Mike and I were very different personalities. We had varied shared interests, along with our individual ones. We learned how each of us needed to move through the relationship, and over time adjusted how we interacted. He trusted my opinion on decorating our home. I trusted his on which wine goes with what meal. We encouraged each other to flourish with our individual talents, without jealousy. Always uplifting.

Mike passed away a little more than a year ago, and I have used the Meetinghouse forum to write about the grief process, to let feelings of losing a spouse move through me. While expressing how difficult it is, I try to write with a twist of cheerfulness. For this reason, I use the acronym FOOWAT for “Fish Out Of WATer.”

Like many couples, Mike and I were no strangers to disagreement. Over time, though, we settled into how we managed discourse with our words, tones and emotions, until we got to the happy state of our relationship again. The emotional rug didn’t pull out from under me when we were at odds.

It feels good to move further from the feelings of loss. It’s also unsettling to move forward romantically, even if it’s what I want to do.

I’ve been dating someone. Along with joy, the relationship has brought unexpected thoughts and emotions. I have the FOOWAT feeling when this new man and I are at odds, like a fish trying to climb a tree. He, of course, has a very different personality from Mike, a different method to communicate disagreement, with words, tones and gestures that feel unfamiliar. I’m sometimes unsure of what to say or do, as I shed the old interaction skin, and try to grow a new, more compatible one that fits this relationship.

I avoided a lot of places for most of the last year, because they were sad for me as I remembered happy times with Mike. When this new man and I go somewhere, the location isn’t necessarily a new experience for me. I stay pretty well in the moment, but not always. I often make the first move to hold hands, as one way to make our memory in the place. It’s inevitable that I have these old memories, and difficult to communicate how alone I am with them, even as we’re making new ones.

I’ve realized I plopped myself into someone else’s more settled life as I’m trying to repair my own. As a result, I’ve taken a step back to regroup my thoughts.

I’m finding ways to feel more like a FIBIWAT (Fish Back In Water). I’m back to regular meditation and exercise. I’m in counseling to figure out a few things. I’m catching up with old friends, and looking forward to making new ones. I’m cooking meals again. It feels good.

I had no idea a new romantic relationship could bring so much confusion along with the joy. I predict I’ll be in and out of the water a few times as I swim forward.

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