I decided to post about intimacy today because it has been on my mind recently. Although I live with my two sons, go to work, have a few friends including a long-distance guyfriend and have been attending a weekly knitting club made up of 50 members, I still feel such an emptiness in the intimacy department.
I am a different person since my husband died. I am far more negative, less optimistic/hopeful and complain more than is probably healthy. I wasn't like this when I was married. Being married and the intimacy I felt within my marriage made me feel safe, loved and protected. There weren't that many reasons to feel negative or complain.
Since my husband's death I have not been able to feel the happiness and security I felt as a married mother and wife. There is such an unfilled void.
I was talking with another widow about 15 years my senior at the knit club. Her children are grown and her husband (it was a remarriage) was ill for four years after a stroke before his death last year. She told me that she has filled her life with people and activities - 3 knitting clubs, 2 gardening clubs, a book club, three cruises in the past 12 months, one of which was a gift from her children and to top it off she is extremely active in local politics. Yet, despite all this, she found herself not going out for three days over the winter and feeling frantic for a personal connection. She was worried that she was monopolizing the cashier's time by talking to her at the check out.
There is an intimacy that comes from living with a romantic partner that cannot be captured by a sibling, child, friend or grocery clerk. Personal interaction is needed on all levels of course but a husband's love can't be duplicated by a non-husband.
I took my youngest, A., to another Build-A-Bear yesterday so he could get a Panda dressed in a tux. The bear is holding a note that says, "It would be unpandabearable if you did not attend Prom with me, Love, Magic Oreo (the name of the bear). I just thought the bear was too cute for words dressed in the little outfit. Usually I put my nose up at these kind of things (the clothes are all made in China, tsk, tsk) but I'm letting my son have the pleasure of asking his nice, beautiful and smart girlfriend to the Prom with this gesture. He is in cahoots with his girlfriend's mom. They are going to put the bear somewhere in her house while she is out so it will be a surprise when she comes home and finds it.
This bear and the thoughtful gesture behind it seem to symbolize intimacy. A gift given in love, trying to please another, finding joy in the gesture itself, giving something meaningful to the other (she likes Panda bears apparently).
People tell widows they have to make the best of their situations and be grateful for all they do have in their lives. Yes, that is true. But somethings in life are truly not interchangeable. If you don't have intimacy in your life it can't be replaced with something else. Intimacy is built from trust, love, time, acceptance, friendship, compatibility, support, forgiveness - a whole combination of characteristics and values. And a very tall order to fill indeed.