This is a simple story: I became a widow at fifty, and my life changed in ways that are not easy to explain, even to myself.
We all invent ourselves, more or less consciously, out of what we are and what we want to be. We think about where we wish our lives to take us, and then our husbands die and all our plans change.
I like to think that I give life my “all”, but in the past I’d denied myself this pleasure, so intent was I on fitting in. It seemed easier to hide my true feelings and anything else that made me look bad. I was unaware at the time, just how insidious secrets are, how they undermined my confidence and joy.
You see, if you start out thinking there is something you need to hide, you end up feeling it’s something you should be ashamed of. Never hide your grief, your tears or stop talking about your loved ones and your memories. It may be human to try to rush your grief, but it’s strange, isn’t it, to deny who you are?
I’m writing today about the disjunction between appearance and reality, between what widow’s say and what they mean, what they show to the world and what’s going on underneath.
As widows it’s important to understand our pain. We know what others don’t know: how to be at home in this crazy world. Show yourself, give others permission to know you by dropping that layer of reserve and self-protection.
As soon as you stop trying to influence their opinion, you can relax and be you – just as you are.