So I’m gonna go there today. I want to talk about my experience with dating after loss. It’s a vulnerable conversation I’m a little embarrassed to talk about, but my hope is someone can relate, connect, and maybe we will bond over it. If you’ve followed my blog since the beginning, you might remember not long after the death of my husband, I shared how I reconnected with someone I cared deeply for in college. I also shared how I ended up falling hard for him, only to have the whole thing end in heartbreak when it didn’t pan out. After the relationship ended, I finally took the time I needed to process the loss of my husband and get adjusted to my family’s new normal. Aside from that experience, I went on a few other dates last year, which fizzled out pretty quickly.
This weekend was the first time I went out on a date in a while. I was looking forward to it because we seemed to have a lot of important things in common. He was a true gentleman and very sweet. Despite these stand-out qualities, I self-discovered by the end of our date it wasn’t meant to be.
Needless to say, I was a little nervous the next day at the thought of needing to communicate to him how I felt. I hate every bit of this whole dating process, no one wins, I thought to myself. After expressing where I stood and getting his kind, gracious, and respectful response, which only confirmed what I already thought about his upstanding character, my heart felt a little sad.
It was almost my daughter, Ellie’s, bedtime when she erupted into a serious meltdown over the fact I signed her up for a day camp this summer. I told her we weren’t going to watch her usual movie (AKA Despicable Me, the movie we’ve watched every night since January, have memorized, and laugh our booties off at every night without fail) before bed tonight due to her choice in behavior. I turned out the lights in my bedroom as we crawled into my cozy sheets. Ellie began to express her concerns and fears about being in the dark, and moments later she burst into tears, “I miss my Daddy!”
I’d never heard El cry before about missing her Daddy. In the past, she would just comment on it as if she was talking about any everyday observation, like the weather, without much emotion. I’m sure she was still pretty mad at me and thinking if her Daddy were here he wouldn’t have made her go to bed without getting to watch Despicable Me. Nonetheless, her raw emotions and tears mixed with my frustration about my own circumstances ignited a Mommy Meltdown. I replied in tears, “I miss Daddy, too.”
I thought to myself, If Andrew were here, I wouldn’t have to be going through this awkward and slightly, no, EXTREMELY torturous process called dating. In the middle of our pity party, Ellie started interrogating God about why He had to take her Daddy from her. I was still sobbing into my pillow, which I think shocked Ellie, as she rarely sees me break down like that. We held each other tightly until we eventually both fell asleep.
I’m very aware that whether I’m married or not does not determine my value. Having been married, I know it won’t fulfill me or complete me. In my experience, marriage can be hard and challenging. In the same breath, it can also be beautiful, positively life changing, and special to have someone who knows you so well and has your back always, especially when life’s challenges come our way. If I marry again in the future, I want to make the best decision possible not only for me, but especially for Ellie. There’s a lot more at stake this time around. I have such a full life and find so much fulfillment in being a mom to Ellie, being involved in the lives of my friends and family, and in living out the calling God’s placed on my heart to share about His faithfulness through speaking and writing. Sometimes I feel outside pressure to be dating or in a relationship (which, more than likely, only exists in my mind and which I choose to take on as my own) when, if I’m honest, I feel complete and joyful just as I am and where I am at this point in my life.
Ultimately, my goal is to stay open-minded to love again while choosing to be content in any and every season of my life as I strive to pursue the passions and callings God has placed on my heart.
Sometimes it’s hard to have patience and trust God has our lives under control and we will be OK. I’m learning to be more prayerful, present, and patient with God’s timing in my life and to ultimately trust that He will continue to take care of Ellie and me as I believe He has done our entire lives. Especially when life didn’t always look the way we thought it should. So if you can relate to any part of this, know you are not alone and I hope together we can encourage each other to remain mindfully optimistic, full of expectation, and hopeful for what’s to come, while grateful for where we are in the present.
Press on my friend! God will provide maybe not exactly how we expected He would, but in my experience what is gleaned from the journey is better than we could have ever imagined. Love and Blessings.
PS — Would love for you to join Ellie and me this Saturday, May 7th, at 8 AM at Oak Point Park Amphitheater in Plano, TX for the 2016 Head for the Cure 5K Run/Walk. I will be giving an inspirational message after the run, sharing Andrew’s books/stationery, and donating 20% of all sales that day to raise money to help find a cure for cancer. Here is the link to join my team “Andrew B. Heard”: http://events.headforthecure.org/site/TR/Events/General?team_id=8263&pg=team&fr_id=1321 Choose “join team” and follow instructions to join as a new participant. If you can’t make it on Saturday, but still want to donate to the cause, you can do that through the above link or 20% of all Andrew’s books and stationery purchased on www.ellieproject.com for the month of May with the discount code: headforthecure (use at checkout!) will be donated to Head for the Cure. Truly appreciate your support! Blessings.