“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.
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