Saturday, July 31, 2010

Turtle Peeking Out From The Safety Of Her Shell

The boys lost their second playoff baseball game on Monday night ending the season. Over the past few weeks I made a sincere effort to be more sociable at the games. I realized that although I said hello to parents, I sat away from the group and probably didn't appear too approachable. So, I sat on the stands and entered into the conversations going on around me. It was all pretty shallow in terms of topics but I found it enjoyable in the end. Some of the conversations were about the kids going on to college and I learned a bit about local colleges that may prove helpful to the boys. It was surprisingly nice and refreshing to have some time where I wasn't caught up in my worries and to hear about other people's pets, kids, jobs and household repairs. I even talked more with the very annoying mom and learned that she doesn't live in as upscale a neighborhood as the other parents and she talked about some defacing made to the fences in their area from gangs. They'd hoped to stay in their home for only a few years but now are unable to move.

Anyway, I had a very long conversation one morning with the coach's wife who I didn't know had lost her father when she was 12 and then her stepdad when she was 18. She talked about her mom struggling to provide for them and at one point working three jobs. She told me that she thought I'd done a wonderful job of raising the boys since their dad's death (we've know each other since that time but I'd never talked to her on such an intimate level).

As the high school football season approaches I'm taking on a new attitude. It's hard sitting alone in the stands but I'm going to try and look less unhappy/depressed. I'll try to smile more and say hello to the people I know. It is my oldest's senior year and I want to celebrate that with him. I'm proud of him being on the team and will try to focus on those feelings rather than those of being alone. And I'm looking forward to the dollar boxes of popcorn sold at the games!

I talked a lot about all of this with my girlfriend. She said I inspired her to be more cognizant of parents sitting alone at the games and to reach out/talk to them. So in a way all of this self-realization turned out to be of benefit to me (getting out of my shell more) and to my girlfriend (reaching out to others more).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Beyond the First Year

Does anyone know of a decent grief book about widowhood for the years after the first? I know there are a fair amount of books about getting through the first year - those initial weeks and months of intense grief, how to manage the first anniversaries, etc. But I haven't come across those that deal with life after the dust has settled and life has moved on but you're still kind of stuck. Or put another way, you're trying to go forward but your wheels seem to be spinning in the mud. The world is going forward but you seem not to be moving along with it.

Take for instance an issue heavy on my mind of late. What do you do about lingering feelings of resentment, jealousy and envy when interacting with people more fortunate? I wish there was a whole chapter devoted to this issue. And what about the reality of having to continue to live in a world with some pretty clueless people when you've changed. You're no longer the petty, selfish person you once were but you're interacting with people who don't see life as you do.

There is a very self-absorbed mom of a son on my boys' baseball team. I've known her for years and she monopolizes the conversations on the stands, every topic is about her and she just drones on and on about stuff that just has no personal meaning for me - nor does she ever inquire how you are. Anyway, we all know people like this in our lives. Usually I try to tune her out, especially when her topic involves having to alter her daughter's cheerleading outfit because she has grown so much within three months. How this topic can last an hour is beyond me but it does.

The other day she was lamenting the fact that she was so exhauted, tired and drained having just returned from her vacation at Disney in Florida. She explained how waiting in line for rides in the hot summer sun is so exhausting. When I encounter situations like this I wish I had the courage to say, "Lady, you don't know what exhaustion really is. I haven't had a vacation in six years. You are so fortunate to have been able to get away and had the time to wait in line for a roller coaster." But of course, I just smile and nod understandably. In my mind my fantasy involves grabbing her by her sholders and shaking her!

I wonder what this women would be blabbing about if she were widowed. She would have been an excellent widowhood spokeman - for getting out the word about how challenging widowhood really is. But anyway, my point is that as widows we often confront these clueless people and sometimes I am clueless myself as to how to react. I wish I could get out my "Widowhood For Dummies Beyond the First Year" to search out an answer.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Beyond Labels

My girlfriend is out of state at a week-long worship conference. The only way she'd consider attending was if her ex-husband moved into her home during her absence. Her oldest child is a son starting his junior year of college. Her daughter is going to be a senior in high school and her youngest will be a sophomore.

As a divorced mom, my friend's life is vastly different than mine. Her ex sees the kids twice weekly and takes them on three week vacations over the summer. He attends their sports events and has been there for the oldest, helping him find a job in the city, assisting with dorm moves, college costs etc. When there have been "problems" with the kids, my girlfriend has been able to seek the input and guidance of her ex. He has been there to advise the kids when they have sought his counsel.

I relate this now because of the conflict I have being lumped into the "single mother" category, which is the same one my girlfriend is in. When I first became widowed, I described myself as a "widowed mom." It wasn't a conscious decision but one made because that description seemed to be the one that fit the best and I was most comfortable with. I will admit that I didn't want it to be assumed that I was divorced by those who didn't know me because I had always made such a strong effort to work at my marriage.

Over the years, I've preferred the label "only parent" to "single parent" when referring to widowed parents. We are not the same as divorced parents that still work together as co-parents. Yes, I know there are some parents with limited involvement with their kids after divorce. But I am talking about those that do remain actively involved with their kids' lives and who do interact with their ex-spouses for the benefit of the kids.

There is no comparison between the lives of my friend's children and my own in regard to still having their father actively in their lives. Yes, they have faced hardships and emotional hurdles due to the divorce of their parents but what my sons would give to be able to have their Dad in their life.

My only point here with this post is to release some of the feelings I have in regard to being lumped into a group that isn't descriptive regarding differences. I think people just assume I'm a single mother and don't go beyond those generalizations. But only parents deal with a wealth of issues that aren't shared by the divorced. There is no ex-husband that can be called on to watch the kids for a week. No parent to discuss Junior's struggle in math class. There is usually another parent in the life mix who loves and cares for the kids. On the other hand, only parents are out on their own doing the parenting job of two by themselves. Some people might assume that it is great to be able to be the one making all the decisions. But it ends up being wearying not being able to get any input from another. And at least for me, I'm always worried about making mistakes because it is only what I decide.

I'm not trying to say that divorced people have it better than the widowed. But in terms of shared parenting there are advantages to having two parents still alive vs. only one. I also think the term single parent needs to be changed. Perhaps to "divorced co-parent." I guess I don't consider my girlfriend really a single parent because her kids do have their dad around. The kids live during the school year in her home, but she is certainly not parenting just by herself.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sometimes Lemons Are Lemons

I was thinking about that saying, "When life gives you lemons make lemonade" and concluded that it is rather silly advice. It certainly doesn't apply to widowhood. There are some situations that no amount of altering will improve or make better than before. What can be added to widowhood that will take out some of the sour - the endless hardship, loneliness, daily grind, fatigue and struggle to go on as one when you were paired with a loving life partner by your side? I can't think of anything off the top of my head.

Bah on all the dribble that comes from the other sayings and beliefs such as "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" and "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Also, my personal favorite, that what I am living through will end up making me a better person. In what way? I'm bitter and drained, tired and pissed off with this crummy life. I don't want to live this life anymore - but guess what? I don't have the option of "divorcing" it.

I've come to believe that some of us do have to face harder lives than others. It isn't fair and there is no rhyme or reason sometimes to what happens. But by the same token, when some people fall they fall pretty hard and they just can't get up again, or if they do rise it is not without significant struggle. So I'll throw in all the crappy sayings about being strong, and fighting back and not giving up... blah, blah, blah. All just stupid, silly words that end up being meaningless in the end.

Some situations are just sour, bitter, lemons and nothing will ever turn them into a cool, frosty drink that we can't wait to sip. Lets cut the fantasy and call a spade a spade. Widowhood sucks and I will never ever make it into something it is not and that it shouldn't be. Right now I just want to spit the widowhood lemon out of my mouth and say "The hell with you!"

"But you have to go on and make the best of things." What if you can't see any best or there isn't any best left? What if you are too weary to keep walking the widowhood walk? What if there just isn't any fight left because the lemons outnumber the oranges and you can't afford any sugar anyway?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Hamster Has A Short Break

I did get away the past few days from Mon. night until I left around 12:30 today, Thur., arriving home around 4:30. Although I was conflicted about going, I am so glad I did. I should have done this years ago and need to start doing it more for myself and my sanity.

Being an only parent, there is just never a break from the overwhelming responsibility. And the real thing is, is that as an only parent, your kids rely on you more. They need you more and you give more. It is a tough situation. You give and give. But if you're not taking care of yourself to rest and relax, there becomes much less to give, even when you need to give more. It's like you are a hamster on that wheel racing around and never having an opportunity to get off for a breather.

To have a few days off from the constant pressure of being on and having to always hold it together has been a life saver. The time was too short. I wish I could have stayed a week. The best part of my visit was to feel the family dynamic that is missing in the interaction I have with my boys. Although we are a family unit of course, there is a gaping hole with the absence of a male father figure for my boys and husband for me. I just feel more comfortable, safe and secure having a strong male presence to lean on. And I did have that during my time with Sam and his son. I feel more complete and a better person interacting with a partner by my side.

It was difficult for me to leave. I have returned to the daily grind and my life as an only parent. Sam called me just as I got in to tell me he already misses me. It is a crappy situation to be involved in a LDR when it would be far better to combine households - it would make a huge difference financially. I know I'd be emotionally happier. But Sam has come to believe that it is best for the boys to continue their high school educations here. I'm not sure I'll be able to make it another two years going this route.

It seems as though life just grows more complicated as widowhood goes on. It is not getting easier, nor have I gotten more used to it. A mini-vacation brings out more questions than it does put them to rest.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Beyond Comprehension

I watched Dateline on Friday night and it was about a man accused of murdering his daughter, who was around 12. Now the guy at first adamantly denied the charges (he made over 600 denials) but later admitted to the deed after intense and grueling police interrogation. The DNA found on the poor girl did not match the father and was matched with a sexual predator who had made other attacks on women in the area. The father's testimony and reenactment of his confession was found to be totally inaccurate with the facts of the crime scene and forensic evidence. The leading expert in false confessions determined this was a case of an innocent man falsely admitting to the crime. The prosecution's theory was that the father knew the sexual predator and "arranged" for the murder. The sexual predator said he had never met or knew the father until they were linked together in the case. He said the father was innocent but remained silent on his own involvement.

I relate this utterly sad and horrible story because of the verdict of the jury. Despite all of the evidence proving this father's innocence, they still found him guilty because they could not get around the fact that he admitted his guilt to the crime (a number of times). They believed that an innocent man, especially a father, would go to his grave proclaiming his innocence. They were utterly unable to comprehend how a man could be manipulated or give in to a crime he did not do. This was despite the fact that the police had told the father they had proof he did so and they also "prompted" him in his confession. The jury was simply unable to imagine what the human mind is capable of or what another man can do under horrendous pressure, strain and events.

Dateline asked the false testimony expert about this and he shook his head and said there are numerous cases on the books of innocent people admitting to crimes they didn't commit. It happens. Just because we can't conceive of it, doesn't mean it isn't capable of happening.

I thought about this relating to widowhood. I get so frustrated trying to explain what this life is like and largely I am misunderstood or blown off. I think the prevailing attitude is that widowhood can't be that bad, I'm making more out of it than I should, and I'm too much of a compainer. I've come to the conclusion that my efforts to explain myself, my feelings, frustrations and my life are pretty much in vain - unless I'm talking to another widow/widower. It is beyond the realm of consciousness for people to get me and what I try to describe, especially how drained and tired I have become.

The jury was so stubborn and steadfast in their belief. Because they were unable to comprehend it being any other way. For an innocent man to admit to such a despicable crime doesn't make sense. Therefore, it can't be. They were so rightous, so certain. I felt frightened at the end of the show of how innocent folks do get sent away for crimes they didn't do. Sometimes the innocent are wrongfully punished. I was also scared of how people can come to false determinations based on their own limited knowledge and biases. And I am worried too that there seems to sometimes be a limit as to what the human mind can comprehend and understand. That there can be a lack of compassion and empathy toward others.

I guess I will recall this jury the next time I am met with a wall of resistance when I try and explain some aspect or another of widowhood. Some things are impossible to get unless we have lived them or are living them.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

You Deserve A Break Today

When the kids were younger, the number one thing I needed the most was a bit of time away. I needed to take a break and have a moment or two to myself. But those opportunities were pretty much nil. For one thing, I was worried about the boys being driven by someone else. It took almost a year for me to allow anyone else to give the boys a ride. My logic was that I was too fragile to handle another loss and if something bad was going to happen, it needed to happen to all us. Anyway, maybe I would have relented sooner if I'd had more offers for a break. But no one ever gave me any. And I didn't know then what I know now. I should have forced myself early on to take better care of myself and have some time away from the jobs of grieving, living, working, parenting, maintaining a home, on my own etc. I just took everything on myself and now I think I am paying a dear price.

I did give in once about a month after my husband's death. A mom from the boys' school whom I knew casually invited to take both along with her two sons to a Disney movie premire. I remember that it was early December and lightly snowing and I almost worried out of my mind that there would be an accident. That woman's offer and then her following through with it was one of the nicest favors I've received in widowhood. So may I pass on to anyone who may know a widow with or without kids. Take the kids out to give the mom/dad a break or offer to babysit. If there aren't any kids, offer to take the widow/widower out for an activity (not just food related). Anything to help break the routine and give these folks some kind of break.

I am trying to get away now for a few days with Sam and his son. But it is so trying to figure out the logistics of where the boys will stay and to regulate their scheules while I am away. It is almost not worth the trouble it is taking and my anxiety. Again, I wish I had somehow been able to make my going away more of a routine in the early days. I think that if I had forced myself to get away and treat myself I would be less drained and weary at this point. Yes, I would still be tired but I think that if I had made myself more of a priority I'd be less down and out in spirit. Now I feel like my sanity is hanging by a thread. My spirit is drained and depleted.

Being at home while the boys are out with their friends is not the same thing as getting away from the routine and having an opportunity to rest and relax. It is so refreshing to visit a new place or location be that local or long distance. I knew of a divorced woman in her mid-50s with two high school aged sons. She and her husband sold their big home and each moved into ranch homes in the same neighborhood so the kids could walk back and forth. Ex-husband had the boys every other weekend and I never tired of hearing what this woman did on her "free" weekends - I was fascinated and envious. There was a trip to Florida with girlfriends, another girlfriend trip antiquing and when she started dating, she and the new guyfriend would meet halfway from their homes at a nice hotel for the weekend. What I was most envious of was that this woman got to take off her mom hat for a few days and let down her hair. I know you never stop worrying about your kids but knowing that they are in safe hands with their father surely gave her enough peace of mind to enjoy the Florida beach and browsing in those antique stores. I think this woman was a better mom because of her time away and the me time she gave herself.

As much as I've wanted to "get away" the dynamics of my family and life haven't made it that realistic. I don't have family living in town and the boys were always so busy with their activities - no time off in summers due to travel baseball - and I always wanted to see them play too. And it has always been terribly hard for me to ask favors from people or family. So I haven't.

Maybe this issue is haunting me today because I feel a bit of resentment about my trip to Sam's. It is being billed as partly a mini vacation/time off for me but it is also to help Sam out since he'll have his son for a week and will be working. So I'm giving him and his son a hand so the poor kid doesn't have to stay home alone or go into work with Sam some of the time. So it's a win-win situation for everyone. And I know I should feel good about being to help someone out in need. But instead I am just feeling resentful about my helping out Sam who only sees his son 4 days out of the month except for vacation time. Here I've been responsible 24/7 for my sons the past 7 years without any kind of break. And with no help from anyone, no break, no one coming to my aid when I could have used a helping hand.

I guess that is the underlying anger. Feeling upset and neglected over the lack of support and help I've received over the years. And to know that those who are in less difficult situations do get the help, do get a break and do have an easier time of life.

I don't know what to do with these feelings of resentment right now. I think part of it comes from the cumulative effects of widowhood - the fatigue and weariness that just builds up over the years. The never having a break from the worrying of only parenting. I know there isn't anything I can do about the past and that I need to focus on changing the future. But regrets and resentments still build up and are triggered by events such as this. And then I have to deal with them. So I guess there needs to be balance over what has been without getting too hung up on it, while trying to remain hopeful and positive that the future will be better. Easier said than done.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cobwebs From the Past

I am having a terrible time at it with the storage sheds. The work is tedious and overwhelming me. I feel buried by junk - buried by death. All the stuff just represents dead objects and what is no more. Yesterday, at the shed I ran into my old Avon lady and she and I hugged and caught up as I haven't talked with her since my move. She related feeling exactly as I have expressed - feelings of anxiety, being overwhelmed and as if she is going to have a panic attack. Her plan is also to condolidate stuff from multiple sheds into one unit - to go through stuff and get rid of the excess. She mentioned having a garage sale and I asked her to call me so I might add some things. But it is very difficult just getting through the sheds. The extra cash I might get at a sale would be nice but to be realistic, I don't have the time, energy or orgainizational skills to really try and sell the stuff. The tax donation credit I take is substantial - but to take it I end up documenting EVERYTHING I donate and you know what that means - it is just more work.

Speaking of work that is all I seem to have done since my husband got sick. Spent years taking care of him and his needs. Parenting the boys, helping my folks, even helping out Sam with his move out-of-state! This storage shed job just seems like another thorn in my side. A job that never gets done. It fits in with my observation that there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes after a spouse dies. Everyone thinks that after a few months of grieving that one should be back on their feet. But even years after the death there is work and stuff to get through, especially if it involves moving or downsizing.

I hate being told that I should just start hauling boxes to the dumpster without even looking in them to dispose of them. These are my possessions and belongings and I deserve to at least sort through them to retain sentimental items. It is just such darn hard and draining work, physically and emotionally. I didn't think it was going to be this bad. So far, I have "downsized" my storage twice so this is the third time. The first was right after the move in October. Then March-May of this year. I am still tired from the last time.

Tried sorting through things while moving from one shed to the other but that is too time consuming and I get off track. I need to move the stuff to save the money and then concentrate on weeding through, sorting and disposing of.

The last years of my life have brought with them more hardship than joy and somehow I see and feel all of that hardship within this storage shed job. Just looking at, touching, moving, constantly thinking about and being surrounded by old junk in a storage shed I'm paying dearly for is enough to make me want to collapse in frustration and fatigue. Oftentimes while I'm working at the shed I just call out in anguish that I can't take it anymore.

My Avon lady commented that it must have been a hard adjustment to have moved from my 2,500 square foot, five-bedroom home to an apartment less than half that size. Yes, it has been. And now I am left with the final job of trying to pare down from one life to this new one. There is only so much time and energy, especially as a widowed mom. I can only take so much, my personal resources only go so far.

I hope this is the final leg of this journey. It has been hot and rainy. I am irritable and angry, cross and blue. This is not an uplifting and joyful process. I wish I could feel motivated and strong that I am accomplishing something for my betterment. But I just feel so bogged down - the work is so exhausting that negativity outweighs the good coming out of this project. This is like extra work on top of all the extra work that has piled up as a result of widowhood. I'm so tired of all of this. I want to be taking a walk and admiring daylilly flowers not sweating and getting dirty in a miserable, dark, smelly storage unit. I've had enough of all this tiring crap. I want more joy and laughter. More sunshine and uncluttered surfaces. More hope and less despair. When I'm working in the shed that is what surrounds me - the overwhelming feeling of despair and hopelessness. It is time to come into the light and to become more free and less tied down to all that is old, outdated, worn out and past its prime.

Please give me the strength to carry on with this job. If I had the money to spare I'd be tempted to throw in the towel and try to do this at a less ambitious pace. But financially I can't swing the cost of these two units anymore. I pray for the resolve to carry me through the next few days. I pray for a rainbow among the clouds with all this rain. I pray for my sanity and for my back to not break under this load. I pray for lightness of spirit and for me to not be so critical of myself as I try to tackle a job most people are spared from having to face on their own. I have to say that I was a tiny bit annoyed as my Avon lady went through her rundown of feelings AS HER HUSBAND STOOD BY HER SIDE. I was glad to know I am not the only one feeling overwhelmed and overworked with this job. But it was a stab in the back to be reminded of how challenging it is to continually face this kind of stuff on my own when the majority have a spouse or family to count on to some degree.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Buried Alive

I am taking a week off to clear out and consolidate the storage sheds from two into one. I've already done a fair amount of work last week to the point where my back ached from moving boxes. I also find the job rather overwhelming and tedious. The best way I can describe it is that I feel as though I am being smothered by the past. And I have reached a point where I want the past cleared out so I can face the future with more of a clean slate.

The sheds contain a lot of stuff of my husband's (even from his first marriage) and my parent's. When I moved from my five bedroom house last fall into our two bedroom apartment, there wasn't enough time before winter hit to do a major clear-out. So this is it. Whatever doesn't fit into the one storage shed I'm going to maintain, will be donated or tossed. This is a chore and a difficult job. Especially doing it on one's own. No one tells you how much work it takes being a widow. Having to face these tasks even years later doesn't make it any easier. Although I know he isn't here anymore, I do question what my husband would want done with his possessions - the same with my dear Mom's things.

Last week I took a huge step, leap is more like it by taking five huge overflowing boxes of old National Geographic magazines to the used book store. I could barely lift the boxes. Now these were from my husband's office and classroom and they've sat in the storage shed because my youngest insisted he wanted all of them. But I drew the line that they take up too much space. As a compromise, my youngest can keep his dad's large collection of history books (his speciality was the Middle Ages) because he is leaning toward becoming a history teacher himself.

I got $5.00 for the 200 magazines - not very much. But I felt as though a weight was lifted from me. It was difficult to part with the magazines because they were a visual reminder of my husband. He always was reading one and they'd be scatterted around the house with tabs marking certain pages. But it is time to let them go. To someone who may collect them or be able to use them now rather than being shut away in a dank, dark storage shed getting mildewed.

Today, I went through some of my mom's old clothes and old clothes from the boys, sorting them to go to the resale shop as a donation. I was reminded by how nicely I dressed my boys when they were little and certain items brought back various memories. But again, I am so pleased that someone (maybe a young, struggling mom or dad) will be able to use these clothes now.

I anticiapte that it will be a rough week. The boys have committed to helping me with the undertaking. When I'm working in the shed or going through the bags of stuff I just feel so overwhelmed and closed in. It is like the past is burying me alive - all the stuff from my husband's classroom, all the old stuff from my parent's life, not to mention the old stuff from MY life. I went through a giant garbage bag of items that had been in the desk of my husband's classroom. It was a very heavy bag. What was mostly weighing it down were the files my husband had filled with his first son's art and school work. This is my sons' half-brother, age 28 who is now a teacher himself and married. The files were from pre school all through grade school. Of course I am going to pass these on to the boys' brother as soon as they get together in the future (the sooner the better). What struck me was how sweet and dear it was that my husband kept all of his first son's art and school work. He didn't need to do that for his second and third boys because I was the scrapbooker in the family.

It was a nice surprise to come across and reminded me of the good man my husband was. He used to say that he wasn't a wealthy man in terms of money but that he was a rich man because of his three sons. And he'd have tears in his eyes as he said this. I found it kind of ironic that although I am going through the sheds in an effort to clear out the past, these files were pieces of the past that should be saved and passed on.

Today, in a bunch of papers was a darling picture my youngest colored as a very little one. Four stick figures representing a family but they were just huge heads with the arms and legs coming out of each head. Absolutely adorable! It was clear that the dad and mom were my husband and I, and the children my two sons. I set the drawing aside in a safe place. I want to frame it right away and put it up - it's that cute. And I think it is significant and should be displayed. That little family my youngest depicted in his early artwork still does live on in spirit. It isn't evident in the old books and magazines that belonged to my husband. But in the love and the values that do live on within this family unit despite the absence of one.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Like/Same, Same/Like

The other day, quite out of the blue, I thought that if I were to get remarried now that I would have no one to invite to the wedding. It would only make sense to go to the court house because there wouldn't be any guests! The meaning of this thought was not about weddings or getting remarried. Rather, it was a harsh reality check about the friends I have lost since my divorce. At my wedding in 2006, I had 50 friends attend and 11 family members on my side. These were people I knew from being a school volunteer, my previous social services job and families from the travel baseball teams.

As I thought back to all of the people who have faded out of my life in recent years it struck me that my two remaining friends are my close girlfriends, both of whom are divorced. I have maintained no friendships with the married couples from my past.

This so upset me that I brought it up with my closest girlfriend. She admitted to having lost touch with some couples as well and attributes it to the fact that now our boys are in high school and no longer on travel baseball teams. They played travel 10 months out of the year and naturally the parents of the team built up connections since we were traveling long distances for our sons to play. Six months of the year we'd be at games every weekend together. But then high school came and it is a different dynamic with the school sports.

I understood this explanation but STILL. To have lost touch with so many people. To have such a small network of close friends when before it was abundant. This was troubling me.

Last night, I came across an article about divorced and widowed women and friendship. The article talked about how many women do lose their married friends after becoming single. Apparently, married folks are uncomfortable interacting with the newly single for a couple of reasons. First, there is the fear of contamination. I guess some people are afraid that by associating with a divorcee or widow, they could possibly end up in the same boat. There can also be a fear of the newly single woman making the moves on the married guys, so the married women do their best to keep their men safe and off-limits. I've heard this before but never really thought it that likely. But it was mentioned as a reason married women do not like associating with single women. Lastly, the article brought up that like attracts like. People want and feel more comfortable hanging out with their own. So, married folks seek out friendships with other marrieds and singles feel better with other singles.

Light bulb moment - so that explains why I've maintained the most contact with the two friends I have - they are both single in a town with very few singles. It all makes sense. But it doesn't make it that much better or easier.

The article suggested cultivating new friendships. This was followed by the comment of a single mom of a daughter who basically said, "I'm already fatigued working, parenting and keeping up the household on my own. And now I have to go out there and make new friends? Where is the time abailable to do this?"I soudly second this mom's frustration! And I guess make the point that again, widowhood and being divorced is an ongoing phase of life that doesn't end with the funeral or the signing of the divorce papers. The secondary grief losses including loss of friendships and support networks are huge! Here are depleted people in need of support, lacking friendship, dealing with the loss of relationships along with everything else on their plates being told to get back out there into the social scene. I want to laugh at the absurdity of this. Then I want to cry a little!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Baseball Summer Blues

I have not posted in a while. The past two weeks of living on a wing and a prayer took a great deal out of me. We made it - but the toll on me worry wise was a big price to pay. I seem to have reached my limit of only parenting. I'm not sure I can go on like this much more. I asked my close girl friend if she would consider having my oldest stay with her next year so he can finish as a senior at his current school and I'll move out-of-state with my youngest back with Sam. Yes, it has gotten that bad and bleak for me to be ready to throw in the towel. There are a couple kids I know of whose families have moved but they've stayed on to finish with their class. I would pay room and board for my son.

Unfortunately, my friend told me "no" as she starts a new job teaching at the high school since she was transferred from the middle school due to budget cuts. She is worried about being able to handle her two high schoolers and the new job. Then, her ex-husband recently lost his job. If he doesn't find work by August, their oldest son, a junior in college, will be unable to room at his school in Chicago. She anticipates that he will have to live at home next year and commute into the city. The family lives in a small home and she feels it will be too tight if my oldest also stays with them.

I am disappointed. Because the prospect of continuing to struggle here on my own for another two years seems insurmountable to me right now. I am just too tired, too drained and too hopeless to keep on trudging on my own. Parenting solo has been tremendously hard for me at times. I almost feel as though I am a robot just going through the motions.

Tonight was a baseball game and it was difficult for me to get motivated to attend, then drive the 30-minutes to get my youngest there. At least some of the moms talked to me tonight and inquired as to how we are all doing. Here I live in such a lovely and quaint town. Driving through our downtown on the way home, we passed the band shell with the Thur. night summer concert going on. I miss attending such functions and events. What good is it living here if I can't afford to do anything and I am too self-conscious to attend a band concert on my own?

I am lonely, depleted and sad. I am so tired from having to handle day-to-day life on my own and be responsible for the boys 24-7. I haven't had a break or a vacation in years.

I met a lovely older woman at the game - she was the paternal grandmother of one of the players. She and I spoke about widowhood as she lost her husband 9 years ago. She is still grieving and greatly misses her spouse. At one point, her daughter, one of the nicer baseball moms interrupted us and pointed out, "She has been raising her boys on her own the past seven years!" It was nice to have someone recocnize and acknowledge this. Because at this point this only parent is just about tapped out.