Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sincerely yours

One quality has marked my life: Sincerely Seeking.

I was born lost and clueless. I don't know about you, but I didn't particularly enjoy these feelings. Marriage and its commitment, settled my fears; it  felt orderly and natural. How can I express the enormous 'settledness' of union with a beloved?    Strong wills aside, my husband and I figured things out.  Love knit us together. 

Then he died, setting me adrift in a sea of widows and widowers, lost and clueless like myself.   I found great comfort and hope knowing how common widowhood was.   Some how this made it less scary.   Though there is no 'one size fits all' course for widows, seeing some navigate with courage and fortitude through that sea gave me hope.   We all know there is no going back; death wipes out the familiar landscape.   One must carry on.  The tools I first used, impatience and pluck, helped, but  weren't enough to bring me out of the sea of grief.  Many widows and widowers were making it to another side, establishing a happy, new life.   They were getting there.  Could I?  How could I?

I've come to believe the key to getting to shore is sincerely seeking a new life.  Sincerely letting go of the old.  Sincerity opens the way to
  • what is real, what is true
  • our wounds, so they can heal
  • our unmet needs, so we can find ways to meeting them
  • having our life mean something to somebody else 
  • kindness from others
  • kindness in ourselves to deal with callousness in others
  • lessons, and more lessons
  • our sheer grit - You Go Girl!
  • courage to experiment, fail, and succeed 
  • appreciation for our own very special qualities 
  • facing our future even though death is in it
  • facing our future, with love in it
Widowhood gave me two choices if I wanted to move on.  One: Desperation, okay in the beginning, but really tiring, like going around in circles.  Two: Sincerity, which can lead to something real: firm new ground.

It took me a while, a great while, but I resorted to the second one.  I'm going to stick with it.  I have crossed over, to a new life.   It's pretty darn good.    Seven and a half years out, my heart is bigger. My interests have grown and changed, and are satisfying.   My days are happier, on balance.  I enter this holiday season without dread.   I don't look back to the old life, wishing I could go back.   I've opened my heart to a new person.  Two new people, actually.  Me, and a new 'he'.

I hope this helps, if you're lost.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Will the sky fall in?

I'm going to try a new morning routine.  Good thing my cats will be around to share it.

New goal: check in with myself before I check in with my TV and Internet.   Ever since 9/11, I have turned the TV on first thing in the morning.  Ah, phew!  The world is intact.  Then, last week, when Hurricane Sandy severed my electrical and cable connection, I was completely in the dark.   Yes, my generator gave me heat and hot water.  This was good.   What I really missed, however, were talking heads in the morning.   Talking male heads.

News pundits must be added to my list of surrogate spouses.  Oh, no. I can see myself getting to the end of my life and having not my life, but morning TV, flash before my eyes.

Stop the TV.  Stop the Internet.  Stop the world - I want to get off.   I want my own input first thing in the morning.  By this time I ought to be able to face the loneliness without someone to talk to when I wake up. 

One can hope.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Down, not out... finally

Hurricane Sandy came along last week.  Funny how it reminds me of the way death approached, bearing down with relentless purpose, without consideration or gentleness for anyone it would harm.   Like the death watch, all one could do was prepare, then hunker down.  Like death, it claimed victory, destroying what it could.  Like death, it left survivors to rebuild from scratch.   Like death, it's really hard to find the humor in it.

But, you know, for most of us this hurricane wasn't death.  Sandy was strong where I live, and I hunkered down.   She blew over, only leaving me without power for six days, with a huge tree down and my precious routine disturbed.   Sandy was a mere blip on my emotional radar, especially when the power came back on.

True, a lot of people are in crisis, displaced, never to return to the life and neighborhood they knew.  How different is this from surviving widowhood?   We take stock.  Visible losses are attended to.  We rebuild a life.  New routines get established.  Everything looks normal, to others.  Feeling normal is another issue.  Healing the internal wounds takes the time it needs to take.  We couldn't do it without each other.

I hope everybody has survived Sandy intact.  More importantly, have you survived the death of your spouse intact?  Yes, and no.  Death gave me one really great gift - I take far less for granted.  And I've learned that being intact really isn't necessary for a really good life. 

How are you doing it?