“There was always something missing. I could never put my finger on it. I wanted so badly to believe in you, believe in us. You had so many amazing qualities. I wanted it to work. I actually forced it to work. I needed you to make the changes I wanted. I did the work, I made the changes…it just didn’t feel like I was alone….yet, I truly was.” ~Journal entry November 2015
Falling in love after the death of a spouse is so strange. Your perspective is so different. Your views on life are so different. You start to realize what is truly important and what it is not. You wish you could go back and tell your spouse all the ways you were wrong, all the ways you could have done things better, treated him better. And, now, you get to treat the new love all the ways you should have treated your spouse. It’s strange to love that hard, that open, that vulnerable.
I fell in love one year and five months after my husband died. We dated, I use that term loosely because he lived five states away, for five months before I truly fell in love. I fell in love with a man that talked more than me, played the guitar, treated me so beautifully, so kindly, laughed with me, cooked for me (he was a chef!), taught me so much about myself, read books with me and drank too much.
I had never been treated the way this man treated me. He held my hand, he responded to texts, he called, he sweetly kissed my cheek in the morning and made my coffee. There were no games, no expectations. I rolled along with the relationship and waited to see how it would play out. I enjoyed the distance because it gave me the freedom to figure out my feelings, to continue working on me.
When we were together, we drank. It was always a vacation for me. When we were together, I was escaping my life. He brought such joy to my life and made my kids laugh. He came into my life right after the first anniversary of my husband’s death, when the fog had truly lifted and so much light was being shown on what was truly in front of me. There was so much work to be done on myself, so much more work to do with my kids, my life…it was extremely overwhelming. So, every 5 weeks or so, I escaped. Into his arms, into bottles of wine, into warm sand and palm trees, into the fluffy pillows of my bed…it was pure joy for me! He was the perfect escape.
I wanted so badly for him to be the perfect man. I drank, I drank, I drank. I wanted so badly for him to be the perfect fix, the perfect soulmate….I was so utterly in love with him…because we love differently after loss. I was not just drunk with wine but drunk in love. I drank in all of him and loved every minute of it until I was too drunk, so drunk in love.
He fell in love, too. He moved in and we made things work. The drinking never really seemed to stop….there was always something to celebrate or escape. I never saw any of it as a real problem until we moved five states away from everything I had ever known. I loved moving, I loved making changed to my life that made me happy. I was finally living close to the beach and creating a new life with a new love. I felt like I was putting my life back together. I felt like I was creating a life that was meant to be enjoyed and lived. The problem was I was the only one doing the work. I had ignored every single sign of the drinking problem he had or I made an excuse for it.
I thought I needed him. I thought I needed someone in my life, a partner, a soulmate. Every decision in our relationship was made by me. Every step to creating my new life, was all me. I think I liked the idea of basing my decisions on my relationship with him. Why was I so scared to make the steps to happiness on my own?
I’m still not sure why it took me four years to fully acknowledge the problem and no longer tolerate it. I thought he would change. I thought I could help him. I thought my love would be enough. I kept hoping that he would see how perfect our life was, hoping he would see how different and how awesome life would be without the alcohol.
He moved out four years, one month and twenty days after we came into each other’s lives. We still talked and held a tremendous amount of love for one another. The last time I talked to him was on a Friday afternoon. He told me he was going to party that weekend and get sober on Monday. I believed him. He believed him. (I had heard this statement so many countless times before and every time, he meant it.) He thanked me for always caring about him and loving him. He wanted it to work. He drank himself to death that Saturday night.
There are so many thoughts that went through my head. Why me? What did I need to learn? Why did I go my whole life without loss and now to have so much?
I always try to find the silver linings…always.
Silver Lining: I learned to stand on my own and really figure out who I am and how to love myself. And, I’ll say that again…I learned to love myself, I fell in love with me. I treated myself the way I wanted a man to treat me. I was kind, nurturing, honest, loving and amazing to me. Bad things happen all the time and the key is to have a solid foundation to fall back on. Be honest with yourself, get real about what is important to you and take action. When you are happy with yourself you don’t jump in to something that isn’t right for you. You don’t make decisions based on what you think you need in your life. You make decisions based on what you want, what adds to your life.
The whole point of my little blog is don’t jump in to something, even a year after loss until you are clear about what you want and who you are. We love so differently post loss, it’s hard to see straight at times (or years).
I can’t take anything away from my post-loss relationship. I did learn and grow and move! I’m enjoying every moment of being real and honest with myself, who I’ve become and continue to be. When you are honest with yourself and have a solid foundation it makes it easier to see others for who they truly are, too.
Peace, Love & Silver Linings,