My mind has been focused to near-exclusivity in the past twenty-four hours on why I put that profile up. Why now, when quite recently I stated right here on this very blog that I was not ready to date yet? I've been wicked bored at work before and it has never crossed my mind to put up a profile. What's going on?
Answer: a lot.
When I was at therapy yesterday, I ended up talking quite a bit about being in the Peace Corps. "What was the hardest thing about that experience?" my therapist asked. There was no hesitation before I replied, "The loneliness." I was so terribly lonely when I was in Gabon. I had good friends at post, but I'd never been forced to spend so much time with myself, and it was difficult and scary. All of my postmates were coupled (they actually all ended up married to their PC sweethearts), and although they went out of their way to make me feel included, I felt like a fifth wheel. I made lots of terrible dating (and other) decisions from that lonely, lonely place. At the time, I did not recognize what I was feeling as loneliness; I blamed myself for not being tough enough or not trying hard enough or what have you. Rather than acknowledge my feelings, I found a way to make the negativity in my life my own fault, something I could fix, something I wasn't doing well. It was not until I got home to the States that I realized that I had just been desperately lonely and isolated, and just how hard that had been.
As I talked about all that, I realized that I'm having some of those feelings again. Most of my friends are happily married or partnered; in fact, none of my friends are divorced and I can only think of one or two who are still single. The married couples are happy, and fun to be around. Since I have not found myself seething with jealousy in the presence of happily coupled friends, I figured that I must be at peace with my alone-ness for now and not ready to think about being in a couple again.
The truth is, though, that my lack of jealous rage doesn't mean I'm not wistful and sad about not having a partner. I had been attributing all of my wistful sadness to missing John, and certainly that's a big part of it. But part of it is that I want something in my life that I don't have.
I talk a lot at therapy about my frustrations with parenting two kids on my own, and on more than one occasion, my therapist's commiserations have included the statement, "The majority of families have two parents for a reason." I could not agree more. I know I would be a better parent to Maddie and Riley if I had someone to share the ups and downs of parenthood with. Not only would there be someone else to help with the endless logistics, but there would also be someone there to keep me in check when I freak out about something that's really nothing, to talk me down when I go to the Dark Side. I want that. I need that. More and more lately, I feel like I just can't do this alone, even with all of the help I get from my family and friends.
Badger, a fellow young cancer widow, astutely mentioned in comments the feeling of guilt associated with the idea of dating after the loss of a spouse. I feel guilt on many, many levels. I feel guilty that I can't handle my life on my own, that I want to share that burden with someone. I feel guilty that I could love someone besides John. Oh, I know without a doubt that all John wants is for me to be happy. I know that. He worried about me incessantly. He would want me to be loved and cared for and adored. But even knowing that, it's incredibly painful to think about someone besides John doing that for me. I feel guilty that having a social life could eat into my Maddie and Riley time. I feel completely overwhelmed by the idea that if things were to get serious with someone, I would have to figure out how to integrate another parent into Maddie and Riley's lives.
Of course, talk about putting the cart before the horse! All I've done is post a profile to which no one can functionally respond. But, somewhat shockingly to me, despite the fact that my profile lacks a photo and states front and center that I have two-year-old twins, I've had six people express interest. I never would have imagined that.
Which leads me to another point: I don't feel particularly lovable right now. I don't feel attractive, physically or emotionally. I hate my hair. My wardrobe is . . . utilitarian. I have not been eating well or exercising much.* I'm a bundle of unpleasant emotions: sad, angry, scared, brusque. I'm busy and often overwhelmed. My brain is 92% occupied by two year olds and the responsibilities associated with same, 6% occupied by work, and 2% devoted to me (or so it feels). It's surprising to me that given all that, someone might want to take me on a date. It's not that I don't think I have good qualities, it's just that I think that those good qualities are awfully hard to find these days.
So the question remains: will I pony up the cash to find out who these crazy guys are who think that I might be worth some time? Or will I content myself with knowing that there's the hint of interest, because just that is an ego-boost for me right now. For now, I have a different answer every time I ask myself the question. And so I will sit with it and see what impulsivity next arises when I'm bored at work.
*Although I have been eating better in the past few weeks and "exercising" on my Wii Fit. Coincidence?