For me, one of the hardest aspects of widowhood has been my inability to explain to others my feelings and new life realities. Particularly with my family and my second husband. I've talked until I've been blue in the face to no avail and it is still causing much frustration. Briefly, my family has not understood how hard it has been for me to parent alone, handle finances, work, manage the house, etc. Nor do I think that they have been tolerant of the grief process. They have also failed to step up to the plate in any way to interact with the boys or provide a male influence (my brothers and brother-in-law).
Since April I have been corresponding by email on a very limited basis with my ex-husband. Last night he sent me a scathing message accusing me of always putting him last, one of the reasons he divorced me. During the brief time of our marriage, I was helping to care for both of my parents (one dying and the other terribly ill) while still doing the only parent routine. I just couldn't manage it all, I admit. But part of me now is getting pissed off at this lack of compassion and just plain decency. (No one in my family has offered any emotional support during my divorce and now during this foreclosure. I guess I shouldn't expect anything because they didn't provide any during my husband's illness either. Nor should I be surprised that I ended up remarrying a man whom replicated my family in certain ways.)
I just don't want to be punished anymore for the decisions I made under duress about caring for my parents that resulted in my not moving quickly enough to my husband's home out of state. Enough is enough. Everyone always thinks that they would have done better but the fact is that no one knows how they would cope/manage under challenging circumstances. And to assume they would have handled the situation better is unfair. The way I handled that part of my life is in direction reaction to the fact that my husband had died a mere three years before and that two years before I'd had to care for my youngest who had been diagnosed with a life threatening heart condition. This made it impossible for me to leave my parents in their hour of need to move into my new husband's home 120 miles away. There was so much stress and tension going on along with the boys not wanting to move and leave their friends that I could not face the move. I had to take care of what was happening on the home front first.
I have gone over and over this with my ex to no avail. (Even my siblings have criticized me for not moving sooner). And here I am trying to explain it again to my husband after the divorce. At one point I just wrote him that I will not grovel anymore - I did the best I could under horrific circumstances. Why is it so hard for those closest to me to give me any credit for what I did do? The loyalty I gave my parents and the parenting care I provided my children during this horrible period so soon after my husband's death? I just am throwing in the towel here. I know what I accomplished and my dignity is intact. I refuse to be browbeaten and condemned. It would seem that my family and ex deserve a swift kick in their pants for their lack of compassion far more than I deserve to be continually criticized for what has been done. The reality is that they have not been emotionally supportive and that is yet another loss that I have to face, accept, forgive and move on from. I always believed that a family stood by its members in their darkest hours, including husbands, as I did for mine. This has not turned out to be my reality and it has been a painful realization.
Today I am grateful:
1. That I have had an opportunity to communicate (such as it has been) with my ex.
2. That I never gave into temptation and actually did all those evil plots I wanted to inflict during my divorce when I was so angry - that would have been pointless and accomplished nothing.
3. That I am starting to stand up for myself because if I don't no one else is going to for me.
4. That I am proud of what I have lived through and know it was the right way for me to have lived despite the criticisms of others.
5. That I am beginning to realize that I don't have to subject myself to dysfunctional relationships if I don't want to (I can limit my family contact, etc. in the future).