I was talking to a widow earlier this week and she asked about my [Chapter 2] relationship. I spent some time explaining how it came to be – that we really came together under a cloud of grief. We started as semi-anonymous people who would text our grief journey to each other into the night until one or both of us were exhausted enough to sleep for a few hours before waking to our nightmares again. We became friends, and eventually started dating. That was four years ago.
She informed me that she feels ready to start dating as it has been four years for her as well. I encouraged her and promised I would pray for her to find a person to enjoy her time with. At the same time, I couldn’t help but think about this journey I’ve been on. It’s been hard and wonderful all at the same time. Here’s the deal – it is different.
No one can love you like your spouse did. That doesn’t mean it is bad, or less, it just means it is different. You have to learn to recognize love differently. You have to learn to accept love differently.
If your potential Chapter 2 has had a less-than-stellar relationship history they will need to do the same. Oh, and love you knowing a chunk of your heart will always love another person. It’s not easy for either person and it takes a certain level of commitment to even have a chance to make it work.
The other thing I’ve learned? Even the journey will be different. Steve fell in love with me quickly and completely. He saw more in me than I could ever imagine and it took me quite awhile to have that belief in myself. We dated for 8 months, then got engaged (he ordered the ring at month #6). Eight months after that we were married, and 14 months later we welcomed our first daughter into the world. He was so excited to build a life with me and was truly all-in and committed from the start. It is a wonderful feeling to be loved like that.
My chapter 2? Well, as I mentioned, we’ve been dating for four years. No engagement and no marriage in sight. I would be dishonest to say this has been easy – because it hasn’t. When you are used to being loved in a big, committed way almost from the start, it is extremely hard to adjust to someone that does not do that. You can feel undervalued, unloved, and even have your self-esteem drop as you wonder if your late-spouse was the only person that believed you were amazing (so amazing that they wanted to spend their life with you!). Then add in grief…and well, its difficult! My head knows the truth, but there are days when the heart longs for the type of love and stability that was lost. For me, this was another grief journey – one that required me to grow and adjust. I had to stand on my own two feet, make two major life decisions (moves) that impacted my daughters, and grow my faith in God. I had to find my own confidence.
I don’t write any of this to say that one relationship is better – they are so different there simply isn’t a comparison to be had. Steve was amazing. Jon is amazing. I am blessed to have two amazing men to love – and I love each one differently just as they each love me differently.
Jon and I have been able to piece together a great life through our mutual grief. We both went through some dramatic grief, so the fact that we can celebrate life together is a blessing. We purchased a home this past year, and have continued to build an amazing life together. We have a passion for adventure, careers that we can support each other in, and time to enjoy life together as a blended family.
Finding that Chapter 2 is hard…all the lessons that come with it are harder…but I wouldn’t change the journey.