Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wanting A New Life

I'm not going to apologize for who I am or what I want anymore. All through this widowhood journey I have heard the comments, "Be strong," "You can do it" or "You HAVE to do it on your own," "You don't need a man to survive," "Why would you ever want to get married again?" and my all time favorite, "Put your big girl panties on and go plunge that overflowing toilet!"

Well, it's been six years of this and I'm sick and tired of it. I don't like plunging out toilets on my own and I don't want to. I'm lonely sleeping alone and I'm not looking forward to handling this year's taxes on my own because they will be more complicated with the house sale. I want a partner standing next to me and going with me to the accountant. A partner saying, "Okay, we'll face this bankruptcy thing together and we'll get past it, together."

I'm not going to pretend anymore that I'm strong and competent and able to live on my own. I've already proven that over the past years. I've gotten through a whole ton of hardships by myself - more than what most people have to face in a lifetime, much less on their own. IF ANYTHING, what I am coming to see and understand is that life has been a whole heck of a lot worse for me because of being alone. It's okay for me to admit that I'm not always strong and not always competent.

I do my best with someone by my side, tackling problems and even just living through life in general. I thrive as a team player and was happiest as a married mom. I have felt like a displaced person since my being on my own. It is not weak to admit what you want and need. It is positive and shows strength. If I do better overall and am happiest married, why wouldn't I want that in my life again? Why do I have to listen to these crappy comments from others telling me that I should be able to handle life on my own. Well, I don't want to anymore, quite frankly I suck at it and would be a far better and more productive parent and life citizen if I had the security and comfort of being remarried.

That is not to say that I am going to remarry just for the sake of getting remarried. It means I am not going to put myself down for what I want and it means I can go on from here seeking that. I don't have to put my head down for wanting to be a wife again. I am standing tall and proud and shouting to the Universe, "You know I can plunge the toilet myself, and go to the hardware store alone, and take out the garbage on my own too - but it is a heck of a lot easier, more tolerable and even fun doing it with a loving partner! So Universe, I'm letting you know that I don't have to be doing all this stuff on my lonesome anymore, FYI."

One of the Law of Attraction books I'm reading right now talks about how men and women are wired differently. In general, men respond to stress in physical ways working harder, doing physical tasks, being independent and courageous. Women, on the other hand thrive and require nurturing when stressed - extra cuddles, hugs, warm words of encouragement and love. That type of response is exactly what I seek and need but by living alone, I am unable to get the real support necessary to give me the strength and energy to face conflict and stress. So of course, if I'm not getting what I want and need it would translate into someone not being fulfilled and happy. I am also sick and tired of the belief that we can make ourselves happy and shouldn't rely on someone else to fulfill us. True to an extent, but not entirely. A loving partner enhances our lives, doesn't complete it. I'm looking for that enhancement right now.

All those comments about being strong and handling everything on my own have grated on me so much because they are not helpful for me to hear. For me, a comment along the lines of "Gosh I know this is so hard for you and it sucks and is hard but hang in there. I'll go with you to the accountant and be there for you. And now I'll give you a long hug." The Tough Love strategy is wasted on me - it just makes me feel worse and then guilty for not being able to measure up - or for not liking that I am living on my own and having to do all this stuff on my own.

There is also research out there pointing to how as human beings we are also wired to be interconnected. We seek out close relationships with others and they are as necessary to our survival as food, water and air. Being in a relationship allows a couple to be at their best both independently and together. Psychologist Sue Johnson says in her workbook for therapists, "Hold Me Tight": "Secure dependence is a sign of health and complements autonomy...The more securely connected we are, the more separate and different we can be." This sounds pretty good to me!

Why do I have to wear my widowhood like a badge of some kind of honor and endure this way of life any longer? I don't like it. I've never liked it. I've had to tolerate it and do the best that I could. But it is time to be honest with myself and not pretend to the world. Saying that I've struggled with widowhood is okay - I don't have to hide I don't like it and that I don't want to continue living this way. So instead of concentrating on what I don't like and don't want anymore I will flip it and devote my thoughts and attention to what I do want to bring into my life: an equal partnership, with both of us holding the reigns but with the security of knowing that one of us can take a break without crashing because the other will still be holding on tight; to share hopes, dreams, fears, hard times and happiness together as a team.

I'm not sure of the future between Sam and I. He doesn't want to get married anytime soon or to commit to that goal. It has been a serious issue between us a number of times in the past. I wanted to break off our relationship at the three month mark and then the eight month mark because of this. It is now a year since last March when he begged me to stay with him. Now we live apart and I remain steadfast in seeing my boys through their last years of high school here. Even when I was thinking about relocating to join him out-of-state, he was not firmly committed to marriage, preferring to live together for awhile. He has criticized me for wanting to get married and to not be content with what we have. But I don't want to settle anymore. It is okay for us to want what we want and be active in seeking that which will fulfill us and make our hearts sing. I don't want to belabor this issue with Sam but felt it necessary to bring up since some readers know about him.

My therapist told me to remember that there are men out there who do want to marry. Sam is not the only fish in the sea. I came across a comment by a single man joining a dating site. He admitted that he doesn't do very well on his own. Another person out there like me! And a male besides! Those of us who don't do well on our own shouldn't be going through life on our own!

I am grateful:

1. For the rain falling.
2. For the longer days of light.
3. For the shorter nights of darkness.
4. For the smell of spring.
5. For the finally melted snow.


  1. I agree. The whole "you need to find you and rediscover (discover?) who you are a single person" crap line that gets tossed so casually at widowed folk never rang true for me. It's very women's talk show/magazine/simple-minded lemming think. My second husband has even said to me,

    "If anything ever happens to me, I think you should remarry if possible because you seem to do better as part of a pair."

    Keep in mind, I was single until I was 35 and I am just 46 now, so I have spent more time in my life on my own - and doing just fine - than I have as married woman.

    But I like being part of a team. I prefer married to single. It's not a defect in my personality or something about me that needs fixing or rechanneling.

    Some people should be single. Some will be better off in a twosome. There is only what is right for the individual and not some one-size thing.

    You know yourself. You know what circumstances make for the best you. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I wouldn't move out of state to just live with someone if what I really wanted was to be married either. It's not an unreasonable position to take.

  2. Thanks Annie for your refreshing take on this situation. I feel better having aired myself out and good to hear feedback that also considers all those lines about being a strong single pure and simple bunk. I think my second husband is one of those people who are fine and actually more thriving as a single. But some people are better off in a twosome, which you noted. It is nothing to be ashamed of!

  3. A friend of mine and I were talking while exercising the other day, exploring the question, "would you get married again?" Both of us said no (she said, especially not until her girls are older and out of the house; doesn't trust another man). But of course it's hard to know where you'll fall on that question until you're living it. I think no, but I also wonder how I'd deal with the overflowing toilet, or the sump pump that stops working. Taxes? I already do those... Maybe a lot of it comes down with the support system you have and who you can call, or not. I feel like I should go to the accountants with you! And of course I don't even know you. There's a web site, Chicklit power, that's from a woman who's also gone through a lot, and how she's now thriving. I find her refreshing -- hers is a divorce, but she still was alone, she still had many twists and turns along the way. She talks about being a victor -- and she likes to help others into what she calls "Destination Joyful." She also does public speaking, and has talked with many women's groups on many of the issues women face today. Very interesting woman!

  4. Liz - I peeked at Chicklit power and will be going back. Hats off to anyone trying to help others out there and I could use more positive thinking in my life.

    This post was not so much about the backed up sump pumps and chores around the house. It has more to do with how I feel emotionally when I'm in a secure, committed relationship. That is when I am at my best because I feel nurtured, protected, safe and loved. And I'm able to be better because of that - be more loving and productive all around because I'm not worried or stressing about being on my own. I'm just not that much of an independent or loner.

  5. I agree .... totally. And I hope you really do move on from Sam. It doesn't sound like he's the one for you .... by a long shot. I'm so relieved that you didn't move out of state for him, but kept your boys as your priority.
    You're right ... there are other fish in the sea, but even if you remain single ..... I think it's better to be single than with the wrong person. You certainly don't have to settle ..... not at all. You're way too good for that.
    Keep up the good work through all of this sucky crap.