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When do I stop having widow problems or is it always widow problems.

Right after Bill died I had a lot of problems. Tons of them, millions of them, and all of them, each and every one directly related to his death.  I was in the Hole. They ranged from a soul crushing paralyzing depression to the inability to open my garage door after a snow storm (of course I could not remove the snow) and power failure.  I had an old car with a lot of problems. I had lost my job and my career of over 29 years was over. Most of my friends went on what I call the widow luncheon tour. They take you out to lunch once, maybe dinner. It is NEVER on a weekend. That is family time. Then they feel like they did their duty.

 It was certainly clear to me that by his death my life had been intractably, irrevocably ruined. I would spend the rest of my miserable life like Miss Havisham from Great Expectations.  Although technically she was not a widow, there is no evidence that her fiancé who abandoned her did not eventually die.  I pictured myself in my decaying mansion at the corner of doomed to hell and screwed, dressed in my yellowing wedding dress while my wedding cake turned to mold on the table. In fact, even though the movie showed her as an elderly woman, Dickens actually wrote her to be in her fifties. My AGE!!! It was the imagery I chose.  I blamed it all on death. If he had not died not of this would have happened.  I would not be forever in the Hole.   Well, little by little I tried to solve each problem because I had to get out of the house sometime. He was never going to become any less dead.  

I fixed the not being able to open the garage door by taking up weight training, which led to Pilate’s class which started getting me out of the house. I went into therapy, got a good medicating psychiatrist and eventually climbed out of the horrible depression.  I found Supa Fresh widow, which lead to Camp Widow which lead to Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation so at least I had a community of widowed people who got it. Sometimes I even help other widows.  I figured out how to manage my money, afford to live where I lived, got the name of lots of contractors, got a plow guy. I learned how to measure twice cut once, use a power drill, patch and tape sheet rock. When that got too much I sold the damn thing and moved to a condo.

 I got a new car that had a 5 year take care of it program so I did not have to worry about that crap. I went back to college to at least try for a new career.  I joined Meetup and actually made new friends. I had one area left. I wanted, I don’t know, if not love, at least some really good male friendship and companionship.  I dated like it was my job. It was terrible, and then the guy where I bought my car asked me out and I found first friendship, companionship, passion and eventually love.  It pays to buy a Volvo. I was 2 and half years into the take care of the car crap program when he asked me out.

So, what’s the problem? That life still gives you problems.  When do I stop blaming them on Bills death and just realize that life is often very hard? When things go wrong, I get triggered into a cascade that flows like water downhill.  I can fall into easily into that Hole where I just know that my life is crap because my husband died and it crap now, and will always be crap. It can be a bad place to be, the Hole. You know the Hole. It is scary, and hard to get out of. It is lonely and cold. I have adjusted to living Hole adjacent.  It’s just so easy to be triggered and slip in.  The Hole is always there to welcome me.  The poor man who is dating me is really a very nice man. He has made my life better, but he cannot solve all my problems. He is merely mortal after all.  I WANT him to solve all my problems and keep me out of the Hole, but frankly my husband never did that either.  I get triggered; I start to think that if Bill had not died I would not have to deal with this guy. I am smart enough to not say this out loud by the way. We spend enough time apart so he does not have to deal with my cascade of crazy all time. I am very grateful for what he has brought me.  I actually am a very good girlfriend and recommend dating a widow to all men.  I just wonder if it will ever stop.  Will I ever stop being a widow and just become a person. 

 

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Comment by smallfish1 (Mariann) on July 31, 2014 at 3:53pm

Yes, I do know the Hole of which you speak.  You are so right...life wasn't perfect when Stan was alive so I have no right to blame everything that goes wrong now on the fact that he is not here.  Sadly, I don't think we will every stop being "widows".  Somehow we have to continue our lives and add "widow" to our life experience resume without letting it define who we are.

Keep me in mind if you plan another ski trip out west...would love to join you!

Comment by Paula on July 27, 2014 at 1:47pm

" We liked and found comfort in our attentive loving spouse and expect their nurture of us to continue because we think we deserve it and because it works so well. Than, hell breaks loose and they are gone.  We kick and scream, we go crazy, we get depressed, we throw a fit at the change. We have a tantrum.  It gets rid of the toxic feelings but it never restores things to the original position."  I think you nailed it Laura. My life, our life was far from perfect, but we were both each others best cheerleaders. I miss that so much. My boyfriend is very good, really a quality man, but he had a long (30 years) unhappy marriage that he very sadly felt he needed to leave and while he is very kind he is in no position to prop me up all the time. He did wait until I had been widowed for 2 and a half years to ask me out. although he had known me almost the whole time. I have known for a long time that this man is special and I have been very careful to not be too dependent on him for my happiness. I know that will be a very quick way to make him unhappy and I don't want him to be, because he really has been good for me. Thank you for you comment, that was food for thought for me.

Comment by laurajay on July 27, 2014 at 12:28pm

Paula.  One sentence you wrote pretty much says it all.  "I want him to solve all my problems and keep me out of the hole, but frankly my husband never did that either."  (assuming you were referring to the boyfriend)

One of the things I think most of us do when widowed is to say- it is because our spouse died that we have so many problems and had they not died the problems would not be with us.  That is just not true.  I had a friend who shortly after my husband died asked me to think about how many of my problems would still be here had my husband not died.  It was food for thought from the get-go.  Car and home repairs and costs, aging, health issues, lots of things would still be with us  albeit with a spouse we would not have to do it all alone.  I believe we get spoiled like children.  We liked and found comfort in our attentive loving spouse and expect their nurture of us to continue because we think we deserve it and because it works so well. Than, hell breaks loose and they are gone.  We kick and scream, we go crazy, we get depressed, we throw a fit at the change. We have a tantrum.  It gets rid of the toxic feelings but it never restores things to the original position.  We will never stop being widows, ever.  What we can do is let our widowhood follow along with us.  Not overtake us.  Not keep us in the past.  Not dictate how we will feel about life challenges   Just follow along.  Befriend the widowhood as we  would  a precious  person we love.  Side by side.  A part of us but not our total life's destiny.  Have you started a gratitude journal?  It might help for you to focus on the good in a specific way each day.  Just listing 5 things you are grateful for each day.  Might help diminish those constant thoughts of '"crap" in your life.  I'll bet there's a lot of beauty as well.  I am at 28 mo. and find it no easier to live-it is not softer for me.  Preexisting problems, grief and aging are real concerns and frightening when you are alone with your thoughts.  But time taken to think on things that are just,  beautiful and of good report  can help  change that negative that creates chaos in our minds and bring us a measure of peace.   We have to let go of wanting someone to fix everything.  No one can.  We have to deal with one thing at a time with faith.  We did not get this far in our journey without grace shining on us.  Every reason to believe grace will continue  but not the way we want it---the way the One who sends us grace sees fit to offer it to us.   Everything you need you already have within you to get out of the "hole" any time you slip into it or feel yourself slipping...believe it.  You are here for a reason, a purpose even if it seems vague at times.  Sort through the crap Paula and look for the nuggets of good in your life...not like Pollyanna denying reality  but like a child of God believing you are loved and needed just because you "are".    lj 

Comment by Hornet (Cindy) on July 26, 2014 at 4:41pm

By the way, Paula, I don't see myself ever not being a widow now. Like the label or not (and I definitely don't), it is my life...it is yours. But I am also a daughter, a friend, a sister, a mother...AND a widow. It is only one facet of me. It is only one facet of you. You have to spend a time examining your widow facet, for sure, but you must make yourself turn to the others to keep from losing your mind, your self. You ARE a person, you always have been...and no doubt a wonderful, talented, loving one at that. Peace on your journey, you PERSON who happens to be a widow...among many other things. :)

Comment by Hornet (Cindy) on July 26, 2014 at 4:36pm

Paula, I call mine "The Valley". And like daveb, I can't seem to get to the top of the slope. It would be nice there, I think...at the top of the slope. Sun shining on your face...possibilities and hope within your sight. But I can't help but think we all will eventually make it. As we widows/widowers travel the road, we change, but so does the slope we are trying to climb. It adjusts itself based on our own actions. Life is all about the trying, isn't it? Not so much the destination, but the trying to get there. And it sounds like you and all of us keep trying...so there you go. We're gonna conquer that damn slope, and no doubt, with a lot of crap on our shoes to prove it. Peace to you, Paula...to everyone.

Comment by daisy on July 26, 2014 at 3:47pm

Will I ever stop being a widow and just become a person? Good question I think i will always be a widow, HIS widow even if there was someone else, which would probably be someones widower because it will have to be someone who gets it, He is the father of my children, he is my first love. And he wanted to be my last love but hey he left, I guess I'm in that hole to.Be good to yourself(())

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