is moving out of state to a new job and offers out his hand to us all. Accepts my destitution and still pessimistic attitude. Accepts (even likes) my sometimes unruly 15 and 16-year-old, who are more tolerant of a move-out-of state this time around but still don't like it.
I remarried three years after my husband died after only knowing my new husband six months. I have known Guyfriend almost two years now. These are the words that best describe him: kind, optimistic, courageous, loyal, tolerant, flexible, appreciative of the world (nature, movies, music), humorous, honest and intelligent. AND (and this is a big one because it is so important to me) he has never hung up on me or refused to speak with me as did Husband #2. We communicate openly, honestly and intelligently. We have fun together - he is supportive and extremely loyal. He has never gone back on his word. I have gotten a little nutty at times from either PMS or this widowhood gig and he has taken it all with stride and overlooked my fits or outbursts. He has stuck around and hung in there.
And now there is the opportunity to leave this life behind and embark on a new one. To ditch the widowhood gig (thank God) and have an easier life. We look at it as benefiting both of us. It is easier financially to pool two incomes together and to share companionship and a life. I wouldn't have to work (but I'd like to). I could live in a home again (with a garden and laundry facilities). Life would be better. Probably more from my perspective - I am gaining more than Guyfriend. He would be a good role model for the boys. I worry about getting them through college - not the financial end but just the emotional aspect of it for me.
Guyfriend thinks we are a good team. Except when I've gotten to pretty low points and have been freaking out about the divorce and/or poverty aspect of my life, we do not argue or are cross with one another. We are a good team. He is a good guy. A nice guy. I am lucky to have met him. Lucky to be with him. Yes, I love him but I also still love Husband #2. I have found that love isn't replaced by finding someone new. But this guy stood by our sides through thin (there hasn't been any thick). He needs to get a whole lot of credit for that. Husband #2 abandoned ship and left the boys and I in the water without a life boat.
This is not a decision based totally on infatuation and lust. We're long past that stage or age. Both of us feel that pooling our lives offer benefits (financial and otherwise). I like that aspect of our decision. I like that we are realistic and looking at all sides of the coin.
I am still struggling though with how this will effect the boys. Pulling them out of school as a Junior and Sophomore. Having them leave their friends and community. And for us, without family, this community has become our family. Identifying with it became a lifeline for us. How much would a move screw up my boys? How much do I consider them vs. my own needs and wants? Guyfriend is not keen on our staying here two more years until the boys finish high school. It doesn't make sense financially for one. Guyfriend's goal is to get us all together living under one roof. Maintaining two homes in different states defeats that purpose in his eyes. Or do I owe it to my sons to struggle it out for two more years. Is the stress and stain worth it? Will I end up losing this guy too? Will it end up with me losing my sanity?
The widowhood road is not an easy one. And then there are the bumps and potholes following that need to be confronted. Can you swerve around that one? Is a tire flat after hitting one? Do you pull off the side of the road or keep driving forward slowly, hands tightly gripping the wheel?
Do you drive ahead with the kids in the back to a new state, a new city, a new future or park the car where it has been because that is what is most comfortable to all of you because it is known and safe.
So much of all of this is complicated by widowhood. I don't have an ex-husband living here so the boys can remain to finish high school. I wish that were possible. So much of widowhood has been trying to make choices and decisions based on limited options. Here there is even a light at the end of this awful journey and yet it is still too dim to really make out. And I'm still struggling with whether to keep driving toward it or stay put.
Can I use all that I have learned and experienced the past six years to make better decisions and choices? Am I strong enough now or just too tired now (or both) to hang up the fight and perhaps take the easier option to move? How much will this move impact the boys who have already dealt with far more than they should have on their life paths? Guyfriend thinks I have done the best I could to keep the boys stable as long as possible. I know some kids move a lot and they live in two-parent families. It is not the end of the world. But I don't have the luxury of only thinking about myself. I am an only parent and these boys are my responsibility. They only have me to rely on. This responsibility at times has almost been too much for me to bear.
But a relocation/move is another loss and gosh darn it, we just keep having to face loss after loss. I don't want to let Guyfriend go. He starts the new job on November 1. I have tried him on for size and I like the way he fits. When I think of him not being around or nearby, I miss him deeply. Losing him would be a horrible loss. Either way, either decision, there is loss involved. There are also negatives and positives to each. Maybe it means looking ahead into the future. There are no guarantees (this I totally know). But of the two options, which road offers more immediate hope? Which road has fewer potholes?