This past weekend, I helped a widower friend clean out his basement where he had compiled a married life’s worth of junk. And books. Stacks and stacks of books that he tells me his wife had collected over the years. And I thought I was a book junkie! We filled his Eurovan, his recycle bin, his garbage bin and there was still more. There are more rooms upstairs that I would love to get my organizer bunny paws on, but they will have to wait for another day.
After we unloaded the Eurovan at Goodwill, he got back in to drive away and looked at me with an amazed look on his face. “I feel so free!” he said, throwing his arms in the air. I remembered that same jubilant feeling when I cleaned out my house in New Jersey in preparation for the move to Seattle. I was finally unburdened of more than just physical stuff. I was also free of a difficult-to-name emotion. It was a feeling of rebirth. I rid myself of a portion of what had been my old life with Arron, and was free to create something new in the space left behind.
Sometimes inspiration bounces all over the blogesphere as it has for me today after coffee with a new friend and fellow widow blogger Allison Ellis. We had a very interesting conversation about many things as she mentions in her (incredibly flattering) Â blog. Of particular interest to me right now was the conversation we had about being a widow. Although she was widowed 8 years ago, she has gone on to marry and have a second child. We had opposite conundrums. She was grappling with the realization that perhaps she had usurped her widowhood too quickly and hadn’t really grieved, where I had certainly done the work of grieving but was perhaps stuck in it, unable to get to the business of getting past being a widow.
As I go through the course I wrote about the other day, it’s slowly dawning on me that although I feel like I am in a good place in terms of being “over” Arron (if that makes any sense), I am still struggling with releasing myself from the widow yoke. I have written about this before, with a great debate in the comments, and perhaps it has taken me this long to really see just how ensconced I am in the widow thing. I’ve written a book, I speak publicly, I blog widowhood. It’s hard to get escape the label when it has become a career of sorts. And yet, as I do this course, I am realizing that it’s my widowhood and not Arron that’s been holding me back from engaging fully in a new relationship. It’s an identity that I wear every day that’s safe and can be incredibly nurturing and gratifying. I meet the most wonderful people through my widowhood and I would never want to give that up. But it can also be threatening to some, downright terrifying even. The question is, how to find a balance between being a widow and being a single woman.
Thus, I am setting an intention here that from now on, I will be writing less about widowhood and more about other things. I’m not quite sure yet what those other things are exactly, and it will be a work in progress, but it’s time. I’m cleaning out the proverbial closet of my widowhood and packing that symbolic black dress away. I will still take them out now and then to remember, but they will no longer be front and center, taking up room in my closet.
I hope you will all understand. Thanks to all who have inspired my mini transformation, (in particular, mum, Theo, Allison, Kristine), though really, you have all inspired me with your comments and friendships.
And have no fear. I will always BE a widow, I’ve just decided that I don’t always need to LIVE like one.