The Paradox of Widowhood

I sometimes feel like I am two opposites living inside one body. Pulled in two directions, feeling two contrary emotions, wanting two opposite things, I often feel like magnets that are repelling each other and often wonder how I am still sane. And how my body and mind are still in one piece. I have thought about how to explain these common paradoxical feelings. I’m sure there are more, but these are what came to me.

So here you go!

 

  1. I am terrified of not thinking about him. And I’m terrified of constantly thinking about him.

The very thought of my husband becoming an afterthought – someone I think about every once in a while instead of a daily basis, haunts me. Every fiber of my love feels the betrayal of him not taking residence in my thoughts through every turn of life.

At the same time, the thought of being stuck in this black hole – where I am daily consumed with his absence and death – also scares me. I don’t wanna live here… in the dark void. It’s depressing. It dries the soul and crushes the life out of you.

It’s not good to stuff grief, nor is it healthy to dwell in it. Yet I wonder how often the two dynamics meet; how often the line between them is blurred. When I realize I don’t dwell on the memories so much, in order to be healthy and move forward, I feel like I am pushing my life with him to a corner of my mind. “Stuffing” it. I realize my previous life seems like a dream. And it amazes me that what was once so real and present can be such a clouded memory because the new normal is so here and now, so real, so present. And I grieve not just the loss of my husband, but the loss of vividness.

The fade of vividness is a double-edged sword. It makes survival easier, yet grieves me anew because I watch myself drift further away from what was once so precious to me.

 

  1. I don’t want to be around people. But I don’t want to be alone.

I chafe at my loneliness. But no one can replace him. And because of that, neither being alone nor being with people can quite satisfy. There’s a hole, unfillable. There’s times when I’m feeling melancholy, and the idea of socializing is too much, but as I sit in my grief, the depression becomes palpable and I don’t like that either.

When alone, my solitude echoes. When among people, my void echoes.

 

  1. I’m scared of never finding another person to share my life with. And I’m scared to find someone to share my life with.

The idea of facing this life on my own without finding another to be a life companion and partner depresses me. My loneliness craves another connection. Yet at the very same time, the thought of finding someone makes me sad because it feels like the final blow to my husband becoming my past and only my past.

I’m scared of loving someone as much as him – minimizing what we had. And I’m scared of never loving someone as much, forcing someone to be second place. None of this is true, however. No two loves can be compared. But the battle is there in my mind nonetheless.

The longing for a new love fights against the identity crisis of not being “his wife” anymore. To fulfill my longing against solitude, I’d have to sacrifice the sacredness of belonging only to him.

 

  1. God is the only one who can heal my deepest pain. And He is the very one I struggle to embrace.

The most acute pain of my soul – which encompasses an indescribable feeling of being lost in my own life, of feeling adrift, of feeling permanently amputated – I know the Lord is capable of healing in a way only He can. Restoring the deep places is what He does. Giving eternal hope in our human condition is His business.

While I know this in my heart, my disconnect toward Him remains. Whatever feelings of betrayal or confusion remain in me feels like a searing of my heart. My soul feels dry. I am thirsty for His presence and intimacy, yet I can’t quite bring myself to open up to Him.

 

  1. I’m addicted to sad or romantic things. And then I’m depressed when I watch them.

I have to feed the monster. The emotions wrestling inside me like to see themselves expressed. In movies, books, shows, memes, quotes, I set myself up for crying, heart palpitations, and snot. I get myself wrapped up in a show’s plot and when I get to the end of its seasons, I have a depression that wraps itself around me because I just lost my connection to the characters. They are gone. Another loss.

I watch a movie I KNOW is going to trigger me by reminding me of what I don’t have, what I want, what I lost or the trauma I went through. Yet…. I keep doing it.

I keep doing it because I want distraction. I keep doing it because I need to feel. Another paradox.

 

  1. I accept my new reality. And I fight against it.

“It is what it is.” A quote I say often to remind that what is, cannot be changed. Accept it. And every day I feel I have reached acceptance. Until another moment when the unrest in my soul stirs again and I remember how my life now feels like a borrowed dress that doesn’t quite fit right. I shift and twist, fighting against the seams settling in all the wrong places, draping where I am not used to it, and I fight against it, wanting to strip it all off. But it’s stuck. There it is. And as much as I remind myself to embrace whatever possibilities this new life may bring, I grate against the unwantedness of it.

 

 

  1. I want to cling to what our life was. And I crave a fresh start.

Our things, our dreams, our plans, our home…. The things that incorporated our life together. They are precious to me. Precious to the memory of us. They represent our life and our love. I hold them close as connections to my husband. But living in the leftovers of a life no longer yours suffocates you. Restlessness to find ME, find MY dream, My wants and MY plan is tough. Do I want to throw caution to the wind and start completely over and rebuild from scratch? Or do I want to restructure what I have to make it fit to a new me? Giving up “us” in order to find “me” is painful.

I want to hold on to the past – the very past that chafes at me – while simultaneously being beckoned toward a new future. Are my arms still attached to me on both sides, or have they been torn off?

 

 

So the next time you think a widowed friend is a little crazy (or maybe YOU are the widowed friend)…..you’re probably right! We are a walking paradox. A living dichotomy.

And we, too, feel a little crazy. Or a lot. Depends on the day.

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