Monday, May 17, 2010

Time Doesn't Heal All Things

Thursday was the Senior Farewell band concert - a teary, emotional evening. There was some stress leading up to the night. My oldest had a detention after school for chewing gum in band class no less, along with a volleyball game - at least it was a home game. That meant I was in charge of making sure he had his band tux and volleyball uniform, along with a sack dinner since he wouldn't have time to come home. Turns out he forgot his dress-up shoes and I had to get them to him before the concert.

As usual, sitting in the auditorium before the concert I was struck by the loneliness I feel. It is a constant and dull ache that magnifies when I attend events like this one because in doing so, I can visualize my being alone as well. In this case, the school theater was packed with couples, families and grandparents who'd also come. Having arrived early to drop off the shoes, I could see the people come in and noted that there were only a handful of us sitting alone.

Then it seemed as though the theater lighting was somehow centering on and illuminating all the wedding rings and bands worn on the left hands of the audience members. Anytime I looked around, I saw a ring glinting in the light or I'd spy the arm of a husband casually resting around his wife's shoulder.

I felt the rage I feel as a victim (if my husband hadn't died I wouldn't be alone), along with the envy for all these fortunate married folks. Then there is some self-pity and even embarrassment at having to sit alone. I always feel a huge sense of sadness for the losses my sons have endured - seeing all the dads brings that on.

It takes such darn emotional energy to keep attending these events, over and over always alone. People have stopped making the effort to seek me out for a word or two and I have stopped pasting a smile on my face and pretending that I'm having a grand old time. I love supporting my sons in their activities and always feel a huge source of pride but it does come with a price.

I'm surprised that instead of getting easier, it just all seems to get harder and more painful. You'd think with the passing of time that I'd be more accepting of my situation and more used to attending events on my own. Funny how that is not turning out to be the case.

Also, what I felt for the first time on Thursday night was quite distressing to me. As I looked around the packed auditorium, the thought went through my mind that I have so little in common anymore with all the married, upper-middle class suburban parents living in my community. It was a very scary realization. The longer I go as a widowed mom here on my own, the greater the divide is growing. Too much has happened to me over the past seven to eight years. It has gone beyond the death of my husband now to include a failed marriage, the loss of a home and severe financial difficulties.

A man came in late and sat in front of me. I observed his large, well-fed body, his expensive business suit and the gleam of his gold wedding band. I tried to imagine going on a date with him if he was single and I couldn't. I'm beginning to doubt that I'll be able to interact with "normal" people or even go on a date with someone in the future. Too much has changed inside me in too short a time period. I'm not saying I'm better than others, just that I no longer live, relate, think, dream, talk, laugh, smile or even sleep like the woman I once was.

I only want to be with others who have experienced some pain and loss because they have some familiarity with what I have experienced. I worry about the dating pool being overflowing with divorced folks. Divorce is different than death and I don't feel on the same playing field with the dating middle-aged people out there. I'm not sure I believe there is a man out there willing to take the time to get to really know and accept me for the woman I have become. Heck, I even have doubts that I have the verbal capability to get through a two-hour date with someone and engage in a normal conversation! Any questions from "Where did you go on your last vacation?" to "What is your family like?" would all involve some aspect of loss.

What I felt on Thursday night was that I fear I am facing a future of loneliness and solitude without a life partner. And that realization on top of everything else - the daily grind of just living and having to parent on my own is a harsh dose of reality I don't want.


  1. Wow, do I relate to this. I avoid any type of school activity like the plague. The only times I put myself through this is, like with your son, one of my son's are performing. The isolation of attending these events alone is excrutiating. I never know where to focus my eyes, as I don't want others to see how lonely I feel. So I glance around the room, and give a half smile and look away.

    I have also been wondering how I will be when I decide to start dating again. I know that I will still have all this sadness, and can't imagine someone wanting to be a part of that.

    I have no answers, only here to say you are in good company.

  2. Dan - Thanks so much for commenting! I feel a great kinship with you. Remember that "personals ad" you created in half-jest some time back? I still think about that and laugh. I totally agree with your contemplation about someone ever wanting to be a part of the great sadness surrounding you. I know my sadness will always be a part of me so I'm not a potential partner that will be easy to be with or to fully get to know. And I really think that is what singles out there are looking for - they want all the good stuff (the fluff) and none of the underlying substance. I'm going to have to hold out for someone more seasoned and mature.

    About the school activities (thank goodness it will be over soon for the summer and I'll have a few months off!). The next time I'm at one of these events I'll think of you and send you a mental note of support, sympathy and strength, from one only parent to another doing our best to be there for the kids despite our own grief. Maybe that will help me keep my mind off my own gloom.

    Hang in there - you've made my day much more brighter!

  3. You are not alone! I feel much like you in so many ways. I avoid many venues, especially those where I haven't seen or talked with someone for awhile. How do I explain the last 6 1/2 years and all that it has encompassed without expressing the deepest sorrow that it has brought. Who wants to listen to that? So, I stay closed, only sharing with a mere few who will listen and go about my business.

    Hang in there!!!!!


  4. Beth - I also feel a connection with you because I know you just understand some of this without my having to go into detail or explain it all. I am beginning to hate that our lives have to remain so isolated and closed. That we go about our business in the shadows wanting to avoid contact. It just seems so unfair after all we've been through to have to continue to suffer in additional ways. And to top it off, most people can't even imagine our feelings and circumstances. It's like we are existing in this perpetual no-win situation. Sorry, I'm being less than cheery here!