A Double Widower’s Journey Through Dating, Healing, And Parenting With Isaac Byrd Jr. Part 2

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Isaac Byrd Jr. | Double Widower

 

In part two of our heartfelt conversation with Isaac Byrd Jr., a two-time widower navigating life at 42, we follow his journey of single parenting, dating, and connecting with a community online. Discover how Isaac turned to TikTok during the pandemic, not to go viral, but to find solace and companionship, hosting Taco Tuesday live sessions that created a lounge-like happy hour for his followers. He shares invaluable advice on embracing spontaneity on social media and the challenges of single parenting, emphasizing the importance of communication over discipline and the support from his extended family. Isaac also opens up about preparing his son for the realities of life as a Black child, the complexities of dating as a widower, and the powerful impact of keeping his late wife’s memory alive. Tune in for an inspiring and deeply personal look at resilience, community, and the nuanced art of parenting through grief.

I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/suicide/suicide-prevention-hotlines-resources-worldwide

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A Double Widower’s Journey Through Dating, Healing, And Parenting With Isaac Byrd Jr. Part 2

Our conversation is with Mr. Isaac Byrd. If you didn’t catch the last episode, you want to go back because that is part one. This is part two. Our conversation with a two-time widower at the age of 42 is about raising his 3-year-old son, dating, and navigating life as a widower. Let’s get into the conversation.

 

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Isaac Byrd Jr. | Double Widower

 

As we ended the last discussion, Isaac was welcoming enough to come back and do part two. He was gracious enough to join us for part two because there’s so much to talk about. We barely got through that. Everybody wants to know about dating and parenting, but before we get into all of that, how did you get on TikTok? What drove that?

TikTok Community

Being lonely, being in the middle of a pandemic, having a child, and needing adults or some type of connection with the outside world. You can only watch so many movies and those kinds of things. I was like, “We’re not going outside right now. Let me see what this TikTok thing is about.” That helped me build a community, in a sense. TikTok has become a community.

I was then like, “I got to interact with these videos.” I never intended to build like, “I’m going to have this huge platform. I’m going to try to go viral,” because I don’t care about any of that. Somebody commented on one of my videos and was like, “Imagine trying to go viral and trying so hard.” I commented back, “Viral is not a part of the goals that I have in life. The rest of you think that, but no.” TikTok became a community. It was a way to connect with people. I’ve connected with several people that I’ve done music with and other things like that. TikTok has been a level of therapy for me. As a matter of fact, I even talked to my therapist about it. It’s a level of therapy for me. It has been there.

From that, on one Tuesday night, I was making tacos in my kitchen. I turned on some music. This was finally when I could go live back when they were really hard-pressed about you going live. You had to have at least 1,000 people or something like that. I finally went live and turned my camera on. My son was probably already in bed. I turned the camera on and I’m cooking and making tacos, and a couple of people have joined. That’s been the thing for two years, Taco Tuesday.

Are you still making tacos every Tuesday? Are you buying them someplace? Have they evolved?

I still make them sometimes. I do buy them, but because of my living or the way I was at my house back in Florida and in changing, my setup is completely different. The cooking part doesn’t happen anymore on Taco Tuesday. For some reason, on Tuesday, I’m trying to get something Mexican or make it. That’s my thing on Tuesdays. That’s how, over time, I developed a community on TikTok, and it’s been really good. I haven’t had any issues on TikTok or anything like that. It’s been pretty pleasant. This is how I met you.

I wanted to expound on that. When they hear TikTok, it’s teenagers or it’s people gyrating on the screen, or it’s doing all this other stuff. You talk about going live. For someone who has no concept of that, can you maybe explain or elaborate on that?

Yeah. Being live is basically, you’re inviting people into your home. You’re inviting them into your life. Some people make it very formal. Some people make it informal. I’m somewhat informal but formal in a sense because Taco Tuesday is a whole theme. The concept of when I go live for that is specifically, it’s like a happy hour lounge. First of all, it was for adults getting off work. Most of us are parents or whatever. We are not going out to a lounge or going anywhere to have a drink. You can grab your drink, get on here, laugh, have some good times, and talk with other people.

Sometimes, I have questions. Sometimes, I have game night, which is fun. Those are brutal. There is a level of competitiveness on game night. My game nights are typically around some type of music theme. I’ll either have questions or I’ll do Name That Tune. What’s funny about that is they get mad at me sometimes because I pick songs and they’d be like, “Nobody knows what that song was on that album. I know. I listened to that album. That was the fifth song. Nobody knows that song. That wasn’t the most popular song.”

I would do that and be like, “If you’re a real fan, you would know this song.” People would get mad at me. They weren’t really mad at me, but it was funny. They were like, “You are always putting your musical prowess on everybody because we know you have a library that’s extensive.” That’s how it goes. It’s inviting people in whichever way you would like.

Some people are very acquainted. We see a lot of conversations around relationships and other things like that. They’re very pointed with a lot of arguing. Those kinds of conversations, I stay away from. I’d be like, “You want to argue. Do you have a solution to the issues that you’re saying you’re having versus you getting up here and saying, “Men do this. Women do that. Single parent this. Bring your blood pressure down a little bit.” I’ll be like that usually or I scroll by like, “I don’t want to go. This is a little weird.” That’s what being live is. It is doing what works for you.

I will admit that I’m probably a little bit more on the formal side with a topic, but I yearn to be a little bit more spontaneous and loose. Would you give me any advice as far as doing a TikTok live?

Being spontaneous?

Yes, freelance and let it go.

All you have to do is click Live. Don’t necessarily schedule it. I’m formal but informal. Everybody knows at 9:05 PM Eastern Standard time on Tuesday, I’m going to go live for Taco Tuesday. However, there are other times when I go live randomly. There isn’t anything to talk about. Depending on if I’m writing a song or something like that, I might turn the camera on and it’s informal. I’m inviting people into my creative process. For the most part, it’s informal. I didn’t schedule it.

If you have enough following at this point and you were to go and say, “I’m going jump on anyway,” they’re going to see you and be like, “How are you doing? What’s good?” You can then formulate a conversation from that and be like, “What are all of you doing today?” What you’re doing can turn into whatever, and then you could throw in current events. There are a bunch of ways.

I’m sweating and hyperventilating. I’m like, “Don’t have a plan. Turn it on.”

I know you’re Military, and I know you like to have a plan. There are people who have the gift of administration. That’s you. I already know that. You didn’t have to tell me that. I know you have the gift of administration and you’re like, “I have to be spontaneous. I have to figure that out.”

I’ve done a couple. It offsets the conversation. Sometimes, people need to connect. You’re the second person that said, “Turn it on and do it.” I’m like, “Huh?

Grab yourself a glass of wine or whatever, or your favorite Stanley cup if you have one. I don’t necessarily have a Stanley Cup. My cups are nice, but they’re not Stanley cups.

Single Parenting Advice

Pandemic, yearning for adult company, and raising a child. What single parenting advice comes to mind that you wish you knew that you didn’t?

I’ll say this. I know there are a lot of conversations across a lot of platforms around single parenthood, specifically around single moms. I’ve never had a disrespect for them or I’ve never had an ought with people that are single parents. I’ve never had a problem with women. I’ve been in blended families, so that’s not an issue for me.

What I will say is this. As a single parent, because I was pushed into that position because I lost my wife, I personally don’t understand how people willfully do it by themselves on purpose. What I mean by that is you know that the other party’s not going to participate and you still want to go through with it. Everybody’s conversation is not, “They don’t believe in abortion.” That’s not the conversation, honestly. I don’t know everybody’s situation, but to willfully want to do it alone and not want the assistance of the other parent is a little concerning to me.

There are so many nuances. As a father, I can only be a father. I’ll tell anybody that I am not his mother and father. I am his father. That’s all I can be because that’s who I am. I understand that even as a father, I can also see the lack of him not having a mother or the things that are missing from him from a certain level of nurturing. Am I a nurturer? Sure. I have my own ways of nurturing. Are there some things that I’ve had to be stretched in when it comes to being a father or parent in this situation without having his mom around? Absolutely.

I don’t think that I would necessarily say that I was some hard-nosed parent anyway, but I do see that there’s a level of having to be more attentive on the care side of certain things that maybe your wife, partner, or whoever would have picked up on because that’s the role that they played when it came to parenting. I don’t have that. Therefore, guess what? I have to do it all by myself.

I personally don’t understand anybody who wants to do that by themselves without a willing participant. I do believe there’s a balance as parents for children. Some people may not agree with that. I know there are conversations going on. I’ve seen some creators having whole lives on and talking about, “I don’t agree that, necessarily, you need to have both parents if one’s toxic or the other.”

I’m not talking about the people that are unhealthy, but a person that wants to have a healthy child or raise healthy children and be in a space where they are healthy, good citizens or people when they grow up that you’re trying to raise, you can see the benefit of having a balance of both parents being involved. It is in such a way that could help mold that child to be someone great. I’m not saying that you can’t do it alone. I’m saying that I don’t know how you would prefer to do it that way. Some people can take that. I know people will get upset with that, but I don’t understand it.

A person that wants to have a healthy child or raise healthy children, you can see the benefit of having a balance of both parents being involved. Share on X

I’ve even had these conversations when I am responding on TikTok to certain conversations that are happening on some of these reality shows and things like that. I’m like, “You all don’t understand. These people are being paid to sell you these dreams. You are trying to live a life like theirs. That’s not healthy what they’re preaching to you.”

You have to be intelligent enough and smart enough to say, “That’s entertainment. It’s not reality. I don’t live in their world. I don’t have nannies. It’s me. I’m the person taking care of this child. I’m the person that’s got to feed them. I’m the person that has to get up and go to work. I’m the person when the diaper needs to be changed. I’m the person that has to make sure when they have a fever that I’m up with them and they get the proper fluids.”

You don’t have all this stuff to beat these bells and whistles these other people have. Stop using their life to try to mold yours around because it’s not real, or at least it’s not real for you. It’s real for them. They also are doing things at the expense sometimes of even being a parent to their own children. That’s a whole nother conversation I could get into. I’ll stop right there.

What I hear you saying, in my version, is it takes two people to make children. It takes two people to make a child. If it takes two people to make a child, then that child may benefit by having those two people in their lives to help them become the person they could be. There are situations where that does not work such as yours where the spouse is no longer here or we found out later the person was different than the person we thought they were, or for all those reasons. What you’re speaking to is you are overwhelmed. Everything has to be done. This is not something you would’ve chosen to do individually without having the other parent involved. That’s your story and your perplexity not to other people but from your perspective.

I wouldn’t recommend, “I’m pregnant now. I want to have this kid,” without considering, as the word of God would say, count up the cost. Personally, would I count up the cost? I’d be like, “There is no way I would do this by myself, not purposely. It’s not like, “I want to do it.” Do I love children? Sure, but I still value that with both parents involved because I believe there is a balance that the parents contribute to each other.

Men and women and fathers and mothers are necessary. That’s my belief. People can feel how they want to feel about it. My belief is that fathers and mothers are necessary. There’s a component as a mother that’s necessary, and then I believe there’s a component as a father that’s necessary. Those two working together collectively with a good unified front will help produce good quality adults later. You may not like that, but everybody’s situation is different.

This is your show, so they’ll have to call me for their conversation.

You could be mad about it. It is not going to change how I think about it.

This is the question that comes to mind. You said that you are your son’s father. You are not his mother and father. Do other family members or friends try to bring some of those components that you feel your son needs or is that strictly by you?

I don’t call my in-laws in-laws. I call them my bonus parents, so if you ever read about me referring to them as bonus parents. My bonus parents are around. I am here with my mother who is also his grandmother. There is some type of maternal, whether it be his grandmother’s maternal spaces and times that he’s able to be with them. However, 95% to 98% of the time, it’s me. He’s not with his grandmother or whatever. He is with me 98% of the time.

It’s not that I wouldn’t allow certain things. I do things a little differently, even in parenting styles. My mom has had conversations with me about certain stuff and I’m like, “Mom.” I’ve had to sometimes have the conversation like, “Some things you’re overstepping. I understand that you want to make suggestions and things like that, but this is my child.” There are a lot of things that I personally am doing differently from what I was raised and how I was raised. Also, there are the complexities of the fact that I am in a different situation and it’s a different timeframe. It’s also very different because I am the sole parent of this child.

I pray even randomly like, “God, help me to be the best dad that I could be. I don’t know how that looks, but steer me in the right direction.” I believe I’m doing so as best as I can. I’m not saying that I’m not open to suggestions, but sometimes, those can overstep the actual parents. The grandparents mean well, but sometimes, you have to draw that line on, “This is a boundary here,” and that kind of stuff. For the most part, 98% of the time is me.

Thank you. When you think of your upbringing and what your son is experiencing, what are 1 or 2 things that you have made a shift in what you experienced growing up?

When it comes to discipline, spanking was a part of my life too as a kid. I’m not saying that I’m opposed to it in some instances. However, I’m not hard-pressed on that as a parent. It grinds my gears when I’m in a store and I see a mom, dad, or someone that gets upset with a child being a child because they’re exploring. They like to touch everything.

My son is the same way. He’s free. He likes to touch everything. He sees something flashy or whatever it is. He could be in the basket at the grocery store and he’d lean over. One day, I don’t know what we were riding by, but he was fine. He was chilling, riding. There was no problem. By the time we got to whatever it was, he reached out and tried to pull it off as we were going by. I was like, “We’re not getting that.” I can’t get upset with him and then have a whole fit in a store. I’ve seen people do that with their kids where I’m like, “Why are you smacking their head?”

What I decided to do as a parent, and this is something different than even when I was a child, was I was like, “He’s at this space where he can reach and touch stuff. I’ll put him in the center of the aisle so he can’t touch stuff either way.” It’s a simple fix. He’s going to try to touch stuff. Why would I get upset with him for exploring or doing what children do?

I don’t expect a 3-year-old to sit in one place for a long period of time, paying attention to 1 particular thing or doing what I asked him to do because they’re children. He’s going to move around. He’s going to be antsy. He’s going to be like, “What’s that in that corner? I don’t really know why that’s there, but let me go find out.” He could have been doing something else over here. Why would I be upset with him for that? That’s one particular thing that I see that I know I do differently because I’m not like that. I remember that as a kid. It was like, “Don’t touch that,” and I get what you’re saying.

The other side of it from a disciplinary, when he goes to touch the stove and I’m in the middle of cooking or something like that, I’d be like, “I don’t want you to burn your hand.” I might tap you on the hand and say, “Hey.” What I do is I strive to do something that I don’t remember having. He’s three. He doesn’t have all the sentences and words, but I’ve never talked to him with any type of baby talk or anything. I don’t believe in that.

I get down to his level, stick down to a knee, and say, “Dad doesn’t want you to touch that because it can harm you. You can hurt yourself. You can burn yourself. We don’t want to go to the hospital. We don’t like hospitals.” Are they necessary? Sure. I have little conversations like that with him when I do something, especially if I have to tap him to get his attention because something he is doing is dangerous. He’s at that point where he can unlock a door and open a door.

Not long ago, he decided he wanted to try to go off the back patio door. He was playing around. He was trying to figure out stuff, and he figured out how to unlock the door. The alarm didn’t go off, but it notified me that the door was open. I was between the patio and the kitchen, which is right next to each other. I had to immediately grab him and be like, “Hey.” I didn’t do any spanking or anything, but I sat down, grabbed him, and said, “That is very dangerous. You do not open doors never without me. Unless you see your grandmom coming in or something, you do not open doors.” I had to have that conversation. Has he done it since then? No.

For me, those kinds of things, I probably would’ve had a belt to my butt and I wouldn’t have had an understanding of why I shouldn’t. You probably don’t want to do that again because you don’t want to feel the belt to your butt. My thought process is, “Let me have a conversation with him on why he shouldn’t do it and how it’s dangerous,” versus spanking. Are both of them effective? Do I think that the other one was more effective than the other? I think the conversation is a better situation to do because he can have an understanding even at three, “This is something that is not a good idea. Daddy is telling me why, and I should listen to what Dad is saying.”

My parents and I didn’t have conversations very often unless there was some type of disciplinary space going on. To me, that makes it very difficult for our relationship. Although I might love you and you love me, there’s a level of you that doesn’t know who I am. I don’t want to be that with my children, and I try my best to do that. It’s not an easy thing because I didn’t see that, but I make an effort to be like, “I’m going to make sure I sit down and talk to him.”

If he’s sitting on my lap and we’re watching, I’d be like, “Tell me about what’s going on on Paw Patrol right now.” He might not completely understand the conversation, but sometimes, he’s like, “That’s Chase.” I’m like, “I know that’s Rubble over there.” He’s like, “That’s Zuma.” We have these moments. To me, those are the things that we should try to do as parents.

Becoming A Father

That is beautiful. What do you think is different about you now than before you became a dad? Do you like to be called a father or a parent? What is the term that you like?

I’m a father and dad too, but what’s different about it?

What’s different about you?

I’ll say this time around because I have a seventeen-year-old who is about to graduate high school too. My daughter is about to graduate high school and I think about that every day.

Did we talk about a seventeen-year-old or did you slip that in on me?

Yeah, I did.

I feel like I need coffee. I haven’t been paying attention. I’m like, “Hold on for a second.”

In the first part, we did touch on it.

Sorry, daughter, and congratulations on graduating. Let me reframe that question and package it. What is different about Isaac being a parent than Isaac being single or without children?

We don’t have enough time for that.

Give me the top three.

Life is no longer about you. This time is different because I was married at the time when I had my daughter, but then this time, his mother was gone. That’s a whole nother world that I didn’t expect, and I didn’t know how I was going to navigate. I’m still learning how to navigate because every day is different. I never had a disrespect for single parents, but I have another level of respect for parents who do it on their own and have had to for whatever reason.

When you become a parent, life is no longer about you. Share on X

I have a different perspective. My rose-colored glasses in a lot of aspects are gone in a sense because I’ve been pushed into something that I didn’t think was going to be required of me. When I look at it, there’s a mom aspect and a dad aspect, and I’m here to pull whatever weight I need to pull. There’s a balance. I don’t have that balance at the moment, so therefore, I’m a very different person.

God has given me a level of patience. One of the fruits of the spirit is patience or long-suffering. My wife used to get mad at me about it. She’d be like, “You are a little too calm for me.” I’d be like, “You’re the hysterical one. You’re the one that is a little bit more excited. One of us has to be the one that’s got to be super chill, and that’s me.” Sometimes, that is not always a good thing in some instances, but my level of patience has taken me through a lot of things that allow me to be in a space where I can be very level-headed. In this situation, it does because I have to be patient. I don’t know everything. I don’t get it correct every day.

As a matter of fact, I had a couple of times where I thought my son did something and my mom was the person that did it. I had to go back. I don’t remember ever getting an apology from my parents for doing something wrong. I’ve apologized to my son, “I corrected you on something that wasn’t you. I apologize because I got on you about something you didn’t even do.” Some people can look at it and be like, “He’s three. It’s not going to matter.” It does matter because I can say, “I was wrong. I got the wrong person.” If I can’t do that with my children, then how can I do it out there outside the door?”

Those are several things that I see that are very different about me. It’s not about me. My daughter is more grown up. She’s going off to college. Those decisions aren’t as heavily weighed on her versus my son. He’s with me 24 hours a day. If I make a decision to do something, whether that’s a business decision to take an opportunity or whatever, all of those things, I have to have him in mind when considering that.

Those are fair. Do you have concerns about raising this young Black man in this world? If so, what does that look like?

Absolutely. There are a lot of concerns. One of the biggest things I look at is education. I have the concern of racism, and it’s not going anywhere. The conversations that I’m going to have to have with him about how to handle and deal with police. The conversations on, “People may treat you wrong or be mean to you because you have a darker skin tone.”

One of the biggest things is education. I’m looking at the educational system. I’m also looking at the things with different things on gender identity and those things. How do I explain that to them? I’m still trying to figure it out and understand it because every day, I find there is something different with it. It’s like, “Do I as a parent stay rigid to this is male and female? How do I have the conversation to help him understand what that is versus, “I may not teach you or model this particular lifestyle in front of you and what is out here when you go to school and other things like that.”

There are a lot of concerns as a Black man. Who do you believe? Even if they don’t look like you, how do you trust them? Are you comfortable being around them? I got to teach them all of those things because I’m pretty much a chameleon in a lot of aspects. I’ve been around all kinds of ethnicities, races, and cultures, and still to this day. Business has taken me around a lot of things. I don’t have an issue with getting along with anyone, but there are some people that I won’t ever be around, and they may be part of some of those cultures I do hang around. I got to be able to tell him how to decipher and discern who’s good for you and who’s not.

All of those things are very much a concern because it’s even vastly different than when I was a child. I’ve dealt with overt racism. I’ve dealt with indirect racism. I’ve dealt with direct racism even in the schools that I’ve gone to. Those things have all affected me. I’ve dealt with it in the workplace. I’ve dealt with it with people. I’ve been able to experience certain things so that I can share them with my children.

If you aren’t concerned about your Black children, that is a big concern because there’s so much that they have to look out for. They can’t aimlessly walk through life without problems. I don’t think anybody can personally, but as Black people, African-Americans, or whatever way identify us, we don’t get to aimlessly walk through. There is somewhat of a look over your shoulder constantly no matter what the situation is. It doesn’t matter where you live or how you move. That’s a part of our culture that isn’t necessarily inherently a part of other people’s culture.

I would agree. Based on your experience and how you show up in life, how do you know that exists and you still show up in life? You’re not having this chip on your shoulder. You’re existing but aware. How does that look for you?

Although my catchphrase on TikTok is, “I’m six feet in real life,” that’s a real thing. I’m 315 pounds and 6 feet. I used to be a former athlete. I’m a big guy. That’s intimidating in itself. I’ve talked about this before. A lot of people don’t know. Even when I’m on a camera, I pitch my voice higher a lot of times.

Not the switchover.

I’ve done voice-overs and things like that.

I’m sorry. Code-switching. Let me use the right word.

It’s not even really code-switching, but I do pitch it a little higher because then, sometimes, people are more receptive. Using my naturally speaking voice, there are two things. Sometimes, it’s not as easy to articulate. Lower vibrations for people from a wave per perspective, it’s hard for them to hear, especially when it’s coming across a phone or whatever.

The other thing too is that it’s more distracting sometimes. For example, Barry White had a really strong baritone voice. Prince had a very strong basic-level voice. When you heard him doing interviews, they’d be like, “How does he sing so high?” Sometimes, that’s a little bit more distracting, so you’re not listening to what I’m saying. You’re listening to my voice.

How I show up in the world is the same way. As a person who has a larger stature, I walk very confidently, but there’s also a way that I try to minimize my level of intimidation in how I walk when presented. That’s because I don’t want you to feel like you have to be on a high level of threat for me because I am a big man. I can’t get rid of this. I worked on this muscle and all this other stuff. These things as an athlete, I can’t get rid of. It’s a part of who I am. With how I show up in the world, I have to be very cognizant of that. Out in public, I smile. It’s not that I wouldn’t smile, but the faces that I made on the wrestling mat or the football field, I don’t do that.

Are there opportunities or spaces in my life that I have to work and look like that? Yeah. I grew up in Baltimore. I didn’t grow up in some nice little picket fence subdivision. I grew up in a pretty rough neighborhood. Depending on where I’m at, I might have to walk with a certain attitude that says, “Don’t eff with me,” kind of thing. I understand when those things are necessary where I can walk with more of a chip on my shoulder versus I don’t have to worry about walking as such because then, I may not be accepted. It is reading the room and understanding what that looks like.

I’ve been a member of a country club for years. When I walk into the country club, I don’t worry about that. I walk in and they’re like, “My. Byrd, how are you doing? Are you going to play golf today? Are you getting your usual thing?” I’m used to that, but I’m also used to walking into a corner store and I don’t say anything to anybody. I’m looking around. My head’s on a swivel. I’m like, “Don’t try anything today, please, because I really want to go home.” All of those things are things that have to be done. That’s how I function in the world. It is reading the room and understanding the environment I’m going into, how that looks, and what that looks like for me.

The corner store, fond memories.

You go get candy.

Exactly. My first thought was candy.

I remember that. It’s not that I used to get a lot of candies because my mom and dad did not play with the candy and stuff, but we all have those memories.

Exactly. If someone is reading this conversation or you meet someone and they’re asking for advice on being a single father, what comes to mind for you?

Lots of prayer. My prayer isn’t necessarily some long, lengthy prayer. Most of my prayer is, “God, please help me be the best dad I could be. I don’t necessarily understand what that looks like.” You are coming from the space of you don’t know anything at all. That’s the most humble space you could be in as a parent. There is no blueprint for being parents. There is no book. Every child is different. Especially if you have more than one, you’re going to notice every kid. I’ve coached children. I’ve coached in high school. I’ve coached middle school and elementary school. All of the kids are different. Depending on where they come from and what their background is, every child is different.

That’s my first thing. Be in the space of giving yourself grace and say, “I don’t know everything.” You’re going to make mistakes. It’s that simple. You’re going to do things that you don’t even agree with. The thing is, forgive yourself for doing the thing that you didn’t agree with and then make adjustments to what you didn’t agree with. You don’t know everything. Give yourself some grace. Pray because you don’t know everything and give yourself some grace. If you approach it that way, you’ll be perfectly fine. When you need help, ask for it, but that requires a community in order to do that.

 

 

Keeping Mom’s Memory Alive

You mentioned earlier about your son, your mom, and the conversation where even at three years old, it’s important for him to hear that you were sorry because it does matter. That tells me you’re aware of his memories and him starting to develop. How do you keep his mom’s memory alive?

There are times that I sit down with him. I sit him on my lap, scroll through pictures of me and his mom together, and he’s like, “Mommy.” He’s well aware of that. When he is at my bonus parents’ house, we have a whole room and other parts of the library that are dedicated to his mom. There’s a collective around that. Personally, I sit with him and we scroll through pictures on my phone or whatever. I show him different pictures of me and his mom.

I talk to him about it as much as I can because it is very emotional. I’ll tell anybody that probably one of the most difficult things to do is to talk about her while she’s not here. There are times that I’ve held him, cried, and had to stop. The last time we did it was not long ago. We were sitting down on the patio and scrolling through. That part is the difficult part.

One time, we were doing his learning. They were talking about saying mommy and mama and he lost it. I had to turn it off. I had to come down to his level and hold him. The whole day, I had to be very extra attentive to him. One time, I was in the kitchen cooking and he was over there watching one of his cartoons or whatever. He turned to me and said, “Mommy, where are you?” I don’t even know if he was three, but he formulated that sentence perfectly. I froze.

I texted my therapist. I talked to her later and said, “I don’t know what to do. He’s like, “Mommy, where are you?” He knows, but he doesn’t know. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know how that’s supposed to work. That’s my thing. That’s where it’s at. Those are some of the most real situations where I’m like, “I don’t have a clue.” When they come, I deal with them in the best way I understand how to or at least where the Holy Spirit is leading me because I don’t have an answer. There is none. There is no correct or wrong way to deal with it.

That is fair. Thank you for mentioning the component of mental health that you have for yourself and your own awareness. You may not have an answer for this yet because it may not have happened, but oftentimes, I hear people minimize the grief of children in comparison to adults. As you’re traveling through this with your son, how do you see that you do or do not minimize his grief?

I don’t minimize his grief at all. I have grief. I don’t know what his is specifically until there are moments like that. We’re coming up to the point where he’s going to be going to school. I’m gearing myself up to prepare for that because he’s going to go to school with a bunch of kids that have their mommy around. They might not have their dad, but they have their mommy. I got to fill in the questions of, “Where’s my mommy? Why is she not here?” He asks questions or says certain things, but he isn’t in that space where he is like, “Where’s my mama?” He might be five and be like, “Dad, where’s Mom? Where is she at? How come all the other kids have mommies and I don’t?” I don’t know how I’m going to respond at that moment.

One of the things I know that I’ll say is, “You do have a mommy.” I don’t know exactly how I would word it, but I know I will talk about heaven for him and things like that. I personally don’t know. You don’t know how you respond to it. I know that even that question of, “Mom, where are you?” and being in a very candid situation when he asked that question made me freeze. I stopped in my tracks. I was in the middle of cooking and was like, “What do I say to that, Lord? I don’t have answers.”

Dating As A Widower

Exactly. That is fair. Some of these, we don’t know. It’s uncharted territory until we are in that space. A space you have been in is dating. For the single ladies who are reading this conversation or for the widowers who are trying to navigate dating again, what are some of the first thoughts that come to your mind when you hear that subject?

As much as I like women, the challenge that comes along with it is I’m like, “Now, I got to learn about somebody else.” That’s a real thing. Me and my wife were best friends. I can hang with that girl 24 hours a day. We didn’t argue. We never did. Did we have disagreements? I tell people every relationship has disagreements. However, I come from a relationship that was very healthy. Our disagreements never became shouting matches or cursing at each other and things like that. I don’t believe in that. The moment I see you do that, it is not even something to talk about.

I find that there’s a certain level of respect that we should have for one another as adults and as men and women. I did that early on in my early adult life. I’ve already been through that stage where we were trying to go back and forth over a disagreement and one of us is trying to win. If there’s a disagreement, let’s sit down and have a conversation about it, like why you don’t like certain things and why you don’t like certain things. Let’s come to an agreement of compromise that works for both of us. It can’t be about one person or the other. If you don’t have that level of maturity, I don’t want to deal with you. The cut-off game is very easy and quick. I’ll be like, “I got to go.” That is one of the things. That was the first struggle. I was like, “I’ve given it to you as raw as it is.”

There’s a certain level of respect that we should have for one another as adults and as men and women. Share on X

You made me think about when my husband died and being back to my Military self. When they say alone, I have six questions. I’m like, “Please tell me about this because I want to know.” My sisters were like, “That isn’t how this works. You have to take time.”

You can’t go into an interrogation.

That is exactly how I approached it. I learned, and this part I despise, it takes time to get to know somebody. You cannot rush it. Like you, my cutoff game is strong because I believe dating was an interview. I don’t have to hang around because I know 75% of this won’t work but he’s cute. Nobody has time for that. I was 51.

Also, I was not dating because I needed no sugar daddy. I didn’t need anybody to take care of me. I’m good all by myself. If you get to be with me, that would be a benefit to both of us. It’s the idea of taking time to get to know somebody and invest and make yourself transparent only to find out not yet. Sometimes, as you go on, it looks right until you find out that it no longer is. I can relate to that. I’m a proponent of when it’s not working, it’s fine. You may work great for somebody else, but you didn’t work for me, so I’m not going to waste our time.

That’s a very fair statement. That’s one of those things that when it came to it, I was like, “Now, I got to learn about somebody else.” The other side of it too is I was like, “This is going to look different because now, I’m a single parent. Now, I have to figure out how that works out,” and then I’m like, “Okay.” It’s dealing with women in a sense where I’m not necessarily jumping in head first to try to date, to get into a relationship, and to get all that stuff. I’ll throw this in there. A lot of people don’t understand that we have to reprogram ourselves to believe that we’re single. That’s what a lot of people don’t understand.

We’ll have that conversation. That is a good place to go. That is a true statement because we didn’t have this formal uncoupling with our spouse. We didn’t go through a divorce or a separation. We didn’t have this situation in our marriage that caused it to disintegrate or to separate where there was abuse or other things going on. We wanted to still be married to this person. One day, we went to bed and we were married. The next day, we went to bed and they were no longer on this planet. In our minds, we are still in this covenant-bound relationship with this person, but within a minute, they’re no longer here.

First, we are trying to understand how we say our name by itself and how we make individual decisions. That’s an excellent point because I could not comprehend trying to date and give somebody else space in my life until I worked my way into that. I don’t know if it will always be through, but for the most part, it’s to realize, “I’m not cheating. Mark is no longer in this world.” I’ll let you go from there if I hit anything.

The death duty part thing, I understood that from a, “I’m not cheating on them,” but it was the aspect of, “Do I want another woman to touch me? As much as I want that kind of thing, do I want to even deal with that part of it? Are they going to be okay with my emotions? Are they going to respect what I’m feeling? If I don’t feel like dealing with them for a couple of days, are they going to walk away?”

As a widower and a widow yourself, you don’t want to deal with anybody. I love my pastor because there are times when I would tell him and he’d be like, “Go home. Close your door and leave people alone.” The good thing is because I’ve gone through it twice, the second time around, I had certain tools that I was like, “I already know that somebody is going to set me off if I deal with it.”

I would take myself home. I’d be like, “Bye. I’m going to go into the house, lock myself in the house, and don’t mess with people because any little thing is going to set me off.” You have to come to grips with that. How does that work in a place where you’re trying to get to know someone? It’s a heck of a challenge because everybody isn’t mature enough to deal with it when you start talking to people.

I’m a very honest person. I’m a straightforward person. I know there are a lot of conversations around the dating pool, how this is this, and people not being truthful. I don’t do representatives. I’m not a representative. I show up as my authentic self. I’ve learned how to become my authentic self. Either you’re going to like me or you’re not. I don’t have any gray areas. Either you like Isaac or you don’t.

For me, when I show up and may share that I’m a widower or whatever and they say certain things and then be like, “I’m not going to live in somebody else’s shadow,” I say, “You could never be them. I’m not trying to make you them.” There are people that jump to that conclusion. When they jump to that, my antennas go up and I’ll be like, “This probably isn’t going to be a good person to deal with,” because you already assumed that you would be in a role or be replacing someone that is no longer here. You can’t be them.

I’ve had people say some of the most egregious stuff. A lot of times, I would say that I was a widower. Depending on how deep in conversation or where we got to a certain point, what I’ve had people ask was, “What was your relationship?” Some people want to know certain people’s complete relationship history or whatever. When a person goes beyond the last relationship, I would rip the bandaid off because I don’t have time to try to go into, “I’ve been married three times and I’m twice a widower.”

I had one woman say to me, “Did you kill them?” I’ve had that. She was like, “I have dark humor.” I corrected her immediately. It was the point of giving her a lesson. I said, “Don’t ever say that to someone ever again.” She backed herself away and said, “I am such a jerk. I don’t even deserve to talk to you.” She was like, “You could rip my head off,” and I didn’t because it was a learning point. I was like, “That says a lot about who you are. You think that that was dark humor. There’s nothing humorous about losing someone.”

I get it. I understand that there are men out here who have lied and said they lost their spouse or baby mama. Those people are weird. They’re crazy to me. There is a level of mental problems you have if you are going to lie about losing someone you love or loved at the time and use that to potentially gain sympathy or manipulate how you are moving in dating. You have to be a pretty sick person to do that. I wouldn’t wish what I’ve experienced on my worst enemy or any enemy for that matter. I don’t have any enemies besides the devil. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

Those are the challenges back to it. It’s a valley of the unknown. I was like, “I was single before, but now, I’m single with a child.” I have to explain that. Before you get to that, they’re like, “Do you have any children?” I’d be like, “I have a child. I’m a father. I have a toddler, infant at the time, or whatever.” The question is, “Where is the mom?” I’d be like, “She passed away.”

You can tell that people’s attitude changes depending on the situation. Some people are like, “Let me find out more.” They have a level of grace or compassion. You can shift in how a person responds to you in those things. I can’t put a pinpoint on it, but you could tell, at least if you’re paying attention. You have to have your antennas up because of that kind of thing.

Have you overcome the concept of wanting to be touched by another woman? If so, what did that look like for you?

I have overcome that. That took time to be okay. We all have that recognition as widows and widowers that there’s that space where we’re like, “They aren’t coming back.” We’re like, “They’re not going to be here to touch me anymore. They’re not going to be here to hug me and kiss me,” and things like that. I said it in the first part of our conversation. My love tank was still pretty full until about a year or so, and then I came to that realization. It’s not that I didn’t already realize she wasn’t coming back, but I was like, “A brother needs a hug.” I’ve had people around that even if they were friends, it would be like, “I need a hug.”

One of my brothers at the church, and I can’t remember exactly what it was and I don’t know what drove it, but it got to this point that every week, we would start to give at least 3 or 4 people a hug. It was something we would do in our congregation. I don’t know if he realized how important that was to at least myself, but it helped us as a congregation on how we as a church family work together in ministry and all those things. That was a thing.

People that are hyper, I’m by myself. I don’t know how that works. Even if it’s platonic, the human touch is a very strong thing. I believe God never created us to be alone as people. Outside the whole thing with Adam and Eve as far as the garden is concerned, I believe that overall, God didn’t ever want us to be alone as humans. Therefore, the human touch is an important thing. Hugs are great. I’m like, “If you don’t want that, that would be concerning to me. What’s broken in you that you don’t want to feel that kind of thing? Whether it’s platonically or romantically, why wouldn’t you want to feel that?” That was something to overcome.

Even if it’s platonic, the human touch is a very strong thing. God never created us to be alone as people. Share on X

There are still things that I had to retrain my mind to accept compliments. I’m going to give a secret to people. This is something a lot of people don’t know, but I’m going to say this to you. I am the master of redirection. What I mean by that is because of my experience of being a music artist and things like that and having been married in those spaces, women do certain things. I will acknowledge that they said that, but I will redirect them. That also was a mechanism for me to not fall into any type of temptation. I’m like, “I already have someone at home. I’m good.”

I recognize that there are other people who recognize me and say, “You’re a nice-looking guy. I want to know this,” but I also would redirect. I’ve had to learn how to break myself out of that. It’s not always easy. For the better part of my adult life, I’ve been married. Whether that’s all the times that I’ve been married or not, there is the point that being single hasn’t been a big part of who I am as an adult either. It’s having to be like, “She likes you.” You could say, “Thank you,” and you could flirt back if you wanted to. It could be off-putting to some women. It could also be discouraging to them. I’d like, “Did I really do that?” They’d be like, “Yeah.” That’s a real thing.

It can be like, “She’s flirting with you.” It’s acceptable. You’re not married anymore. You can go past this part. There’s no line here. Those are things that a lot of people wouldn’t understand that for widows and widowers, that’s a space that’s real for us, or in some people’s cases because everybody’s integrity wasn’t there. For the most part of it, that’s a real space for us. You’re like, “I can accept compliments from somebody else?”

Can you date more than one person at a time?

I’m not really a fan of that. In my previous dating life, I’ve either gained interest and then courted them and then got married. I wasn’t playing the field or whatever you want to call it. Personally, I tell people, “I could never be a player because I’m not good at it. There isn’t a way I would do it.” I’d be like, “You might like sunflowers. She likes daisies. The other one likes roses. Now, I have a problem. I’m bringing somebody a bonsai plant and none of them like it.” It’s like, “What’s going on?”

For me, I would rather date one person. How do I funnel down to that? I’m going to have to talk to different people to see who I like and if anyone aligns with certain principles and things like that. That was one of the things, but overall, I couldn’t date multiple people at one time. I don’t think I’m built for it. You like quality time and that person likes the physical touch. I’m like, “Which one was what?” If you mess up or say the wrong thing to the wrong person, then that becomes a whole, “Who else are you talking to?”

I’m also in the space of when getting out from a dating perspective say, “I’m very honest about where I am emotionally.” I’ve also been very clear like, “I’m not in any rush to do anything.” I’ve been clear about what my level of commitment can or won’t be at that particular moment. If a person was hard-pressed about getting married initially or saying, “That’s what my goal is,” I had to be honest early on.

When I got out into the dating world and put my toe out there, I was like, “Marriage is a question mark for me right now.” I didn’t necessarily take it off the table, but I was like, “That’s a question mark for me. I’m not going to make you feel bad about it. I’m going to tell you I’m not sure.” I said, “I might feel different about that in six months, but I don’t know.”

People ask that so quickly.

It’s a real thing. Previously, I had no problem saying, “My goal is to end in marriage.” I’ve pretty much, for the most part, moved in with intention. This time, it was like, “I don’t know how I’m going to be able to move specifically when it comes to that level of commitment because I’m still really broken in that area. I’m all cool with going out or starting to mingle, but if you expected me to commit to a relationship with you next week, that isn’t happening.”

I was very real with people like, “I’ve had situations with women that tried to push me and then I cut them off. I told you where I was. I said where I was, what I couldn’t do, and what I wasn’t comfortable with. We’ve spent some time together and you like me and I like you, but now, you are trying to take it to a level that I have said, “Give me the space to lead you down and I can tell you emotionally where I am.” My thing was I was honest about what I could handle and not handle. It was for me to say what I am. Number two, it’s also for you to say, “I’m willing to deal with that,” or, “I’m not willing to deal with that.”

You used a lot of code words. I’m going to ask some very direct questions here.

Go ahead. You can ask some direct questions.

You’re meeting someone and there’s the idea of hearing you’ve been widowed twice. This is not someone who is coming off as crazy. This is somebody that’s genuine and someone that’s trying to understand that. Is there anything in the back of your mind about, “I could be here again,” that almost makes you not want to date?

Yeah. That’s a very real thing. I had come to a grip with that. I talked to my therapist about it at one point. I said, “I have an unspoken fear of marriage again because I don’t want to be a widower again. I don’t know if I want to make somebody a widow.” What people may not recognize, and I’m going to share this with the people that are reading, is that your concept or thought process around mortality becomes more real the moment you lose someone that’s very special to you, or even if it’s a family member. When you start looking at your age and things like that, mortality starts to become a real conversation with yourself. You start being like, “I might be in the latter part of my life. How much longer do I have for me?”

Your concept or thought process around mortality becomes more real the moment you lose someone that’s very special to you. Share on X

For me, my wife was in her early 30s. I’m 42 now, but I was 39. She was in her early 30s. It’s like, “Dang.” I had a previous wife who passed that was in her 40s and then 1 in her early 30s. I had it on both sides of the spectrum. It’s a very real thing. I’m like, “I don’t know if I want to do that. I don’t know if I want to go that far because what if I lose somebody else? What if I leave? Now what?” Your own personal mortality becomes a real conversation way more than I thought I would have.

How do you deal with that fear, that anxiety, or the stress around that?

I don’t know if I’d necessarily deal with it in a sense, but where my brain goes is that I try to live. I’m like, “I’ll try to enjoy life as best as I can because you don’t know when it’s over.” Initially, I didn’t really necessarily deal with it. When those thoughts hit me, I go to a small prayer in a sense to try to put myself in a space where I can pray. I’d be like, okay, “God, I would love to see my son grow up, get married, and go off to college.”

I try to understand a future space. That was one of the things that my therapist had unlocked for me early on sometime in 2023. She said, “You have to release the vision that you have for your family.” I shared that in part one where we were talking. When she did it, it unlocked something for me because I was like, “I do.” That’s where I’m at. When those things come around, I’m like, “God, I want to be able to see my son. I know you gave him to me for a reason, so I need to be able to be here.” Those are things that I believe offer some type of comfort for me in that space.

(Re)Marriage And Sex

Thank you. Speaking of your son, have you determined how soon or when in the dating experience you would allow someone to meet your son?

I don’t think I had the determination. I am of the belief system of, “If you’re not going to be here for the long haul, I’m not letting you meet him.” That’s for any of my kids. Even my daughter didn’t see the women I dated. She only saw the woman that I ended up marrying, even though me and her mother divorced. The times that she was around, she was around people that I intended or did marry. It was only one. There was only one other woman that I intended to marry that she was around, but we didn’t end up getting married.

I don’t believe in bringing people in and out of kids’ lives because that can be damaging to them. Kids get attached. There are a lot of things. You have to be careful who you bring around your children. For me, it’s not necessarily a timeframe. It’s more of, “Do I feel comfortable enough around with you myself? Do I believe that you’re going to be around for the long haul?”

Initially, I was like, “I’ll never get married again.” That was how I felt initially. I can honestly say what my thought process was or is. I’ve said it. I’m a very honest person about it. If my son wasn’t here, I probably wouldn’t get married again because I feel like I’ve already dealt enough. I don’t know how to explain it in words, but I felt like if my son wasn’t here, I wouldn’t do it. It goes back to the conversation I had earlier where I said that there’s a balance between the maternal aspect and the paternal aspect. When I looked at that, I said, “My son does have to have some type of mother figure on her.”

A lot of people think about men and women differently, or how men in their later stage of life want to have women around because they want someone to take care of them. I don’t care about that part. Number one, I don’t have an issue with marriage. I believe in marriage the way God intended it. That’s why I’ve been able to get married more than once. The other thing is that my thought process around being married again is I’m not going to have some woman in my son’s life who isn’t married to me because I believe that modeling marriage is a good thing for children. That’s my own personal belief. You can believe what you want.

For me, I said, “I believe there is a balance that’s necessary. I can see the deficiencies as I’m three years into this and I can see the necessity of a woman or a mother in his life.” That, to me, is the most responsible and most accurate way to look at things. I can see where that part is deficient. That, for me, was like, “I will give marriage a chance. I will give marriage another shot.”

The catalyst for that is that I can’t only think about myself. That decision is thinking with my son in mind that he has to have a mom and that there’s someone that I believe that we can have a life together and I can fulfill that. That’s one of the things that helped me turn the corner when it came to marriage. Otherwise, I was like, “I wouldn’t do it because I’ve been through enough emotionally.”

I don’t know about some people, but marriage is strong from an emotional and spiritual point of view. I don’t know how people are like, “I got divorced because I don’t like this person anymore.” I’d be like, “You think marriage is fun and you can throw it in and out when you want.” I know some people don’t believe in the word of God. I get that, but for me, that isn’t something you play with. There are spiritual, physical, and emotional ramifications that come along with marriage. That’s where I’m at with it.

I’m very protective even with family or relatives. The pandemic kids are different. I can say that because I’ve been around other people who have had pandemic children. They’re way more advanced than most children are. I do believe I have a very good gift of discernment. My son’s level of discernment is if not more keener than I am.

He will cling to me when there are certain situations. We’ve been in certain settings, and I’m teaching him that space of not going up to strangers and stuff like that because he’s a very friendly, sociable child. Sometimes, I have to catch him because he is about to run up to a stranger, but I believe he’s good at it. I’m cognizant of that, like, “I’m not going to bring anybody around my kid.” I don’t believe in timeframes. I look at it from a, “Am I comfortable?” My thing is, “Do I believe you will be around for the long haul? If you’re not, I’m not bringing you around him.”

He already has a wound and a scar that is still ripped off. I don’t know how ripped off it is, but I know he has a wound. My job as his father is to protect that wound and continue to clean that wound as long as I need to. Probably, I won’t ever be able to fully clean it, but my thing is that there’s a wound that he has that says, “I don’t have my mother.” He knows who his mother is, but he has never tangibly seen her. He has never touched his mother physically. That’s another part of it too. Even after delivering, with the way things happened, he has never been in her arms.

I have to be very mindful of if I’m going to allow a woman to be in his space, whether that’s friends platonically or not, I have to know that they’re going to be around still. I don’t want him to be attached to them because then, he’s got another wound because they’re no longer here. That’s where I’m at. It is like, “I got to be comfortable. I got to believe you’re going to be around for a long time.” That’s how every parent should be in general. You are looking for those people to be around before you bring them because they are the innocent ones. You have to protect them.

That is fair. Earlier, you mentioned different types of love languages. What is your primary?

They flip. This is the thing about a lot of people who have never read the book or have never participated in that world.

Different seasons of your life in different areas. I have read the book.

It’s a great thing. My wife and I did it together as a couple. We had an understanding. That was one of the most disheartening parts of losing her at the time because we had gotten to the point where I felt like all of our cylinders were firing like they should be. I was like, “We did a lot of work to get here.” We were two years in. The point is that they do change.

Before, words of affirmation were the thing for me. The physical touch space has become more dominant for me because I no longer have that anymore. Words of affirmation is a close second. The reason I would say that is because you want to know that you’re doing a good job as a father and things like that. There are some who are giving me words of affirmation. That does something for me as a father. They know that’s something that I need to hear. There are people that are in my life that are either friends or whatever and they do it not knowing that that’s a love language for me in a sense where I need to hear that. Every parent wants to know that they’re doing a good job.

As a father, the world doesn’t recognize fathers collectively in such a manner in which there’s praise for them. It’s, “You should be doing X, Y, and Z. You should do this. You should do that.” There’s not an appreciation as they appreciate mothers. For those people that say, “Now you want to be the same as equivalent to women?” No. I’m saying that we still are humans who want to have a level of appreciation and affirmation.

I will have people say to me, “You’re a great dad,” and that does wonders for me. I’ve had people like, “I don’t know how you do it.” They talk to me about this, like, “You lost your wife and you’re doing this by yourself. You don’t have everything that you want necessarily, but you keep going and I don’t know how you do it.” They say to me, “I couldn’t do what you do.” Those are compliments. Those things are affirming to me because I’d be looking at me and I don’t know what I’m doing either. That’s my space around children and how that involves all of this and where I’ve gotten to turning the corner about marriage, not doing it again, or whatever.

 

 

That’s fair. What is your thought on sex before marriage?

Right out here, huh?

It was on my list. Things were coming to my mind when you were talking. You were dancing around the other things and I was like, “Let me go and circle back.” You were like, “They were trying to rush me to do something that I’m not sure about and I wasn’t there yet.”

That was a relationship thing, like trying to commit to a relationship and I wasn’t ready. To answer your question, do I believe the word of God? Mine goes back to the belief system. I get it. Does that happen all the time? I won’t be the first to say that. This is what I will say for me and something I recognized differently. All the relationships including my first marriage, I didn’t do it in the sense of being abstinent prior to marriage and those relationships all crumbled. The last two marriages I had, we were abstinent prior to and they were successful.

I have personal lived experience that says, “If I do it this way, they turn out better.” I’m not saying that that makes it end-all, be-all. I will say this as a person who has lost a spouse on more than one occasion. People need to understand that there’s a whole nother conversation or whole nother emotion around sex. Everybody doesn’t have that.

You’re talking about a widow’s fire.

It’s where you get on anything and everything and you want to do certain things. You have to know yourself enough to be very careful in getting out there in that space. That’s one of those things that it’s not easy because you want to deal with that. That isn’t always easy. I know some people are like, “I need to know if they’re going to please me before marriage,” kind of thing. I’ve worked in both spaces before. My concept or my brain space on sex when it comes to that, I feel like sex is easy. Some people don’t agree with that. What I mean by that is that you can teach me what you want or need in order to be satisfied in that area. I’m also willing to learn. I know every man is not.

They’re not on the show. It’s your conversation.

I had to put that out there. I’m teachable in a sense because every woman is different. You can’t go in here thinking that what you did with somebody else is going to work. I don’t believe in comparison. I don’t like that. Don’t compare me to whoever you were with ten years ago or what you “think was the best sex you had.” I don’t want to hear that. I’m not him. That’s what you had, and you didn’t even like that person. You didn’t even get a relationship. You were smashing him on the side. Stop. I don’t do comparisons and stuff like that. To me, that’s a simple thing to do.

For me, I typically will take sex off the table for two reasons. One in particular is I want to make sure that you really like me. I don’t want to be clouded with judgment because we’ve connected in that space. You might not be the right one for me. We did that and then I’m sticking around too long for somebody that doesn’t fit where I’m going. They can’t handle where I am.

I know that the widow space is very different to handle than a person who has never dealt with it, so someone coming in has to be mature emotionally. They also have to understand, “My wife will still be a part of the conversation for a lifetime because that young man or my young prince is part of a covenant. We created him in a loving space. He has to know the history of how he got here.

I can’t leave her be like she doesn’t get any conversation. You are not being compared to her. You’re not replacing her. She’s not going to take over. You’re not being compared to her. You’re none of those things. None of this stuff has to do with her.” There’s this conversation that we’re around, “If you’re going to be jealous of a person who’s dead, you need to talk to yourself. That’s the point of, “If you can’t handle it, don’t be with me. That’s fine. I’ll probably exit you out before that because I can tell that you can’t handle it.”

There is this part that I’m sure you experienced. I’m sure there are things that your husband does that remind you of your previous husband. It’s not a bad thing. To me, that’s a great thing because I’m on the right track because the characteristics are the same. That’s a wonderful thing, but everybody can’t handle that. It’s like, “I’m not comparing you. You did something that reminded me of them. That’s a great thing, but if you’re not mature enough to understand that, then it can be a challenge.”

For me, the sex thing, I don’t really know because I’m not hard-pressed on, “We got to have sex before marriage in order to know that you can do certain things.” It is one of those things that my lived experience drives me to do more and stay away from dating situations. My conversation in general is I need to know that you are the right one because I don’t like to have any cloud of judgment. I don’t want any cloud of judgment when it comes to you. I’m like, “If we happen to do that prior to marriage, okay. If we don’t, I’m still okay.”

How do women receive that type of statement?

Some people think you don’t want them or, “You’re not physically attracted to me.” I’m like, “I didn’t say that. That’s not what I said.” Some people will attack my sexuality on that. I laugh and I block them. If you thought that I was gay because I didn’t initially want to have sex with you, to me, that’s weird. That’s a very weird, immature perspective or approach. I didn’t say, “No.” I said, “Not right now.” You don’t want to cross those lines.

In the dating world, I have crossed that line before since then. To make it very clear, we weren’t exclusive or anything. They saw someone else that they wanted to go deal with. I was okay with that, but when they did that, I shifted how I felt about them. I had to because we’ve already connected in this way too. When they went to the other gentleman and then that didn’t work out and they wanted to come back, I was like, “I don’t want to do it,” because it’s different.

We went from talking all the time to, “I knew you were trying to make something happen with someone else.” I pulled back personally and said, “I’m not going to communicate with you at a certain level anymore because I don’t want to be a distraction. That’s my honest thing. I don’t want to be a distraction to you. I know where we’ve gone. I know how we’ve connected.”

I know I’ve done certain things for the physical act itself, and when I look back at it, that wasn’t always the best thing to do. There are things where you like a person, you’re starting to have conversations, you’re learning about a person, and you connect in that way, and then they’re like, “I’m going to go over here.” I was like, “That’s cool.” I wasn’t upset about it because we weren’t exclusive. It was okay, but we crossed that line. When they wanted to come back, I was like, “Don’t worry about it.”

The biggest thing for me is I need to know that you really like me for me. The physical part is simple. That’s an easy thing to do. Do you like me? Do you understand how I think about certain things? Do you align with the moral things that I look at when it comes to parenting, marriage, and all those things? What is your belief system around God and things like that? How do you feel about it? That’s a big thing for me too. It’s a deal breaker.

If your relationship with Christ doesn’t exist, we don’t have anything to talk about. It’s not even up for discussion. You say you’re spiritual and I say that I believe in the God of the Bible and you’re like, “I identify with zodiac signs only,” we’re not going to mesh really well. That’s not how I’m trying to live my life. Some people don’t like that, and some people do. I tell people, “You respect it for what it is.”

That’s fair. You mentioned something briefly about how having sex can cloud a thought process in a relationship. Can you expound on that a little bit more? The reason why is people are like, “What does one thing have to do with the other?” I want you to expound on that.

I’ll give you a life experience. Before I met my second wife, I was in a relationship between my divorce and me and my second wife. I was in that relationship, and that relationship was theoretically mentally and emotionally abusive. This was a blended family situation, I’m taking care of you, your son, and all those other things. I had built all kinds of things that were going on. There was a community program I had built and all this other stuff.

Long story short, I was with that person way too long. The reason I was with that person way too long was because she didn’t value me as a person. She didn’t value me as a man. I wanted to marry her, and then what came up was she used sex to manipulate me in the sense that I would be deprived sexually. How she would keep me reeled in is she would give me sex. I’m like, “I’m paying all the bills and taking care of you and your kid. You don’t have to work. I’m doing all these things,” but we were not married. It’s like, “That was my fault for doing that in the first place. I gave you wife benefits as a girlfriend. That was my fault. I allowed you to live with me. Those were my fault.”

What I mean by a cloud’s judgment is that she used that and I allowed her to do that to control me in a way. There are a lot of things that she would say to me mentally. We would have these knockout, drag-out arguments of different stuff and conversations that were a lot of work. When I look back at it, I’m like, “I stayed way too long.”

Did I have some progression at that point? Yeah, but I was very stagnant in a lot of ways because I was living the life that she wanted me to live because of how she manipulated certain things. When I recognized it, that was a nasty breakup. It was very difficult. It was a screwed-up situation. I’ll never do that again. That’s what I mean by it can cloud your judgment.

Had I taken more time to not be sexually active with her, I would’ve left. I didn’t because that felt good where I was at the time. She massaged certain things that I needed emotionally at the time. The purpose of the conversation was, “We have to live together before we get married. I’m not doing it. We’re never getting married if I don’t live with you.” She wore me down, and I went against the standard that I don’t normally do. When she did that, the result was difficult. It was bad. It was an ugly situation. When I look back at it, I’m like, “You’ll never get me to do that again.”

I tell people even from a practical standpoint, “If you’re not getting married or you’re not married, you shouldn’t live together.” It makes it very difficult. I went through pure hell. I’ll never do it again. That is how it can cloud your judgment. You may stay around with someone who is quite honestly abusive to you. It may not be physical, mental, or emotional and you don’t realize it because you’re connecting that way sexually. It could keep you from making sound decisions and walking away. I went against a whole standard or a whole type of deal breaker because they were adamant about it.

Part of it was I realized or found out that she was still legally married. I didn’t know that either. I was like, “You have to fix this before X amount of time. Otherwise, you’re going to have to go.” That was the catalyst for that. She ended up contacting the pastor that I was working for at the time at a church. It became a big thing. I ended up having to stop doing ministry. I had to sit out from doing the duties I was doing there and all that. It was this big public mess. She made it very messy because I said, “You have X amount of time to get completely divorced or we can’t even get married.”

I already was in that next space. We were already living together and all this other stuff. I was like, “I’m trying to get married,” and then she was like, “I’m not legally divorced.” I’m like, “I’m a year in.” That’s how sex can keep you from leaving a situation in the right amount of time. She knew I wasn’t going to go anywhere else. I wasn’t going to end up anywhere else. Our lives became intertwined. We lived together and all that stuff. I’d never do that. I’m like, “You can’t control me from that perspective. You can never control me from there.”

Wife Benefits For A Girlfriend?

Thank you. You mentioned wife benefits for a girlfriend. I had to come down to these dating streets, which is hot garbage. It’s 120 degrees on a sunny day at noon hot garbage. I want to take some time for a little bit of back and forth about the dumbness you have heard in the dating experience. I’m going to start with you like, “You’re not going to pay for this for me all the time.” What is this expectation of going back to the wifey benefits of a girlfriend status? What have you heard in these streets?

I’ve heard, “How do I know you care about me if you don’t spend money on me or pay for my bills?”

Your bills in your whole other house?

I’ve heard that.

On the 1st date or 2nd date?

It was not necessarily the first date, but I’ve heard those kinds of conversations. I see it on TikTok and other stuff like that. They’re saying that this is the part of seeing if you’re able to take care of them. On the other hand, they say, “I don’t need a man to do nothing for me at the same time,” so I’m confused. Personally, a self-sufficient woman is very attractive. That’s very sexy to me. A man that is of a decent quality or a good quality man that is looking to be a husband, we pretty much share that kind of thing.

I’m not saying that your self-sufficientness is going to be an issue. Although I can handle taking care of a family, you being self-sufficient says to me that you know how to take care of yourself. That also says to me that you can also help take care of a family. I say this often, and I said it earlier. Life is going to happen. It’s a matter of when.

Life is going to happen. It’s a matter of when. Share on X

For example, before she got pregnant with our son, she worked alongside me in businesses that I have. There was a reason that she came out of her corporate job because it was too much mentally. She was like, “I can’t do it.” She moved into my life, but my life was already taken care of. She was my wife at that point. That wasn’t an issue for me to say, “Don’t go back. We can leave that job.”

It’s a we.

When the pandemic hit and we were pregnant, I was like, “A part of my business went away. Now, I have to go back to a corporate job. I have to restructure our entire lives. I’m going to need you to go back to work.” She was like, “No problem.” It wasn’t even a conversation. There was no, “I’ve been used to being home.” There was none of that. It was, “This is what we’re going to have to do because we don’t know what’s going on in the world. I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t know how this is, but I do know that I’m no longer doing concerts or anything like that. We have to make a life decision to do this.” All happened at the same time when she got pregnant. If she wasn’t a self-sufficient woman prior to, that conversation may have gone a little differently.

There’s a mindset that goes around with it. It’s like, “My husband said I can stay at home and help him with his businesses and things like that, but now, he needs me to assist because we are in a world thing. We don’t even know what’s going on. I’m not going to have him out here by himself trying to figure it all out. We got a new kid coming.” That’s a thing. Self-sufficiency is very attractive.

Women that are coming with that, “You need to do this and that and pay this, that, and the other,” if I even gathered that that’s the kind of person you are, I’m not going to deal with you. I’m a generous man. Spending money on you is not going to ever be a thing. If your expectation is we’re together so I’m going to pay for your maintenance to get your hair and nails done, weren’t you doing that before? First of all, that’s something that you do for yourself. I don’t understand that concept. For my wife, I was next to her when she was getting a pedicure. I was right there with her. My thing is that, to me, is a benefit of being my wife. I pay for your hair, nails, and all the other things because at that point, your life is a part of my responsibility.

Ultimately, we should all do what works for us as a couple. It shouldn’t be a group project. I don’t care what people do on the internet. What I like to do is I know what I like, and whoever I’m with, we will come to that agreement. If we’re not on the same page around that stuff, there isn’t anything for us to talk about. This is where those conversations happen before sex happens. That won’t cloud you from like, “That was so good. I’m going to get that up.” That is a real thing. I have to miss out on that, but if I never had it, I don’t have to worry about it.

Clear your mind. I received the opposite when I was dating. It was like, “You don’t need a man to do nothing for you? You don’t need a man to pay your bills? You do everything?” My sexuality was challenged. I had a picture of me in the gym or in my Military uniform with my daughter. I was using my DBA phone number because I had a Google Voice phone number. I wasn’t giving anybody my real phone number out in the streets.

You’re not wrong about that.

I remember so many times, “You have those pictures where you’re lifting weights and you’re in that Army uniform. Are you tough that you don’t need a dude?”

You’re like, “I’m in the Military. What are you talking about?” How do people take that? I’ve been trying to figure that out.

Texting somebody and then talking to them are two different things. When I hear people talk about how they’ve been dating this person long distance and they’ve never met them, I’m like, “How can you be in love with them?”

That’s why the show Catfish still exists. I’d be like, “What do you mean you dated and you never saw each other?”

Before my husband, the gentleman I married, I was dating somebody long-distance. We saw each other. I have learned starting a long-distance relationship takes a lot for you to really know who a person is because you’re not in that space. After that gentleman, I was like, “I will not do it again. You need to be within a twenty-mile radius. I need to see Mama and everybody. I need to be able to be up in your space.” With my late husband, we were together, and then his job became long-distance, but that foundation existed.

The foundation was built. That’s the thing. It’s the foundation.

Will you do long distance? If so, how does that look for you?

I’m not a fan of long distance. I tried it when I was a lot younger or when I was a young adult. I don’t think I would ever do it again, at least not from the perspective of starting off that way. I and this person met from a long distance perspective and then we saw each other, but I wouldn’t do that. It started from the perspective that we were in the same city. It ended up being similar to, “I can do that.” Long distance for me is not a problem. There’s someone that I’ve dated since my wife. We were in the same city. Now, we’re not. Do we still do things? Absolutely. Do we still see each other sometimes? Sure.

Isaac is off the table. He is off the market. I love how this is such a fumble. It’s a yes or no question. Why are you making this complicated?

This is what I was telling you before. I interacted with a lot of women. It is very different for me because I am trying to determine who I’m going to stay with.

I remember the 100 and the phone went down. Isaac is off the market because he seems to have a hard time saying it.

I was going into the funneling thing. I am trying to funnel it down. I’ve interacted with different women, and I was like, “How do I get to the next space?” There’s still space in the grief process.

There is a duality.

I’m like, “I’ve been working through the scarcity of fully committing and getting into a lasting relationship. There’s still some fear.” I was very honest about, “I’m going to make sure that I don’t leave any stone unturned because going in this space requires the maternal space.” Let’s say I put all my eggs in one basket and then that’s not the person. That’s not good for me. I don’t think I theoretically dated more. I feel like I interacted with people and then I’m like, “That didn’t work out.”

To me, that’s not a commitment like we’ve gone exclusive, but you have a point. Once you become a widower, breaking up in a relationship has a whole nother level right with you. There is pain and anxiety. It sometimes can bring people back to square one, they feel like, in their grief journey. If you’ve been widowed and you dated somebody and broke up, it hits you differently.

 

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Isaac Byrd Jr. | Double Widower

 

It would hit you differently. Even with that situation with the young lady, we were starting. It wasn’t a long time, but when it came to sex and things like that, I had crossed that. I was like, “Crap.” I couldn’t be upset. We had both said, “We’re not exclusive,” and these things. That was one of those things. I didn’t want to leave any stone and turn. I’ve been very honest about that from the beginning because I have to move differently. I have to be sure of you because that means my son is going to be involved. That’s where that part has to be solid.

It’s the core thing that we need to agree on. Number one, I believe that the Bible is our blueprint. Your attitude about marriage is more from a biblical perspective versus how our society looks at marriage. I don’t look at marriage as a business and things like that. I look at it as a covenant. Is there a business aspect to it? Sure, but that’s not in my thought process. From a financial standpoint, what’s your thought process? Is your expectation, “I’m going to be the passenger princess all the time,” or is your thought process that we contribute together? How does that look from a relational standpoint? All of those things are very important.

Are you a hothead and when you get upset, you go off? Are you that kind of person? If you’re that person, I can’t do that. We know the disagreements are going to happen, but can we have a conversation? Can we pray together? Can we do some type of Bible study together? Those kinds of things make a difference because those are the things to me that are going to keep us together, the centering of God. If we don’t have that, I don’t think it’s going to work.

That’s not as easy to do as a widower and be a father at the same time. Even women should do this. You have to really be looking at all of those things. How are you going to respond when life happens? Life is going to happen. It’s a matter of when. How are you going to deal with that? I’ve had life changes even since losing my wife. Are you able to handle me emotionally? Are you going to flake out and leave me hanging and then I’ll feel abandoned again?

Contrary to belief, we feel abandoned as widows and widowers. It’s a level of abandonment. I even had to learn that. I’m sure you had that conversation. I was like, “We have this kid. We have this son. He was a promise. We worked so hard for him to get here, and then now, you aren’t here. What’s up with that? Why did I have to stay back?”

When I think about it, I’d be like, “I feel like it’s unfair, God. She didn’t get to be the mom,” and God had to remind me, “She is his mom. She was his mother. She did get the opportunity to be a mother.” Some of the things that we talked about when it came to certain things that she wanted me to do or us to have, those things were set up. She was okay. I had to learn how to have peace in that. I’m like, “If I got to add a new person in, they’ve got to be able to maneuver, be within that, and then not be, for lack of better words, a hindrance to them.”

They got to flow with the program.

That takes time. There is no overnight. I initially didn’t want to be married. Now, I’m like, “Marriage is on the table,” and everybody can’t handle that.

Facts.

I’ve met people who were like, “I’m looking for a long-time companion,” and I was like, “I don’t want to do marriage.” I’m not doing that. I’m not having special friends in my obituary. I don’t want that. I know this is a conversation in the dating world too. It is that some of these guys will have you meet their parents. I’m the opposite. If I don’t think you are going to be around, you are not going to meet my mama. My father is gone, but I’ve always been like that. I’m like, “If I don’t think you’re going to be around, you won’t be meeting them. Why would I bring you around them?”

I’ve been living away from my family anyway, so it wasn’t like you could ride up the streets to Mom’s house or my granny when she was still alive. There wasn’t any of that. You couldn’t do that because we live states away from each other. If you meet my mom at the time, you could bet your bottom dollar I think a lot about you and I see you being around. Everybody isn’t going to be able to do that. It’s been a journey because I’ve been learning myself and being honest.

The other part of it too is women that I’ve had conversations with or interacted with whether we went out on a date or not, in that process, I shared with them some of my vulnerable spaces emotionally about grief. How they responded determined how I moved with them. This is why I said I funneled down so much because most people were not mature enough to handle those vulnerabilities.

I didn’t get too deep with a lot of it, but it would be the surface of, “Today, I don’t want to deal with anybody. If you text me and I don’t text back, please don’t get upset with me.” If your attitude shifts when I go back to contact, then I don’t want to deal with that because I gave you something that was very vulnerable and you weren’t able to handle it. There are things from a grief perspective that you’re not going to be able to handle. I’m not going to know, but if I express it to you, I might need your support. If you said, “I’ll be here when you get back,” I’d have been cool, but you weren’t like that. I’m sure you understand that too.

This has been a journey. I feel like we have uncovered every stone we could have uncovered. I want to ask you to wrap up this conversation if you feel like there is something you thought we would cover in this conversation but didn’t, but however you want to wrap it up.

When it comes to the dating space or what you want to do when you move forward, do what works for you. You can’t worry about other people. I’ve been through that before where others even got on social media indirectly and said, “There’s no replacement for her,” and this, that, and the other. There isn’t a replacement. I’m not trying to replace her, but I’m still here. I still have life and I still want to live it. You might not like that and may not agree, but if you’re not able to support me, then you have to also evaluate who you keep around. For some people, you might have to get rid of them. They may have to go away because I’m going to move this way. Make sure that that decision is your decision.

 

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Isaac Byrd Jr. | Double Widower

 

A part of it is if you’re not getting therapy, get therapy even when it comes to this space of moving forward from a dating perspective and how you handle that. You have to have someone that you can bounce these ideas off of. My therapist was very good like, “You should be interacting with women and things like that.” There was a point where she was like, “You should wait,” or, “I encourage you to do it because you need it. You need the physical touch, that interaction, and stuff like that.”

Part of my grief process with my therapist was learning what felt comfortable. You don’t know what’s going to feel comfortable to you. There’s no time frame. For some people, it is one week. For some people, it is one year. You don’t know what feels comfortable for you to move on. If you want to date and move on or decide you want to get married again, that’s a wonderful thing. It’s going to be a challenge. You’re going to deal with emotions, but deal with those emotions when they come. Someone who is going to be with you has to be able to be mature enough to help handle it. If they’re not willing to do that, don’t force them to. It’s okay to back away from the table if that person isn’t the right one.

Thank you for being here. Thank you for letting me hunt you down. Thank you for all the tea.

You didn’t have to hunt me down too much. I was right there.

Isaac and I will continue hanging out on TikTok as long as we have a TikTok.

 

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About Isaac Byrd Jr.

Widowhood Real Talk with Tina | Isaac Byrd Jr. | Double WidowerTaking what he calls an unorthodox approach to the trumpet, Isaac Byrd Jr. uniquely plays changes and uses his instrument to paint a picture and tell a story.

Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach.

I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/suicide/suicide-prevention-hotlines-resources-worldwide