This is the second of a two-part guest blog post by Maria Margetts - the first part is here. Maria is a WAY Ambassador representing the widowed LGBTQ+ community
The second year of grief started better. I suddenly found (or rather she found me) a new partner. A blind date went up on one of our Widow's Facebook groups and someone said they fancied me. Only one person had shown any interest, so I said her name and was told "yes it's her, go and talk to her".
So we had our first chat and one of the first questions that she asked was about some photos that were on my old Facebook profile. The pictures were of me at a Comic Relief Day at work. My wife had arranged with my colleagues to dare me to come into work in 'drag'. These photos were from 1995 and I was still very much in the closet. I was very much in my element but so scared that people would get that this was the real me. She asked me whether I did this often and I admitted to my blind date that yes, this was part of me and had been for a long time.
She accepted that, we talked more, and she became my girlfriend. The first time she came to my house she was a little freaked out when she saw my walk-in wardrobe. The one side that still had my wife's clothes, the smaller section was held male clothes, and then boxes and boxes of MY clothes. With this she realised it wasn't just a 'knicker fetish' – this really was part of me.
Over the next 18 months our relationship grew, and we each supported the other in our grief. My feelings about who I was, and who I wanted to be were allowed to also grow as my partner slowly came to terms with my other side. I went out shopping as Maria and I was so pleased with how I was. After some prompting from a widow friend and my partner I came out as Trans to one of my Widow Facebook groups. Suddenly I went from perhaps 10 people knowing to 400+. Out of those 400 I had only person who made some awful comments. That person is no longer in my life.
Six months after this I came out at work and 2000+ people got to know me as Maria. I changed job in November 2019, starting as my old self, but after three days I picked up a security pass for me as Maria and I never went back as my old self.
Since January 2020 I have only been Maria. I got rid of my old clothes within three months and I asked my GP to put me forward for gender reassignment. It's been three years and I haven't heard anything back, such is the queue for this consultation. I may be waiting another five years or more for that first consultation. But there's nothing I can do to make this go faster. I have to wait, but I'm waiting as me. I am Maria. I changed my name in July 2022 and that statement is official. Another step along the way to where I want to be.
It's been eight years since my wife died and it's not been plain sailing, by any stretch of the imagination. My son has grown up, having gone through his own grief and adversity, and now has his own little family. I don't see him much now but I've been there for him whenever he has needed me, for whatever reason.
My daughter still lives with me and has caused me a lot of strife over the years. And yes there have been times when I've wished it was me that died, that I know Mandy would have coped so much better with my daughter and her special needs. Or maybe not. We will never know.
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I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.