― Edna St. Vincent Millay
I’m not having a good day today.
I can’t seem to stop crying and it is all because of a stupid video game.
You see, one of our favorite past times was playing a game called Fallout. There are several versions and we had been waiting for the next version for quite a few years. My husband and I planned to get the Xbox One console at the same time. We had planned to stay home that weekend and just play the game together. We had looked forward to it. My husband even followed rumors, leaked info, websites, Facebook, twitter….you name it. He loved “being on the hunt” as he called it.
Today they announced that the game will be released and posted a trailer. It is everything that my husband hoped it would be. Except for one thing, he won’t be here to play it with me.
That brought up all of the other things that I won’t do anymore with my husband and it also brought up the question – do I continue on with our joint interests or find things that we’ve never done together.
It’s a question that a lot of widows ask themselves. For several reasons.
One, doing an activity that you did with your spouse brings up painful memories. Memories of enjoyment, laughter, togetherness. How can it be as wonderful solo as it was together? Are we setting ourselves up for disappointment?
Two, if we find that doing that activity brings us the same amount of enjoyment, what do we do with the guilt? After all…how can we enjoy it so much without our spouse?
There are TV shows I cannot watch anymore. Deadliest Catch, for instance. Although I enjoyed watching it, my husband was the true fan. Now, it’s too painful to watch alone.
Cooking shows are also designated as non-watchable. My husband loved to cook and would rather watch the Two Fat Ladies than a Victoria Secrets special. Alton Brown brings me to tears every time he comes on the screen. So I studiously avoid the Food and Cooking channels.
I do try and watch some shows that we both enjoyed. Criminal Minds, CSI, shows like that. I still enjoy them but with an underlying sadness as I watch.
I watch most of my TV in the bedroom lying on the bed with the four footed furry brigade. I find myself unconsciously reaching over towards my husband’s side, searching for his hand. We used to watch TV like that a lot. The emptiness on his side is overwhelming.
Other things are still painful. Going to the movies. I’ve seen a few movies since my husband’s death. Always with friends. But even as I watch and am enjoy it, there is still that sense that something is wrong, something is missing.
That emptiness is there constantly. No matter where I go or what I do. No matter how much fun I’m having with my friends or family, it is still there.
Nothing fills that hole in my heart.
So I find myself trying to find new TV shows, new activities, new hobbies. Things that will hopefully soothe the ragged edges of that hole. Something that will ease the pain, the rawness.
I know I will never be able to fill it or fully heal it. I feel my tears falling into it and there aren’t enough tears in the world to even register within it. All I can do is try and create scars over it so that it is not so overwhelming. To help alleviate the ache.
I’ve been a part of a couple for so long, I am frantically searching on redefining myself as a single.
I’m trying to reclaim things that I did with my husband but now do alone. It isn’t easy. Sometimes I can’t push past the pain so I have to drop it, put it aside for just a bit, knowing that there is a chance that I will never be able to go back to it. That part of my life may be over forever.
It’s a struggle, this whole reshaping my life. Just as water flows along the path of least resistance, so do my thoughts. I’ve been thinking a certain way for so long. We instead of I. Ours instead of mine. Trying to forge the concept of two into one.
I still speak of my husband in the present tense. I do it automatically. It’s only when I get strange looks do I realize that I am doing so and I correct myself. But I really hate speaking of him in the past tense. I don’t want to because that is one step closer to accepting his death.
One thing I am struggling with is the loneliness. The isolation. My husband and I didn’t have children together, so when he died, I was left to live alone.
I do have wonderful friends at the ranch where I ride and train with, and I have a wonderful family that I can call on. But my husband was my best friend. We did so many things together and many times it was just the two of us.
So how does a 50-something widow meet new people? I don’t drink, I hate bars and night clubs, I work from home so I don’t even have the fellowship of co-workers. I’m in a wheelchair with a service dog, so some places I just can’t get to or get comfortable at.
I thought of joining a grief counselling group, but to be honest, I can barely handle my own grief…I don’t have the energy to take on someone else’s and sharing grief is what those groups are all about.
I did join an online widow/widower forum. Sometimes they are a comfort to read, but sometimes they are discouraging. Especially when people write that their spouse died three years ago and they still fall apart about it. I know I will never get over the death of my husband, but I would like to know that it eases up just a bit. Especially after three years.
There is a gathering of widows and widowers that will be happening near me in July. Everyone says it is an uplifting and positive experience, so I signed up for it. I’m hoping that the reviews are correct.
But in the meantime, where does someone who likes science fiction and owns a ranch and plays video games and is in her 50’s go to meet others like her? It’s not a normal combination of hobbies. In fact, I met my husband through a science fiction venue and he took to being a rancher and a cowboy like a duck to water, after he met me. There aren’t many men out there like him. Not that I’m looking for a date. Just friends. But even meeting women for friendship is hard. Not too many women my age enjoy horror films, science fiction, RPG video games and spending all day in the dust and dirt playing with horses.
The fact that I live in a rural area also adds to the difficultness. Hard to just ‘drop by’ when it means driving an extra 30 minutes just to get anywhere.
I feel like I’m stumbling around searching desperately for a lifeline. Trying to find where I belong. I feel lost. A social orphan. When I think of myself I have no concrete description of me as a single.
I’m trying to take up different hobbies. I have an idea of making a quilt out of my husband’s shirts. I just need to learn how to make a quilt first. I tried crocheting, not a skillset I have a talent for. My embroidery is bad enough to make a cat laugh.
I used to love making custom belt buckles and putting together large Lego models. But both of those lost their appeal when I lost my husband. Too many painful memories of working on either a buckle or a model and him coming over to give me pointers or his opinion. It’s just not fun anymore. So my dozens of model kits sit gathering dust. My buckle supplies are stuffed into drawers. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to them.
What most people don’t realize is, when you become a widow, you lose a large part of who you were. I can’t even remember what it was like to live single. I lost the main thing that defined me as a person. I loved being a wife. I loved being a part of someone. I loved being two, instead of one.
I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t know who I want to be. I don’t know who I can be.
Each day that I fight to find me, only emphasizes the fact that I was who I wanted to be, but I can’t be that anymore. I’m spending more time crying now than I did right after my husband died. I’m crying for the loss of him and also the loss of me.
Two people died that day. One physically, the other figuratively.
I don’t have the answers to any of this. I’m just wandering through this nightmare searching for a path to follow. I don’t think I’m going to be able to define who I truly am, until I reconcile with the loss of who I was. And that’s hard.
But I’ll keep trying. I did pre-order the game and most likely will end up playing it, alone. If it is too painful, then I’m sure I can find a niece or nephew to give it to. I’ll keep looking for something to do, some hobby to take up those empty hours that I used to spend with my husband.
And I’ll keep looking for me…