Friday, October 26, 2007

Something that really chaps my hide ...

... is the perception that the only way to "move on with your life" after losing a partner is to get into a new relationship, and that until and unless you do this, you're stuck in some sort of quagmire.

And beneath that, or possibly alongside it, the assumption that a new relationship is inevitable, and that if you haven't started one, it's because you're "not ready" yet.

Who says?

As far as moving on goes, I have moved on with my life. I've been doing it ever since the beginning. I didn't want to, but the morning after P died, the sun rose just like always, and I had to get up and face the day. Five hundred days later, I haven't stopped. I've done things. I've gotten G through an entire school year and then some, I've moved to a new place, I've dealt with a whole set of holidays, I've done projects at work and changed my hair color and gone on a cruise and updated my health insurance. And I resent the fuck out of the implication that none of it counts for anything because I haven't hooked up with some guy.

I am not going to hook up with some guy.

I'm not going to do it because I don't think it would be healthy for G. My own mother's dating and remarriage damaged our relationship for years, and I won't risk that with her. On top of that, I don't want anyone interfering in the decisions I make for her -- decisions that are in line with the way P and I agreed she should be raised, and the way in which I have a responsibility to raise her now that he's gone.

And I'm not going to do it because I have no desire to. I miss P -- I miss him more than I can say -- but I don't feel the generalized free-floating loneliness that sends people running to the online match sites in search of "someone." I'm sure there are lots of nice "someones" out there, but I don't want them. The idea of going on a date holds about the same level of interest for me as birdwatching or making my own yogurt: I know other people enjoy it, and more power to them, but it leaves me totally cold. I'd rather stay home and read a book than waste an hour of my life having an awkward cup of coffee with a semi-stranger, and frankly, I can see myself going on like that for years, if not decades. Check back when I'm 50 and I'll let you know if I've changed my mind.

Gahhhhh. I had no idea being a widow was going to make me so irritable!


Anonymous said...

I could not agree with you more!!

Over the entire of my single-widowhood (and that was more than 4 years), I resented the hell out of people who kept expecting me to not be "complete" again until I was in a new relationship.

The one who pissed me off the most was the woman I met in my Masters classes--begun 6 months after Don's death--who started every class with some version of, "I can't wait until you tell me you're dating again."

I cut ties with her as soon as school was done.

I am so much more than half of a couple...which is why I was able to joyfully enter the relationship I am in, on my time, on my terms. Chris wants and needs me to be a full, complete person. It is only in that way that I can bring joy to our relationship.

Annie said...

I don't think it's any worse for widows than for people who have always been single. At least from my perspective. When I was single, and I spent the majority of my adult life that way, I always had people prying and assuming that I would be happier married or at the very least with a boyfriend. I don't think anyone thought I was "incomplete" though I admit that our society is still caught in that old-fashioned notion that everyone needs a someone. After my first husband died, I think that the inquiring was more about my happiness. People could see in my eyes how happy I was when I was married and how sad after he died. They just wanted me to be happy again. They were a bit simplistic in their attempts to "fix" me and relieve my sadness, but they didn't know that. How could they?

You should live your life as you see fit and try to let the irritation of others' perceptions go. What does it matter what "they" think as long as you are content.

Oh, and it's not widowhood that makes one cranky. It's the way people tend to treat us like children and tell us what to do as though we'd never been competent adults that grates so profoundly.

Vanessa said...

I don't think it's any worse for widows than for people who have always been single.

You're probably right. In my case, I was never single for an extended period as an adult -- I met my husband when I was 21 and we started dating just after I turned 22. Friends who did get married later complained about the societal pressure/expectations, and I empathized, but I couldn't really understand. Now that I do, I'd like to find a time machine and take back every incident where I said something like "So, met anyone recently?"

Gayle said...

I feel exactly the same way. I'm trying to link to a recent article in the Washington Post that expresses similar sentiments about "moving on".

Excerpt from the article - "I don't see my marriage so much as being over as being interrupted -- rudely and unexpectedly interrupted. Some will say this is an unhealthy attitude, that I'm trying to keep my husband alive, that I'm stuck in the past, that I'm not "moving on" with my life. There are well-meaning people who advise me to date, remove my wedding ring, color my hair.

... I move on when I walk the dog each morning, talk the boys through the latest middle-school crisis, take on a new challenge at work."

Space Mom said...

I have to say, shortly after my BF lost her husband, her MOTHER-IN-LAW complained that she should be "over it" because they had only been married 7 years. Hello?
Then her MIL started to set her up on dates!

I think that when you are ready as a person, you will start to date. It has NOTHING to do with how you deal with P's death. It is a personal decision.

I don't think people are ever over a death. You deal with it...

Pixilated Mum said...


Man, who are these people saying this crap????

I'm so sorry. Geez, I'm so sorry that you get such thoughtless comments. I always think people say stuff because people, especially in our culture, do not know how to deal with death or mourning, but just try to hurry up to the solve-it-and-make-it-go-away stage. We're a culture about feeling good, and death does not make us feel good, so let's hide it and hurry up to something else that makes us feel good. Oy.