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.
Beautiful Bay, I cried as I read your post today. I am so proud to call you my friend. I love you and precious Ellie girl so much! “No eye has seen no ear has heard no heart of man can imagine what God has in store for those who love Him.” 1Cor. 2:9
Megs, I’m so blessed to have you as my friend. Thank you for ALWAYS sharing God’s Word with me during those really challenging seasons and for bringing me back to Truth. I adore you sweet friend.
So wonderful to meet you this morning! I don’t believe in coincidences…more God led events. We met for a reason and at some point we will know why! Loved reading your blog and will look forward to reading more. And hopefully, seeing you at CB, too!
Beth, I will never forget our conversation when we first met 🙂 I, too, believe it was meant to be and I’m looking forward to getting to know you better. I will for sure be seeing you at CB!! Thank you for reading my blog post. I really appreciate it and so glad you enjoyed it. Blessings.
Thanks for being honest with your heart and feelings.
And a huge thanks to supporting brain cancer <3
Thank you so much for reading Caroline and for encouraging me. It’s truly my honor to help raise awareness for brain cancer. Blessings Caroline.
Love you Bay and loved this post so much! Miss you and pray for you constantly. I’m so proud of you.
I love you sweet Savannah! Thank you so much for being such a blessing and encouragement in my life. You’ve been my cheerleader from day 1 and I’m beyond grateful for your love and support. Hope to book some events in Atlanta this year and will let you know once I do, so we can see each other! LOVE you friend.
Bailey, what a beautiful and heart touching message. You are such a beautiful “woman of God” and I love reading your messages. May God Richly Bless You and Ellie as you both move forward in life. Our God is an Awesome God and He will take care of you and Ellie and the rest of the family. Shalom, Roma
Thank you so much for reading, leaving a comment and for your kind words of encouragement Roma. Grateful for your compassion and love for my family. Thank you for speaking Truth over me. Blessings to you sweet Roma.
So, I met you & Ellie in Flower Mound @ Duffy’s office. Your story touched me that day, and I kept your card. It’s been staring at me every day in my car. Today I was in line at STARBUCKS & took a moment to read this blog. I almost wish I hadn’t. My heart is heavy for you and sweet Ellie, but it’s also full. Full because I know from the few minutes we spoke @ your car that your head is on straight! You are amazing. It’s okay to cry. You know this. I wish when I had a mother like you when my Daddy died in front of me when I was 9..you’re so proactive & strong. You will love again.. Take your time!
Hi Crystal! So good to hear from you. It was such a pleasure meeting you and our conversation at my car really impacted me. Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my blog. I’m deeply touched by your kind words. My heart goes out to you for your loss sweet Crystal. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. Just what I needed to hear. Love and Blessings to you.
I relate to the dating after the loss of a loved one, the feeling that you are an alien on someone else’s planet. Your situation is harder, you do speaking engagements about your loss. Every man you meet will see the ghost you speak about, and no one wants that kind of competition. Letting go is hard, I knew Andrew, the finest of men! Andrew is not to be forgotten, but to move forward in life, it will be difficult finding a man that will be willing to be 2nd in your life. My prayers are that you find peace and contentment.
Hi Sherr! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and words of encouragement. I do have fears about there being jealousy or competition towards Andrew if I were to meet someone new. I had a conversation this weekend at Head for the Cure’s 5K race that really encouraged me as someone who lost their spouse had re-married and found someone who was compassionate, understanding and secure stepping into a similar dynamic as my family’s situation and that gave me hope. It’s for sure not an easy situation to step into and I’m understanding of that. Thank you so much for your prayers. Blessings.