Some weeks ago I went back to the community job center where they provide assistance for those out of work. The previous time I had gone, I'd experienced a rather distressing encounter with a male job counselor. He had kept pushing me to examine my overall employment goals and I was centered on just finding a job to start working and feel less financial pressure. The next time I met with a woman about 10 years my senior. She shared her very interesting situation and we certainly connected on an emotional level.
She related that at only age 40 had she gone back to finish her college degree. Then came the period where her husband left her out of the blue and sought a divorce. Just after this her mother became ill and she went to Florida to provide care. Her mother died and she then helped her father deal with the loss. She returned home to take care of her children but then her dad's health rapidly deteriorated. So she returned to Florida to sell the house and move him into an apartment. He was unable to manage on his own so she went back yet again to get him into an assisted living facility. He didn't like the place and she had to move him to another. But then just six months after his wife's death and all the turmoil of moving around, he died himself. This was a huge blow to the daughter as an only child.
I was very interested in the story this woman was weaving. She told me she did not know of the kind of loss I had experienced but that she did know what it was like to feel totally alone in the world. She was able to work at a job in the business field after finishing her degree. Although her husband ended up living with another woman, she did not remarry. Her children grew up, went to college and married. Just recently, more life changes occurred for her. She lost her job and ended up selling her home and moving to an apartment.
Hearing this really impacted me. I was sitting across a very attractive, articulate and intelligent woman - someone who'd also experienced the necessity of having to move from a home. This gave me some courage and more confidence. Also, it allowed me to view myself less negatively and as a failure - stuff happens.
She went on to talk a little about dating. I guess there were some pretty dry years in there. But at some point when her kids were less demanding of her time and attention she came to the realization that she needed to carve out a life for herself and began dating. She told me about a singles group in the area I have heard of. She said she joined it not so much to date, but to have fun activities to particpate in. She said that she had formed some good female friendships.
About nine months ago she was on a dating site like eHarmony when she was reconnected with a widower she'd been matched with three years ago. Back then he was newly widowed and not really ready to get out there again. Things didn't work out for them but even after all these years she had never forgotten about him. Turns out they have been dating and although she said he is somewhat older than she, she is happy with their relationship. In fact, the next day they were going to take one of his grandsons to an antique auto show.
I asked her about dating in the here and now because so many people are out of work or facing financial changes. She replied that half of the women her male friend had met through dating sites were unemployed - it is the nature of the times. So again, hearing this made me feel less alone and stigmatized. I'm not the only woman who has faced some transitions relating to the loss of a partner and financial issues.
I greatly enjoyed the time I shared with this woman because it opened my eyes to the larger world and provided some much needed perspective. In a way it was like filling up my empty tank with fuel. Sharing our situations and life experiences was revitalizing and gave me courage, strength and even some hope to continue to trudge on.
During our time together the woman made the kind comment to me that after all that I've been through, I have at least kept a roof over my sons' heads. And that is something.