Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Feeling Sorry For Myself

I got to thinking about this topic after reading the post of a widow who has an advice type blog, which I read. She has a tough love, Dr. Phil kind of attitude in regard to widows feeling sorry for themselves. Although I try to get through my days in as positive frame as possible, there are moments that I do allow myself to feel tragically sorry for myself. And what of it? Why is it such a big deal for widows to have periods of being down about their situations?

I remember my second husband getting terribly annoyed with me for griping about the hardships of my life. Then, my therapist kindly pointed out that I was merely describing my day, which I had a right to do. It just so happened that my days were filled with a lot of hardship. Merely relating them to him was not actually griping, which he took it to be. But anyway, say I had been doing so - why is that looked upon so negatively by the general population? Why are widows supposed to be able to constantly rise above their situations and present themselves to the world as stalwart survivors?

Some days it would be nice to put aside the strength and smiles and show my true self to the world. I'd skip the shower, throw on rumpled clothing and present a grim and glum demeanor. That is sometimes how I feel inside even when there is a smile on my face.

I guess I just don't understand why the widowed can't be allowed the indulgence of some occasional self-pity. The world hasn't been lining up at my door offering much compassion or understanding. And it seems to me from the blogs I read here, that those widowed are doing their best to get through their days. Some days may be better than others but all are trying to live bravely on.

What is so bad about self-pity anyway? I haven't come across anyone whom seems mired in it. Why would people be against the widowed providing themselves a little empathy? "Poor me." I am poor right now in spirit and wealth. Why should I pretend otherwise? Yes, I am grateful for what I have but I also have a right to be despondent over what I don't.

I'm raising this topic because I have found on my widowhood journey that the world hasn't provided much sympathy and I have been criticized for "not getting over it sooner" and complaining too much about my life as a widow, etc. It is actually one of the reasons I wanted to start blogging - so I could have more contact with others in my situation.

It is interesting that the woman whose blog started my thoughts about this ended one of her posts by stating that so many of us widows seem to need outside validation for what we are feeling. I agree with her on this that I have felt that way. I have needed and wanted to connect with other widows to know that my feelings haven't been out in left field or that I've been unreasonable/crazy. But she makes the point that none of us should need this validation. Our feelings are what they are and we should not dismiss them or not hold them to be true unless someone else agrees with them.

So on that note, I am going to take her line of reasoning (whether it ends up being contradictory or not) and say to myself that self-pity is okay. It is where I am. I have a right to feel it. And to even wallow in it! When I compare what other women fret and moan about (chipped manicures, not being able to match up curtains exactly to the furniture slipcovers) I think I'm way entitled.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the rainy weather today. I love the rain as much as the sun. I think the rain slows us all down a bit and that is needed in our lives once in awhile.
2. For the cooler temperature.
3. For Brown-Eyed Susan flowers.
4. For the fall mums being planted at places of business and even at the high school. They brighten my day even in the rain.
5. For having enough gas in the tank to get to work and back today (I hope - payday isn't til tomorrow).


  1. who is this widow that advocates tough love? whatever she writes seems to get to you. and i have to ask, what kind of tough love? does she allow widows to cry at the funeral? does she believe they should put up profiles on the next day so as not to appear to sorrrowful?

    i may be carbon dating myself a bit but i do remember when grief was allowed, and considered healthy. someone meant something to a family, to a person, and they died. to not grieve, at least in my way of thinking, could be construed as demeaning the relationship. maybe. possibly.

    my Dragon means so much to me. he saved me in every way a person can be saved. we had no money because my children needed it. college for two is not cheap. he accepted my debt, my children, kissed all my scars and told me i was beautiful. to dismiss him quickly is not something i can do no matter how much this widow who prescribes tough love stomps her feet and demands that other widows follow her back into a life that turns its back on the previous one.

    i don't know if i went to the extreme but from your writing, you feel you are failing according to her life plan. you seem to be trying to rationalize your sorrow so that you don't appear to be a failure in her eyes. you are the only one who you have to live with for the rest of your life. even if you marry again, you are alone in your head. sharing a life with someone great is wonderful. sharing a life with someone horrible is hell. but either way, your private thoughts are you own and only you look at yourself in the mirror. you feel what you feel. i can't believe that denying sorrow and packing it away is healthy.

    meeting pain head on makes you acquainted with it. i'm not saying get into bed with it but you will have pain come to you off and on for the rest of your life in some form or another. if you meet it when it comes, deal with it, you can only become stronger. then when it comes around again, you won't be so afraid.

    my 2 cents that is probably worth only 1 cent.

  2. In reading your post I recall what my sister said to me a year or so after her husband passed away and others were telling her it was time to quit grieving and get on with her life. She said "What right do they have to tell me that? Who's to say what another is supposed to do or feel in this situation? No one knows until they've been there." And she was right.

  3. I am just trying to understand why the general population seems to want to push away the grief others are experiencing so quickly. Why does it matter to them at all? Everyone who is not grieving recommends getting on with your life, moving ahead and all of that. But womanNshadows, it is exactly right to grieve a person in direct correlation to how much they meant to you. I also agree that to do otherwise is almost a betrayal of the relationship shared. You have related some stories from the past when it seems as though people were allowed to grieve as they wished for as long as they wanted. Why has that changed in today's day and age?

    4evernite, I totally agree with your sister. It so bothers me that people feel they can dispense advice about things they have no idea about unless they've been there. For some reason I think widows get a lot of this type of advice and I continue to be stymied as to why. Because widows are in such a weak and vulnerable position? This whole situation just really bothers me, partly because I can't figure out why it happens.

  4. Maybe your grief makes THEM feel uncomfortable? Who have every right to think and feel anyway you ... are feeling.

  5. You are right. It's 4 years since my husband died very suddenly in another City, without me. It's worse now in some ways than at the beginning of this journey alone and it's amazing how many people FORGET and think you should be absolutely ok, even months after bereavement. Love M

  6. Anonymous - Thanks for commenting on an older blog post and reading.