Saturday, October 27, 2018

Never Say Never



Oh, but I did ... often ... during these past 8 years.  Never gonna date. Never gonna love someone else. Never gonna have a new person in my life.  Never gonna do 'that'. Never, never, never. And I believed all of that with my whole heart. So many of my friends kept saying 'Never Say Never' but that did not change my mind. I knew beyond a shadow of any doubt that I would be alone til the end of my days.

But I was wrong. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. In fact ... I'm rather excited to admit that I was wrong.

That really nice guy whose messages sneaked into my in-box after I closed up my Match profile? Well, let me just say that this past month has been full of 'Never Say Never' moments.

We both wanted to take things slow. We both felt that we needed to become friends first. We talked on the phone, texted and FaceTimed a lot to get to know one another. He lives an hour away from me, 'over the hump' in Pahrump. I've spent a lot of time with him and I've grown to love that drive over the mountain pass.

His name is Jim and I love his sweet dog, Sheila. He has a beautiful home and an amazing backyard. He's 6'4", I'm barely 5'4". He has a Harley, a couple of them actually. He's a Viet Nam vet; retired military (20 years) and retired civil service (27.5 years) running clubs on Air Force bases around the world. He's funny ("freaking hilarious") and makes me laugh every single day. We talk about anything and everything. I am a totally different person when I'm with him. Oh, I still carry around my bag full of insecurities, but I'm working on leaving those behind. We took a road trip in his RV. We're planning some other RV trips and a really big out of country trip. I've missed hockey games for him (!!) and some of my local widow group meets. I took him to a hockey game. And I've fallen way behind in my volunteer responsibilities because I want to spend time with him.

He is nothing like Vern. And that is ok. Perhaps it's even better than ok, because there is no need for any comparisons. I don't think I'm like his Estelle either. They had 51 years together and he lost her in August 2017. Vern and I had 41 years together and he's been gone 8 years. So neither of us had dated in around 50 years - shocking, huh?  I kind of think Vern & Estelle just might have had something to do with us finding one another.

I have many friends who are saying "never" and I totally respect their decision. I've stood with them on that soapbox many, many times speaking out against those who tried to tell us we couldn't possibly say 'never'.  But you can. And perhaps it is right for you now and may always be right for you. I will support you because I know those feelings.

But if you start to feel that little nudge to open up your heart and mind just a teeny tiny bit to give whatever might be waiting out there for you a space to explore ... do it. Take a chance. It can be spectacular.

I've written about the ugly side of opening yourself up. But I when I think of what I would have missed out on if I had just deleted Jim's message because I was so done with Match, it scares me. I've lived my life listening to those whispers, those little nudges to do something or say something even if it feels scary. I am so very grateful I responded to that whisper that said "open them up" when Jim's messages arrived. Those of us who have lost our loves know that life can change in an instant. Have we moved quickly?  Yes. But at our ages, why not? Tomorrow is not guaranteed, so grab hold of happiness whenever you can, as fast as you can, and just enjoy every single moment.

Our story is just beginning, but it feels pretty darn awesome. I am happy. I am grateful. And I want every one of my widowed friends to experience this ... if they want to.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Ah, September, you teach me so many lessons

Well, I'm back in here because I haven't had time to update my web site so I can start blogging over there and I really need to write about September. The 30 days between our wedding anniversary on August 23 and the day Vern died, September 22, have never been easy. Some years have been especially hard, some not so bad, but this year's march to the death date nearly did me in.

Those of you who know me personally know I'm a very positive person, but I will admit that this year I slipped into a depression for the first time. I spent days mostly in bed because if I got up and stayed awake the tears would just not go away. I even missed my Golden Knights FanFest because I just could not get out of bed. I've never experienced anything like that. And I'm grateful that it only lasted a few days.

These were the hospice days. When we both knew he would not be here long. They were hard days. They were beautiful days. They broke my heart. They filled my heart. I got to say all of the things I wanted him to leave this world with. He spoke very little, but the few words he shared will rest in my heart forever.

So I was vulnerable. The scammer incident, the total lack of interest from anyone on eHarmony and the resulting hits to my ego, both of my computers crashing and losing important documents and photos, and I was just so so tired ... well, I guess I learned that I do have a limit in what I can withstand.

But, once again, Vern gave me a nudge when it was time to snap out of it and get back to living my life.

So what did I do on September 22, the 8 year anniversary of Vern's death, after coming out of those days of depression?  I joined Match. What?!?!

It was crazy, I know. eHarmony was hurting my heart. Why the heck would I think it would be any different with Match? And to do it on THAT day? WTH.  But my gut (Vern) was pushing me to do it, so I did. I actually laughed about it with Vern. Yeah, I talk to him all the time. Yes, out loud.

And, yes, I did get more activity on the Match site. Lots of fakers and some messages of interest but nothing progressed. So after sharing those awful days of depression with a dear friend who strongly urged me to get off the dating sites, I closed up my profiles and turned off the matches and notifications. And it felt good. If someone new was coming into my life they were going to need to track me down on their own.


Fast forward a few days and I found two messages from Match in my in-box. JG liked me; JG sent me a message. How did those messages get through? I had turned off all notifications and emails. And there was that nudge again. "Open them up." So I did. And I responded to the message. And so did he. And he seemed like a real guy. We messaged on the Match site and then moved over to texting and then to a phone conversation and FaceTime. He was definitely a real guy - a really nice guy - and we decided we wanted to meet. We did. And I am happy. And I won't be sharing more about that right now. This time is for us to get to know one another and see where this might go.

But I felt I needed to share this wonderfully good news with my blog readers to counter the bad posts about my dating site experience. I have a lot of widowed friends ... many who are contemplating dating ... and I think it's important for them to see that we can take a hard hit and yet still get the prize. We just have to keep believing that it's possible.

I spent 7.5 years not believing. Not one man ever expressed an interest in me in all those years. That didn't send me into a depression because I didn't believe it was even possible that I could love anyone other than Vern. Or that anyone else would ever choose me. And I had gotten myself so busy and my life so filled with doing other things that I was ok with being alone.

But then everything changed. And I started to believe that it was possible that someone else could love me and I them. This year has been hard as I've worked through all of that, but those lessons - even the hard ones - were needed to bring me to where I am today.

Feeling my heart flutter as I await seeing my new guy again this afternoon.


Thursday, September 6, 2018

It's a New Day!

It's time to remove the word 'widow' from my blog title. 

I'll leave all 8 years worth of "A Myeloma Widow's Journey" posts here on Blogspot - for me to reference and for any new widows to find - and will start a new blog over on my biz web site.

 Here's where you'll find it:   http://www.tendingyourheartandsoul.com/

I need to spend some time getting that site updated with my 2019 Soul Restoration Retreats and the new blog and will post a note in here once it's ready to go.

So ... let me just assure everyone that I'm ok. Yesterday was pretty awful and I don't want to ever go through something like that again.  Many, many thanks for your posts here and on Facebook. It helped immensely to feel your support and love while at such a low point.

After what happened, many advised that I no longer emphasize that I'm widowed on my social media. OK. I'll give that a try where I can. I've updated my eHarmony profile and it is now very bland; it does not give a glimpse into who I really am like the old one did. (Maybe I made it bland on purpose because I really don't think the online dating thing is for me.) I've changed my Facebook settings from public to friends only and will use my Tending Your Heart and Soul Facebook page to advertise my retreats to the general public.

The graphic I chose to use on this post makes me smile. For a rather surprising reason. You see, Jeff - my eHarmony scammer - sometimes used 'Sunshine' as a term of endearment. I now know that's a pretty common thing for scammers to do. But on this morning, after a mile-long walk with only a few tears shed along the way, I think that graphic is my closure on that whole ugly episode.

I learned a lot ... about scammers, about what to share on a dating site, about how to respond to questions from suitors, and - most importantly - I learned a lot about myself.

My lack of self-esteem is what allowed him to manipulate me, to make me feel that I was lucky this handsome, high-ranking Army guy had chosen me out of all of the options he had available. And that put me in real danger.

Never again.

I know that I am worthy of being loved again ... loved for who I am and for all I have to give to a relationship. I am working hard to believe every word of that with my whole being. 

I believe there is someone out there for me. Searching for me, waiting for me. And when we find one another it will be glorious.

I don't think I need to search for him. "I can respectfully wait my turn."  And those words will be explained in my first blog post on my biz site. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

I fell for a scammer ....

How was that even possible? I know better. I've been processing Widowed Village applications for seven years and know what to watch for. I know all of the red flags. I've even corresponded with some of them who have managed to get into Widville by using other's info and played along until they crossed the line and I had reason to kick them out of there.

But not this time. I even pushed back with a couple of friends who tried to point out the red flags that I refused to see. How could I have been so stupid?

It's a whole different playing field when your heart gets involved. And these guys know exactly how to do that. If you read my blog you know I'm very open and honest. Well I was open and honest when answering each of the questions he asked. And that showed all of my vulnerabilities. He picked up on each and every one of them and used those words that he knew would touch my heart.

Five days. Yeah, just five days. Some may wonder how I could possibly fall for someone in such a short period of time. But I did. Because I've been seeking that "poof" ... that connection ... that person who was going to just show up and be "the one".  Foolish? Perhaps. But it happened with Vern. And I thought Vern had brought this amazing man to me. Instead this guy had read my blog posts and knew exactly how to lure me in.


So how did I finally realize he was a scammer?  I have to thank God & Vern for that. I went to bed last night on a high after our conversation. I couldn't erase the smile from my face and I felt like a teenager (please don't laugh). He mentioned he was reading a book on relationships so I added it to my Kindle and took it to bed to read. I dozed off but awoke within the hour with this urging that I needed to check his emails and texts for suspicious language. It was 1:30am so I figured I'd do that when I got up in the morning, but that whisper would not go away. So I got up and went to my laptop. I selected a sentence, put the quotation marks around it and Googled it. And there it was. On multiple scammer sites dating back to 2010. But still that wasn't enough to convince me. So I Googled several other sentences. Yep. All of them were there.

I searched those sites for his name and photo but didn't find it. And then I chose some of the more personal things he had said ... and there they were on those scammer sites. I couldn't ignore it any longer. So I wrote him a text ... not as nasty as you might expect ... and he argued with me about it!  Tried to make me feel guilty for not believing him. I blocked his number. And then I went into eHarmony and I reported him. Marked his email address as spam, too. And yet through it all I still wanted to believe.

I had searched his name, email and phone number when I first learned each of them, just as a safety measure, but could find nothing - even on the BeenVerified app I use for Widowed Village. And, yes, that concerned me. So I asked him about it and he had an explanation.

Now when I share what he said I expect that every single one of you are going to say .... "OMG Dianne, how could you have not known right then and there that he was a fake."  But I believed him.  It's that heart thing, ya know, and he had already done the work so I would believe him.

So ... he said he's retiring in 6 months and is a Lt. Col in the Army working with special ops teams. And that explained why he doesn't have an online presence. And it also explained why he has homes in TX, AZ and NV.  And he even sent me a photo of his passport. Yep. Dianne believed that a Lt. Col had fallen for her sight unseen and was her Chapter 2.  I feel so stinkin' stupid. And still I cry as I type that. I wanted to continue to believe him even after finding his words on those sites. Pitiful, isn't it?

You see, those feelings I experienced when he and I seemed to just click ... well they were amazing and exciting and powerful and exhilarating ... and I did not want to walk away from that. But I did. And now I can only hope that I will feel that way again one day, with someone who truly loves me and deserves my love.

The internet can bring some wonderful things. Many of you who read my blog I only know online. But it can also be an ugly place where people can pretend to be who they are not with the sole intention of causing destruction. Luckily, I exited before we got to the part where he would ask for my help financially, so only my heart was stripped clean.

I'm trying to replace the image of the handsome man I fell for with what he probably is ... a skinny Nigerian scammer or a 13 year old boy getting his kicks at the expense of an old widow lady. Or maybe that really is him in those photos. I will never know.

I'm not sure what I'll do about eHarmony. I paid for 3 months, so will let it sit until I feel up to peeking in there again. After looking at all of those photos on the scammer site, there won't be a single guy in there that I won't think I saw on that other site. I will change my parameters to just have locals (although Jeff had himself listed as living in Henderson), and I'm going to remove any reference to being widowed. Jeff was the only one out of all of those matches I received that showed an interest. I'm going to try to not let that make me feel bad.

Oh and as for those red flags ... there was a big one that I didn't recognize until the very end. Scammers for some reason like to use first names when creating their scammy name. My guy actually used a first name for all three:  Jeffrey Kurt Douglas

Other red flags: 

  • Not wanting to talk on the phone
  • Having an excuse why you can't meet immediately
  • Suggesting you leave the dating site to text or use email
  • Being too complimentary - or as Jeremy said, "Mom, guys don't talk like that."
  • They ask you a lot of questions
  • The details they give you in a text or email don't match what is on their profile
  • Use of a "pet" name (babe, darling, sweetheart, sunshine)
  • Fake passports can look very real
  • Pay attention to the times when they send messages; that can alert you to them being in a different time zone (or country)
  • If you notice a comment that seems odd or doesn't fit how they've sounded before, check it out. Google it with quotation marks around it to see if it shows up on a scammer site.
  • If they seem too good to be true ... they probably are




Monday, September 3, 2018

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Well after my last blog post I received several pleas from friends (both widowed and non-widowed) advising me to hand my money over to eHarmony and just take the leap. So I did on Friday.

Creating my full profile was harder than I thought it would be. Who am I?  All those questions!  What age range should I select?  Maybe 57-77 ... 10 years on either side of me. My Vern would be 77 now. But I don't want an 'old' man unless it's Vern.  So I accepted my guilt about that and clicked on 57-70. I'm sorry. That does make me feel bad.

And then those matches started appearing and I wasn't at all comfortable in being so judgmental. Some didn't have much on their profile so you really only had their photos to look at. I had to seek advice from a friend who said I needed to 'smile' at those I wanted to perhaps get to know and I could 'hide' the ones that didn't interest me. It was hard!  So I smiled at 4 on the first day, and then 4 more the next day.  Some of them viewed my profile but I didn't receive any smiles or messages.

OK ... that just fueled all of those negative self-esteem issues I struggle with and I was ready to call it quits. But I had a widow group meeting Sunday afternoon so I decided to wait to chat with a couple of friends who are using the site. They said I was over-reacting, it hadn't been long enough and asked what I had on my profile. They read it and both said it was "awful" because I put too much emphasis on my love for the Golden Knights and I had a statement in there that I wanted to go very slow.  Sigh.

I slept on it and thought about changing it. But I am not on a dating site so I can date a different guy every night. That is not me at all. I'm on the site to see if there just might be someone special meant for me. And since I very much believe in synchronicity, I believe that it is possible that I could meet my new person on eHarmony. So I left it as is.

A batch of "what ifs" showed up and that was even harder to deal with. You have to decide right away whether to smile at them or click 'move on' in order to see the next one. These are people who are a bit outside of the preferences I selected. So I took a deep breath and did it. Sent smiles to 4 of them. Ya know, this all just feels a bit ridiculous at my age.

So this morning I was thinking about just shutting it down. I don't need to date. I don't need to have someone to love in this season of my life. I can do this alone thing for another 8 years ... and another and another and another.


But then one sent me a message!!  He's a widower!  And we're talking. And he seems pretty darn nice ... very nice actually.  He has a condo here in Henderson, but lives in Tucson. We'll meet the next time he's in NV.

That is, if he really is all that he's telling me. I believe him at this point.  But yes, it scares me that you really just don't know with this online stuff.

Ya know this life I'm living right now is so far removed from what I expected to be living.  I've had several conversations with Vern these past few days. Wanting some guidance about whether this dating stuff was really something I need to be doing. And I feel assured that he's going to help place the right person in my life.  So I'm gonna stay and see what happens.