Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Continued Cluelessness

One of the initial intentions I had when I started this blog was to garner some sympathy and understanding for those traveling the widow road. Specifically, to convey what I termed "The Fatigue and Drain of Widowhood." It is difficult to describe to others who are not in this position, just how draining and fatiguing this life is on so many levels.

Grief in and of itself is exhausting physically and mentally - it is relentless work - a job. To add to that comes tiredness from not sleeping or sleeping poorly, as well as loss of energy and strength due to lack of exercise and not eating well or consistently.

But I have found the worst to be all that has come from the emotional and mental side. Having to learn new skills and take over tasks that were unfamiliar; always thinking ahead and coming up with contingency plans for "what if" circumstances; being put on the spot and having to scramble in 10 different directions when a monkey wrench altered a situation; just figuring out and planning the details of daily living so life runs somewhat according to plan and smoothly.

It is physically draining to be the only one always taking out the garbage, cleaning up the house, doing chores inside and out, running to the store, filling the cars with gas. But even more so, the emotional void that occurs because there is no one to brainstorm with, no partner to call on the way home from work with the request to put the casserole into the oven to save 30 minutes of cooking time. It is the big things (car emergencies, money issues, etc.) but even more, the daily, little things that build up with time - not having someone telling you that your outfit or hair look nice, not having that special someone give you a hug when you leave or return for the day.

Not having someone to lean on both physically and emotionally.

You get depleted, tapped out, the tank is always running on empty.

Putting one foot in front of the dragging other, day after day because there is not much choice otherwise.

Just cut us a little slack - give us a break. Understand where we are coming from. But no, we're judged and held accountable as though hubby were still taking out the garbage and getting the cars tuned up. In fact, there have been plenty out there who've been critical of not only what I've done or decisions I've made. Then there is the criticism for not being able to keep up and falling short. And then to feel guilty and upset with myself because of other people's ignorance and lack of compassion! Looking back, those who were most critical were those unwilling to offer a helping hand or emotional support.

I had really hoped to change things not only out there in the world but within my own little life too. I don't think that has happened. I don't believe that people can or will get this. It's futile for me to try and explain my perspective. Unless you live this, you don't know - you'll never know.

Case in point - even those who have known me the most closely fail to get this - the complications and stress of this life. I continue to be compared and judged along with all of those with more "traditional" lifestyles.

Back in September, just after I'd made a major move on my own from a five bedroom home to a two bedroom apartment, I mentioned needing a computer desk to Sam, the man I was involved with. Now this was a point where I was so physically worn out from the packing and moving, etc. I could barely stand. I won't even go into the emotional pain in regard to all that was going on in regard to my having had to sell the home at virtually no profit and to move the boys and I. I continued working at the big box store and was involved in unpacking and trying to organize a new place for the boys and I. And with no help - very little physical or emotional support at all.

And during this period, which Sam was fully aware of, his response to me in regard to my needing a computer stand was to go around town hitting garage sales - to obtain one that way. Here is this poor woman, stretched to the limit with no free time and doing her best to handle an extremely difficult situation on her own while keeping it together for her kids, and she was expected on top of all that to search at garage sales.

That's what I mean about people's unrealistic expectations of us. Sure, fine, I could scope out garage sales in my other life before widowhood when I had a husband at home lending a helping hand with parenting and the house. But not in this situation. And I find that total disregard and lack of understanding for my life almost insulting.

When I told Sam that his idea was unrealistic and that I'd have to check out inexpensive options at either Target, Walmart of Pier 1, I heard back that I wouldn't be getting a deal and the other option was better. So, I couldn't win - I wouldn't be able to do the garage sale hopping. And when I admitted that I had to do something else and adapt, there was criticism for that as well.

I don't mean to pick on Sam totally here because this has happened numerous times in the course of my widowhood. This example was recent enough that I could recall it with some detail.

I have just come to find that it doesn't much matter what I do because whatever it is, it will be met with criticism and perceived as falling short. I don't know what the deal is here - are people totally clueless? It seems as though it is quite easy for people to lay on criticism for me as a widow that I don't hear other people receiving. Why is it is so easy for someone to discount my grief when I have really gone through some trying times with a phrase such as "Your life is better than if you were living in Africa." I have heard countless women over the years complain about trivial matters such as their husband's being gone on a week-long business trip leaving them alone with the kids and house. Or, complaints about slow-moving workmen involved in their house remodeling project. Or the fact that they've had to go an extra week without a manicure because the girl who does it has been out on vacation. And yet I have never heard anyone tell THESE women that their lives could be worse if they were living in Africa and they should be grateful!

I'm perplexed. And I'm sad and disappointed with the overall and general lack of understanding for those of us in this position (not by choice and by unfortunate circumstances). All I've wanted was a little compassion, maybe a nod of the head instead of a stern finger wagging at me in disapproval. Widowhood is a no win situation to begin with - and continues to be as a widow.


  1. First off, I am glad you have not stopped posting. There are many widows out here that feel much the same as you do. I myself am tired of 6 1/2 years of doing most everything on my own. I am especially tired of feeling as if I have to keep up with the married "Joneses" or for that matter, some widows who have been able to "overcome" the depth of grief (which is great!). Mind you, I am not in the heavy grieving at this point, at least most of the time, but grief is always there and I think about and miss my husband everyday. Some days with more intensity and some days not, but it is ALWAYS there. And the loss of my husband has brought its portion of "casualties" to my home. I sometimes feel as if I have failed in my widowhood -- like I am supposed to be some kind of superwoman, but I am definitely not!!!!

    I think your example of needing something and instead of the person offering to get it for you or just be undestanding of your dilemma, they give advice. :( They just don't get it!!!!

    Continue to hang in there, you have more strength than you realize right now. We out here continue to cheer you on and listen.

    I posted this on my blog, thought you might like to see my perspective of things at 6 years out -- still dealing with some issues!


  2. Beth - Well, I totally relate to your comments and it feels better to know there is someone else out there in this big world on the same page. So thank you for commenting!

    I think that people assume that because we're six years out we have grown stronger and are better able to handle our situation. But I am finding that it is actually becoming harder because I am getting so weary of doing, handling and thinking about everything without any break.

    I, like you, am also not actively grieving but the pain and my loss is still always there. And it is ever ready to jump out unannounced and when least expected!

    I like how you used the term "failing widowhood" because I have felt and feel that way too. Like I've been put to this test and just can't make the grade.

    I'll check out your post/blog and appreciate your taking the time to comment.

  3. I found your blog about five months ago. I come here almost every day to see if there is something new and sometimes I'm lucky to find two posts in one day. Your writing is so open and true. You put it all out there to be understood, or as I've said before, to bear witness to what you are experiencing.

    Recently, I too came to the conclusion that I was becoming wound up in trying to put the right energy into the universe. I finally realized that trying to manipulate my emotions/thoughts/feelings/actions in order to put a positive spin in my life, in return for a positive action/reaction from the universe, was just another way of tricking myself and the universe into thinking something that wasn't really honest.

    I understand the Law of Attraction, but nowhere does it say that we will get to understand everything that we experience "Right Now" or ever for that matter!!! All of us are caught up in getting immediate results, wanting our cake when we want it and the flavor we chose.

    Maybe YOU are ready to move on and away from the grief part of this blog, and perhaps the universe is not ready for that. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

    I have learned so much from reading your blog. You bring us along and put us in your shoes, which in turn makes me look at my life from different perspectives. Thank you for opening my eyes.


  4. Melaka - Much thanks for your kind words and perspective. Regarding The Law of Attraction, I started to think that it is more honest and honorable to feel as I feel and not pretend. If I can't feel optimistic, hopeful, grateful right now is it such a bad/wrong thing to go with those thoughts and see where they take me? If only for a little while? The Law seems to be so against any negative thought or feeling no matter how legitimate (grief/loss) or how short a time period.

    Good insight into us wanting what we want when we want. I was going to post about that too. But the Law does say we can receive whatever we want - so dream big since there are no restrictions to what is physically possible.

    Your comment about my wanting to move away from the grief but maybe the Universe not wanting that is a little scary to me. But I'll just keep plugging along and see where I end up. I've been posting more than once a day in an effort to say what I want to say about grief before stopping this blog. If I'm somehow directed to keep going I'll do so but what is in my heart is to move to another direction - maybe focusing on the climb out of financial hardship and my search for hope.

    And I've learned many things from you too!

  5. I have pondered the same thing many times, but I have to look to myself to see what I expect of others, is it realistic, there IS such a thing as compassion-fatigue. I see that when we are in a world of pain we look outside and wonder how the world keeps turning and people's petty concerns still consume them, but we were the same when we were OK. Jealously of others comes from not being whole inside and it is such a negative thing. It is OK to wish things were different, but deciding for yourself what would make you happy and moving towards that with activities and goals will give your life more purpose. It is not dishonest to look for hope and gratitude, it is healthy and will ultimately heal you.
    Moving forward in a positive way is not denying your grief or lessening the unfairness of it, but will honour who you are and allow you to finally let the sun shine on your face.

  6. First time poster, and I'm in a rush, but I just want to say that I know that you are doing your best for your boys, but it's time that they helped you, too. I'm not sure of their ages, but I know they're in high school. They're old enough to be taking out the garbage. If your oldest has his driver's license, he should know how to put gas in the car. They can learn to cook a bit - pasta, pancakes, shake 'n bake chicken, etc. These are all skills that will help them in life.

    I have two boys myself, and I know I've always done too much for them, but I'm starting to realize that I'm not doing them any favors by not teaching them things they'll need to know when they're out on their own.

    I know they have schoolwork and sports, but their family is a team, too, and they should be pitching in more to help you.

    Hope I haven't offended you.


  7. I am so glad you are still posting. My husband passed away almost 6 years ago. I
    can relate to so much of what you say. People
    around you expect you to just go on and not
    carry on or cause a scene. I miss my husband every day. I am tired all the time, I can
    hardly put one foot in front of the other. I
    don't know how to fix or take care of things
    and I miss him just holding my hand after all
    this time.

  8. Carol - Thank you so, so much for commenting! You captured and describe in fewer words, exactly what I had wanted to in my long, rambling post. You really said it all and brought tears to my eyes. I guess those of us out here sharing this experience can obtain a bit of comfort in knowing we're not the only ones.

  9. Julie - I totally agree with you that the key is to not deny or lessen the grief but to at the same time, go forward with life in a way that is meaningful to us. However, that is the exact thing I have trouble with - trying to balance the two together. That is where I am stuck. How to harness hope in the face of hardship.

    Barbara - I am not offended by your comments. My oldest has assumed a number of responsibilities involving cooking and keeping an eye on his younger brother. He has started working as an ump and is doing his best to study and keep his grades up. I have relied on him more and more. I like the idea of a family being a team and when my youngest complained about having to wait for a ride yesterday, told him that all of us need to work together more as a family. Often I tell the boys that we have to pull together and be supportive, especially when it is hardest.