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conflicting emotions-- this is a tough one


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Wow I am not quite sure how to start this. Maybe I will be sharing something that I should keep to myself, then again maybe there is someone else out there who understands and can give me some advice.

Many of you know that this is a bad time of year for me. There are just so many painful memories, bad memories along with the good. Every year I think it will get easier that those dates won't haunt me with the memories and reliving all of the terrible things that both Johnny and I went through. For the most part it has been a little easier this year up until now. I think that is because of something else going on in my life.

Yesterday was the 7th aniversary of the first anxiety attacks and the day before the first panic attacks. I tried so hard to help him but I know now that I never really understood. So many times I have felt like I was going through some of what he went through. It was like somehow I had to to understand his pain and fear and to know the depth of his love for me and mine for him.

Then yesterday out of the blue I had an anxiety attack and I knew right then that I never had any real idea of the scope of our problem. I know why I couldn't handle the situation on my own and why I felt so much like I had failed him. It breaks my heart to know that even with me there and knowing how much I loved him that he felt so alone when those attacks came.

I'm not sure why this is coming at me now but I have a good idea. For this past 7 years sense losing him it has been as if I were holding my breath. Afriad to really live or be happy and above all else afraid to even think about caring for another man. I have filled my life with work. I dropped back to my old habits of running away from my pain by buring myself in work. There are so many things that I take pleasure in doing but I get so caught up in them that they bocome work instead of pleasure.

I have lived here for two and a half years. Then out of nowhere one of my neighbors and I started getting to be friends. didn't see it coming at first, but it has grown to be more than just a casual friendship. We really do care for one another but I am really not sure what thet means to either of us. We tease and flirt and above all we talk. I can talk to him much like I did with Johnny. He has so many of the demons and wonderful rustic charicturistics that Johnny did. It is obvious to both of us that we are more than just friends and that is where my problem lies.

I'm scared and I feel guilty. I know Johnny would never want me to grieve my life away but would he want me to have another man in my life? We had lived seperate lives for so long then had such a short time together. I feel so disloyal just thinking about someone else much less caring about him.

The other major problem is that he is younger than I am. Maybe 10 years ago that wouldn't have mattered but what about now? I don't feel too old, God in some ways I feel younger than I ever have. Still I can see in the mirror. I can see the wrinkles and the grey hairs and the 50 pounds I am trying to lose. Still there is something there. I can see it in the way he looks at me, but what if I am wrong. What if this is all just a way to cope with these heart wrenching memories. How could anyone feel that way about a person who had so much of her taken away 7 years ago?

I don't know why I feel the need to ask you all about this. There is only one other person or maybe two that I can share this with. My best and most understanding friend I met here on this board and we have shared much. Maybe that is why I feel that the answers are here. I just don't know what to do. Should I back off or go for the chance to have more to my life than sewing and sitting around with a bunch of people who are for the most part 20 years older than I am?

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While I'm not in a position to understand the greiving process I have followed your progress for so many years that I feel I know you.

Lily, my take on all of this is go for it girl. Enjoy whatever becomes of this friendship, you have the chance of happiness and companionship and I say take it!

I'm always amazed at the number of people on this board who will reply to a thread while not knowing the answer, today I have become one of those people with no personal experience but with an opinion.

My feelings are that our loved ones would not want to see us alone and unloved after they pass and it sounds to me that your neighbor has become an important part of your life. Not a replacement of Johnny but a new beginning, some fun and support and the younger part sounds liike a bonus!

So that's my inexperience speaking, go forward with whatever makes you happy..........you've earned it.

Wishing you all good things


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Lily, I agree with Geri and Bud, and would just elaborate on a point or two. By developing a relationship with someone else, your intent would not be to replace Johnny — that will never happen nor should it. It would be a new phase, not diminishing or interfering with any previous phase of your life. I believe it would be healthy for you to continue to display photos of Johnny and not feel constrained about talking of your times together, even in the presence of your new friend. And I'll add this with some conviction: if the new friend is someone who is going to be good for you, he will not feel jealous or threatened or slighted whenever these reminders of your past come up. In fact, if you haven't already, it might be good to "go there" just to see your new friend's reaction.

I know [he] would never want me to grieve my life away but would he want me to have another man in my life?

I've talked this over with my wife on several occasions. At first she didn't want to pursue the idea, but now she realizes that I'm absolutely serious. She is 12 years younger and quite healthy, there's every reason to believe I'll be gone first, and her life the past 13-14 years has been greatly limited by having to care for both of her parents as well as my father in their final years. It would give me a great amount of pleasure to think she would find someone who values her as much as I do and can offer her the chance to travel and have a great life for the next 20 or so years.



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Johnny would want you to be happy and the way nature is set up, women live longer than men. You should find yourself a younger man, hopefully, you will be able to live the rest of your life with him, and feel whole again.

You'll never forget Johnny, he is a part of you, but sweetie, you didn't jump in his coffin and you need to keep living. Love is part of living, you shouldn't relive the loss every single day.

Go for it, girlfriend!

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I agree with everyone. I believe this friend came into your life for a reason, see where the relationship takes you. I can understand the feeling disloyal, but it isn't disloyal. It seems like going forward.

My thoughts are with you, Lily, you deserve to be happy.


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Well, you already know how I feel about this relationship, Lil. I wasn't going to post but then I thought there may be other surviving spouses in a similar situation and decided to post.

I have told you, on numerous times, that you should follow your heart and live for today and not live in the past. Your involvement with someone new will never diminish the love you shared with Johnny and you will always carry Johnny in your heart, just as I carry Dennis. Your life is not over. You've an attractive, vibrant woman with a lot to offer in a relationship. You definitely should not spend the rest of your life wondering about "what might have been" when you have the opportunity to really make it happen.

I believe that God gave us a beautiful life and that He wants each of us to enjoy their life to the fullest. I think you need to throw all of your troubles to the wind and go forward with life. No relationship is a sure things and we all take chances every time we decide to become involved. Your Johnny was someone that always lived life to the fullest and ever took a few walks on the wild side, so I'm convinced that he would not want you to spend the rest of your life mourning for him!!!

Honey....just think of what Maxine would do!!! She's say "what the hell" and then she'd go for it!!! I know you love Maxine and I think right now is the ideal time for you to start taking some of her advice.

I'm not an expert on anything but when it comes to this....I've been there and had all of the same feelings you are working through!!!

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As always thank you all. I knew that I could depend on you all for some good advice. As for me and Terry things are moving along. I am not sure where it is going but it is definately going somewhere. We do seem to be good for one another.

One thing for certain if the way to man's heart is though his stomache I have a big advantage. I have been cooking for him and his son almost every other day for the past couple of weeks. One thing going for me is that I love his son's and I think they kind of like me.

I don't know if our relationship will go any further than it is now but I am ready for wherever it leads us and I think he is too. People are starting to notice that we are together and he doesn't seem to mind, in fact we kind of joke about it.

I do know that like I said it has been as if I were holding my breath for the past 7 years, unable to breath or really live. If nothing else it is good to feel alive again. to feel like a woman and know that I can still dream.

Thanks again to all of you. You know how much I value your opinion and above all your kind words. Love you all Lillian

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Now Lily, you must know that I'm not at all surprised at this turn of events. I heard you hinting at it for awhile now. I could not be happier for you. As everyone said, Johnny would want you to be happy and if that means spending time with another man, that's what you need to do. I guess the only question is, do you take it slow or just jump right in. Maybe you have done the take it slow already and coming on the site and sharing is your way of saying you are ready to jump. If so, you go girl. We are like family here and that's why you came here to share. Thanks for that.

Judy in Key West

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Your emotions, thoughts and feelings are not unique and isolated. There are those of us who can tell you from experience that they are 100% the same and normal for the situation you are in.

In fact, I remember writing similar postings over the last two years and getting some wonderful, warm and loving advice from you and others telling me that we should not waste our lives, opportunities, and potential happiness in guilt and questions.

It is so hard to put it aside. I understand. I still have waves of guilt, not only guilt of feeling somehow like I am betraying the great love I had for Keith, but then also guilt that somehow still holding love for him is short changing Mike. But the truth is, the heart has infinite capacity. We are able to love, and love again without degrading or depleting the prior love. (anyone with children knows this as a fact, you don't love a first child any less for the birth of a new child that miraculously you love just as much). The heart has amazing abilities. And God has amazing mercy and love.

I do truly believe that if God, and I'm sure the intervention of Johnny, managed to bring someone into your life that you can find happiness with, that can take away some of the loneliness and pain, then you need to go for it. Johnny would not want you to waste your life in grief, he would want you to be happy. He loved you enough to want you to be spoiled, pampered, loved, and cared for. Sure, if given the choice he'd probably want it to be by himself, but that not being possible he lends a hand and with God's will brings you to another path of happiness.

It is hard. The conflicting emotions, the guilt, all of it will be there. And it doesn't go away all together even if you do move forward with a relationship. Like I said waves of emotion will always flow especially at certain dates and times. The key is to be open with a new partner, and to be with someone who understands that sharing your heart is still a great gift.

If you ever want to talk, send me a PM. I've been through all those same things and I understand and can listen and relate.

Life is short, live it to the fullest every day, and never put off for a single day those things that can enrich our lives and bring joy and goodness. We never know if those opportunities ever come around again, there are no guarantees in life.

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I am just so thankful to all of you. Over this past 7 years I don't know how I would have survived without you. You have not only taught me how to survive but made me realize that it is alright to want to survive and live again.

I know that I am moving forward and I am afraid but at the same time I am excited about life for the first time in so long. I am not sure where our relationship witll go but it is going somewhere. We have talked and know that neither of us wants to be tied to someone else. We enjoy what we have and I know that I hope for more but I like my freedom and so does he. Neither of us wants to have to answer to someone else. We like being responsible to no one. Still no matter what we say I can feel that our relationship is not something that is going to end with just being friends.

Personally as long as we can spend time together and be as good for one another as we are I can go on this way forever. What we have is good and can get better. No strings sounds good. I went from my parents house to my husbands. I was never on my own and never made decisions based on what I wanted and what was best for me. I like going and not having to tell someone where I am going or when I will be home. I live going to bed when I am tired or staying up all night on the computer. I watch what I want on tv and spend my time doing what I choose. I cook when I want and what I want though lately I find myself wanting more of the things I know that Terry will like.

I can say all of these things but who knows what the future will bring? I just know that it feels good to have someone to talk to who gets me. To have someone look at me like I am special to him and to feel someone hold me again. I just feels so good to have a man's arms around me again.

Johnny will always be my love. He was my first and last love, my first and last lover, my soul mate and my best friend. I feel as if hs is woven though every fiber of my body , mind and soul. It is so hard to be without him and to even think of needing someone else but I do need someone else. I need to laugh without the pain always behind it. I need to feel needed and wanted again. I need to know that I matter and that there is a reason for me to still be here when Johnny is gone.

I have loved him for more than 50 years of my life. It didn't matter that we spent over 40 years of our lives apart and with someone else. We always knew that we loved eachother. It is his love that gives me the strength to live and to want more from life. I just can't let myself forget him. I need to hold him always in my heart, to be able to close my eyes and see his smile and the sparkle in his eyes when he looked at me but I need to to honor the second chance at life finding him again gave to me. So I will grope blindly forward and enjoy all that life has for me and I do believe that Terry may be a big part of that life. I hope that he will be but that frightens me too. I can never forget how much love hurts.

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