It's less than a week until Mike and I will be flying down to Tampa for Camp Widow. It's so surreal to think of all that has happened in a year. Life is no less complicated than it ever has been, in fact more so for me. It's a good complicated, but that doesn't make it easy. I was talking with another widow friend the other day about this. Like me, she is in a new relationship now. It was such a relief when she told me she feels so much grumpier all the time now than in her past relationship with her late-husband.
I think my mouth hung open when she said this. "My God," I thought to myself, "it isn't just me!" And suddenly I was reminded of the power of those four little words...
I have been so much grumpier in this new relationship and new life with Mike than I ever was with Drew. I mean the littlest, dumbest things bug me. I have felt bad about this for the past few months since moving here to Ohio. I have questioned why more times than I can count. I love him. He is my best friend and greatest supporter and makes me immensely happy. His daughter is amazing. I am actually really enjoying Ohio even if a big move is stressful. So, what then? Well, this whole thing is very new, very exciting and very wonderful... but I don't always love that. Sometimes, I want the old, the dull, and the familiar... and when I realize I can't have that anymore, it just freaking sucks. That's all there is to it.
I don't feel some huge or specific resentment I am harboring, that is silently building up or anything. But I do wonder, as widows, isn't it a fairly common innate thing to have some resentment as we begin to adjust to a life with someone new? If my friend and I are both experiencing this heightened grumpiness, could it just be some small part of us that is still a little sad or scared or pissed that we have to start over again? It's a crazy-feeling thought because I simultaneously want to be HERE, with the person I am with now. So there are many moments when I am feeling both happiness and am pissy that my whole life has had to change... it's a lot to feel all in one breath. I guess it is just another of those tricky parts of widowhood that we were unaware we would encounter.
It's been hard to want to talk to Mike about this, because he actually isn't experiencing it the same. The complexities of his past life and his wife Megan's illness means that his life now is actually far SIMPLER than it was before he was widowed. Whereas my very free and simple and fun-loving life with my person was stolen from me without warning. We are having a somewhat opposite experience in this department... and learning that just because you are dating someone also widowed doesn't mean they understand what your experience is. The good thing is being able to talk about those differences, and help each other understand.
I think this chat with my friend recently helped me to get more clear on what I am going through. I feel more sane about it all, and that I can talk about it to Mike more clearly. Because yeah, it actually does seems natural to have a subconscious resentment or difficulty with beginning again when you lost everything so suddenly. Especially if your life before was much simpler. For some of us, it is going to take a long time to feel fully adjust to new love. And that's okay.
Even if the person we are beginning again with makes us equally and enormously happy, there are still complex layers of grief going on under the surface. I think at times I forget about that. I want to forget... sometimes I want to not even know that I have this whole complicated layering of things underneath my skin. I want it to be simple in my heart and in my head, like it used to be.
But it won't ever be simple again. And so the best we can do is to accept that and try our hardest to be a little kinder to ourselves as we navigate the emotions of whatever complex part of this journey we are on. Stop blaming ourselves so much. Remember those four magic words "It isn't just me", reach out to friends to find those words, and give them to others as well.