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#30daysofvulnerability2017 #cancercaregiver #badwidow #day30
CAUTION: Today is the last day of my 30 days of vulnerability challenge. Let’s talk about sex.

I loved David forever and a day, from the moment I saw him, across 25 years. In that time, our passion for each other ebbed and flowed, of course, depending on what was happening in our lives. When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and started chemo, we were exhausted. As he lost weight so rapidly, I worried that I might break him. And as the chemo went on, I had an image of the drugs coursing through his body into mine and it grossed me out. I was ashamed to feel that way but I did. There was the drip machine in bed which was significantly not sexy plus the danger of crimping or pulling out the tubes. And figuring out where pressure hurt and how not to touch the mediport.

Being a caregiver ate my whole identity, especially since we didn’t have children. Being a vibrant, sexy woman went by the wayside fast. I fought for the scraps of the rest of me by singing and speaking in those 11 months. So when I felt sparks for another man, I was startled, guilty and ashamed. Even though nothing happened or was going to happen. Feeling those feelings was NOT OK!

After David died, I was ‘supposedly’ free. But not really. There are unwritten rules about how soon it’s OK to feel sexual again. I am almost afraid to wake my body up again, like it’s been sleeping. There is no place for those feelings and self-expression to go. Touch is critical but how much and what kind is permitted for a widow, even a #badwidow? I’m not ready. I’m ready. Who knows?

Beyond my own confusion, longing and hesitation, there’s “what will people say?” There are no clear rules. I was a caregiver for a year but some people are caregivers for years, with or without sex. Wait a year, two years, more? Switch communities so nobody notices and judges? Sacrifice for others, children, family, friends? I am not ready but someday, one day, I will be again. I don’t have answers. I have my own doubts and judgements. I don’t know how to navigate this sensual, sexual maze and reclaim that part of me too. But I’ll figure it out for myself.