Over the last few months, I felt like I had been trapped in a state of conflicting emotions. Normally at the beginning of a New Year, I set goals for positive enhancements to enrich my character. Humans voluntarily or involuntarily evolve as a result of life circumstances, and setting these types of goals encourages me to look forward to growth in the New Year.
However, this past New Year, I enthusiastically pondered new goals and within a flash, a feeling of sorrow conquered my thoughts and halted the desire. I think the continuous exposure to unpleasant consequences of family and friends fueled this feeling of gloom. Over the past year, it seemed as though the bad news outweighed the good. So, when alone, the anxiety from the excitement of becoming an enhanced version of myself versus the ill-fated happenstances of life was a tug of war in my mind.
On Sunday after mass, I saw one of my favorite priests. We talked about what had been going on in my life. As I caught him up to date, I observed as his eyes expressed genuine empathy for what he called “a lot of trauma.” He then prayed with me. In retrospect, I visualized the caring support he had provided to me during the time of my divorce, and a warmness filled my heart.
After talking to the Father, I felt comforted and clarity. I knew that my downhearted state was attributed to my grief for my family members, intensified by the recent loss of my sister. I found myself consumed with sorrow, but I also could not emerge from it.
I needed to do something to get me out of this funk. I decided to use online dating, albeit ambivalent, to distract me from my grief. In my youth, meeting people was always easy. It was about how a person made you feel and having fun. Now, in my 50s and divorced, meeting people is more challenging. Online dating, I thought, would provide me with an opportunity to meet people with shared interests, and at a minimum, keep my mind occupied.
I don’t think I had ever met so many f—ed up people in my life! For a minute, I pondered – Do I continue to rummage through a sea of frogs to meet someone, try another reputable dating site, or do I take my chances on meeting someone by chance? I decided after so many weirdos and reading stories about women getting killed after going out with online dates, to just chill. Rather than ridicule my experiences, I’ll chock it up to just not being my thing at this point in my life.
Companionship is very essential to your mental and psychological well-being. Having someone to confide your feeling and to engage in fun activities with is good for your spirit. I had lots of friends in my 20s. In my 30s, I realized that I started interacting less with people who I felt were not genuine. I also decided that I did not want to associate with friends that I felt, did not have my best interest at heart. In my 40s, I realized my friend pool was almost nonexistent. In my 50s, I have my few true friends who will be there in a second if I need them, but they also have busy lives.
Since the online dating did not work out, I still needed something to combat my blues. Years ago, a friend had told me about “Meet Up.” Meet Up is a web based organization that brings people together with common interests. There are Meet Up groups for all ages, all kinds of activities, i.e., book reading, meditation, happy hours, dancing (formal and informal), Zumba, yoga, whatever you can possibly think of, there is a meet up for it and they are in locations convenient to any person.
I decided to join some Meet Up groups. The groups I joined have activities two, three times a week. I decide when I would like to do something, but there are plenty of activities to participate in at my fingertips. I decided to try things that I normally would not do, and I love it! I also have met some really nice people as a result of putting myself out there. I must admit I was nervous the first time, but my nerves quickly subsided.
There are no rules or time limits when it comes to grief. The feelings, the darkness is real. Losing a loved one is traumatic and you need time to process the loss. Often during these times, you want to push people away. But these are the times when you need people in your life. I realized that I was overwhelmed with despair, and I needed to impart light, sunshine into my life.
My decision to not allow grief or guilt to continue to weigh me down does not mean that I don’t love or miss my loved ones. It means that I will not only carry their love in my heart as I continue to live my life, but I will flourish from the admiration of that love.
There is strength in knowing when you need help. Never be afraid to own your vulnerabilities. It empowers you, not weakens you. I no longer feel guilty about living my life. I feel like I have an opportunity to make a difference, perhaps do something to help others. I hope that my words somehow encourages someone going through feelings of emptiness, sadness or grief to recognize that it is okay but more importantly, recognize that it is also okay to ask for help.
Peace and Blessings,