When I started this journey as a young widow I felt extremely alone. I didn’t know anyone anywhere near my age that had been through anything close to what I was experiencing. I didn’t know if what I was feeling was normal or insane. I kept a lot to myself. I started researching books and reading about others’ experiences. That was so very helpful but I still needed more. I wanted people currently experiencing the balance of death and life. I eventually found people online (e.g., Instagram, Facebook groups) and I can’t explain to you the difference it made connecting with people. Many times it really wasn’t connecting; it was reading other people’s posts and not having the courage, words, or energy to respond. It still helped me though. To know that other people right here and right now were experiencing something similar to what I was experiencing made me feel less crazy and less alone.

Eventually, just over a year ago I decided that I wanted to contribute to this community. I felt like I was in a space that I could start to give back, even just a little bit, to maybe help even just one person. I started my personal blog not knowing where it would go. I wasn’t afraid of failure but I was afraid of opening up and letting others see and respond to my thoughts and feelings that I protected so closely inside of me. Maybe you wouldn’t know it from my writing but I’m actually a very private person. I’ve always kept a lot to myself; so guarded that sometimes I think I was so good at it that I was able to hide my feelings and thoughts from myself as well. My mind started to protect myself from myself.  Moving from that mindset to share my thoughts with others was scary. Still, I knew I wanted to do it and I wanted to find the courage to be be in touch with my thoughts and share them. I had gained so much from others who shared their innermost thinking and I wanted to do the same.

I think I’ve become better at doing it now, more so in writing than in person still, but even while writing it is still scary and a struggle. It makes me reflect a lot and really tune into my thinking and why I might be thinking that way so I can clearly communicate it. That can be challenging as it brings up issues that are deep and emotional. Sometimes I don’t realize just how deep until I am writing through tears. Then I wonder if I’m writing or sharing too much. I think about what I’m reflecting and writing on and I wonder if I’m sharing what’s the most important to me at that time and if I’m being authentic and true to myself. I wonder if my words are helping others or if it’s just me rambling on about my life. It’s a process that can be demanding and definitely exposing. It has it rewards but it takes courage to get in touch with and then share the happenings inside your mind.

I guess I really just want to say thank you to all the people that have chosen to share their thinking and allowed themselves to be vulnerable. In my early days of reading I would read and think, “yes, me too,” but I didn’t realize what went into it until I tried it myself. I have so much respect and admiration for all the people that write about their experiences and emotions and are honest and raw. It is not easy to do. It is has been invaluable to me to know I am not alone in my thinking and I think we need more of that. Others’ honesty in their journey inspired me to write as well. I feel we try so often to pretend we are okay when we are not and I appreciate and admire when people share otherwise.  

There is power in vulnerability. To be able to put yourself out there and stand in your story is powerful. To continue embracing life and seeking happiness when you’re fully admitting you have many broken parts is powerful.

I’ve also found in making myself vulnerable through sharing that I have been met and challenged by others’ vulnerability. It has been incredibly humbling, eye-opening, and meaningful. I’ve been contacted by friends, (very) extended family, friends of friends or family, old acquaintances, people with some connection to someone who has shared my writing and people I have never met or heard of before in my life. These people have opened up to me about their struggles (widowhood and otherwise), connecting with my writing, and sharing things with me that they’ve held close to themselves and their hearts. I admire their courage in sharing their stories or thinking with me. I’m grateful for the time and thought they spent to write to me in such a genuine way. I’m humbled that they chose to share with me and kind of in disbelief that people tell me that I helped them. I’m nervous wondering if I’m capable or deserving to truly know their stories and thoughts. I’m aware that they may be looking at my writing for my perspective and I wonder if I deserve that honour. Really, what do I know? Still, I am awe of others meeting my vulnerability with theirs. I don’t take for granted that sharing with me might require emotional strength and courage.

So thank you to the people that have let their guard down to share their rawness. Thank for sharing it with me; whether it is through your own writing (blogs, books, Instagram posts) or your messages to me. I hope that I’m able to continue searching and finding my truth and that I have the courage to share the nakedness of my thoughts.  


Showing 7 reactions

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  • Olivia Arnold
    commented 2018-03-20 09:47:38 -0700
    Thanks Stephanie! I do find it healing to write. Yes, not healed but together in the process so not alone. Thanks for your comment!
  • Olivia Arnold
    commented 2018-03-20 09:46:15 -0700
    Indira, it is such a tough thing to experience. I’m sorry for your loss and now struggle. I’m glad you can get something out of reading others’ experiences.
  • Olivia Arnold
    commented 2018-03-20 09:44:13 -0700
    Thanks Connie! After I finished writing my post I started looking about other writing on vulnerability and came across a lot of quotes from Brene Brown. I will definitely have to look into the Ted Talks. Her books look good too.
  • Connie Winch
    commented 2018-03-19 23:19:31 -0700
    In case you’re not already familiar: On vulnerability generally (so..not about widowhood): “I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” -Brené Brown in her TED talk The Power of Vulnerability. 💜
  • Indira Bijlall
    commented 2018-03-19 19:07:52 -0700
    I am so intrigued that there are widows out there who feels tge same ways that i do. Its raw yes. Its like your veey heart is rippwd from your body. Nothing makes sence but you live through it. Thank you my dear for sharing your very soul searching experiences with us widows…i look atvall the posts and the blogs and gets a feel of comfort. It was such a shock when mybstrong husband of 40 years just fell and in minutes was just gone…with a massive heart attack. I was totally numb…in great shock…in andvout of hospital with depression . 3 years and i cannot catch myself…grief ifoes not have a definition..its the most difficult word i can even imagine.
  • Stephanie Vendrell
    commented 2018-03-19 07:58:53 -0700
    Olivia, you hit the nail on the head. I went through much the same process…reading, reading, reading, (while grieving, crying, grieving, crying) then writing…slowly opening up to the process on my own site, and eventually being asked to participate here. The years I spent writing here were fulfilling in a way I may never be able to fully describe. They helped me, and they connected me to many others, and through knowing them, understand that it was our shared experience that creating a healing experience. Not that we will ever all be fully healed…ha. Just that we are together in the process. I feel that is what it is all about. Thank you for sharing, and big hug.
  • Gayle Goldberg
    commented 2018-03-16 12:14:47 -0700
    Thank you for the courage you are taking, sharing your thoughts and emotions.