Saturday, February 13, 2010

Not Letting Myself Go

I'm not sure why this Valentine's Day is hitting me harder than those in the past. Maybe it is the harsh winter we've had, our financial hardship, unemployment stress or that Sam is not living here anymore. So although I have a special someone in my life, it is still a Valentine's Day devoid of flowers, candy or a card.

I picked up a few goodies for the boys and I. Some candy on sale and little cakes in heart shapes which we'll have for dessert tomorrow. Both boys are at Valentine dances. My youngest didn't want to attend and wasn't planning on it. But at the last minute, literally two hours before having to leave for dinner, he got a frantic call from a friend whose date was unable to go because of getting so drunk last night. This friend asked my son to accompany her free of any associated costs. Although, he still wasn't thrilled at going he felt worse not helping out and leaving his friend in a lurch. So he agreed to attend and we had a busy hour trying to locate his suit (buried in his closet), then iron it, find his dress shoes, tie, etc. We accomplished all this and he looked very handsome when I dropped him off at the girl's home. I told him to enjoy the unexpected dinner out and have a good time.

I needed film for my camera but did not want to run into any people I know of the married and middle-aged variety picking out cards and candy for their spouses. So I purposely went to a Walgreen's on the outskirts of town - not the one I usually go to right down the street. It didn't help any because I saw a travel baseball and football mom shopping in the card section. I walked past her without looking in her direction and thankfully avoided any contact.

For some reason I've been fixating on all the middle-aged flaws I see in women my age. General sloppiness, roots showing, tummy bulges, dowdy outfits. Yet these women are all getting Valentines this weekend, including the nice mom of my youngest son's date tonight.

I think some of my irritation about this has to do with the fact that these women have the option of letting themselves go. I do not. Widowhood has robbed me of that too. Not that I want myself to gain weight or dress sloppily. But it would be nice to feel comfortable and in a stable relationship where I don't have to worry about gaining five pounds or going a few more days before coloring my hair. I feel as a 50-year-old widow that I have more of a responsibility to look good because I don't have the security of a wedding ring on my finger.

I know that being married does not guarantee anyone that they'll stay married. My experience has sure proven otherwise twice! But I think that when you're in a long-term relationship there is a comfort level there that allows you to put down your guard and not have to strive to look like a "10" everyday. You're judged on far more than looks which is the number one criteria in beginning relationships or those where a formal commitment has not been established.

Yes, this is all trivial and superficial. And I'm not particularly proud of myself for reducing myself to this level. But it is what I'm feeling. And I do wish that my life was more stable, secure and that even I was one of those less than glamorous moms this Valentine's weekend. Tonight I think I just might trade my youthful attractiveness and long locks for a box of Russell Stover's from a gassy grey haired guy who could stand to lose a few pounds.

Today I am grateful:

1. That the 30 degree temperature outside feels like a heat wave.
2. That both boys will have nice dinners and be out with friends at school dances. At least they're having a nice Valentine celebration.
3. That I hit pay dirt at the grocery store with some 99 cent deals on ground turkey and turkey burgers.
4. That we'll have enough food to get through the month because of these meat deals.
5. For heart-shaped pizzas.


  1. I love the way you list what you're grateful for at the end of every post. I became a widow in May, and staying grateful helps. Also, listing even the most modest feel-good accomplishments. I love your blog!

  2. Yup, it's official, Valentine's Day sucks! I thought I would be brave and I went to my first official movie alone. Not as bad as I thought it would be once I was in but it was the standing in line waiting to pay that got me. Couples and families everywhere. The guy behind me telling his wife "pick whatever YOU want to see honey". Don't get me wrong, I do not begrudge her. I envy her. Mind you, none of these guys was anything to look at, lol. Your visual of the gassy guy hit each and everyone of these guys on the head and gave me a nice giggle btw!
    Tonight I was grateful that I had a husband who love me unconditionally and still does. I saw an uplifting movie, The Blindside, and enjoyed myself. The world kept revolving even though I had to go alone. Another step forward on a cold night.
    Happy Valentines Day ladies! Let it not be said that someone said it to you!! You all deserve it!

  3. Amen Sister! Keep that youthful attractiveness. I know that women have much more pressure on them to stay attractive for the opposite sex. I, on the other hand, also need to maintain a youthful look if I ever want to be back on the market as well. Although I don't think I would ever trade in in for some chocolates or a grey haired gassey overweight guy either.

    You are so funny. I went out to dinner tonight with my brother's family, who are in town for the weekend. It was very difficult being around all the couples in the restaurant. I can't wait to go to bed tonight and have a good cry.

    Have a lovely day tomorrow.

    love. Dan

  4. i guess life is going to go on whether we are a part of that aspect of it or not. people will meet, fall in love, get gifts on Valentine's Day, and have romantic dinners out in public. it's a given. i see them but i don't resent them. i don't really care that much or else i don't really feel a part of it. i guess i'm detached enough from it to feel like it's a SIMs game. it's my daughter's first Valentine's Day as a married woman and i'd hate to think someone out there resents her for it. still, grief will do to you what it will without regard.

    i never really thought about how i looked. maybe it comes from being a teenager through the hippie days of long hair, no makeup, and painted and embroidered jeans. i've never in my life worn makeup and at 52, i'm not about to start now. i bought into the casual life of just my own face and simple fare to eat. my Dragon found me appealing. i guess all i want now is to just continue on as i have my whole life. just as i am. if no one likes me, i can't change for them. my Dragon liked me and i have that in my heart.

  5. WnS I am with you. I am in the same age group and I don't normally wear makeup for work. I will put it on if I am going to something special, as I have over the years. I do it for me, not anyone else. Joe used to comment when I did put it on that I didn't need it. I hold that close to my heart.
    We have to be ourselves and stay true to that. Anything less would be false. I'm still not anywhere near thinking about someone else. I don't know that I ever will be and that's ok. If I ever do, he will have to want me for me.
    I love how you feel about your daughter. Thinking ahead I would not want my daughter to have anything less than the whole experience either. I guess it's all part of the life cycle. It just sucks to be on the downward swing of it so soon.

  6. "Gassy grey haired guy" made me laugh. I don't think there's a man on the planet, regardless of age, who isn't proud of his gas and eager to share it with the woman in his life. :)

    I do feel a self-imposed pressure not to let myself go, but in my case it's because I've made a conscious decision not to get involved in any relationships until my daughter graduates from high school. I know this is the right choice for us and I'd stick to it no matter what, but there's a vain part of me that wants to look good so that the people around me know it IS a choice, and not because I couldn't attract someone if I wanted to. Not that I would have let myself go very far anyway - I didn't when I was married - but I do make an extra effort because of it.

    I hope the day is going as well as it can for you. *hugs*

  7. Pat - Thank you for reading and commenting. I am sorry to hear of your loss and hope you can find support and comfort from this community of bloggers. Sometimes I write down an accomplishment list instead of a to- do list and that has been helpful.

    Kelly - Good for you for going to a movie on your own. That is an amazing step to take. And I know what you mean about overhearing those intimate comments between husbands and wives. It is envy vs. begrudging. Liked your observation about the guys in line being nothing to write home about. Most of us are just average, normal people out there doing the best we can to live decent lives. You seem to have a very positive outlook in being truly grateful for the unconditional love of Joe, venturing out alone to a movie on a cold night and thoughtfully conveying a Valentine's Day wish to others on this path. Love your observation of the world continuing to revolve!

    Do you have a blog going? I haven't seen one. If not, you should consider it. You are thoughtful, profound, encouraging, intelligent and have lots of good things to relate.

    Dan - I have to admit that I was a little concerned reading the post where you talked about plans to go on the all-Gay cruise with Michael. You mentioned how much primping ahead of time you devoted to it. I was tired hearing of the washboard abs you were working on!

    I am very glad you are spending time with your brother's family because it keeps us busy and gives us a little break from our constant memories and broken hearts. But you were not able to totally escape it because the cozy couples were there at the restaurant. I hope you and your kids had some good moments together as a family.

    wNs - Your overall attitude toward others is as usual generous and kindhearted. Unfortunately, some of us like me, need and rely on makeup to look better. I would really be a plain Jane without it and wearing it does make me feel more attractive and confident about myself. I admire you for not buying into the psychological Wall Street advertising propaganda about women and beauty products.

    Kelly - Our life cycles right now involve us being on our own. Unfortunately, sooner than most others in our age group. I also say good for you for remaining strong, true to yourself and not buying into the pressure some of us face to get back out there and into the dating game.

    Vanessa - I liked hearing about your decision to not get romantically involved until your daughter is out of high school. I am trying to remain strong to my commitment about not relocating until my boys have also graduated.

    I have to admit that is hard for me to hear from people who say things like, "You are so pretty and look so young I can't believe you are not remarried yet." I am sometimes too vain and overly focused on appearance. The main point behind this post was that I think marrieds have a comfort/buffer zone built into their lives that isn't granted to those of us on this path.

    I had no intention of ever letting myself go when I was married. But I can see if I did so now, that there might be comments like, "Life just got her too down. She just gave up. Life was too unkind to her." I'm inspired by your attitude of looking good for yourself and not for one of those guys I lumped into my short description!

  8. No, no blog going. Thanks for the compliment that I could though. Somedays I have a hard time getting to your blog, lol. I find myself reading 2-3 entries at a time. Perhaps, in time, I will feel more able to do something like that. In the meantime, with your permission, I will continue to read and contribute to yours and hope that between all of us we can rally each other when we need it and hold each other up when a rally isn't possible.

  9. Kelly - You are very sweet and I always love communicating with you. This is a nice little support network going here between all of us. I know that it means a lot to me and helps me in countless ways. And you're a big part of that.

  10. Thank you and thank you for allowing me to be part of what has become a very important support system for me. As we all know too well, support wanes as the years go by. That does not mean that our grief has waned and that is why your blog is so important to many of us. Some are in the beginning stages of this journey and those of us who are a little further along can encourage them and tell them that everything they are feeling is a new sort of normal. Those of us a little further in continue to support each other as things morph in unknown ways. When we think we have a handle on it, something else comes along and kicks that proverbial stool out from under us. And so it goes, we are here, united in a common thread called grief. Here to commiserate, cry and hopefully, one day, laugh together.