Widowhood Confusion....What?

I’m certain that I’m not alone when I describe the confusion of widowhood.  Not that many others in life don’t feel similar uncertainties as life changes happen.  I guess it’s just that we, as widow/ers, have this sickening, stomach lurching rollercoaster thrown into the mix of our hearts and minds and souls as we face life alone. 

The we we were before death. 

The we we are after death. 

B.D.  A.D.

And the confusing brain fuck of it all.

I get so confused in and for and about myself, in a way I never did, never was, in my years with Chuck.

I don’t recognize myself any longer.

What happened to the me I was when Chuck was alive?  I’m pretty sure I remember feeling strong and independent.  Why am I suddenly and apparently unable to function as a separate human being?

What happened to my ambition?

What happened to my passion for life?

I used to be so organized.  Or at least I had a semblance of keeping up with shit.  Now?  Don’t ask.

Why is the simplest task seemingly so unmanageable?  I ask this even though I know the reason why.

What happened to my sexual self?  Will I ever find it again?  My sexual self ought not be dependent upon a lover being in my life, right?  Except that it does.  I was a sexually strong, confident, woman with Chuck.  What the fuck happened?

In a Zen, put-together way, isn’t each individual supposed to be okay with being alone?  How come I’m not?  (another rhetorical question).

I know there are so many people who live alone in this world, never having known true love.  Are they more okay being alone than I am, since I have known it?  Is it truly better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all?

I don’t fake how I feel in this grief and I never have.  But most people, looking at me, talking to me, would never know the devastation of my heart and soul.  How is it possible that it doesn’t show when I’m seriously not trying to hide it?  (rhetorical question).

In the self that shows itself to the world, I’m getting shit done, and am very focused.  Except when I’m not.  Which can be always.  Except that somehow shit gets done.  Sometimes.

Am I two people at one time?  Which fits with my Gemini nature.  But if I’m not faking how I’m feeling, which is overwhelmed and dislocated, and I’m genuinely working towards a goal, (which I can't seem to explain very well to anyone), how do those two things fit together?

How is it possible to not give a rat’s ass about life and yet, apparently, go about living it?

Is it okay to not want to live, yet be determined to make an epic life because I haven’t died yet, even though I was sure I would, so I'm going about making the epic happen because if I’m going to live, my life now must be as epic as it was for the 24 years I was with Chuck.

How can one be so unsure about everything, yet have some kind of damn faith that something bigger than you is at work?  But you don’t really believe in God, so what the hell?

It’s so strange, looking out at the world, seeing the colors of it, and yet feel no color inside.

How the hell is it that I'm living in a frickin' trailer, out in nature constantly, when I don't even like nature? Damn bugs!

As time marches relentlessly on, I find myself becoming more and more attached to the memory of my husband, not less.  And wanting to talk about him more, not less.  And missing him more, not less.

How do any of us make any sense about any of this when it feels like nothing at all makes sense any longer, and how can it ever again?

Does Chuck, wherever he is, if he is somewhere…does he see me where I am?

Does this confusion ever end?  Do we ever again feel confident about the world and about our place in the world?

And does that only really honestly truly happen if and when another person comes into our life to love us, to be loved by us?


Showing 10 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • commented 2016-07-16 08:54:07 -0700
    Dianne B, my thoughts exactly! I am already involved in caring for my mom and I had her and my husband to care for at the same time! Not interested in taking it on again, with someone who I’m not as invested in!
  • commented 2016-07-15 23:34:03 -0700
    I was a married woman, the highest status to be conferred upon a woman in this society. I had a true partner and we shared a vision of our future together. We worked hard at our careers believing that we would be rewarded later in life with travel and leisure.

    My future ended when my husband died 16 years ago at the age of 64. It just stopped and I had no direction as to where to go or what to do.

    When my husband died in the ER of the local hospital, I sat next to his body and couldn’t believe I was still alive. People were talking to me and I was thinking, “Why are you talking to me? We’re dead.” I was so tied to him in mind and spirit! I had completely lost my identity.

    I couldn’t be with married couples anymore because it was painful to be in their company, watching their closeness and familiarity, feeling the stinging loss of my own when I had it. And I felt jealous that these women still had their husbands when I didn’t.

    Who could I talk to now, who had a similar background and experience? I looked down on single people, whose lives seemed full of chaos and wrong choices. All who I spoke to related their stories of divorce and abuses they suffered in relationships. I’d rather be alone than think I could do any better.

    It hurt to have lost that sense of confidence I had when I was part of a couple; it felt like I, we, could do anything, accomplish any goal. I am now timid and hesitant in social situations, trying to hide from being exposed.

    My husband provided for me but I am 70 now and struggle to make ends meet. Most of the men my age are in poor health. Why did God take MY husband and let these men live to an old age? I know I am bitter at times about my fate. I don’t want to get married again just to be some man’s nurse; I have my own health issues to deal with.

    It seems that widows are not given any place in our society.
  • commented 2016-07-07 11:13:23 -0700
    No, you’re certainly not alone in feeling as you do and asking all of these questions. Once again you’ve put my feelings into eloquent words. So many days I feel like a fraud because my inside and outside are so out of synch, but it’s not that I’m trying to hide anything. This is just how it is.

    Sarah, I too find being in a new relationship adds to the confusion and the questions AND, on top of that, people now expect me to be absolutely fine.
  • commented 2016-07-07 07:18:36 -0700
    My life changed 3 and a half months ago forever. My sweet Ed lost his battle to cancer and no longer suffers. But my suffering has obviously, just begun. How I miss that guy who made me feel beautiful, so loved and special. Now, I feel old(just turned 70) alone ,as I live in a Florida community for 55+ 1200 miles away from my children. Do not move when you lose your spouse at least for a year do not fo anything!!!i tell you I feel like a fish out of the water. Yes I have friends…but it is so true, I am a reminder that this horrible thing can happen to any one of them. I have a strong faith and it helps a little but this crying at the drop of a haft about stupid silly things is just not me!ugh this is so hard. Sorry for going on like a crazy, complaining person is just not the Margot I know. It is frightening to say the least
  • commented 2016-07-07 05:16:45 -0700
    Yes. So exactly the way I have felt all these years. And even with a new person in my world, my shit is still all over the place. I’m still confused, and still searching for something, and still miss Drew, and I still want to give up sometimes but somehow also am determined to “make something” of this life. Adding a new person into the mix has actually created even new confusion, and fear of him dying too. This widow life is all so damn hard, and so much work. Thank you for this one.
  • commented 2016-07-06 21:11:59 -0700
    Alison, you have an uncanny knack for putting together words that perfectly describe what my personal journey is like. At three years, five months I constantly question where am I going, why am I doing it, should I be doing it differently, not that I care, I would rather not have to be in this constant state of discord. But I cannot believe the person I see in the mirror is the same person who used to be me. She doesn’t feel anything like I remember her.

    This new person, has no idea what she is doing. Oh, she does things but any reason for doing is elusive. It’s like nailing down Jello.

    I pretend for others that I am better but inside I am much worse. I keep trying but it is getting me nowhere.

    Every day is about being left here without him. It is constant and all consuming. It is the overriding shadow with me all the time. It rides shotgun in my mind every moment. I cannot forget how interdependent we were. He loved me every moment of all 35 years. I loved him just as much. And now, I don’t know how to live without him. It’s just that simple. I am living life on autopilot. It means nothing. I don’t know how I am doing it. I don’t want to do it. And every moment I wish for it to all end. Even while I function getting things done I want for it to stop.

    AlI want is my husband in my arms again. Thats it.

    The only reason I haven’t made love to a freight train yet is 1) I realize I am not alone in feeling what I do and 2) The what if list keeps the action at bay.
    Never in my wildest dreams did I think this journey without my husband would be the most difficult, excruciatingly painful, never-ending battle in my brain exciting pounds of flesh daily from my body.

    Living without him has quit being some challenge I must overcome. I think for quite awhile that is how I looked at it. Now, I am beginning to understand this is as terminal a condition as Stage 4 cancer. The only question I have right now is how long will my physical body be able to withstand the beating it continues to get emotionally. There is no stopping this grief. It’s form might change, my questions might change but it is with me until the end of my days and I will never want another as that love space was just too sacred.

    This is the price for loving and being loved beyond death do us part. All I can hope for is I don’t have to suffer too amy more years. I’ve already had enough. I’m wiped.
    I give……Uncle………
  • commented 2016-07-06 17:58:32 -0700
    So completely spot on. It’s like you exist but you don’t exist or what is existing isn’t you. Alison’ post says it all. I’ve never felt such an incredible disconnect from the rest of the world. I’m only 8 months out from the end of a 41 year bond. Thank you Alison for putting my shambles of a life into words.
  • commented 2016-07-06 13:55:05 -0700
    Wow, you’ve said it all! I’m trying to figure out how to have a life again when everything I do is connected to a shared past. I knew my husband for 40 years! How can you “start over”?
  • commented 2016-07-06 10:38:33 -0700
    “I get so confused in and for and about myself, in a way I never did, never was, in my years with Chuck.” this is me everyday. I use to be such a confident person, now I feel like a shell of that person. I will say what adds to the confusion is how people are with you. I know I’ve read this here before, but for me in being 2 1/2 years out people now either make you feel like you should be over this and move on or just ignore you cause you are too much of a reminder of what they don’t want their life to become. What also happens is when you bring someone else into your life, people just assume, that you are ok now. Your happy and you are over things. I still cry all the time over things. I sold my husbands prized car, this was a tough decision, but best for me. I thought I was over all the trauma of that, but then decided to read his post on the forum he belonged to. Reading this yesterday showed how excited he was to get his new toy, and how he tracked it, and loved it. I cried like a baby. Doesn’t matter that I have someone else or not. So to me society doesn’t help us find our footing either.
  • commented 2016-07-06 08:14:36 -0700
    My thoughts too. Except for living in a trailer on the road! I jokingly asked a realtor if he know of any caves available, he actually said "Yes, there are Indian caves farther north ". The grief seeps from my pores, I don’t understand how others can’t see it. I often have to leave a conversation when people, especially family, talk about how “life is so good, isn’t it?” Just this past weekend, my sis in law said “so nice to have everyone here, isn’t it?” at a family gathering. I looked at her in wonder. Someday she may understand, or maybe not.