The truth about love is...
As I continue to navigate life as somebody widowed at a young age, one of the things that I'm discovering is, that what I thought I knew about life and myself has turned out just to be the tip of the iceberg and I'm learning continuously.
It was around this time last year that something that had started out as a friendship born from of a random act of kindness became something more. Jess and I went on our first proper date and what I didn't appreciate in all of the excitement and nerves was how much starting a new relationship was going to teach me.
Some of this is stuff that I guess you can only appreciate when you live it, so I thought I'd try and explain the main thing I've learnt about love and am grateful to have experienced in the last year.
Here it goes....
Our ability to love is endless
Sounds pretty simple right but let me explain.
When Lauren died and I became a young widow it felt that any hope that I had of a life lived for me was gone, I honestly believed that my time on this earth was short, I had to raise Molly and then I could check out. As dark as that sounds that is where my mind was at.
I'd dismiss the idea of finding love again, I'd not want to think about a future relationship. In fact, Lauren had made a point of telling me that 'as hard as it was to think about, it was ok for me to move forward in that way if thats what made me happy'. But, I was hurting and none of that felt at all right, I dismissed those conversations and any thought of being in another relationship.
However, fast forward to roughly 7/8 months post being widowed and having spent some time focusing on Molly, regaining financial independence by starting my own business and getting to a place where I realised I wanted to live for me again, not just as Molly's Dad, but as Sam Robinson who was only 33 and had (hopefully) much more time on this earth, I'd reached a point of acceptance.
It was then that I opened my mind to the possibility that I would be willing to have another relationship. It had to be for the right reasons, not to replace what I had lost, not because I was lonely, it had to be because I wanted to find happiness for me again.
Jess and I were first put in contact via a mutual friend not long after Lauren had died. Jess had heard about our loss and through her childrens entertainment business wanted to give Molly a special treat and arranged for her to meet some of her favourite film characters. At a time when we were struggling this kind gesture was so gratefully received and knowing Jess the way I do now, it was the first demonstration of how huge her heart is and how much she cares about others, even those that she doesn't know.
From there we'd stayed in contact with the odd friendly message or check in, I became a serial sharer of her business posts in an attempt to re-pay the kindness and in the most organic and natural of ways my thoughts about Jess began to move from, what a lovely woman, who did such a lovely thing, to, wow here's a woman that shares many of my values, seems to have lots of fun and is beautiful.
With the growth in my mindset and this new desire to live life for me, I decided to tell her. It wasn't easy, I remember saying to friends at the time that I'd not been able to stop thinking about her, I had a flurry of incredibly mixed emotions and nervousness...
What if she doesn't like me? What if my first attempt at meeting someone is a massive fail? What if I open myself up and am not good enough? How will those around me feel? How will I tell her? Will it be taken the wrong way?
But interestingly none of the feelings were related to being ready, or guilt toward my late wife. In hindsight now, I massively underappreciated what Lauren did for me when she'd make a point of having those conversations, in fact, it's something I'm now so grateful for as I appreciate the guilt that it has freed me from and recognise the foresight that she had to be so selfless in her last months.
Needless to say, things with Jess hit the ground running and we enjoyed our first official date on the beach at Bexhill, complete with a trip to the curry house, cans of pink gin on the beach and a conversation that quite frankly could've lasted forever.
It's been a year now since that point and I can honestly say that I am happy, that I feel blessed to have found Jess and that from a place in my life where I felt I had no hope, like absolutely zero, I now have hope again and am looking to the future.
So here's the truth about love...
We're all led to believe that we have a finite amount of love to give, that we give our heart and that's it, unless that love is discarded and a relationship breaks down. But guess what, that's bullshit!
Love is not finite, it's not contained to an enclosed space that looks like this ❤. This suggests that there is a limit, that there is a fixed amount and that you have to share it out like portions of a cake.
The reality is that love starts in the brain, and that it is closely related to the heart because of how it can make your heart race when you see someone you love and how the increased levels of emotion and stress from a break up or loss can give you physical chest pains. Even more ridiculously the heart doesn't even look like the symbol we've created for it.
In fact the heart is an organ that serves to pump blood around your body continuously, so in actual fact, it makes more sense to believe that our ability to love is continous and never ending until the day our heart stops.
But this is far less romantic and doesn't resemble the status quo of relationships and therefore doesn't feed the narrative of our favourite stories and ideologies that we have as a society about love.
Well, here I am, living proof that everything you thought you knew about love was wrong.
I still carry the love I have for Lauren, that will stay with me forever, grief will affect me in the same uncontrollable way that it has done since she died, as is normal in grief it happens less frequently as I continue to build my life, my resilience and learn to live with it. I'm moving forward not moving on, I am growing and enriching my life and I have fallen in love again, I am lucky to experience twice what some people never get to experience and I am grateful for the happiness that I'm feeling.
Jess is a truly wonderful woman, she is kind, caring, fun, full of energy and has brought so much to mine and Molly's life in a relatively short period of time.
I'll not lie, being in a post widowhood relationship comes with some very unique challenges and a host incredibly different emotions to navigate, but all of that is by far outweighed by getting another shot at a full and happy life.
So here's how we should really see love...
Imagine this, if we measured our love in a cup, then the cup is just the container, our love is like the flowing water that fills the cup, it's endless and as John Polo puts so simply in the below video, when we meet a new partner post widowhood, we are not pouring from one cup to another, we just start filling another cup. Having one doesn't detract from the other and living with dualities of emotion is the norm for someone experiencing what I am. In actual fact I think they enrich eachother, your appreciation for life and love after such a significant loss is increased because after being in the depths of darkness the light feels much brighter.
I could write about this topic a lot, and I've no doubt that many have a different view to mine, I suppose thats the thing about grief and life, it is so individual, in fact there are some people that choose never to open out their heart again for a variety of reasons, but for me it has been the right decision. I'll never forget Lauren, our life together and what we had. However, I am excited and grateful for the opportunity to explore and discover a new version of happiness.
I've referenced the Japanese art of Kintsugi in previous blog posts, where they take broken pottery and rebuild it filling the cracks with gold. In doing so they believe it acknowledges and pays respect to the journey, which will always be a part of the piece, but by using gold they believe that it created even more beautiful than its original appearance and I want to thank Jess for contributing to the gold that is helping me to rebuild my life.
Thanks for reading and being a part of our journey!