A major albatross for me are the bleachers at the high school. Not exactly the bleachers but the people filling the stands and the representation of intact families and couples. I know this is a trigger for me and should come up with some method of reducing my anxiety when I attend school functions. But usually I am in such a hurry to get to and fro that it sneaks up on me - the onslaught of feelings and emotions that overcome me like they did when I went to my oldest's volleyball game on Thursday.
His team was playing my old high school so that was part of the problem. Now nostalgia from the past got added to the mix along with other memories from my childhood, not so good. Probably a loaded and charged situation.
My youngest was demonstrating some brotherly support by going with me to see his brother play since he was starting and doesn't always play. But after the teams were introduced and we stood for the flag, he told me that he wanted to leave to sit with friends. I pointed out to him that if he left me I would be the only person sitting alone in the bleachers. He scoffed at my comment, then looked around the gym. His eyes widened as he realized I was right. Yes, I would have been the only one by myself in a crowd of many if he hadn't ended up sitting with me for the game.
Now I suppose this is a minor hardship to deal with in the grand scheme of things. In fact, my youngest told me there was a way to deal with my discomfort by not going to these events. Although that of course is not a solution because I want to see my sons whenever they are participating in an event of any kind.
I think a major factor in all of this is the length of time that this has been going on. Six and a half long years of this! I'm tired and drained and the constant strain of this is taking its toll. The widowed have to deal with the actual death of their loved ones but then come the days, months and now years of continuing a life that becomes more stressful.
Every time I go to a game or concert my heart and soul are pulled on when I see numerous couples greet each other and show their support for their children or relatives. There is almost an indescribable wave of pain and longing that hits me at these things. I look around me with such jealousy that those sitting in that gym don't have to be assaulted with these invisible feelings that overtake me.
On Thursday night I am sad to say that I actually started shouting in my head, "I HATE YOU!" to the women and men I saw on the bleachers next to me. The better thing to say would have been "I hate the lives you seem to have that I don't right now" because of course I don't personally know any of them. Or maybe, "I hate what you represent and I hate the feelings that get stirred up when I see you."
Again as always, I am struck by how much it seems married folks take one another for granted. I wanted to get up and make a little speech along the lines of "How would you like to be forced back into the dating world where you're rejected on a constant basis for being and looking age 50?" Dating, now there is another fun topic for another post. Talk about being burdened and then on top of it all, rising to the occasion to take a chance on a relationship and having the courage and strength to face the potential of rejection. God it is hard and it just doesn't seem to have an end in sight.
My spirit is depleted. I am sure I look like a drained, harried, lonely, unhappy 50-year-old woman when I'm at these events.
Something that I kept thinking about was how you can really be extremely lonely even surrounded by a large group of people. If a picture was taken I wouldn't look alone in that crush of people. Seeing the couples talk to one another is what really got to me on Thursday. Seeing them greet each other. I have a huge need right now to talk to someone about my job and career future and that just doesn't happen in my life. These parents can chat on the drive home or over dinner. The ability to discuss current events, receive feedback and advice, to have someone observe that you look nice or even look tired. When none of that is happening in your life, it gets harder to keep up the game. At least for me. And maybe that is why I am letting some of the anger and frustration out as I did when I yelled inwardly at the opposing team's parents.
I'm not pleased with myself that I am releasing tension in this way. It is not the way I want to relate to the world. Shouting negatively (even within my head) will only result in negativity coming back to me in some way.
I am becoming increasingly aware of the importance of having someone close to me, in which to share my life. Maybe if I had a family member to relate with this need would not be so apparent and necessary right now. But there is such a huge void that comes with sitting in the bleachers with no one to turn to to share the small moment of pleasure that comes with your son scoring a goal. On its own the event itself is not the issue - it is the build-up of many of these events and the lack of someone in my life who is interested and cares about them. And I could say that yes, I have a few friends who do care about me. But there is a need to share day-to-day life and occurrences. Well again, maybe not a necessary need but it sure is nice and makes life a lot more valuable and worth living.
After the game, back at home, my son told me his coach has informed him that he will be one of the two captains on next year's team. My heart swells with pride, yet at the same time I feel the tears because I'd like to be able to share that with someone who would take it seriously. One way of describing how I feel is that it is like that saying, "All dressed up with no where to go." I feel all this stuff both good and bad and it just sits inside me or churns around endlessly. Until finally there isn't any release but the toxic one of me blowing off steam in the form of glaring at people I don't even know and then thinking mean thoughts about them. I am also beginning to fear that I have lost some of my verbal communication skills - I have become a less effective communicator since I've been widowed. How's that for another price to pay for this shitty situation?
This is why I continue to feel I am becoming that dreaded bitter and angry widow I hoped I wouldn't become. But I see myself headed that way and despite my awareness of it I just don't seem to care much right now or have the strength/energy to fight it off.