Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lighten Up

Guy #2 and I have had three more long phone conversations since I last posted. In fact, I've been trying to write this post for the last several days, and he keeps calling and interrupting my plans. :) We talk about serious things and not-so-serious; about our pasts and how we feel about each other (we like each other); about adult subjects that probably shouldn't be shared quite this early in a relationship.

Ah, the beginnings of a relationship are so fraught, with swirling emotions, the push and pull of wishes, expectations, fears and dreams. I came home from dinner with a friend one night last week, just after the Haiti earthquake, and felt the strongest urge to call Guy for connection and comfort. OK, I had split a bottle of wine with dinner, so I wasn't thinking all that clearly, and luckily I was able to restrain myself, but the depth and intensity of longing, the urgency of need, took me by surprise. I hardly know this guy, after all. Why did I think he could fill the huge hole left by T's departure?

Then I had a very enlightening conversation with my grief counselor, who I still see weekly. She said first off that I was right on schedule and very normal, starting to grapple with a whole new set of issues that arise when widows (and widowers, I imagine) reenter the dating world. It was comforting to know that so many others have tread this way, and have come out the other side safely. And she cautioned that the huge hole in my heart, that deep loneliness and longing, will not, can not be assuaged by this person, this relationship, at this time. It may never in fact completely go away; such is the legacy of loss of a spouse. Trying to make something happen in the hopes that I'll suddenly feel whole, that the pain will be gone, is both unrealistic and unwise. It won't work, and I'll just come across as needy, desperate, or just plain crazy. Hearing that was like a light bulb going on -- it gave me a new vantage point from which to see my emotions and the behaviors they were driving. And I think I actually can separate the feelings that are specific to Guy from the ones coming from my loss. In doing so, I think I can let go (somewhat) of the outcome, let the relationship unfold naturally, and enjoy the crazy emotions, teenage yearnings, and difficulty focusing on anything else.

My counselor encouraged me to think of an affirmation, mantra, or other aid to remind myself, in the heat of emotion, of this perspective. "Lighten up" was what came to mind. Lighten up, it's all good, we have all the time in the world, and if not this person at this time, then someone else at another time. And by the way, I'm having lunch with Guy #1 tomorrow.


  1. I could use a whole lot of lightening up in my life! I think I may borrow your mantra.

    Sounds like you're easing back into the dating world with the caution it deserves, keeping your mind open and aware of the pitfalls of returning to dating after losing your husband.

    May you continue to enjoy your time with Guy #2 and not worry about where the relationship is going...just go with it.

  2. You are more than welcome to my mantra, Poppy! I've invoked it about a hundred times already this morning. Very useful, both for this whole relationship thing, and for life in general. My daughter takes forever to get dressed: lighten up! Someone cuts me off in traffic: lighten up! :)

  3. Love it! If only we could hold it on a paper in front of our faces continuously. Maybe hanging from a baseball hat brim or tattooed on a wrist!!