Updated: Mar 31
When I lost my husband, I was about sixty pounds heavier than my normal weight, I had just given birth, my boobs were leaking, my nipples had expanded and darkened, and my vagina had been stitched up after a second degree tear following a natural water birth.
I didn't have any stretch marks, but my belly was squidgy, my brain, body and eyes were tired, and I had begun to notice sneaky silver strands of hair on my head. When I was pregnant and hubby was sick and going through aggressive chemo plan, he still wolf whistled when I walked by, got changed or got out of the bath or shower. Even once when I was walking through the house pregnant and he was dissolving extremely high doses of Fentanyl under his tongue and couldn’t speak, he wrote something down on a piece of paper and handed it to me. It read "Me wolf whistling if I could". He had the hots for me until the very end. He loved every inch of me and vice versa. And then, he died.
There was a man he knew, trusted and worked with who was going through a divorce. Somehow, we gravitated towards he each other in our strange and surreal realities. Together, we dined, drank, and didn’t think straight. Before I knew it, I was leaving my three month old with my mother-in-law regularly to see him. I craved the freedom to indulge my grief without responsibilities. I decided that I was living a fake, mistake life that didn’t count anyway and therefore being a mother could be part-time with all the help and support around me. I decided that that was better for my son. My broken heart and mind had it together enough to know that positive and patient people looking after the baby was one of the smarter and safer choices I could make as a new mother in my frozen state.
Finally having sex for the first time in almost a year, after all the hell and trauma was like a drug. My new “grief boyfriend” claimed to have a high sex drive but after a short time together, even he admitted it wasn’t THAT high compared to me. I was on a different level. This is called Widow's Fire. I craved sex… 1. To make up for lost time and 2. To escape.
I was spending hundreds of pounds on lingerie and trying to transfer a decade long amount of love onto an undeserving man I hardly knew. Turns out he was an uptight, depressed, alcoholic and a prude. At forty five years old, he always wanted the lights off when I wanted them on, he never went down on me, was uncomfortable getting blow jobs, always sweaty to the extent I thought he was going to have a heart attack, rarely finished and when he did, he was twitchy, awkward and grossed out by his own ejaculation.
In the end, the relationship ended almost as quickly as it had started. After a couple of extremely dysfunctional and disappointing months, it was over. We didn't stand a chance.
One of the last nights we spent together, we fought yet again about sex. I felt confused and rejected for wanting sex in a position I classed as basic. I wasn't free to be me, free to want what I wanted. Before I drifted off to sleep, he came out with he words “You’re a very intimidating woman.” Who would have thought that even in what I perceived to be my least attractive phase physically, I still had a body confidence and sexual self-awareness that was ingrained from my husband and the trust we had built. I was more confident than I thought, felt more entitled and deserving of physical attention than I thought and was also still very comfortable naked, which I didn't expect. I ran to this new man for sexual comfort, a physical and mental boost, but it was no comfort at all. It just made me miss my husband even more.
I knew that years later I would look back and understand, in hindsight, how the sordid affair served a purpose. The whole thing was a distraction, an escape and a symptom of desperation for human touch, to be desired, to feel normal again. For the brief time we were together, I discovered that I was still in there. Death changes us, but some of the fundamentals about me were unshaken and I realised that the loss of my hubby had not crushed my confidence and birth had not robbed me of sexual function or fantasies.
Even in my earliest days of grief, I was left with some hope that life was still worth living and perhaps, one day, a sex life too.