Before I get into my post for this week, I just wanted to mention how EXCITED I am to be attending Camp Widow in Tampa this coming week! I mention it because last year, I attended but did not mention here - and it turned out there were a few readers who had no idea I was coming. For anyone out there who is, I am so looking forward to meeting you at camp!
I know many of you read my first post of the year - about the first man I've been romantic with since my fiancé died… and how, after a night of fooling around he took off and never called or texted me again. Days, then weeks go by, and I hear nothing. I don't need to explain how traumatic that was, instead I wanted to share an update on the whole thing… one I am very glad for. And very proud of myself for.
After a few weeks of having no contact, I decided I had some things to say. So I wrote him a brief but to-the-point letter and sent it off this past week. Was it risky? Absolutely. Was I terrified? Beyond imagine. But sometimes you just have do the damn thing, even if it scares you.
There was no guarantee at all that this would end well. That I would even get any response at all from this person. But that no longer mattered. It was now about standing up for myself, respecting myself, an saying what needs saying without giving a shit what the outcome was. After all, if my fiancé is no longer here to defend my honor, then it is up to me to do it. No one treats me that way. Furthermore, I needed to leave the situation in a way that respects myself and the other person. Not because they deserve it, but because I deserve to walk away knowing I did the right thing.
I cannot express the anxiety of hitting send on that letter. But I did it. And I felt a huge weight off my shoulders as soon as I did. Amazing how quickly it can shift things inside of you when you speak your truth. That in itself was good. And then to my surprise, a few hours later, he actually responded...
It took me probably an hour to even open up his response. I was so nervous of what was on the other side. But finally, with the support of one of my girlfriends who was visiting for the weekend, I opened it. It was the best possible response I could have gotten. He was kind and respectful. Full of remorse and regret. Deeply apologetic. It showed me how broken he is - with his own set of problems that made him panic and run. In the end, he wasn't using me. It wasn't just a game. He just freaked out and handled it badly. We both agreed it went farther than we meant for it to at the time, and he was incredibly stupid, but we wish the very best for each other. Look at that. Resolve. Which never would have happened had I not risked approaching him and saying my piece. God damn, I am proud of myself.
Although this situation made me feel incredibly weak and hurt initially, it has come to bring much the opposite now because of how I chose to handle it. It has reminded me of a few really important lessons too. The old me likely never would have stood up to defend myself. And she certainly would not have done it with such incredible tact and grace. My words were not angry or overly emotional, but instead were bold, confident, firmly grounded in myself and unafraid. It quite surprised me at how powerful I could be. And that part of it had nothing to do with the other person at all. Even if I had gotten no response, I will would have been able to feel powerful for standing up for myself.
It seems, as widowed folks, that we feel pain and weakness so much for so long that we do not realize all along, we are becoming more POWERFUL. It's something I lose sight of ALL the time. But all of the fighting we have to do to survive creates an incredible force inside us - even if it's hard for us to see. It is oftentimes a new painful event that had the ability to allow us to choose our power and thus see it more clearly.
It's a force that can only come from the ashes of devastation… for it is precisely because we have to fight so hard to survive that we become so powerful. You don't spend every day of your life for years crawling through the broken shards of yourself without becoming more battle-hardened and more firmly grounded in who you are. You don't endure years of being broken open by a thousand smaller losses and come out with a heart that is weaker. Even if you feel weak, your power is there... in the choices you make. Hopefully, eventually, when those new experiences come, we are able to make the choices that reinforce how powerful we are… even if it scares the shit out of us to do it.