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A lot of trivial thoughts about moving on.

Sometimes I have a whole heap of stuff on my mind and when I write it all out on paper it all seems so trivial.  I have a roof over my head, food on the table, some money in the bank, although not a lot. I remember my mother telling me that was all you could wish for and I know that is so and I am much better off than so many others.  I also know that is not my problem.  My problem still is I don't know exactly what I want in life and therefore have no way of getting it. I also realise my mother gave her advice from a safe place, she was a member of a couple, she was not a woman on her own.  My advice needs to come from someone who is in the same position as I am and doesn't need to think about it, just say what is on their heart.

I want peace of mind.  Half of me is still grieving, for my loss, for loss of the future we planned to spend together including the trips around Australia.  I still feel the loss of all Ray and I were to each other.  I see him when I daydream, out on the lawn mowing, edging, pulling out the weeds that always seem to spring up in our lawn.  I still say "our" not "my", this will always be "our first home", the "house that Ray built onto three times".  There is no home without Ray in it, still.  I just live here. Some nights I am like a ghost drifting from room to room.  Most of the rooms are still the way they were when Ray was here.  The blue chairs on the verandah, where we used to sit, still sit side by side.  Yes I know it is over four years since he was here but he sat there for many years and now I sit there alone but still with his chair beside me.

I want to move away from this house being a museum.  I want to make changes but I have got used to the furniture being the way it is and when I move it around I move it back again.  I am used to the way it is. It is a bit like updating your wardrobe and finding out that the blue blouse you just bought is exactly the same as one you had ten years ago. Okay I am over 65 but do I need to be such a stick-in-the-mud?  I have changed other things in my life but as I said it is still "our house" and changing things seems to upset the balance somehow. Come to that I still have all the baby toys and my youngest grandchild is three.  I need to make some radical changes but somehow I don't.

Sometimes I feel as if I have made a giant leap forward,but it is really just a tweaking of the usual program.  Yes I do a lot of things on my own but they are not new things, they are the things I did when Ray was in respite, the kind of stop gap things that we all do when we have some spare time.  I have not redesigned my life.  I do want to, I just don't know how I want it to look.  I have just filled it with more of the same things I have always been doing.  Maybe these things define me? I do hope not but when I did a counselling course I learned the phrase "what we do is who we are" so am I the same Sue I have always been?  Who knows?"

I still want a companion.  I put that out to the universe and got the equivalent of a pen friend.  No, that is not what I want.  I want someone who is with me, to go to the movies with, maybe day trips, possibly those picnics etc I have in mind for summer.  I had a widowed friend who loved action movies so when Ray was in respite, even for a few days, we would go to the movies.  Unfortunately she is sick now, older, frailer, sicker.  I have never found someone to replace her. I do have an out-to-coffee or lunch group of lady friends some of whom are available now as they are retired and the widows group I go out to lunch with on Sundays but although I ask around for people with similar interests to join me for a day out so far no takers. A widowed friend told me today she knew she would some day dance at my wedding to which I replied:  "You had better keep yourself fit then."

Just lately I have burst into tears unexpectedly when friends have been talking about their husbands and the phrase "we do this, we do that" was used.  I usually manage to turn away and cough and that explains why my eyes are watering. I keep thinking I am over this grieving, it is over three years now since Ray died so I tell myself "come on Sue, get over it" and then for a while I concentrate on not thinking about Ray and I am over it...well until the next time it happens. How did you move on?  How do I move on?  What is the process? How do you start picking up the habit of saying me and mine instead of we and ours? When can I let all of those "Ray and I" stories go and just talk about the now instead of the times back then? That has to be one of the problems.

At what point can I say:  "I am over it now"? I think not being able to do that is what is stopping me from dating, I mean I still have a sense of holding back from committing myself to really getting to know someone else. I am so good at sitting alongside someone.  I had years as a telephone counselor and I am a pastoral care worker again now so I think that is one of my default modes.  I can sit and listen and say "uh huh, uh huh" and I am genuinely listening, and can support someone through a situation and have done a lot of that recently but that is not going to get me a companion is it? I know that counselling and supporting someone must put up some sort of barrier, a counselor is not a romantic figure.  Maybe that is why I have a lot of men friends but to all of them I am like a sister not a lover.

Life is like a half finished painting, I can see the outline and where things ought to be sketched in but it is as if the artist left it before he or she added the small details, just the rough sketch and some patches of color.  The patches of color are events like my grandchildren visiting or me visiting them, the highlights are the good days of my life during the time I spend in the church and the community organisations I belong to.  But I might have had the greatest day but come home and life seems empty and the background color is grey again..  I can find time for myself to read, come onto the computer and watch TV when I am home and I do go out to functions but I still have that feeling of emptiness on my return.  I can go for a few days without feeling that way but the first day of rain and I am there again, feeling isolated. I so envy those people who say;"I love to be back home again." Maybe that will change one day when it becomes my home not our home.

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Comment by only1sue on October 27, 2015 at 1:02am

Callie2, I think you are right, maybe in my mind there was still so much of life to fill in with us as a couple, particularly as Ray was unable to do so much we still had on our bucket list from 1999 when he had the major strokes, so all we had were those patches of color, not the broad brushstrokes of what our life should have been like.  So sad that so many things on my bucket list are couples things. We were going to do so much when we retired that even now it is hard to take those things off my list.

Comment by Callie2 on October 17, 2015 at 6:44pm
I don't know if we ever get over it, I think we learn to live with it. Do you think it may be possible you aren't through grieving yet? There isn't anything we can change or do that will hasten it--it takes as long as it takes. You seem to be fairly active and have a lot of social interaction, all good. Be patient a little longer. If you can, try focusing on the positives in your life, and one important thing is if you are fortunate to have good health that enables you to get around and travel and keep company with friends. At our age, that is huge! Your Mother was right, you are fortunate to be blessed with all the necessities in life and whether you are married or living alone, those things are pretty important. You have had a successful, long-term marriage-- how wonderful is that?

As far as your life feeling like a half-finished painting, I'm not sure if it's because you are yearning for your old life and maybe not been able to truly accept that he is gone, or if it is due to loneliness. Maybe the half-finished is because he has departed before the picture was completed? I have not experienced that feeling. I am pretty sure that in due time, that picture will take shape, maybe in a new and surprising way, there wil be clarity. I hope you can believe that.
Comment by Bonnie on October 15, 2015 at 6:56am
Sue, you are saying so much of what I feel but can't seem to find the words to express. This is such a strange place to be. My husband was twelve years older than I and was sick and requiring more and more constant care for over five years. I knew this day would come, and thought I would be prepared. In some ways I guess I was, but in so many others I am not. I guess I am still in the early stages in that it has only been 15 months since he died. I am reading her of so many others who are 3, 4 or more years away from their spouses' deaths and still experiencing the loneliness, the sadness, the sense of where-do-I-go-now that has so gripped me. I know some of it will never go away, but I am struggling to find ways to make life meaningful again. At 78, I know I should make the most of everyday and not waste what precious time I have left, but there are so many days when I am just paralyzed and can't seem to do anything. I have made a few changes in the house, I have engaged in a few activities, but nothing seems really fulfilling and mostly I feel I am just going through the motions. My husband was extraordinary in his intense joy in life and his ability to live totally in the moment. I know he would be telling me that is what I should do, but I always felt I needed him to help me do it and now I can't seem to do it alone. it does help me to know that I am not the only one feeling so restless and searching for my future as Blue Snow says it so well. But I do wonder if I will ever again be really comfortable in my life as I was with him.
Comment by Blue Snow on October 14, 2015 at 8:45am

I think a lot of us older widows (myself included) want what is impossible to have again. We have to readjust, refocus and make peace with the fact that we're not young anymore and we don't have the time to build the same kind of relationship we had with our spouses. Maybe we even under value friendship and over value what it means to be a lover. That's not to say second marriages can't happen and be happy but I do think expectations have to be lower.

I can identify with your supportive role where you're always on the giving end and not the receiving end of support. I think you put it well that some sort of barrier goes up to make you good at the job you do as a counselor and I can see how that could carry over to your personal relationships. I know I do that and on some level I think that is a way of protecting myself and it's a trust issue maybe. People tell us stuff they shouldn't and I think, Gosh, what I tell this person could end up being shared. Sounds odd coming from a fellow blogger, but it's so much safer to lay it all out in a blog where we don't have to see the people who read what we read in our daily lives, have it influence how they treat us.

If I remember right I'm Don died about 6 months before Ray did and I can say I still feel restless and searching for my future. Early this summer I got it into my head that I needed to get off my butt and downsize in preparation for a move to another house. I located an auction house and have made trips there weekly to drop stuff off. It's kind of bitter-sweet to see so many of Don's things disappear from the house but at least it feels like I'm moving forward. Even if I end up staying in this house at least I'll be making in mine instead of living with the past so up front and center. I'm not getting rid of all of his stuff, but with the stuff I keep I ask myself, "Does this give me joy?" and if I answer yes, I keep it.

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