Then the tide shifts and I'm back at it with more confidence and strength. Though the point is, I think that people do break down from the load. They snap and tumble. There seems to be this belief (false) that widows need to keep strong and at it. Whenever I break and fall it is like I have failed and people aren't sympathetic - sometimes even other widows. "Too bad," I say. This is the nature of extended widowhood. All the crap about becoming stronger because you have to do everything on your own. Years ago I used to respond to that silly phrase "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" with the exact opposite - "What doesn't make you stronger does indeed kill you." Or maybe I should say instead of killing you, weakens you.
Widowhood can be a very wearying life because of the emotional and physical intensity involved. It is taxing. I have nothing positive to say about the widowhood experience. Hence, since I'm blogging about long-term widowhood, my posts tend to have a negative vibe. This has begun to really bother me. Maybe it is better to stop posting - I've struggled with this on and off since I've been posting. But I will leave that contemplation for another time.
Here in greater Chicago suburbia, we were hit with a violent storm last Sunday that knocked out power for many for days - til Thursday! Our community fire works and 4th of July parade and celebrations were all cancelled, which was sad. Then there was the excessive heat - a record of 3, 100-degree days in a row for this area. The heat was hellish. It made me think about extremes. Since widowhood, I have just hated anything that is extreme - frigid cold that is 40 degrees below zero; 12 inch snow storms and in summer crazy storms and hideous heat.
I just want life to be smooth sailing without the extremes - day after day of predictable 70 degree weather with no rain and only sun.
Someone recently reminded me that real life isn't like this - for most of us, it involves dealing with major bumps along the road. Upon thinking about this I believe for me, that I don't do well handling significant stress (bumps in the road) on my own. In school I always preferred working in a group vs. on my own. The same for marriage or being in a relationship. Even in high school/college, I did not like being alone and sought out relationships.
When last Sunday's storm hit, I thought it was a tornado and I was frightened. Part of me inside said, "Oh no, I have to deal with this alone - I don't want to do this alone - I want someone here beside me helping me figure out what to do. I want and need someone to provide mutual comfort and support."
I think a lot of this current state of mind comes from my starting to become even more freaked out by both my sons going off to college. The realization that I will really be living alone, on my own, in a home completely alone for most of the year is really dawning on me. All these years I've been so focused on my boys and getting them raised on my own - that was my main job and occupation. And I realize now that for the most part I won't have that daily focus anymore. I've been alone in parenthood the past years but now I'm going to be really, really alone. This transition is disconcerting to me.
I read recently that some people "hide" behind their marriages. Perhaps I'm guilty of hiding behind my parenting. It did become a focus and source of my energy to go on after my husband's death. I've put pretty much all of my focus and energy into it. So I am realizing that there isn't a lot of substance remaining in terms of a job or friends or new partner. Of course I am aware that now I will have the freedom and energy to devote time to myself - meet new friends, maybe travel a bit, have fun, be a little selfish, explore job options. And that is exciting and good.
But bottom line, there is still loss involved in this new phase of my life. And along with "extremes," I'm not up for more loss. My personal insight into that comment about everyone having to face stress in life and bumps along the road, is that of course that is true. But maybe the difference between facing the bumps or "extremes" as I am feeling them is that life can be easier faced with the love, support and hands of others be they partners, family or friends. Facing life endlessly alone isn't healthy or productive. Widows hopefully can call on others for some support and help. But there is still a gap - like those 10 minutes of experiencing 90-per-mile winds alone.
Well, I could go on and on in this vein because it is one of those things that doesn't really have an immediate resolution. It is what it sadly is.
The heat wave broke late last night and it is about 83 degrees right now. Yeah! As it is in nature, the storm passes and normalcy is restored. I've vented and released some of the fear and sadness I'm experiencing about this new phase of my life. I just remembered something the weather people kept referring to over the week - "cumulative effects of the heat." Our bodies keep increasing the effects of the heat over time leading to more stress and strain on our systems. The same could be likened to widowhood and its cumulative effects as well.