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:

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.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

What do I really want?

How's that for an open-ended question? 

Well, there could be quite a long list of things that I want if anything were possible.  #1 absolutely would be that Vern would be alive and healthy. But that is not possible. And neither is my wish that I was still in my 40s instead of my 60s.

But there are some things that are still possible to want and to obtain:

 * To fall in love again
 * To be loved
 * To be cherished
 * To be important to someone

And yet, that is why I'm asking this question.  Is that what I really want?

I honestly do. not. know.

There are days (well, actually mostly nights) when I do wish there was someone here with me. It's the casual love and tenderness that I miss. Being together. Holding hands. Just sharing space. Those little touches.

But to find that would take WORK. And I just don't think I'm up for it.

I really was satisfied with my life. With my alone life. For over seven years. I worked. I retired. I traveled. I met new people. Made new friends. I blogged. I learned new things. I participated in three Grief Diaries anthologies. I volunteered. I started a local widow group. I started a little business. I held retreats. My life was full. Very full. And I was pretty happy ... or as happy as I could be without Vern by my side.

And then everything changed ... and I thought ... perhaps I *could* love again.

I truly had not believed that was at all possible. Not for me. And yet there were those feelings. Such a conundrum.

So I worked through all those feelings and tried that first date. And it was nice. But it told me a lot about who I am and what I can and cannot do. I can't do the casual dating thing. Dating a different guy every night of the week - or dating someone who is dating a different girl every night. And I'm not even going to bring up the sex stuff. Old-fashioned. Out of date. Unrealistic. Yep, that's me.

So I've stuffed those feelings back down from whence they came and I'm once again plugging along. Doing well. Living my life.

But ....
every now and then ...
Boom! There they are again.

The Challenge of Living ... to allow the sorrow and weight of life and yet to dance with an easy and open heart. to ache in your darkest depths and yet to laugh from your light filled center. to know the reality of humanity and yet to believe in the magic of the stars. to act with love in the middle of the fear and to hold each moment as the gift that it is. this is the challenge of living.

So dating has been a rather hot topic lately among my friends. And a lot of talk of dating sites. Advice being asked for and given. It seems that many of my widowed friends are at that stage of wanting to dip their toes into the dating waters.

And I got curious. So I went to eHarmony and answered their questions. Didn't pay anything. Just wanted to see what it was like. I now have 25 photos of guys between the ages of 57-70 who live here in southern Nevada or in California who I am compatible with. And most actually look too good for me to believe that they are the age they say or even who they say they are. And what's with having a profile photo showing them cozying up with a gorgeous younger gal?  That's supposed to attract me?  Ummm - no.  How the heck do you wade through all of that? And why would I want to waste all of that time?  And have to pay for it?

I guess I really am a Pollyanna.  I want romance. To be swept off my feet. And I want it to just happen. Poof!  I know ... I should probably insert an LOL in here after that statement, right?

So I went back in and looked at those profile photos again. And one stood out from the rest. I opened up his profile and his responses to the questions were really pretty amazing. So I clicked on the little star that marked him as a favorite. I don't think anything happens at this point because I'm not paying ... and that's ok with me.  Because really ... now the 'I'm not good enough, pretty enough, small enough, smart enough' stuff is bouncing around in my head and I think I'll just go to bed now and have a little cry. I'll be fine in the morning.

Monday, August 20, 2018

This Alone Life

I enjoyed my 1450 mile road trip to Boise. It was the first time I've traveled up through northern Nevada and I liked seeing the different landscapes along the way. Got to see places I heard about while working at the Water District/Authority ... Pahranagat Valley, Warm Springs Natural Area, Coyote Springs, Ely and some of the ranches.  Although I got to see most of those only because I missed the turn off for 93N off I-15 and ended up going about 20 miles out of my way. Serendipity, I guess. Or construction having removed the 93N sign and I didn't know Exit 64 was what I should have been looking for.

No weather impacts, but did have some dust devils and heavy wind gusts along those barren stretches of highway. They didn't impact me nearly as much as the semi I was following. It was a bit scary seeing him weave back and forth across the road until I realized what had caused it when I hit it. I passed him at the first available moment. Grateful that my new CRV has fabulous 'get up and go' as I learned whenever I was passing a semi, camper and car altogether. Passing on a 2-lane road has always scared me, so when I do it just picture me white-knuckled, holding my breath with pedal to the metal. Zoom!  90mph in a flash! Maybe that's why my hands and arms are sore today.

You see, Vern was always the driver. Always. And I was a rather excellent navigator, if I do say so myself. Well ... he might have said I was an excellent navigator AND random stopper. I kept us on the right roads, but often yelled 'stop!' and he knew that just meant he needed to find a place to pull over so I could take a closer look at something or pull out my camera and take a photo.

So I missed him on this trip. A lot. I couldn't rest my head on his shoulder. Or hold his hand. Just that constant contact and touch, as we always did when we were in the car together. I had to do all of the driving, stay alert ... because he was not there. Well I did do one thing we used to do together ... sing loudly along with all of the songs on the radio. Thank you, Sirius, for being available the whole time.

I can do hard things. I know that. I've done that. Many, many times. But I don't think this alone life will ever get 'easy'. I miss being cherished, loved, missed, valued. Sure, I share on Facebook and here in my blog. I share a lot. Often, too much. But believe it or not, I do not share everything. Not at all everything. And that hurts my heart as I face the fact that this is my life. This. is. it.  So I have to find a way to get used to it. Somehow.

This was a slide used by one of the Brave Girls Symposium presenters.
Not widow-related. But it sure speaks well for me today.
Don't get me wrong. I know I have a good life. I'm happy. Most of the time. And I'm grateful I can do the things that I do. I hope I can continue to do these things for another 20-30 years. But .... I sure do miss being able to do these things with my guy. Sigh. Perhaps this is hitting me hard today because I'm tired. Went to bed at 8pm last night but I woke up every 2 hours and gave up at 3:30am. And this Thursday would have been our 49th wedding anniversary. I need to figure out 49 acts of kindness I can do that day.

An important note to my married friends .... Yes, I admit that I do get a tiny pang of jealousy whenever you post your 'together' photos but please keep taking and posting those photos - lots of them! Treasure each and every moment you have together.  Please. do. this.

Brave Girl Symposium was amazing. I learned a lot ... a lot that will help me when today's little pity party takes a hike. I'll write a blog post about it. But not today.  I have always advised my widowed friends to "feel what you feel when you feel it" and that applies to me at almost 8 years out as well as to someone who has just joined our widowed tribe. It will pass. It always does.

If you'd like to see some photos from my trip you can view them on my Facebook page. Don't think you even need to be 'on' Facebook since my profile is public. Here's a link to my page and just click on Photos and go to the 'Road Trip to Boise and Brave Girl Symposium' album.