There is a difference

Being an early adopter of Widowhood means not only learning the kinks and bugs on my own, but it also means that I have to explain things to others who aren’t looking to buy but are curious about the program nonetheless. It also means that I have to explain that, no, Widowhood, Singledom, and Divorcee are not, in fact, the same bit of software in a different package. And, of course, the less-popular “Widowhood for the Young” sub-version is considerably less understood which adds an extra layer of frustration to both the users and those peering into the window.

Note: This post was originally shared on my “widowhood” blog, “Frances 3.0: Still in Beta”.

It wasn’t until very late in the operation of Version 1.0 that I got a boyfriend peripheral. (Yes, later than most, but I was too busy for boys.) It was disastrous and brought nothing but misery to the overall operating system. Looking back, I knew there were bugs in the upgrade, but peer pressure and the social desire to have the same software as everyone else led me to accept the download. When, inevitably, the software had to be uninstalled, it caused a bit of a system crash. I tried to rebuild but couldn’t. So I upgraded to Version 2.0 instead.

With Version 2.0 I was happy. I was starting to feel a bit more secure and had loads of firewalls set up. Many people tried to suggest software upgrades, but I was extremely picky and decided that Version 2.0 could stand alone. (Though I did get taken out to dinner quite often by a random string of “trial software” programs.) Over and over again, I had to tell people that I didn’t want to be set up on any more dates and that I was, actually, quite content and happy on my own. Many of my non-single family members and friends couldn’t quite grasp that concept. But I preferred to keep my system running free of malware, spyware, adware, and other such non-essential, often burdensome, programs.

After running Version 2.0 for a couple of years, however, I was finally ready to take on another boyfriend peripheral. It was really more of a spur of the moment upgrade. You know, the one where you’re out shopping for one thing and find something else that you just can’t live without! Of course, a couple of weeks after the download, I considered uninstalling, but am glad I gave it another chance. (Yes, I almost didn’t date Paul past week two because he refused to let me carry one of two bags of groceries a quarter-mile from Tesco to his flat where he was going to make me my birthday dinner. In fairness, when I told him this several months later, he did point out the fact that I’d just been released from hospital an hour earlier, and that had he realised then the “seriousness of my illness” he’d have put me in a taxi from the hospital and gotten the shopping in on his own. But still, I wanted to help carry the groceries!)

I must admit, life was happier after all those upgrades to Version 2.0. And I must admit, it was because I had this wonderful man in my life. But, I don’t know that it means that the same sort of upgrade is necessary for Version 3.0. However, it seems that some people disagree.

Over the past couple of months, it has been suggested to me on several occasions that it’s time I start dating again. It’s been suggested that I’m too old to be single and that if I don’t couple up soon it will be too late. (Funny, 10-15 years ago I was getting the same lecture – sometimes from the same people!)

Most recently, it was suggested that I need to start looking now so that I have someone when the holidays roll around this year. When a few days ago I declared that I’m not exactly single, I found it difficult to make the person on the other end of the phone understand. She very adamantly pointed out that, actually, I am. This is why she created two online dating profiles on my behalf. And even made not-so-subtle suggestions for people I should contact. I should be thankful that she felt it was a bit “too much” for her to respond to potential suitors pretending to be me. She said she was just trying to be helpful and give me that push I needed – which is just what she’s done for divorced friends in the past who’ve been ever-so-grateful. (I was given the log-in details for both accounts and the email account that were set up for me and promptly changed the passwords then deactivated the profiles. This resulted in another angry phone call because the gift-giver was insulted that I didn’t want the gift. Enter exasperated eye-roll here.)

To the outside world, it seems I’m often viewed as single now. Not necessarily “available”, but single. To the outside world, my dating situation should be no different than that of a single person or a divorced woman. But in here, in my little world, I am not single. Not really. Singledom seems to have a connotation of choice to me, as does divorce. Whilst I realize this isn’t always the case, it is more so the case than having your happy little world ripped from you without choice, without option, without the ability to fight to change the outcome. I didn’t choose to be a widow – my husband didn’t choose for me to be a widow. Believe me, this is not a choice that either of us would ever have made if we had the chance to give our input to the situation!

So, what I am? I’m not really single, I’m not really married, and I’m certainly not divorced. A widow. That’s what I am, although not necessarily who I am. But don’t worry – I don’t prance around in my best Donna Reed get-up standing there waiting for my “early” husband to walk through the door so that I can greet him with a kiss and a Martini. I’m a widow, not a character in a Hitchcock movie.

As for dating, I’m not necessarily against it, I’m just not willing to force it. Much like finding Paul in such a random and unplanned way, if I meet someone new it will have to be the same. And if that never happens, I’m OK with that because if you have to force an upgrade, it’s not really a good fit.

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