Sunday, June 24, 2012

Creating Intimacy

Two by Two

When I was married, I never felt alone. I had an adult partner to talk to, interact and sleep with. My husband was a companion and helpmate, a co-parent. Since his death I have realized that in order to have emotional interactions with others, I have to make the effort to create intimacy. It just isn't there like it was when I lived with a married partner. I have also since realized the great necessity we all have for emotional intimacy. I believe it is a deep human need and truly important for our emotional well being, health and survival.

It is hard to always have to create what we need. It becomes a job, an effort. I have been reflecting on these feelings since an encounter with a fellow widow, a mom my age of two daughters, both in college. We have been trying to get together for about a year now. She has been widowed five years to my eight. I was really looking forward to talking to her, especially about her empty-nest experiences and feelings.

This woman was at a recent graduation party I attended and I made a point to set up a "date." She invited me to her home for a pizza dinner. Now her sister overheard us making our plans and "invited" herself to join us. The woman looked about as distressed as I felt with this development - we had wanted an opportunity to talk and relate privately about our lives with someone on our same page. She assured me that she would take care of her sister so we could meet alone.

When I showed up at her home I was actually angry and bitter to see the sister there. I felt irritated and resentful. It took a few moments for me to compose myself and go with the flow so I had a decent evening. Then to top it off, the widow's mom showed up as well! But by that time I was resigned to the situation. Fellow widow and I didn't get the opportunity to share and support one another. The conversation flowing was more general than I hoped. Widow's youngest daughter was there too and we talked a lot about her Freshman year experience.

But what I had really hoped for was some time to let my hair down with another widow and compare notes so to speak. This didn't happen and it made me sad because it is difficult to arrange intimate encounters - they don't occur every day and it seemed that an opportunity had been lost to uplift two widows in need.

This other widow has a very close and supportive family and that was sure evident. I thought that her family was actually kind of intrusive and I had to control myself from speaking my mind. What would I have said? Probably something along the line of people needing to be more considerate of a widow's need to vent with someone who shares her circumstances. I also would have said something about how married people have a built-in intimacy factor, even if they aren't particularly close. Just living with another adult under the same roof    provides some level of intimacy. My divorced girlfriend has become so aware of this that it is difficult for her to be in social situations where the wives put down their hubbies. She actually has to leave if this happens.

This whole situation just soured me. We'd all just been together at the graduation party so this was supposed to be a time of private healing for fellow widow and I. Instead, it was just another group event without the one-on-one intimacy I crave and miss in my current life. There was definitely irritation at the sister who is married and invited herself to join us - a sort of mean reaction by me against this woman for not being able to get past what she needed (selfishness).

As I left for the evening, fellow widow whispered to me that we'd go out to dinner next time alone. Hopefully we can manage to get together sooner than the year it took last time.

On the Road

Where am I going?

I am beginning to feel a bit anxious about the upcoming empty-nest aspect of my life soon approaching. The articles I have found online do indicate that widowed empty-nesters may have a more difficult time adjusting than those who are coupled.

I realize how much of my life energy I have poured into raising my sons the past years. That focus is what kept me going through some pretty challenging times. But now that that focus is lessened, I do feel empty and kind of without a purpose. It doesn't help that I'm not employed and still don't have a place to call my future home, although I am working on that.

So, I need to find a job and then figure out what to do with my career - go back to school for yet another degree? Why not? I'll have lots of free time to research and write papers.

Then I need to revamp my social life which is sadly lifeless at this point. I will have to relearn how to take care of my needs and wants for a change. I'm actually wondering if that is even possible at this point - I've been such a caregiver of others all my life.

Those tasks now seem rather daunting to me. And they are on top of still managing all the little details of life on my own.

I'm extremely tired and weary. The only-parenting took a toll out of me - much more than the grief of my husband's death.

It appears that this next chapter will continue to include some bumps in the road. I'm trying to feel excited and energized about free time and less financial strain. But while I can see some of the pluses, I also realize that they come with even more loss - both of my boys at college and me really ALONE. It is a joyful time in celebrating my sons' successes, yet bittersweet because it is a time of adjustment and change - YET AGAIN! I just feel that widowhood has been this endless journey of adjustment and change and what I need and long for is a period of predictable stability and sameness. Without the loneliness and being alone too.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Country View

Peace in the Country

I have been busy the past few weeks looking after my youngest who had surgery on his shoulder May 30th. My older son and I have also been hitting the highway in my search for a new home in the country. Relocating to a rural setting, which has been my dream the past three years is turning out not to be such an enjoyable experience. I think this is because I have such a short deadline in which to find a place to live, as my current lease expires at the end of July and I have given notice. I am also experiencing first hand that old reality that when you need something you can't find it, whereas when you don't need it, there it is! Over the past year when I couldn't move yet, I found numerous great opportunities. Now it seems that well is dry and I feel a bit discouraged.  

Got to keep the faith and all that. Being able to move out of suburban Chicago sprawl and into a more laid-back and relaxed location has been the dream I've held on to the past three years since having to sell and move from my home. That dream kept me going during some pretty trying times so I've got to hold on now that I really am ready and able to move. But this weekend I am taking a break from the stress and fatigue of travel and house hunting to hang around and cook a nice meal, catch up on the ever constant laundry cycle and so on.