I remember I was talking to my friend and I was complaining about all of the "bad" widows that exist. The kind of widow that posted on social media groups about sleeping with their husbands best friend or being in love with their husbands brother. I called them sluts. I certainly did not understand them. I believed that those woman did not love their husbands like I loved Seth. I thought that those brothers and friends of the deceased husband were bad people. I judged them harshly.
Fast forward many months later and I actually admitted to myself that I no longer judged those women. In fact I went so far to believe that I could relate to those women. For a period of time the men in Seth's life were the only people, outside of my therapist, that I could talk to about my feelings. Sometimes I could not even articulate to them what my feelings were, but I felt comfortable crying to them when I didn't feel comfortable crying to anyone else. I wanted to be around them. I wanted to talk with them all the time. Although these feelings were platonic, they were also very perplexing to me. I no longer have those confusing thoughts today. I now know that I gravitated to them because they reminded me of Seth. We had connections with Seth that no one else understood. We could relate to each other in a time in my life when I felt very few could relate to me. But they are my friends. Just friends. I am satisfied with that and relieved too.
As I worked through those feelings though, and as more time has passed, I started to experience other confusing emotions. All of a sudden I didn't want to be alone for the rest of my life. I was barely in my 30's when my husband died and I have so much life ahead of me. I have worked incredibly hard for the past 13 months to believe that I can still have a bright future in spite of my past. On a good day, I have genuinely accepted that I am not a bad wife for having this urge. Seth would want me to be happy after all, he told me so. This has not been easy. I have experienced the most incredibly intense guilt that a person can feel without having anything to actually be guilty of. You can imagine the internal conflict I experience when I think about dating again. How can I be in love with Seth and have the desire to find a connection like we had, with a different man? It does not make any sense. Just the thought of dating again makes me feel like I am being deceitful. I believe that am not fulfilling my wedding vows to Seth. I must be minimizing the love that we had for each other. I should be content with what we had, which was beautiful, and yet the thought of not sharing that with someone for the rest of my life is heart wrenching.
I loved being in a marriage with Seth. I would describe our relationship as happy, emotional, spontaneous, fun, frustrating, exciting, funny, relaxing, and exhausting. I feel grateful for our time together and I cannot adequately explain with words the best part of being with him. I was lucky to have someone who I trusted. I was lucky to have someone who I couldn't wait to go to with exciting news and whom I could confide in without judgement. I loved being that person for Seth too. We argued fiercely sometimes. We were not perfect. But we loved even more fiercely and we fought for each other with everything that we had. What we shared cannot be replaced. Ever.
If our love cannot ever be replaced, can I even have a connection with a man again? Am I selfish for wanting to find love again? Shouldn't I be grateful for what we had and leave well enough alone? And if I did fall in love again, would this mean that I didn't love Seth after all? Or, since our love was so precious could another man ever compare? Could another man even be with me without being compared?
I recently had a conversation with a friend who stated that he believed other men would be insecure dating me because they would fear that I am always comparing them to Seth. This got me thinking. Is it possible that he is right? Or, could there be a man who is open to my past? Couldn't another man admire my love for Seth? Doesn't my commitment to Seth show that I am a devoted spouse? Is it possible that I could have two loves in my life? Each love a little different and special in their own unique way? Or is it true, that no man could marry a widow?
For my sake, and for the sake of all of the young and old widow(ers) out there, I hope this is not true. I hope that we can have multiple loves in our life without diminishing our feelings for those who came before. I hope that we can have different love stories with different people so that one does not replace another. I hope that someone will love me fully because of my past. I could not be the person that I am today if not for my past. Seth influenced me. Our marriage shaped me. His death impacted me. A person, a marriage, and a death have all converged to influence my person. Except for Seth living, I would not want to change anything. Why would a man want me any other way?
Last night, I had a very difficult night. Actually, the last few weeks I have been holding on to a lot of stressful thoughts and I couldn't figure out the best way to express myself to relieve me of this anxiety. I kept it to myself. That is what I typically do when I am afraid of how the world will respond to me. On the train yesterday, on my way home from work, I started crying. It was a crowded train cart and yet I felt so alone and isolated. Finally, I reached out and texted my friend. Seth's friend. I did not even express my "secrets." I simply said I was crying and panicking. He did not have much to say, but it felt amazing to say "out loud" that I was not holding it together in that moment. In my last blog I acknowledged that I am trying to be strong. But sometimes even the strongest people fall apart. After finally falling asleep last night I got the best rest that I have had in a few weeks.
Today I sent a text to one of Seth's family members. It read, "I work real hard to move forward and I know I need to create a new life for myself. I don't want to be alone for 60 years and I know one day I will date again. I am beginning to accept it without feeling like a bad person or wife." I know today is a better day because I could finally admit these thoughts to someone that I care very much about. I could finally admit to those feelings to someone who cared very much about Seth. For those widows and widowers out there, only you can know the true angst of acknowledging this out loud to those who you love and who loved your spouse. It is with such trepidation that I even post this today. I chose to because I know that I am not alone.
To the fellow widows and widowers that I am writing for, I believe we will get through this. For me, there have been a lot of changes lately as I make efforts to create a new life for myself. Reality is slapping me in the face. It finally hit me that things will truly never be the same as what I had visioned. Seth and I cannot share with each other the future we planned together. We will not have a family together. But this does not mean that my future is not bright. Our love stories with the deceased will never end. They will never be replaced. Ever. If I am to move forward though, I need to start thinking about a future. A new future. A different life. Maybe even a good life. Maybe even a great life.
I have been thinking more about what my friend said to me. He suggested that other men will experience insecurities when dating me, for fear that I will always be comparing them to Seth. Maybe he is right that I will do that, at least initially, how couldn't I? But isn't that true of anyone dating someone new, even following a breakup? Our past experiences shape us into the people we are today, hopefully for the better. I am proud of my past. I am proud of my relationship with Seth. What an amazing man he was. It must have taken so much courage for him to sit across from me a few days before he passed, look directly into my eyes, and make me promise that I will move forward. He told me to find love again. He told me that he wanted me to have a bright future. My response was that I did not want to talk about it. Then we hugged and kissed. Then I promised him that I would fulfill his wishes, and I genuinely hope that I do. I want to love again. I want to be loved again. I want to give everything that I have to another relationship, because that is what makes love so beautiful. That is what made my love story with Seth so special. My next story will be different. But that love story will be stronger because of my past. It will be our love story. A new love story. And my love for Seth will still never be replaced. Ever.
"Don't give up. Don't ever give up." ~ Jimmy V.
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