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I having been thinking a lot lately, essential to who I am. Lately I cannot help but try and sort out my life as it is, and what it may look like in the future. For the last nearly two years, I struggled with what I thought was singular grief at the loss of my husband, the loss of our relationship and our future together. I came to realize that yes, that is the considerable cause of my sadness, but I came to another conclusion that may apply to others in my age group as well (born in the 50s).

I was young when my husband and I first formed our lives together. I lacked the skills and knowledge necessary to know myself in order to establish me first as a person, before committing myself as a member of a couple. I had always heard that you should love yourself before you are are truly capable of loving someone else. Though I knew there was obvious wisdom in that advice, I always ignored it thinking either a) I would acquire that self-sufficiency on the run, or b) I had enough to get me through. I needed to know I was worthy of love from someone else, but didn't know I was supposed to deem myself worthy of my own love.

Clearly, not only did I not know then, I don't know now. I am realizing a lot of the sadness and grief I am feeling is that I am a stranger to myself. I am starting from scratch to figure out who I am and to finally feel comfortable in my own skin. I am cramming a lifetime of neglect into a mightly small time frame. So whatever means it is that I acquire the skills to recognize my goodness from within, I will be in full grief until then.

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Comment by Tess on August 19, 2018 at 2:22am

It's ok Phyllis. I should have known that is not what you meant.

SweetMelissa2007, thank you for the words. I guess that is what astounds me, that what I'm feeling could be common for many in the face of grief. As odd as it sounds, there is some wisdom to your ex-MILs words. I remember feeling all of our married years that I was going to do whatever I could do to build my independence in the event of his death, which I assumed would come first. I did that, logistically anyway. I paid all the bills, decided on home renovations, went back to school, worked, etc. The problem I overlooked was the emotional independence. I thought that would be tied in, but it is a different growth. One that now needs to expand.

Blessings too.

Comment by SweetMelissa2007 on August 16, 2018 at 8:10am

(((HUGS TESS)))

What you are experiencing is normal & common for many. Your life has been shattered. Grief takes everyone in unknown directions when evaluating their life. We all knew our daily routine married self at the time of being widowed - it's still fresh. During this time, no one knows the entire person they are currently or what they are capable of or who they will become. We test ourself as well as being tested ...
What you will find was there was no way to prepare for widowhood/the impact of grief. My ex-MIL would often non-chalantly tell us gals to take care of the checkbook & bills as well as take an occassional solo vacation as preparation for widowhood - as if it were so easily. She's been married to the same man since the age of 17 & is now in her 80s. My twice widowed Mother said about her, "esta loca" = "she's crazy" ...
There can be guilt & self beatings, however, you will find your strength as you work out the shoulda, coulda, wouldas - albeit slowly ...
Take it easy & take care of yourself ...
Blessings ...

Comment by Phyllis on August 16, 2018 at 2:26am

Tess, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings. I could have chosen better words, or better yet, kept my mouth shut.  I didn’t intend to be harsh.  Phyllis

Comment by Tess on August 15, 2018 at 4:30am

Phyllis, I am happy for you that you found a way forward and have surprised yourself with your strength. I too have done the same, however until I find a more clear path forward, those accomplishments will be spread out and will continue to be a "surprise." That is not enough for me. I want the accomplishments to be intentional, not accidental. Chosen by me to be a path to my future.

I am sure you don't mean that you take exception to my last sentence. That sounds far too strong and being that these are my feelings, I am entitled to state them as I wish. The grief is not for the loss of my spouse, but for the person who I've not come to the full realization to be.

Comment by Phyllis on August 15, 2018 at 4:04am

 I can really relate. I am 69, widowed for six years. I was 20 years old when I married Don, and thought he was the smartest man in the world. Didn’t we all feel that way about our husbands? At the age of 20, I did not know who I was, so I became him. His was the stronger personality and I was more than glad for him to take over.   When he got sick,  I was amazed at how easily he gave up all decisions and relied on me 100%. I never thought I would see that vulnerable side of him.  It has been liberating and sometimes I feel a little giddy knowing the buck stops with me and I don’t need anybody’s approval.    Actually, I have been very surprised and I will say proud of myself at all that I have accomplished. I never knew I was that strong. Would I prefer having my old life back? Of course I would, but that’s not possible and reality is here.  I may take a little exception to your last sentence. Perhaps you need to let go of a little of your grief to find out who you are instead of the other way around. But like everybody says, there is no right or wrong way to go through this journey  I may take a little exception to your last sentence. Perhaps you need to let go of a little of your grief to find out who you are instead of the other way around. But like everybody says, there is no right or wrong way to go through this journey 

Comment by Callie2 on August 11, 2018 at 5:34pm

Tess, I can relate to what you are saying.  I could be wrong but I think these feelings are pretty normal. For sure, I never thought that losing a spouse would involve losing my self confidence but did it ever!  I think we all search for our identities as singles, and for some, that transition can be difficult. I’m not referring to the grief and sadness, I’m describing the figuring out who we are and what it is we want out of life. Be good to yourself for now and indulge whenever you can afford to!  You will find peace (acceptance) one day, hoping that day comes for you very soon!

Comment by Rainy (Misty) on August 11, 2018 at 11:28am

Tess, I'm born in the 70.s and feel much like you.  After Jerry died, one of the first things I can remember thinking was who am now?  I"m using this time to find myself, love myself, grieve my loss and take care of the children.  I hope we'll both begin to live a full and happy life satisfied that we are enough!

Comment by SweetMelissa2007 on August 11, 2018 at 10:06am

I was 49 at the time of Bob's death - born in the 50s ...
When we met, we were both 21 years old. We never lived together, however, dated for 10 years w/a once a week sleep over before marrying. We developed a cathexis - a bond that involved no other. I lived the married life for 20 years - clearly w/out thinking about returning to singlehood in just a matter of 2 decades. Marriage made me a different person; it was what I was most familiar with as well as living at the time of death. I assure you, I didn't know how to begin caring for 2 actively grieving suicidal children or care for my grieving self ...
Grief makes everyone a different person. We learn, relearn & grow up again ...

Recalling our teenage years is for insight as to how we lived as well as took the plunge into adulthood. That excitement, full abandonment & bravado can be seemingly foreign - almost like it never happened, but it was there especially if rebelliousness &/or an unwillingness to listen to your parents was present ...
What we did in our past lead us to our present. It's not cause to feel guilt or shame about when we all still have the ability, albeit frazzled, to learn new & different things. I understand you need to process this out of your system, however, try to remember the benefits of your marriage & past experiences to help you through this difficulty. Those learning lessons have their place of value  ...
Blessings ...

"I can't go back to yesterday because I was a different person then" ...
- Lewis Carroll, quote from Alice in Wonderland ...

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