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Dear diary, loneliness is loneliness whatever your age and heartbreak is heartbreak. I do think the thinking at my age is different though, so much "stuff" in our heads.  I am seeking a companion but I cannot let go of a lot of what I would have to to let someone new into my life. There has to be space for a new relationship and it is 50 years since I was 17.

I think of myself as the princess in the tower. The tower I have built with my own hands, it is made  up of all the good things in my life but piled one on another it is a place that I would find difficult to escape from. How does that affect my life?  I think it does keep me a prisoner.  St Paul talks about throwing off the old life and I know I have to do that but I don't know quite how it will work for me. let's face it I am scared of starting a new life!

When I was in Ireland I went to Twin Lakes where there is a very ancient monastery.  There are seven stone churches each built in a different era.   There is also a stone tower.  It was built by a young monk who was being pursued by a rich widow.  He must have felt the effects of her charm because he built himself a tower, got the brothers to wall it up and only communicated by the lowering of a bucket for his supplies. Maybe that is just a legend but I understand the principle of building protective barriers.  Maybe that story is just a larger version of what I am doing here?

So in order to come out of the tower I need help from the inside, so I have to remove some of the bricks, and help from the outside as someone else removes some of them.  Starting point is a review of my life I guess.  What do I have that I could share with someone else in a relationship?  There is the obvious, hey I am a woman! and then there is the obvious drawbacks - not in my first flush of youth.  But older people do find companionship so it must be possible, mustn't it?

Christmas party season and I have just been to my favourite party which is held by Ray''s old stroke recovery group WAGS.  There was a nice lunch and some chat and laughter around the table but there is also dancing so once more I am the Dancing Diva.  I stay on the dance floor and other survivors and caregivers come and go.  I danced with a couple of single guys who have multiple deficits but managed to put that aside and dance through the pain.  I really love the look of joy on their faces, it takes a lot of bravery when you know you have balance problems but they did it anyway.  I admire that.  I wondered briefly if I could take on someone with disabilities having looked after my Ray for 12 years.  Would I be open hearted enough to take on someone who needed some looking after? I don't have an answer to that.

Christmas also means charity appeals and as I am a Lion I help sell raffle tickets in my local shopping centre in a Giant Christmas Stocking.  it is a four hour shift twice a week for me and enables me to talk to a lot of people as I sell tickets and our Lions cakes and puddings.  Yes, it is lovely to see old acquaintances and some old friends, no it is not going to find me a companion but my fellow Lions, good men and women that they are, do provide some social interaction and some friendships that I really value.  So I am not cutting that out of my life.  Will a new partner be happy for me to remain a Lion though?

The church part of my life is consuming a lot of time right now. In the time before we get a new minister I am trying to fill in gaps, doing a bit more here and there.  I am hoping that will finish when the new person takes over whenever that will be.  It is like being in No Man's Land though the work gets done but we are not working towards some final goals.  Another example of the uneasiness of change.  Coping with that is easier than coping with changes that I have to take responsibility for myself.

And then there is the tangled web of relationships, family, friends, old friendships I still haul along with me though some of them are barely viable.  I love my family, love my friends but are they too  a part of the fabric of the tower, the barrier behind which I hide?

Should never have eaten whatever kept me awake most of the night.  Waxing lyrical at this time of the morning on my future or lack of it is in part due to the foggy way I am thinking due to lack of sleep.  But seeing it on paper should help to clear my head.  Any comments?

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Comment by only1sue on December 22, 2014 at 9:46pm

Last few busy days.  I have some cards away, some presents in the wardrobe, a day planned.  What i do not have this year is any enthusiasm.  I'd be happy to leave Christmas to the religious and take it out of circulation commercially. Imagine, no light, decorations and hard sell in the shops, just go off to church, no fuss.  I'm dreaming again.

Did my last shift on the Christmas Stocking for this year.  I loved the company and the chatter and catching up with old friends I hadn't see for a while.  Saw an old neighbour I hadn't seen since I was twelve today.  Everyone in the Lions Club is so nice to me so I like being around them.  Still come home to an empty house but that is not going to change any time soon.

Comment by only1sue on December 20, 2014 at 11:22am

I had a good week with some social activities.  I am still not looking forward to Christmas Day because it was not the gifts or the food but the look on the faces of my grandchildren as they opened their presents that made my day.  This year there will be only two out of seven here, the ones I see most frequently and Ray will never again be here with that special soft smile on his face that made him look so kind to watch them open those gifts. And somehow that is overshadowing my joy.  There will be more Christmases ahead I know but for now i am sad that those full-on family days are in the past.

Comment by Blue Snow on December 15, 2014 at 7:25pm

You and I had a ton of things in common when we were both long-term caregivers for our stroke survivor husbands. But now, I can't for one minute imaging me wanting another man in my life. 1) I never want to put myself in a position again where I would have to be a caregiver again. You are a better woman than I am to even consider that option. I loved Don and would do it all over again for him, but we had a LONG history together of give and take. I'm too old to build that kind of relationship again.  2) I'd never get past comparing Don to whoever. I experienced that at a party recently where I spent some time talking to a widower my age. He was nice but...well, not Don! And 3) Don worked hard all his life and left me well enough off and it somehow just doesn't seem right that I would share what he left me with someone else.

Keep keeping busy and active, Sue. That's the best way to meet a companion, being out and about, doing what you enjoy doing. My older brother lost is wife and two years later he found a wonderful woman at a high school class reunion of all places. You just never know when or where it's going to happen.

Comment by laurajay on December 15, 2014 at 2:54pm

Yes.  Try to get some sleep,my friend.  I have become an expert  in sleep deprivation and I know well-rested I am a better person, for me and for everyone in  my life.  Of course, after 16,000 nights spent with the man I love---I expect it to take some time before the fear and loneliness of the night lessen.  And Sue, whispered secret...a new or different man?  Not to my thinking, as yet.  But if it is meant to be for you...it will happen.

Comment by Mariposa on December 14, 2014 at 1:34pm

Only1sue-  I can so relate to what you wrote about a tower or rather, a protective barrier that we have constructed. I had just thought yesterday that there is some kind of wall within me that is keeping me from even trying to date. I lost my husband three years ago when he was just 47 years old. I am now 49 years old and have been alone for the past three years and raising my son who is now 16. 

I can so relate to your ponderings as well about whether I too, can be open-hearted enough to accept and love another, especially with some "perceived" deficits, as those vary on an individual basis.

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