"It Isn't Just Me"

Screen_Shot_2016-03-06_at_9.59.37_AM.pngIt'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. 

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  • commented 2016-03-18 11:15:08 -0700
    Thank you all for the comments. I am so glad others understand, even if I wish you weren’t going through the same thing as me right now. At least we’re not alone!
  • commented 2016-03-17 01:03:00 -0700
    I’m also happy with my new love and feel like I’m supposed to be here but at the same time I’m also pissed that I have to start over. I’m happy to be starting over with a wonderful man but I hear myself telling everyone that next month would have been my 25th wedding anniversary. I find I’m not grumpy about things like socks on the floor or snoring but about being forced to learn everything about a new person when I knew my old person better than he knew himself. Thank you for your words.
  • commented 2016-03-08 09:15:22 -0800
    Thank you so much for posting this. I am so much happier knowing it isnt just me😃
  • commented 2016-03-06 18:30:05 -0800
    Oh Sarah. Thank you for writing this piece. I have been going through this since I moved from Wa to De. I did start a relationship recently and I don’t share much about it. One reason I don’t say much about him because I was unsure if I was really ready to open up. The other I’ve been ashamed about how angry/grumpy I have been. The insignificant things piss me off! I hear myself speak and the frustration come out of me and I am ashamed by my actions.

    I thought it was only me….. I can’t wait for next week. I need some good wise words.
  • commented 2016-03-06 14:02:29 -0800
    This HAS to be a sudden death thing. I feel this too. For sure. I find myself getting exhausted so much more easily than in my old life, because I have to DO so much more, alone, and have to work more and stay afloat , and write a stupid book about him dying – and then I get resentful of having to write a book, or of having to find the energy to help other people, even though I LOVE helping other people, but I am so tired and I need help too and nobody gets that. Then I get pissy and resentful at the new friendship/whatever this is thats going on with me and this person – because its all so complicated and HE is complicated emotionally and so I get pissy at the fact that he has his own demons and if Don wasnt DEAD I wouldnt have to deal with really liking someone new and not knowing how to move forward through their personal demons. So yeah, Im pretty grumpy about all that, and holy shit that felt good to get out LOL.