The Man I Didn’t Want – A Widow’s Love Story

The man i didn’t want – A Widow’s Love Story

January 2008 in the heart of the winter, that is when he came into my life – the man I didn’t want. My heart frozen in time, hardened like the ice that cascaded and seemed to cover everything around me. If I am being honest, I wasn’t alive, I didn’t want, nor did I appreciate being alive at that time. Destruction had never been my thing – until it became my thing. How much could I hurt myself, so that I would just feel something? Looking back is hard, but it is also what saved me from me. My world felt much like what you would expect of being stuck in purgatory, or was I the one that died and this was my hell?

This man now standing before me and I with my widow heart say, “I am not looking for anything, I don’t want anything.” I had nothing to give. This man that I was very clearly saying my truth right away to, and yet he still spoke these words, “I want something, I want a girlfriend, I want you”. How could he know so quickly?

A smugness, I had never known until widowhood hardened my once soft and open heart, came over me in these days. I told him he couldn’t call me right away, that it would seem too eager. His hand touching my arm, recalling a meeting a couple weeks prior, in a completely different town close to an hour away. A chance encounter with a man I barely knew, just having been introduced by my first husbands mutual friend. I no longer believed in fate, but I couldn’t cheat my own mind by thinking – this is interesting. His lips on my lips and then I walked away. If I continued to walk away, no one could hurt me – ever again.

September 2006. My first husband left in September. How could he have left me here like that? I know he didn’t want to, he couldn’t have known and neither I – but how did this happen? I must have looked so vacant, frail stepping into the coroners office to get Johns death certificate. Somehow holding that paper, it outraged me. Why did I need this stupid piece of paper to certify that my husband was dead. Standing in front of the desk, I asked, “Have you ever seen this happen before? Do you know anyone else that has died from a bee sting?.” I am not sure what I was hoping for with this exchange or what I needed to hear him say, but when he told me “NO”, looking blankly into my eyes – it shattered me again.

I had done everything the way I was supposed to. Small town midwest girl meets local boy, they become best friends, she saved herself for this man, waited for the one, put herself through college, landed a good job, they marry, start building a life, making plans, are getting ready to dig the foundation for their new home and instead of breaking ground to create the dreams we worked so hard for – the ground was broken and my husband was now in a wooden box while his heart and organs were on a jet getting ready to save several others. I was left behind once again, by a man in my life that I loved.

Trusting my heart to another man was never going to happen again! I can’t believe people would actually say to me, “you are young, you will likely marry again” when the dirt hadn’t even settled and my mind wouldn’t give me rest. The nights now closed in on me, sleep, I never knew you could live with so little sleep.

Two weeks into January 2008, the man I didn’t want called. I said “you waited long enough”. He said, “you told me I couldn’t call you right away – want to go out tonight”? I couldn’t. I had created several online dating profiles and I had a date already scheduled. I hated this whole dating scene but for some reason profiling others seemed to pass the time – I kept waiting and wishing my husbands profile or someone who looked like him might just pop up…some of the crazy rationale that went through my maddened mind at that time.

We hung up after saying we would plan something soon. I’m not sure why, but I couldn’t seem to get this man off my mind. I kept pushing him aside. There was something intriguing there. I hadn’t felt like this, I kept pushing him aside. I go on my scheduled date that I was trying to be polite by not canceling, and I just couldn’t connect. I kept thinking about the man I didn’t want. Something came over me, maybe it was the knowing of how precious a minute was, the thought of wasting it on something that wasn’t right. I excused myself to the restroom and I called the man I didn’t want. I said ” hey, my plans are changing, still want to meet up”? He was out with friends, but would call me a little later.

So, I end the night early with my date and met up with two of my best friends. We go out and then I receive a text from the man I didn’t want. It is now after 11 and he is in bed. I say meet me and my friends at the Junction for some food. Never having had been forward in my life, this took me back to the time I had actually ran up to my first husbands truck window when he was leaving a party and said, “So, when are we going to go out”? The man I didn’t want, said how about another time and I think, rationally that was reasonable. Though there was nothing rationale in my life these days. Then he messages me, he is on his way. Some type of thrilling feeling came over me, what the heck was this? As he walked in my heart just did something. I felt the nervous, excitement, flutters. So handsome, kind, funny and he had some edge. We left and he came home with me. We talked all night and just talked. He made me laugh and this man I didn’t want started to become a man I knew I needed more with.

September of 2009, he took a month that is hard for me, and made it into a new beginning. I became his wife on one of the most beautiful days. In the middle of a garden this photo was captured of a butterfly landing right next to us.

I walked down the isle toward my future, taking with me my first husband and a piece of my first wedding gown clinging the flowers that budded above it. I was being married to this man by my childhood pastor and given away by my stepdad who is a constant reminder of how men can show up and stay in your lives. I can hardly believe this man I didn’t want broke down walls in my heart I never knew would be opened, he holds me up when I feel broken again, he forgives me for my crazy antics and he loves me through all of the ups and downs of our life. He makes me flipping mad at times, but I know I also return the sentiment. He reminds me that not everything in life is perfect, but being together and appreciating the times we share and the life we are living and figuring out, means everything.

It is not easy, marriage number one, but then marrying a widow, that is in my opinion a whole new level of navigation. My once soft and penetrable heart, had hardened and a defense and coping mechanism was put in it’s place. A new level of awareness of just how short life is brought up two defenses:

1. I know how short life is, so I am going to live it, show it, and not hold back.
2. I know how short life is, so I don’t want to hurt again, lose again, fear for what I now know to be so true and so I am going to keep a close hold of my heart so that that type of hurt will never find me. (SO unfair to myself and others)

This man, kept showing me he was up for the challenge and we took on this new life together. I had to meet him where he was meeting me. I couldn’t cheat myself anymore. We were put on this earth to love, to cherish and to forgive and forgive ourselves and allow love to come in. Hurts of this life will come but it’s on us to see that we deserve grace, joy, happiness. We get to make mistakes, but instead of holding on to failures we get to release them as part of the journey of finding ourselves through and amidst chaos.

We welcomed two beautiful, vibrant littles into our world, both in October.


We were living the life, the picture. People from the outside saw two successful individuals, a budding family. We were running, he with his business and I growing to the top of the executive ladder and jet setting away. We stopped making time for what mattered – isn’t it funny how we continue to take things for granted in life? He resented me and I resented him. He felt like, I didn’t need him. This conversation came up so often, it became old. I had to stop myself though at a time and sit in those words. He was right. I’m thankful we caught ourselves. I had become so independent. I had learned that I could do life on my own, I had closed off places in my heart for fear of being hurt. I had closed off places of myself to even myself because, it was just too hard to go there. When I almost gave up on us, he asked me to give us another chance. I did and I also knew that I had to meet him where he was opening his heart to meet me. We were both imperfect beings and thankfully still willing to be in it together.

We both showed up and put us at the top. He showed me all over again all of the reasons I needed to stay, he loved me the way I needed to be loved, I loved him the way he needed to be loved. He recently at a dinner with close friends, said, he had become an angry person and he was so thankful I gave us the chance we deserved. I willingly said, I am so thankful for us and that I also put in the work to give us the chance we deserved.


Nothing in this life is perfect. Standing in our kitchen a couple months back, I said “hey babe, I love you” he said “I love you too”. I said, “but I haven’t always” and we both laughed, knowing just what that actually meant. Appreciating this moment and the sweetness and honesty of it. It makes me smile to see that no matter what happens in this life you can go through very treacherous seasons, but if you decide to open your awareness, your heart and you unravel the pieces that you try so hard to keep together – that unraveling reveals true beauty that is just waiting to come out.

Eight years we will be married this year and it really blows my mind how fast our time has gone. I am thankful for this man I didn’t want and just how much I truly need him.

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Patton Oswalt Has Every Right To Be Happy, Trolls | Scary Mommy Article

I love this article written about the recent engagement of Patton Oswald and Meredith Salenger, and shared by Scary Mommy. What I love even more is that Erica Roman a fellow widow, I and many in our widow communities have connected with on this journey shares. She writes from her heart, a widows heart and perfectly addresses those who have and are publicly judging and criticizing – Patton Oswalt for moving forward through his journey as a widower – finding new happiness and love. Judgments that myself, you and others have likely faced ourselves.

His new love does not replace his first wife, he has found an appreciation in life for sharing it with another – expanding his heart and want for more for him and his daughter. He is showing others that it is possible to love again and live fully after loss. He will continue to grieve his first wife while also loving his second wife. How do I know this? I know, because I am a remarried widow.

As a remarried widow, I have such appreciation for this coverage and correction of societies ridiculous misconceptions. I will be sharing more this week in a blog post written for Hope For Widows Foundation about my love story. The blessing of opening my heart to a man I didn’t want, and how he has become a man I hope I don’t have to live without. I know well though, that some day he may leave this earth before me, or I before him – just as my first husband did. I am thankful that I get to share what moments we have, together with our two daughters.

Be happy, be free and don’t ever let others shape what is meant for you.

Patton Oswalt Has Every Right To Be Happy, Trolls

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Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable and beginning again after loss to find the beauty in the broken spaces of your life | with Tanya Smith of A Widow’s World (TLBP #64)

My podcast episode is LIVE on iTunes, Android!! Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable and beginning again after loss to find the beauty in the broken spaces of your life | with Tanya Smith of A Widow’s World (TLBP #64)

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/getting-comfortable-uncomfortable-beginning-again-after/id1088514723?i=1000384504618&mt=2

Friends on today’s episode of The LifeBeats Project I was humbled to be featured as a guest. Please read the podcast show notes provided below from Briana Johnson, Creator of the LifeBeats Project.

I am grateful to be able to introduce you to Tanya Smith of A Widow’s World and Addelise Inc, a remarried widow and mother of 2 with a passion for not only supporting widows in their journey of healing, but also to help other women entrepreneurs reach their full potential and see that you can find beauty in the broken spaces of your life. Tanya shares her story of an unraveling family life in a small midwest town that left her feeling that she would never rely on a man or put trust in a relationship. Seeing her mother work hard for her family and learning that life is hard but is what we decide to make of it, she worked 3 jobs to put herself through college. She met John who drew trust out of her and helped her to believe in real love that could last a lifetime. After one year of marriage and seven years together they were getting ready to break ground on their property to build a home when John was stung by a bee. Tanya shares the heartbreaking events of losing him and the conflicting emotions of helping to transport his harvested heart in a cooler to an airplane bound for New York to help save someone else’s life. She tells of the days and years ahead full of hope, support, but also self-destruction, and not wanting to go on without him. She shares what she began to do to heal and to learn to trust her inner self to step into who she was meant to be. She explains her term for widows as keepers of the flame and helps them and others to understand that the loss and love is never going to leave and they will never get over it but they can embrace their story and they can find love again. She explains how it is possible for her to love her first husband and now love her second husband. She tells of her experience on the 10th anniversary of her first husband’s passing and how she was able to look back at her broken self and see who she has become and how important it is that we acknowledge and take pride in seeing what we’ve overcome. Listen and be inspired to began again and see beauty in our brokenness.

Want to know if this episode it for you? This episode is perfect for someone who has lost someone they love, especially a spouse and is looking for support, hope, and evidence that love is possible again. It is also perfect for anyone who is looking for a new beginning, who is wanting to heal, and is ready to make a choice to make life what they want out of it. It is also perfect for someone wanting to understand the widow’s heart and how it is possible to love more than once.

What is this episode about? In this episode you will learn about:

  • why Tanya left being an executive at a multimillion dollar company to begin her own marketing company to support entrepreneurs build their dreams and why she began A Widow’s World
  • putting yourself out there and being so vulnerable and why hitting publish can be so scary
  • how Tanya learned that no one is going to hand us a thing, we really have to put out what we want to get
  • Tanya’s lesson to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and how every next level of yourself will demand a new you, a better you, and a more learned & attuned you
  • how she grew up in small midwest town with a graduating class of 18
  • how at the age of 13 parents’ marriage unraveled and how she felt like she really grew up quickly and wanted to help her mom any way she could
  • how her mom worked really hard and rooted them in belief system and faith
  • how Tanya pushed through her independence and learned that life is hard but its what we decide to make of it
  • John, her high school sweetheart and how he drew trust out of her because after her dad left thad thought would never rely on a man or put trust in a relationship
  • how John made her believe in real love that could last a lifetime
  • Tanya and John being together for 7 years, including married for one
  • how they were preparing to break ground on their property to build a home when John was stung by a bee that caused him to code even though he was not allergic
  • how Tanya had a panic inside but believed everything would be ok
  • John coding twice but then came back for 3 days in the hospital until there was no brain activity
  • how he helped save 6 other people through organ donation
  • the events of Tanya watching through a chain linked fence as John’s organs were being brought to planes and how she herself carried the cooler with his heart in it
  • a rainbow of peace that appeared between the two planes
  • how John wanted to be a storm chaser and how Tanya had worried about them dying together, but how she then wished they could have
  • Tanya’s concept for A Widow’s World of keepers of the flame
  • how Tanya and many other widows have moments where don’t want to go on living without their loved one
  • Tanya recalls the first time someone calls her a widow
  • how we have the power to take what happened to us and do something good with it
  • how we have to start trusting our inner selves and stepping into who we were always meant to be
  • the first thing that helped Tanya heal was thinking about how would John want me to live me life
  • her self destructive stage and the time when she fell down stairs and the thoughts in her mind that “you can’t live in this place, this is not who you are”
  • the importance of journaling to heal, including writing down funny memories like their waxing eyebrow story
  • knowing in your heart you will never get over it, but you can get through it, if you allow yourself to live fully
  • how widows are scrutinized by everyone on everything in regards to healing or not healing
  • how it was weird to feel a spark when she began to date Dave, how his love and support changed her and gave her new hope she didn’t think she would feel
  • the strange feeling realizing she loved him but would always love John
  • how her second husband has shared how he never feels like she is holding back and how important it is for her to to be able to give him what he deserves
  • her advice to widow’s to share your story in the beginning when dating and whoever is strong enough will remain
  • why she began a Widow’s World and her desire to support and share others’ stories
  • her purpose for her new company Addelise: to help people build their dreams
  • going back to a place 10 years later after her first husband’s death to see who she was then and then seeing who she has become
  • her advice to say to go back to those places, face those fears & hurts or you’re never going to be able to live wholly or fully
  • her advice to find pride in seeing what we’ve overcome and owning what we have done, sharing how it helps others

Show Notes:
A Widow’s World website – her heart is to help empower and inspire other women through loss. She would love to connect with you here
Addelise Inc website – She is offering a free consultation to help you with business development ideas and discuss branding questions you have. If you use her service to do your website, she will provide free social media branding. Reach out to her at tanya@addelise.com and let her know you heard her on today’s show.
Tanya’s A Widow’s World Instagram feed, Facebook Page, Facebook Group, and Google Plus account
Gift of Hope – Organ & Tissue Donor Network

LifeBeats Project socials:
IG: @lifebeatsproject
FB: The LifeBeats Project
Twitter: @lifebeatsproject

Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/lifebeats-project-briana-johnson/id1088514723?mt=2
Here is the link to the podcast show notes:
http://www.thelifebeatsproject.com/tanya

thelifebeatsproject.com
An iTunes New & Noteworthy podcast and blog for connection, inspiration, and the illumination of your extraordinary.
Listen and be inspired here.

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