Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dating again

OK, so you had to know this topic was going to come up sooner or later...

As time has passed, I have begun to look to the future, and focus less on the past. And one way that I'm looking forward is thinking about beginning to date again.

First, let's cover something very important. Most members of my and Aimee's immediate family, especially Aimee's mother, are supportive of me getting on with my life (in a dating sense of the word). In fact Donna has been encouraging me to begin dating again for some time, although she hasn't been pushy about it.


Aimee and I were often silly together. It
was one of the best parts of our relationship.
So back to that weird place I'm in. On the one hand, I am and have been quite lonely since Aimee's death. A normal reaction, I'm certain. Furthermore, I LOVED being married. I'm certain having the wife I did had a lot to do with that, but I miss terribly that level of love, affection, play and so on that made such an intimate relationship so special. And I have no doubt that there is someone else out there with whom I can share that again.

There is also Rowan (lest anyone foolishly thought this was all about me). She has steadfastly expressed, repeatedly over time, that she wants a mommy. She said as much to me again the day before yesterday. (In her Disney Princess level knowledge of life and 'love', she doesn't understand why this request can't be filled in the fairly immediate future. Don't I just go to the Royal Ball and dance with Cinderella or find some random sleeping princess and kiss her?) I want Rowan to have a mother, and not just any mother, but a great one. Further, Aimee and I were so adamant about treating each other with love, kindness, and respect at all times, but especially in front of Rowan. Why? We knew that we would set up her expectations for what her own marriage should look like. Without the right partner to model that with for her, I feel like some valuable lessons may get missed (though I admit this is a little bit less of a concern, as I feel there are some lessons along these lines I can teach her in other ways).

And finally, I can honestly say that I do have the capacity to have feelings for someone else, though growth of any relationship will have to take time.

But then there's the other side of things. I'm worried that getting into a relationship with me any time in the near future might be something like dating someone with a serious illness. You know they'll probably recover someday, but you also know that you're probably not getting them at their best, fullest ability right now. That doesn't seem completely fair. How do I balance being available to someone, and being open with them about who I am and how I feel, but not burden them with someone else I used to love (and in many ways always will) when I have tough days? And trust me, I'm not self-delusional enough to think that tough days are over (ha!) or will end after a few more months or after the one year anniversary or any other marker. I'm guessing tough days will appear, though with less frequency over time, for many years to come.

All that to say, I'm thinking about it. I haven't been on a first date in almost nine years. Of course, dating back then was a lot simpler, since I was just looking for someone for me. Now I'm looking for someone for both me and Rowan (at least eventually). And marriage, if and when that day comes again, is a long way off no matter what. I want to make sure that I'm pretty certain about a potential spouse before I really begin to get them much involved in Rowan's life. The last thing I want is for Rowan to get attached to someone and have it not work out. Another significant loss in her life, especially of a person she might see in a mother role, is something I'd really like to avoid. She took it hard enough when her first post-Aimee babysitter took another job. Daddy life and dating life will stay separated for quite some time.

There's one more thing I consider. Life is short and unpredictable. I now know that all too well. What if in fact I do only have weeks or months left? Is it good for me to stay alone, unhappily so, just because some people might think I should? Should the opinions of others even be importnat? I think not. I need to live my own life, and I can't worry about what people who aren't living my life think about how I'm doing so.

So, I don't know exactly when, but I do plan on moving into this next phase of life again soon. For my sake and ultimately for Rowan's as well.

10 comments:

  1. Pat, I think it's great that you're focused on what is best for you & Rowan, and not on what people think about you or what you should/shouldn't be doing.

    I hope/pray there is someone with a great level of strength, maturity and understanding that will cross your path. They will understand your "tough days" and know how to respond without you feeling like you're being a burden.

    Best to you. I don't mean this with any disrespect at all, but it will exciting to watch the next chapters of your life unfold through the years via this blog. I definitely think people will see God's hand in your journey. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Perhaps you should consider not looking at is as "dating" but rather being open to becoming friends with another person of the opposite sex. A real relationship will happen when the time is right and you don't have all the pent up anxiety over the whole "dating" thing. Enjoy friendships and time together and see where it goes.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You make a great point. The trick for me will be balancing not rushing into things with not being too hesitant. I am lucky in one regard: dating does not make me anxious - I do dating fairly well. It's the MEETING women that I struggle with. :)

      Delete
  3. Pat, I agree with the first blog, and what you said. It does not matter to anyone out there what you do or don't do. You have to think about you and Rowan now. I pray that when you do find that "one" for you, they are just as accepting of Rowan. And realize that they will NEVER replace mommy. But be as loving as they can as her mommy was. I know deep down that Aimee will not want you to be alone forever. It does take time, and you have alot of family and friends out there that are here for you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and Rowan. Please keep us posted on how things go for you.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Heather of WA StateAugust 12, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    Hi Pat, I wish you all the best as you venture into something you thought you'd never being doing again in your life. It takes a special woman to not feel threatened or jealous of the deceased wife, and even more so when there is a child and in-laws involved. In the beginning you may want to start your journey with women who might understand a little about your loss because they too have lost a partner -- widows. Maybe the website http://www.youngwidow.org/ or a local support group would lead you to some women who are just venturing out as well after having their happy marriage destroyed by death. You may not become romantically involved, but you might find friendship and support, and learn a few things from each other along the way. Best wishes for a little happiness and laughter in your life again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You sure are right that I thought I'd never be doing this again!!! And yes, I know very well that a woman who thinks about dating me seriously is going to have to face my child and in-laws, and that can be very intimidating, I'm certain. Luckily, my in-laws have been EXTREMELY supportive in this, and I feel good about how they'll treat whoever I do finally bring into this crazy life. Besides, they care about the same things I care about... that whoever that person ends up being is good for Rowan and for me.

      Delete
  5. Pat - you don’t know me personally and I am nearly old enough to be your mom, and though I didn’t know Aimee well (she was therapist to both my daughters – I sat in on a session or two – and the same age as my girls), my 'slant' on this is slightly different and I pray I don’t offend or upset you with my thoughts shared here.

    Over my 58 years, I have seen many situations where a widower begins dating (and then marries) much too soon following the death of his beloved... and then watched as the relationship fails miserably, adding more pain, more heartache and more grief on top of a still-broken heart and life (in my experience, men are much more prone to this than women).

    What is too soon? That is impossible to say as it is different for every individual, however less than a year somehow ‘seems’ too soon. The heart and spirit is still so raw and vulnerable (and the mind plays tricks on us) in that initial year of "firsts". I imagine a year seems like an eternity when actually living the loss of your cherished Aimee.

    Having said this, I have NOT experienced the death of my spouse therefore I cannot ‘know’ what you are living every day, nor can I ‘know’ it from the male perspective. I have experienced other unimaginable and great losses in my life which were excruciating and unbearable, and during which I struggled through the uncertainty of each devastating day and every painful, un-ending night – and still the situation is not the same as yours. So I cannot ‘know’ your path on this journey of sorrow.

    God made each of us – fearfully and wonderfully – to be in companionship and closeness with one another, and as man and woman, husband and wife. I cannot – and will not – ask you to wait for at least another 4 months (until the first anniversary of Aimee’s death on December 18th – or longer) to begin dating, but I will suggest that you prayerfully consider it.

    This I do know… that there is the perfect woman out there for you and Rowan who will be a wonderful wife to you and mommy to Rowan, and that God is ALREADY preparing her heart (and YOURS!) for that eventuality! Be patient… trust in His timing (we as His children always want to rush things!) and BELIEVE in His promises for your (and Rowan’s) life. He has your best interest in mind… and in the meantime, give Him your loneliness, your sadness, your anger and your desires!

    This I also know (from reading your blog, and from what kind of woman Aimee was)… that you are a wonderful man, a wonderful daddy and will again someday, be a wonderful husband to a very lucky (and blessed!) woman.

    I pray that I have not offended you… as that is not my intention. I only wanted to share a different perspective. Someday I hope to meet you personally (I introduced myself to Donna at Aimee’s memorial… the evening must have been a numbing blur to you, Donna, Justin and Carolyn!).

    Blessings.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First, thanks so much for your comment and your honesty. You have NOT offended me in any way, I assure you!

      As you may have gleaned from this post, I have not taken this step lightly or without a great amount of thought (though I haven't actually taken any 'steps', since I have not yet in fact started dating). That being said, you point of view was one I strongly worked through when coming to this decision. In other words, I don't completely disagree with you. I also acknowledge that feeling this way now is one thing, and actually having the rubber meeting the road may be another entirely.

      Having shared that, let me also share this.

      I have to male friends, both Christians, who have lost their wives. Both of them were dating in less than a year, and one of them was remarried within about a year of his wife's passing (the other, if I remember correctly, was remarried in not much longer than a year). That was more than ten years ago, and they're still happily together. Same with my other friend. Yet another man, a good friend of my mom's, was remarried about a year after his wife's death, and so far it seems to be going great for all three of them.

      I will NOT be married by the time the one year anniversary of Aimee's death come around. For me, I simply will not be ready to make that kind of decision about my and Rowan's lives. It seems to have worked out well for the men I mentioned above, but that will not be my path. I need a lot more certainty before making that kind of decision, for the sake of everyone involved.

      Besides, I'm sure other men have done the same and had it turn out to be a terrible mistake. I don't want to be one of them.

      This I do know. I am a person who does not like stagnation or inaction. I like to be moving forward. I will take longer to drive somewhere if I can keep moving than if I'm in stop-and-go traffic. When I look at my life and my strong desire for Rowan to have a mommy again, there is a part of me that very much wants to begin what could be a very long search for the right person. I am well aware that I won't meet her a moment before God thinks I'm ready, but I hope He understands if I want to begin the journey to find her now.

      Genesis 2:18 says it is not right for man to be alone. I felt that before I met Aimee, I felt it when I was with Aimee (not that I felt alone, but that it was good that I wasn't, and that I was with her), and I feel it again now.

      Delete