Thursday, August 19, 2010

Here and Now

I don't like being a widow but it is who I am right now. The thought of attending the football picnic/parent meeting on Saturday afternoon yet again alone, and being in the bright light munching on chips by myself surrounded by couples fills me with such dreaded despair, I don't think I can go. It is the first time I'm throwing in the towel and admitting defeat. I can't do it anymore. I'm choosing not to go because I can't stand the pain. It is not worth the effort it takes me to buoy myself up at such events. Seven years of it and I've reached my threshold. Enough is enough. I'll go watch my son play in the stands where there is some cover but being thrust out into the throng of a picnic is another story. Trying to make small talk with people I don't know and will never interact with again ...

I don't want to be a widow anymore but face it, for the immediate time being it is what I'm destined to be. Hard to denounce a part of yourself. I dream about my past life as a relatively happy wife and mother, when I was productive and felt safe. I'd say as a married mom I flourished. I took flight and soared. Widowhood has been a downward spiral on so many levels. But at its core, I have felt unsafe and insecure. I'm tired of all the pep talks about being strong and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. Sometimes you just come to the end of your rope like I'm feeling about attending the football picnic. I can't take another step forward.

A couple years ago I read a post by a widowed mom who wrote similar words. She was tired of being alone, tired of dating, tired of solo parenting and even tired of life itself. I totally got what this mom was saying and feeling. I'd been there and I'd go there again.

So I dream about my past life and dream about a future one where hopefully my life will be restored to some degree. I long for a committed partner (husband) and to be part of a mature, growing and giving partnership. Sharing a household and life would ease up the daily financial struggle I'm involved with and make it hopefully less difficult to get my boys through college. I want to be part of something bigger than myself and have a partner to lean on as well as to provide support to. A real grown-up give and take relationship with sex and a companion for social events. I do also dream of a small home or townhouse where I can garden again. But mostly I desire the security and safety I derive from being in a committed relationship (marriage).

Here I am dreaming about the past and dreaming about the futue and hating the present. Just hating it beyond words and also feeling sad and depressed about it. I want to run away from where I'm at right now. Back to the past or get thrust into the future. Anywhere but here.

But I think here is where I'm supposed to be. Maybe not embracing or even accepting it but at least not ignoring it or trying to push it always away. I'm rereading the book by Dr. Judith Sills "How to Get Naked Again." It is basically a dating guide for the middle-aged, but I'm getting a whole lot more than dating advice. Dr. Sills talks about the need to acknowledge our identities as to where we are right now today, not where we were or where we want to go. When I read this I realized how much I have been fighting my widowhood by struggling to be the same person I was as a married mom and how I've been on a quest to escape it as quickly as possible - fight and flight.

But Dr. Sills argues that to move forward, the first step is to live as fully as we can within our life situations. She also refreshingly disagrees with the emphasis on the Law of Attraction's striving for what we want to bring into our lives. Tha shouldn't be the mainstay of our energy. All of this for me means facing my widowhood rather than hiding from it. I don't think that means I have to force myself into situations that cause me pain or discomfort anymore like the football picnic. I still have the right to protect and shelter myself. But I have to stop myself from focusing on the fantasy of my past and the future and devote more on my attention to life right now. I'm still trying to figure out the logistics of how to do that - always easier said than done. I guess a start can be acknowledging where and who I am right now - "I'm a tired, widowed mom who doesn't feel up to going to the football picnic because it is a reminder of my being alone. Maybe I would meet someone interesting at the picnic but I don't have the energy to go this time. And it is okay to sit this one out. There will be more social opportunities in the future."


  1. Well said. I know that I want all of those things as well. My problem is that I have been single most of my adult life, so my current situation, being widowed, feels like I am now back in the past. Everything I grew to love about being an adult in a loving relationship, is now gone. I don't want to spend too much time going without intimacy, or sex. There was something missing then, and there is something missing now.

    I am also facing the prospect of registering my boys in new schools now that we have moved. The first thing I realized is that I will now have to once again be that parent who is always alone. I will be the one who says no, I don't have a spouse. I will have to decide if I should just say I'm a widower, or just leave it at that. But as you know, I don't much like making casual conversation at these parent kind of things either.

  2. If I were you, I absolutely wouldn't go to the picnig. And I were me, which I am, I wouldn't go either.

  3. Dan - Well, hang in there with all the school registration events. I have always been upfront about my widowhood status because I feel it serves a purpose, if for nothing else to have people maybe reflect on and count their blessings for a day or two. I see what you mean about becoming single again and how that throws you back into the past. I don't believe any of us should go for too long without intimacy or sex. But I'm certainly not in the best of shape (emotionally) to be out there exuding sparkling wit, conversation and flirtly tosses of my head. Yuck. The thought of having to go through all the work of getting to know someone again exhausts me.

    Thelma - Thanks for your support. I wish I had it in me to be more social and strong right now but I may have reached the point where if I go to the picnic I'll "rebell" in some scary fashion like do a crazy dance for the hell of it or dump out the bowl of coleslaw...

  4. This post really resonated with me and I just wanted to thank you. While our life situations are different, I too am currently going through a very difficult time in my life and am finally coming to terms with the fact that I don't want to go "out" and be "social" and "make friends" right now like everyone is telling me I need to do. I don't want to pretend everything is okay, that I'm okay, that nothing is wrong, it isn't. But I feel like that is what I have to do in order to be "social". All I get from that is a feeling of more I have decided. I will do what are within my current life situations limits to do and that just has to be enough. It isn't easy though for sure, I have so many expectations of myself, society has so many expectations of me, you can't get away from them, they are everywhere you turn.... Maybe someday I will be there again, but I am working very hard at embracing my "today self" right now. I wish you and your boys the very best!

  5. You did the right thing. I can remember feeling that way at times, but when I didn't go, I always felt guilty. You are doing just great. I admire your strength.

  6. Anonymous - Your reply touched me. It means a lot when someone comments that what I'm dealing with and writing about touches a nerve with them too. I feel stronger listening to my inner voice and doing what I want for a change instead of always trying to fit in and do what others feel is right for me. Good luck!

    Jude - Thanks Jude. Can't win can we. We don't go and feel guilty or go and feel terrible. I think we all need to let up on ourselves and give ourselves a well-deserved break!

  7. I just found your site and have added it to myfavs. I have been a widow for almost 9 months and have been searching for something like this for months. I've lost both of my parents, but this loss is so different, I've lost my husband, best friend, my way of life, every single part of my life is upside down.

    Saying no, I won't go is ok, taking care of ourselves is ok

    Thank you for your time and thoughts