Archive for May, 2016

Shaman Seeking Serious Relationship, Part 1

May 30, 2016

When I contemplated who I was, what my strengths were, and what I thought I needed to develop, I came to the conclusion that I was not all that great at love relationships. I had been in a loving relationship with my late husband for twenty-four years, but when I teased out the strands of that relationship, I found myself lacking. Surely, I could have been a more loving wife. So I invited my guidance to help me develop my relationship skills.

I later reminded myself that I needed to be careful about what I invited guidance to help me with. I was first sent to a man I’d known years earlier, a bookseller I was acquainted with and who I trusted to take a look at my large book collection and make a fair offer on anything he might want.

The years had not been kind to him. Cigarettes and marijuana had taken a serious toll. COPD had robbed him of any robustness he might have once had. He came to the house and bought some books. At one point, as we were side by side on our knees, looking at the books on a low shelf, we turned to one another and I spontaneously said what I was thinking: “It’s such a pleasure to spend time with someone else who loves books.”

The look on his face was somewhere between wonder and abject fear.

Later, he sent me a message saying that he was smitten with me. And despite the fact that I was not attracted to him romantically and did not see him as a likely companion, we began a daily e-mail exchange. The message exchanges reminded me that one of the things I had missed since my husband’s death was having a witness to my life, someone who gave a damn and with whom I could share ordinary, everyday happenings. That he was into poetry didn’t hurt either. It seemed to me that I could work on my ability to relate with a man in salubrious ways through contact with this man, and it was clear that he enjoyed the contact. We later expanded the contact through occasional phone conversations.

But he became increasingly more taken with me and I became increasingly annoyed with his unhealthy, depressing lifestyle. He had a right to whatever lifestyle he wanted and he had a right to that lifestyle without the palpability of my annoyance. It was a very bad idea to be developing a friendship with this man, and we eventually ended our regular contact with one another.

A woman in her eighties who was the mother of a gym friend believed that what many men past a certain age were looking for was a nurse or a purse. It seemed like a pessimistic attitude, but not only did my friend with COPD need financial help, he had admitted that what he really wanted was a nurse to fall in love with him. And he wasn’t kidding about that. Surely, most men in their sixties and beyond didn’t want a nurse, a purse, or both, but I had to admit that in my own experience, at least one I knew did.

I was sent an even more challenging relationship on which to practice: a man who had been my lover when he was in his early twenties and I was in my mid-thirties, before my marriage to my late husband. Over the years, he had been in my life as a friend, on and off. The fact that he lived out of state and was married for most of that time made it feel safe. But when he was divorced and my husband was gone, he made gestures to suggest we should, perhaps, reconstitute the relationship.

I did not see that happening. After knowing him for almost thirty years, I’d seen many facets of his personality and, making an amateur psychological assessment (based on my background and education in the field of psychology), suspected that he had borderline personality disorder–easily one of the most crazy-making personality disorders for the people who have to interact with this type. I attempted and failed to eliminate him from my life multiple times before finally getting the job done. Needing to develop my relationship muscles did not, after all, mean that I should be developing those muscles in interaction with someone that dysfunctional. And I knew that good things and good people often don’t come into our lives until we clear out the problematic things and people.

It was not until more than five years after my husband’s death, right before my birthday, that I felt a switch flip internally. I didn’t see it coming and it surprised me. I was being nudged to reconsider dating sites. This felt wholly unnatural to me. I had never been on a dating site and I had not had a date with any love interest other than my husband for thirty years.

But on my birthday, I logged on to the dating site my intuition told me was the one to use, created a moniker for myself, and completed the beginnings of a profile that not only told the truth about my age, but also made who I am and what I was looking for very clear. I didn’t say, “Writer and editor seeking single male,” or “Shaman seeking serious relationship,” but when I hit “enter,” that’s what I was thinking. I felt strangely embarrassed and more than a little ridiculous, but I was out there.

Now what?


Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall


Travels with an Open Heart

May 23, 2016

“I feel invisible.”

That’s what I’ve heard more than one single woman over the age of fifty say, but I’ve never had that experience, never felt invisible . . . except when I was practicing the fine art of making myself so. In fact, when my husband died, men seemed to appear almost overnight, like sharks that have smelled blood in the water. They ranged in age from thirty-seven to quite a bit older than me. I told the thirty-seven-year-old man, someone I already had a friendly relationship with, that I didn’t date men young enough to be my son. He looked let down. The older men? Well, they were clearly interested, but they seemed a bit stunned when interacting with me, as if they had just been too near a large explosion and could neither hear nor speak. I counted myself lucky with that. I found none of them appropriate or tempting.

Only a few months after my husband’s death, a man I saw as a good friend and who was within the orbit of what I thought of as of an appropriate age for me asked me if I was dating. I was deep in grief fog at the time and the idea of dating seemed as preposterous as climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro just to have a picnic lunch at the top. He was disappointed that I wasn’t dating. Over a year later, he asked again. Whatever answer I gave him prompted, “Oh, so you’re holding out for love,” in response.

It was actually more complex than that, but I took the easy route and replied, “Yep, I am.”

Again, he seemed disappointed.

I made a note to myself that saying I was holding out for love might be a good comeback to come-ons. As it turned out, I needed that comeback more than once. It began to sink in that maybe there was some truth to the notion that men believe widows are easy marks.

I wasn’t.

Actually, for quite a while after my husband’s death, I was pretty happy to be alone. I had always played nicely by myself, and after almost four years of walking with him on his pilgrimage to the other side, I was ready for some time alone. But a little less than two years after my spouse’s death, I was presented with a firm message from the universe in the form of a strange experience. On my way out of my house to attend a meeting, I found that I could not open the door from the house to the garage. It would not budge. Both locks were in unlocked position, but the door would not open.

Not wanting to be late to my meeting, I gathered up my things and left the house through the door from the kitchen to the deck, setting the lock before I shut the door. Just to make sure I could get back in, I tried the key. It would not open the door. It began to sink in that this was no ordinary lock problem, so I decided to attempt going back in through the garage. After all, just because the door would not budge from one side didn’t necessarily mean it would not budge from the other. It wouldn’t. Budge that is.

I finally got back in through the front door, took a deep breath, collected myself, and went back out, relieved that my key actually worked in that lock. As I drove to my meeting, I contemplated what was going on. This felt a lot like the universe’s sledgehammer, and I wanted to take it seriously.

The answer came to me during meditation. My heart was locked from the inside out. I was being told that it was time to turn the key and open to the possibility of relationship. I needed to get back out into the world in a direct, front door sort of way. The following day, I hired someone to fix the back door, figured out that the door from the kitchen to the deck required a different key, and promised to at least be open to the possibility of a man in my life.

But as far as I was concerned, if a suitable man was going to show up, it was going to be in some organic way, not through a dating site. Both my own intuition and what I heard from guidance in meditation confirmed that dating sites were a dead end for me at that time. Still, I knew that could change, and if it did, I needed to be prepared to change my attitude.

Whether or not a man I might be interested in showed up, organically or in some other way, it was clear that I needed my travels through life to be with an open heart. So I opened my heart to the possibilities and got on with the adventure of my life.

Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall