Firstly, I want to say that I refer to him as a widower for the sake of my posts, but I don’t really identify him in real life that way. His name is Gabriel and he is a man who happened to lose his wife years ago. Okay, going forward….
The first year of our relationship took off very fast. I chalk it up to knowing each other in the past and feeling comfortable with each other already as compared to someone who you are just getting to know. I feel personally, like there are core things about people that never really change. It’s hard to describe feeling like you really know someone and feel comfortable with them and then, on the other hand, there are so many things that you are still learning about them, like you need to catch up. There is also a feeling of obligation to someone that you have already known.
That first year we hid our relationship from most of the people he knows due to guilt and obviously the fear of hurting others. We went out to eat a few times a week, we went on one or two day romantic vacations several times. That year his in-laws were very involved with his children and I think he just needed an escape from what he was going through, which was me. It was like being in love for the first time with so much underlying guilt and shame.
When I would go to his house, it would always be when his children were away or in school. It is so strange to go to your guys’ house and yet, you are actually really in his and his wife’s home. You have the family photos, you have the memorial pictures of her, and everything there is essentially her taste. It feels as if you’re having an affair and it’s a very hard feeling to shake. About a year in, we were on a short getaway and he asked me to get something from his wallet. I opened it to see his drivers license along with a small picture of his late wife right beside his drivers license picture. I do understand grief as a logical person, but oh, that stung. There was also the time that he told me that if his sister in-law just happened to show up one day, he would really contemplate asking me to hide in the closet. Ewwwww and ouch!!! What are we, twelve???
On one hand, I was in this new relationship that I was sharing with my friends and family and was so excited about. I could definitely sympathize with him but would feel such betrayal from him for hiding it. And so it goes, it was a teeter-totter of joy, excitement, guilt, shame and being hurt, over and over again.
One of the best examples of that year that I can think of was his birthday. We were coming back from a two day vacation that day, (his kids were visiting family in another state) and he had made plans the previous year for his birthday to go out. I remember us driving home from our vacation and his friends calling him and me staying quiet. He felt horrible, I felt horrible, but he couldn’t just squelch his prior commitments with his people either. He went out that night with three of his couple friends and sent me pictures while I was at home. Worst. Feeling. Ever. I knew I had to be a logical adult but could not help but feel betrayed.
Last day of vacation leaving home on his birthday
I also longed for the day that we could have a “normal” relationship but dreaded it as well. I wanted everything to be normal and to not have to feel hidden but I also dreaded the reactions from those close to him and the hurt and anger that I knew that it was going to cause. To this day, I almost want to hide in a corner at times when it comes to gatherings with his family and friends, it can be so hard and at times, just painful. I have found a whole lot of solace in certain individuals in his circle who have just accepted me and loved me unconditionally and that is one of the ways that I can still keep going and have hope for a “normal” life.