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What It Means To Date Again After Losing The Man You Loved

Dating

It was a quiet Friday morning in September.


I got up early to get my 6-year-old daughter ready for school. My husband had lost his job a few months before, so I opted to make coffee at home instead of making my usual stop at our nearby McDonald's. I thought to myself, I'm just going to do my part. Frustrated by the previous months my husband and I had been experiencing, it was clear to me that some changes needed to be made as soon as possible. After grabbing a convenient to-go cup from the pantry, my daughter and I hurried out of our third floor apartment that morning. As we closed the door behind us, neither of us bothered to announce our departure.

We returned home later that evening around 5:30PM. I reached for my keys to unlock our apartment door. As the door opened I immediately saw my husband lying on the kitchen floor with his feet sticking out into the hallway. I was instantly overcome with panic. Is this the part when I call 911? Is this a set up? Go hide baby. I don't want you to see this!

A long 20 seconds passed as I scrambled for my phone to call 911. He's not breathing. I need help. Please come quickly... What do you mean do CPR?

I hysterically attempted CPR on the man I loved so dearly and despised just as often. I tasted strawberries on his breath. I watched as my air filled his lungs. I watched his blue face slightly change from white then back to blue. Is this working? The paramedics arrived, and I hung up the phone. I watched both of our lives fade away that evening.

Within weeks of grieving my husband, I soon discovered he was leading a very different life than what I had known.

His life was consumed by drugs, women, lies, and many secrets that were just too much to bear. Shortly after, I found myself with this new sense of freedom and urge to start over and start dating again.

I quickly learned that not much had changed in the dating scene, but it was much different dating as a widow than seven years ago. After months of having roller coaster emotions surrounding my husband's death and going on many failed dates, I'd like to shed some light into the world of widowhood by sharing what one can expect from dating a widow, and how to cope with earth-shattering grief while dating.

We Are Not Over It

I went to work that morning as a married woman and came home only to find that I had been widowed six hours prior. I loved this man. We had a daughter together who embodies all of the good things he was. Grief does not manifest itself when we tell it to. Grief does not turn off when we want it to either, but this also does not mean that we can't fall in love again. It does not mean that we will never marry again. It does not mean we can't return to normalcy, laugh till our stomachs hurt, or even take risks. It simply means we have experienced a loss that we will cope with forever. We are not over it, and you don't have the right to tell us that we should be one year from now, or ten years from now.

The Difference Between Dad & Husband

Although I pride myself on being honest with my daughter about the details surrounding my husband's death, her memories of him are not quite the same as mine, but I have vowed to preserve her truth by acknowledging the good things she has to say about him. We are mothers who have children that mourn and adore their fathers. Sometimes our schedules are no longer as flexible and our money isn't as available as it once was. We would be lying to say we don't crave your attention and want to be with you every single day, but adjusting to being a single mother is a whole new monster we have taken on. We lost a set of hands, eyes, income, and so much more. Don't be flaky. Everyone's time is valuable. Be mindful of the adjustments we have to make with our children.

We Aren't Interested In Pity

I remember having the "why are you single" conversation with someone. His eyes got wide as he slightly tilted his head, Oh your husband died? Oh man, I'm so sorry. We experience so many triggers day in and day out. There is never the right moment to tell someone that you are a widow. It is very awkward trying to comfort the person on the other end of the table who has just heard the news for the first time. We don't want your pity. If anything we simply want your understanding, and we appreciate seeing how you will handle this new information. Will you run for the hills? We hope not.

Sex Is Desired

This is probably the hardest thing to address as a widow. Isn't it too soon? I thought you "weren't over it". How can you feel connected to anyone this quickly? In many areas of our lives, we are allowed to have more than one. We can have more than one child, buy more than one house, and even have more than one job. When it comes to partners and especially after an untimely death, we are often shamed for entertaining the idea of dating, but especially sex. The truth is we want to have sex again. Fun, passionate, fulfilling sex.

Discovering the truth about my marriage changed the way I viewed companionship and motherhood. Losing my husband forced me to reevaluate all of my relationships but most importantly the relationship I had with myself. I am now ready to take on a new journey of love by educating those brave people who take on the challenge of dating a widow and empowering widows to pick up the pieces, start over, and love again.

- As Told To LadyLauraCo

Featured image by Shutterstock

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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