My original Christmas gift from Sam was a cat necklace. He was so excited to give it to me and I was so initially disappointed. It looked like the ones my son and I had seen at Walmart for $5.00 and rather than put on a cheery face and say "I love it," I neutrally said, "It looks like the ones we saw at Walmart for $5.00 and after dating for 2 1/2 years I think I'm worth a little more than that." Sam told me the necklace wasn't from Walmart but I still didn't want the cat. Not that the cat wasn't cute - it was, but when I showed it to my youngest, he hooted with laughter and sputtered out a chocked, "Why did he get you a cat?"
Well, Sam got me a cat because I do like cats. Love them intensely would be more like it and I've had cats my entire life, at one point even owing eight of them (after one had kittens)! But that was the problem. I saw myself putting on the necklace and becoming even more branded as a "crazy, widowed cat lady." Yes, I know there isn't a whole lot of logic behind this. But my mind equated the cat necklace with my widowed status and quite frankly I am fed up of being a widow and have resolved to not be a widow any longer than I have to in 2011. In fact, my resolution for 2011 is to work on ditching the widowhood gig.
So I sincerely did not want the cat necklace and wouldn't have enjoyed wearing it. I would have dreaded wearing it. I kindly asked Sam if he would please return it for a design I had been coveting all year - a key. At first he resisted and said he wouldn't take it back and then he said he wasn't even sure he had the receipt. When I told him I would take it back myself for an exchange with or without a receipt he sprang into action and the next day I received my key necklace.
I LOVE the key necklace. It is symbolic of hope, opening the door to a new year and new future. I don't want to keep accepting things that are given to me that I don't like or want. I think all of us are entitled to have things that are meaningful and that we love in our lives. It is one of the reasons I make sure the gifts I give are items that are really wanted or I give gift cards. No longer do I want to pretend to be happy with items that don't make me happy just to make other people more comfortable.
So I got my key necklace and it makes me happy and hopeful. But it does bother me a little that I had such a negative reaction to the cat necklace in the first place. I just want to move beyond the widowhood label, and identification with it. I don't want to be a widow anymore. I want an identity beyond widowhood and one that looks more positively into the future. For me that does mean moving on toward a committed relationship leading to marriage. I hold the key in my hand but need to start opening and unlocking some doors to reach that goal. It is okay to want this and go after it. No one is going to send me a new husband knocking on my door. But I have the power to knock on doors and see how they open. Will Sam open one of them? I don't know anymore. I do know that if he isn't opening the door now, that I need to look for a man who is ready to do so - that I can't keep waiting indefinitely without some sort of formal commitment toward a future together.
Sam feels I want to get remarried because I am insecure. I disagree with him. I want to get remarried because it does offer security and benefits that do not exist otherwise in our society. No one questioned me wanting to get married when I married my husband at age 30. I still want love, safety, security, commitment, companionship - the whole nine yards like most people out there. I know that I thrive in a committed relationship and being in one that isn't exclusive is very unsettling to me. It is time to become unsettled and strive for what brings wholeness and contentment to our lives, whatever that may be for each of us.