This post has been rattling around in my head and heart for such a long time. It’s often the taboo subject that is pushed away in the corner that no one ever talks about. Oh sure, every now and then it sort of comes up, usually when you are with other friends, who find themselves alone, after many years with the same person. But it is usually when discussing another “friend or acquaintance” that has moved on with somebody new, quite soon after a death or divorce. And it is usually voicing incredulous disbelief at said “friend or acquaintance’s” actions!! And always ends with the question …. “Why? Showing your body to someone new? Why would you?”
So, what is the truth, as you know it to be?
You have been married to the same person to about 30 years and the whole of that time you have had a sexual relationship of some form or another! We all know that, during a relationship of any length, your sex life will have it’s ebbs and flows, peaks and troughs. Illness, children, stress, work, financial worries are just a few of those things that will impact it BUT it is still there … in some form! How your sex life is defined is completely between you and your partner. For you, it was defined by a monogamous husband and wife relationship within a marriage. That definition hasn’t changed because you’re now single. Therein lies a problem, now!
So your husband and lover becomes ill and after a long period of illness – dies. Your relationship has changed during this time. You have become the carer. You are still a participant in giving and receiving love but it is not in the same way as it was before. It still consists of gentle, tender, touching and it certainly requires putting your partner’s needs before your own and it certainly ended with those exquisite soul revealing tears that you have both cried before – together. Only this time you are left to cry those tears alone.
Immediately. after the death, you are tired …. exhausted actually and that can go on for years! Your life is full of people taking care of you and filling your life with activities. There is also stuff that needs to be done and so you do it. But every now and then something flickers in the background. It’s that almost extinguished flame of your sex life! You wonder about how many years you might be alone and what it would be like to meet somebody for “companionship”! And how and where do you do that anyway? Then the next time you see yourself in the mirror, you are quickly reminded of how that is never going to happen!!! Push that elephant into the corner and move on! Life goes on ….. But being an elephant and all – that flame will most certainly find oxygen, once again!
Thankfully, the internet has a solution for everything and being an avid online shopper, eventually, a suitable substitute is easily found and ordered! Thankful for the promised “brown paper packaging”, you wait and you may even have forgotten about your purchase! Until, one day you arrive home to find a note from the postman stating that your package can be retrieved at the parcel pick up depot. Good, you think, those jeans you ordered have arrived. So you drive down to the pick up place and the lady takes your card and disappears then comes back and says that your parcel will take a few minutes to find and do you mind if she serves the other gentleman waiting? Of course not, you reply and she does. When he is gone, she disappears again and comes back carrying a transparent plastic bag, which contains the remains of a brown paper package that is ripped and totally reveals what is in the package! Needless to say, it is not your jeans!! She smiles and says she thought you wouldn’t mind her serving the other customer first ….. you almost kiss her! You can’t get home quickly enough – NO! not to try it out, but to hide it and put your head in a brown paper bag for a few weeks!!!! Life goes on …..
Problem solved? Not really! For you, your sex life has always consisted of two parts. The actual mechanics of having sex and the intimacy that goes with it. It doesn’t take long to realise it is indeed the intimacy that you are yearning for. Where do you find a replacement for that? Certainly not on the interwebs! Also, trying to define what that means for you is also hard because you don’t really realise what it is, until one of your male friends or the husband of a girlfriend or one of your sons gives you a hug and you find yourself not wanting to let go. It’s not in a sexual way, it’s in an all encompassing – “You are safe here and taken care of” – way! It’s in a ” Oh my God, if you close your eyes for a minute, nothing will happen to you because someone else has got you” – way! It’s in a “You don’t have to be responsible for this moment in time” – way!
It’s really difficult to find that kind of intimacy – in fact it feels impossible to contemplate finding it twice in a life time. Maybe it comes when you are no longer looking, as it did the first time round. Maybe you won’t ever find it again. If you have that in your relationship, please appreciate it for what it is ….. special and unique and wonderful and precious. For that is the thing that you miss most, when you no longer have it.
Meanwhile, to my family, friends and their husbands – I’m sorry if I hug you too long or too tight but you may be my only moment of intimacy for the week!