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.