Yesterday was sort of a weird and somewhat difficult day, but it was also another step toward healing. I had taken a four-hour round trip car ride (the last half of which was spent listening to two squalling felines who were unhappy being trapped in pet carriers for the ride) to visit my daughter and pick up her cats because she’s going on vacation in a few days).
She still works at the restaurant where my husband had his heart attack, and this was my first time back. It was exactly 3 months to the day and although I sat in a back corner, far away from the area where it all happened, it all came crushing down on me. As I fought back the tears, I wondered how my daughter could be here almost every day. (For the record, she finds it difficult and has had to employ many different coping mechanisms, but she does it. She is far stronger than I…) I found it difficult to even be in the area again, and am thankful she has a nice young man to support her. Without him, I’m sure she would be struggling a great deal.
On the drive home, I had an epiphany. It occurred to me that I am not only grieving the loss of my husband, but also experiencing my first heartbreak. So, while this doesn’t qualify me for any special grief status, it surely explains certain feelings I’ve been having.
Having fallen in love at such a young age, I never really experienced a break-up. I had “boyfriends” in high school, most lasting no more than a week or two, but I was certainly not attached to any of them the way I would become attached to my husband. So, I’ve never had the curl-up-in-bed-with-a-pint-of-ice-cream heartache they show in the movies. I’ve never cursed the man who broke my heart. I’ve never wondered what was wrong with me that the man I love left me. I’ve never shared a bottle (or two) of wine with my closest girlfriends and bashed the jerk who rejected me.
While my situation isn’t quite the same as a the teenager or 20-something going through a breakup with her first love, it has a lot of similarities. I’m learning how to be an individual after being half of a couple for so long. It’s a whole new ballgame for me, making every decision on my own without consulting with my “other half”.
I’m questioning if I’m worthy of ever being loved again (and if I would ever want to try). I’ve never really gone through the dating scene, and if it’s anything like you read about or see in a chick flick, then I’m not sure I want any part of it. The dating world seems brutal. I’ve seen what my many divorced friends have to deal with and it seems far worse than any high school drama; now they have to concern themselves with not only “does he like me?”, but also “is he married?”, “is he financially stable?”, or “is he an axe murderer?” It just seems like too much trouble.
Would it be fair to a future partner that I had so much history with my husband? Perhaps the bar he set would be too high for someone else, which would be unfair. It seems that I would almost be setting someone up for failure by comparing him to the only man who had 32 years to learn my quirks or knew what my 22 y.o. pre-baby body looked like. (Spoiler alert: It was much different, and no amount of diet and exercise could ever get it back.)
Would I ever want to put in the effort to have another relationship in my lifetime? My husband and I just sort of fell into a relationship at a time when neither of us really understood the amount of work involved. It was almost to our benefit that we were both so clueless and simply did what needed to be done to stay together; neither one of us ever considered giving up. We were simply too emotionally vested in one another. Starting over at this point in my life seems so daunting.
The flip side of that coin is that I miss being half of a couple. I miss the easy hand-holding and snuggling on the couch. I miss the inside jokes. I miss waking up next to someone who loves me and considers me his Dream Girl. I miss the comforting sound of gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) snoring beside me while I’m sleeping. I miss having someone to bounce ideas off of, or discuss a movie or news article. I even miss the bickering over silly things like at what temperature the thermostat should be set.
I really miss the physical intimacy of being a couple. It has been 3 long months for me in this regard. Unlike far too many couples I personally know and those you read about, my husband and I remained very “involved” with one another our entire marriage. We had a healthy, fulfilling sex life, which never occurred to me as being abnormal until speaking with one friend many years ago who was going through a divorce at the time. We were comparing our relationships and something she said caused me to ask incredulously, “Haven’t you ever had an orgasm?” She responded, “I don’t know.” I shook my head sympathetically and told her, “Honey, if you aren’t sure, then you probably haven’t… because you’d know!”
For my husband and me, aside from the doctor-ordered abstinence following the births of our children, we rarely went more than a few days without being intimate with one another. If we hit a one-week dry spell, one or both of us would become antsy. Three months is an eternity and it’s simply one more “new normal” I’m having to come to terms with. [Side note: I’m struggling to actually write about this subject, both because I was raised to be a “good girl” who doesn’t discuss these things, and also because I know many of my readers are people I personally know, and talking about my sex life just may fall into the TMI territory.]
Don’t get me wrong; I am not – I repeat, am not – looking to date now or anytime in the foreseeable future. I need to grieve, I need to learn more about me as an individual, and I need to nurse my first heartbreak before I even consider dating again… if I ever decide to. But it just seems that I’m too young to throw in the towel and be alone and lonely for potentially another 30 or 40 years. If nothing else, I need someone to turn the thermostat down too low so I have a reason to snuggle…
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