Monday, September 27, 2010
Death and the Single Man
I was speaking with my new supervisor this morning. It was pretty much a going over the basic rules of the office meeting, but then turned into your basic getting to know you session. I was assigned to her unit toward the end of last week, so she and I had not really had time to get to know each until today. She was telling me about a bereavement task force she heads up at our office. It is meant to serve our peers, and our clients, who might be affected by loss. Her motivation was due to the loss of a close friend. Her friend was lesbian, and the surviving partner now has a new partner, who most feel happened a bit fast.
I shared with her that I was a gay widower, and active in the grieving community. She shared with me concerns about her friend's children, who their group of friends felt needed a little more support around their grief. I let her know what type of support I found for my kids, and what helped, and what didn't help. She let me know that it was difficult to see her surviving friend with a new partner. I explained that friends should be careful to recognize their own discomfort, but to not allow their feelings become an issue for the widowed friend.
This is an interesting topic for me. Growing up, I often heard people talk about the "year in mourning." A couple of people have even lightly commented to me about waiting for that first year to be completed before dating anyone new. Now that I have completed that first year, I sometimes think about the idea that I am free and clear to start dating again.
I know that my kids have suggested that I start getting out there again. They think I need some fun time, and I think they would worry less about me if I was spending time with other gay men. I think most people would be fine with this as well, or at least say there were fine. I wonder though, what would people really think? Does it matter? Probably not. Yet, they would think something. Everybody does.
I don't ever worry about feeling guilty whenever I do start dating. Michael and I had plenty of time to talk about such things. I wasn't always comfortable talking about this with him, but he was comfortable talking about it with me. He wanted me to find someone new.
I think that I would enjoy dating again, and I most certainly would enjoy sex again. What I worry about though, is what I truly have to offer someone. I worry that my heart wouldn't be completely free and clear, and that I may find that I am not really ready to date someone on a regular basis. I worry that I would bring Michael up too much, and that anyone new would feel left out.
I remember when Michael and I first started dating. I was insanely jealous of Michael's ex. They had been together 7 years, and had lived a very comfortable life in Norway. When Michael was diagnosed cancer I realized that I would never have him as long as his ex did. I would get hurt, or angry, whenever Michael would talk about times with his ex still in the "we" mode. I was constantly reminding Michael that they were no longer a "we," and that people assumed he was referencing to me when he talk about things they, "we," did together. I told him it always made me feel the need to clarify that he was speaking about his past relationship, and not his current one. I wouldn't want to do this to someone else, but I don't know if I couldn't. Michael and I were a "we," and we had many wonderful times to speak of.
If I do choose to begin a new dating phase, it will take considerable focus to do so. I work in a women's environment, so the likelihood of meeting a guy at work is slim to none. I will have to put myself out there, which means I would have to actively pursue it. Part of me feels fine with the line of thinking that, well, "it just happened." It feels very different to suddenly be out there trying to make it happen.
What will I think of myself? Will I just say I am fine with it, but secretly be judging the hell out of myself?
I hope not.