A few weeks before our 11 year wedding anniversary, I decided to remove my rings to see how it feels without them. As I begin to explore what it feels like to be a widow contemplating dating, I wanted to see if my ring made me feel any less married. Some days I wake up and feel like Chris may just be out of town for work, and others I am fully aware of the harsh reality that he is gone. Becoming a widow is an awkward space to be in because you still feel married. And although you still feel married, the realitity is that you are not, so people instantly view you as single because you have no visible husband. This is why although I do not like the term widow, I understnd the need for the word. It awknowledges the state of our marriage. You all know that I have coined the term "willow" for myself and all of the other women who are not ready to accept the title of widow. Although you no longer go home to him, you still subconciously hold on to the vowels that you made. And you even feel guilty when entertaining someone that you may be attracted to. Initially you are nervous to explore dating because you are afraid of judgement. What will people think? Is it too soon? Would my husband already be dating?
As a Christian woman, widowhood is difficult because your body doesn’t really understand that your husband has passed away. After the phase of feeling numb and disconnected, you begin to start living again. And during that time you realize that you continue to have the same desires that were once very beneficial in your marriage. Being annoyed with God is the best way that I can describe this emotion. When you get married, fornication is one of those things that you gladly check off your “sin list”. That is the one thing you never think you’ll have to worry about again. But when you become a widow in your early 30s, it becomes a harsh reality that now you have the navigate what it is like balancing purity and dating. Especially when you have a leadership position in ministry. When you initially become a widow, you miss the specific companionship of your husband. You don’t want anyone else but HIM! But at some point you begin to think of the possibility of building with someone else.
This journey is so new. And to be honest, GHETTO! But I stand firm in knowing that the Lord has prepared me for this journey and I need to remain focused on the things that He has set forth in my path for me to accomplish. As I have been reflecting over the last few weeks, I think that one of the main reasons I kept wearing my ring was because of Blue. It gives me validation that I am not a “single mom”. I worked so hard for that not to be my narrative and the moment it became a reality for me, I felt embarrassed and ashamed. Not that people are looking at me with distain but rather me reflecting that judgement upon myself. My ring was my outward security blanket to let myself know that I am living a life pleasing to God. I now accept the title of "widowed mom". Becasue this space is much different than that of a single mom. I have an amazing vilage and support system who helps me raise Blue. Also, there are some emotional components to raising a child as a widow that are unique to this specific journey. It wasn’t until I reflected on my romantic desires that I realized that my ring symbolized me still being emotionally attached to Chris. I would never feel comfortable going out on a date with someone with my wedding ring on. It would send mixed signals and although some men would understand, I fell that it would cause conflicting emotions within myself. So this is my trial run. As long as I am content with where I am emotionally as it relates to grieving Chris.
Everyone’s journey is different. Some people are ready to date again in a year, some take over 5 years. Whatever your process is, it is. Don’t feel guilty or question what feels right to you. You will know when you are ready. That is the best advice that I can give. I will say that, wearing my rings around my neck with my urn necklace is the next step for me. I didn’t take my rings off and put them away altogether. I took them off and put them on my neck. This journey is one that has no specific rules. One that doesn’t look like or resemble anyone else’s in the same situation. This journey is mine. And I love the community that I have created who continues to love and support me. And who are there for me while I travel this very uncharted territory.