Maybe I am Broken

Lately, I have felt like I am broken. I feel like I live in that changed state that has made great forward progress in decision making, driving, work, school, and self-confidence. When my Phil was killed, I didn’t trust my own decisions because I had spent my entire adult life following him all over the world. I knew who I was as Phil’s wife and I knew who I was as a military wife and mother. I liked that girl. I wanted for nothing else. When my dreams of the future ended on 27 April 2011, I struggled to find my footing on all fronts. Everything changed.

I had to decide where I wanted to live and had to do so in that fugue state that people enter after a totally shocking traumatic death. My body hurt every where. I couldn’t grasp conversations going on around me or remember to eat at times, yet I had to make decisions impacting leaving behind my dream job at my dream school, a state I loved, and people I fit with. I recognized that we all needed space to grieve and that leaving for awhile would be best, yet the past three years has been figuring out where to go and what to do.

I changed. I became outspoken and put a name and face on military loss. I no longer was that quiet girl who lived in the shadows of her family, yet I am still a nomad. I know where I will be when I retire in a handful of years, but learning to fit in as a widow, as a single person, as a person whose life is largely public is difficult. I feel like I am at a good point in my journey. While I miss my Phil, I have come to a point where I have considered a chapter two. I was reminded, however, that maybe I am too broken to let someone in.

It isn’t that I compare to Phil, but I feel different. Dating in my 50’s is different from my 20’s. The most obvious thing is that there is a very limited pool of men who are single. Many of those in the single pool are scarred from multiple marriages, wanting to have a relationship while still married, or are looking for a quick fling. In my 20’s the men I dated understood waiting for intimacy, but at my age, not so much. It is charming the first and second date, but then there is that expectation of something more after that. It isn’t that I don’t want that, but my moral compass has not shifted or changed. I want the friendship and the quiet knowing that we are two people moving in the same direction. I have come to recognize that I have changed little since my college days when I would dump men after the second date because I do not see a future with them.

I had a nice man ask me out recently. We connected on many levels—family, running, faith, and loss. He has lost a child in the worst way possible. One would think that would be enough, but it isn’t. I didn’t feel or see a future. The door slammed shut when he referred to Phil as my ex-husband. My ex-husband? Does that make his son an ex-son? Phil is not my ex-anything. He was my chapter one and he loved me enough to give me the green light and nudge for a chapter two.

I am concerned that I have shut down. Maybe that gentle heart that had room for love and loving is closed. I know that relatives have thought I am too picky. Maybe I am. Could I be alone forever? Yes, but it sure would be nice to experience life with another person. It would spark my heart to be able to love well again. Would I recognize that love again? Could I trust another and let another in fully? While I believe that I can, maybe I am too broken and shut down to be a lovable person. I want more than the physical aspect. I want a deep friendship, laughter, faith, and shared lifestyles. Maybe it isn’t possible.

Being a widow, especially a military widow, makes me feel like nobody understands this journey unless they share this journey. It has set me apart and perhaps that is what stops me. I am not sure, but until I am sure, I am not dating to date, nor am I looking to satisfy physical longings. If Phil is all I get, then I will be filled with gratitude for the 23 years we had. If there is a chapter two, I know that a certain angel will be dancing and nudging me forward.

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