I got a nice comment from Leslie about a recent post, in which she honestly related that she wasn't able to comprehend the magnitude of "only parenting" until experiencing it as a widow, herself. She labeled the difference between being able to understand and not, "The Great Divide." I love that description. I see in my mind two great mountains in view of each other but being separated by the deep canyon between them.
It has been an ongoing frustration for me to live with the Great Divide coming between myself and those I interact with, especially those closest to me. I have tried without much success to try and explain what middle-aged widowhood has been like for me, especially the aspect of only parenting. Usually my attempts to describe my life are met with the response of diminishing my reality - "Oh it can't be that bad." "You're making more out of things than you should." "Why are you always complaining, other single moms don't."
Thanks to Leslie's comment, I can appreciate that my efforts at explaining my world are probably pretty fruitless and I need to give up the fight of trying to bridge the Great Divide. But there are times when I do need to explain myself and I wish there was some easier way of trying to get my point across without me always feeling misunderstood and diminished.
About the only times that I have truly felt understood on an honest level have been with my therapist who specializes in grief and when I was communicating with a single dad of four kids - now he got the meaning of tired! Also, with the interactions I've had through blogging.
I don't live in an urban, diverse community. In fact, the suburban area I do reside in was sighted by the U.S. Census as being one of the three highest in the United States in regard to the number of married couples living in it - 69%! Add to that statistic the fact that just 3.7% of the population in my age group (45-54) is widowed. So there you have it - the Great Divide evident in black and white. The vast majority of people in my life and my community don't get it and there aren't a whole lot around who do that I can seek solace with.
They left all this out of those grief guidelines and books I read at the start of my widowhood - how to really deal with the fact that most people won't get it, or they'll try to talk me out of my own reality. And that it will be a challenge to find support, sympathy and understanding.
I thank Leslie for her honesty because reflecting on all this, I've come to the realization that part of my anguish is the result of the huge frustration I experience in trying to unsuccessfully explain my world. If I give that up, I'll lose all of that. Because it seems as though the answer here is in the acknowledgment that I can't really explain or describe my world to those living on the other side of the canyon. I'm setting myself up for failure because it is impossible.