Changes Widowhood Wreaks Upon Us

Widowhood forces change.

My self-confidence changed.

I hated making decisions. I was never any good at them. Between second-guessing myself or liking too many options to choose just one, choices were difficult. My husband would roll his eyes when I couldn’t pick what I wanted at a restaurant or when I couldn’t choose between two sunglasses I liked. Then I would ask his opinion to help me decide. (Hehehe)

Life-altering decisions? Good lord, that was worse. What if I chose the wrong thing? I had to think through all the details, and debate over the outcomes.

My husband on the other hand could make massive decisions in seconds. I always marveled at that ability. And often I was happy big decisions weren’t left up to me.

When I was left without him, one of the biggest life differences was being forced to make decisions by myself. Gosh, that was tough. It may sound silly, (unless you are in my position and realize what a big deal it is). But it’s not. The world turns a different direction now. Choices make me feel simultaneously like a dwarf and a giant. Powerful and utterly incapable.

My daily routine changed.

Never have I been a night owl before. I gladly would have gone to bed by ten. That was late to me. I looked forward to going to bed! Now, it’s hard to be sleepy before midnight. I flitter away the night with tv, games, or some other activity until I can barely keep my eyes open … because I don’t want to be alone too long with my lonely thoughts. I don’t want my barren bed to have too much opportunity to speak to me.

Before, my day was split into two main categories: before my husband came home and after. Now, it’s all one monotonous, fluid time period frustrating my sanity. I had two tastes, two personalities, two plans, two interests to blend into my day. Now there is only one. Although that brings certain freedoms, it also brings a type of isolation.

My social dynamics changed.

I’m needy now. Previously I had a built-in companion. We could share daily banter, thoughts and frustrations. Advice naturally flowed from the person who knew me best. Now, I’m left to scavenge for these things in other relationships. Of course, it doesn’t work as well. These friends all have their own lives, with spouses, kids and jobs. I feel like the third wheel. I feel I need more from them than what they can offer. They have their own significant other. It grates my gut to feel so needy. It makes me feel awkward and self-conscious.

I bounce between craving social outlets and avoiding them ; the drive for stronger friendships, and the fear I’ll drag them down.

My strength changed.

My shoulders were forced to broaden. Carrying life’s demands became a solo task overnight. There is no honey for the honey-do list. There is no team for the team work. There is no partner to add their strengths, assets and knowledge into the mix of life. No one to tap-out to. The burden of dealing with all of life’s stresses became mine and mine only.

I am forced to take the lead on things I never would have before. Things I knew little about, I’m now in a crash course. He cannot take the reins on house projects or maintenance issues. He cannot take the lead in areas I’m weak in, like confrontation or bargaining, disciplining children or spearheading social situations.

Before I had my support. My fall-back. My on-call database. He was there to help when I needed it, take over when I was overwhelmed, fix it when I couldn’t.

It’s a scary feeling to have your net taken away and still be forced to walk the tightrope.

Summarization…

My priorities have changed. My goals have changed. My housework has changed. My fears have changed. My humor has changed. My hobbies have changed. For goodness sake, I feel even my personality has changed.

I watch as I become more independent. More courageous. More capable.

I watch as I become more isolated. More fearful. More frustrated.

A living dichotomy of strength and weakness.

No wonder grief changes you. It forces it upon you. These adjustments offer no opt-out. It forces you to step into the limelight you had always avoided. It forces you to shoulder what you couldn’t. It forces you to be what you weren’t.

Until you look in the mirror and see a new person.

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