Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Finding Contentment


Followers of this blog know I’ve been on a two month quest to find friendship out in the big, scary world of widowhood which as it turns out, isn’t so scary after all. I had already been active at the local senior citizen hall this past year so part of my master plan was to add Red Hat Society activities and volunteering at the Historical Society/museum to my social calendar. What I found in the first two aforementioned groups was a whole lot of other widows out there doing their best to keep busy and not wallow in the world of Poor-Widowed-Me, an admirable pursuit and one I fully endorse. Victimhood is not a merit patch I want to wear on my sleeve. I am woman, hear me roar.

Women have always been amazing in our ability to form groups and get involved whether the goal was philanthropic in nature, completely frivolous or hobby related. And we have the ghosts of women like Clara Barton, Dorothea Dix, Susan B. Antony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to make us feel guilty if we haven’t spent at least a few years of our lives devoted to a do-good cause greater than ourselves. In more recent years many of the groups women join could be defined as supportive in nature. We are joiners. We are self-improvers. There are groups out there for divorcees, widows, single mothers, women who have cheating husbands, mothers with addicted family members---you name it there is a group you could join for every life event or circumstance you could name on the face of the earth. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone when a widow sets out find others on the same uncharted path. But the path isn’t really uncharted, is it. It might be the first time we, personally, are widowed but the state of widowhood has been around as long as marriage itself and there are time-tested ways to find a way to being happy---or at least contented---again.

Over the course of my Grand Experiment these past few months I’ve talked to dozens of widows. In all our conversations one reoccurring theme was hard to ignore: widows who were happily married say they still miss their spouses whether they died two or twenty years ago BUT they also say they are content with the single-hood life they’ve built since. It also struck me that I only ran into one woman who said she had a bad marriage before she became widowed. I’m guessing women who fall into this latter category of widows are not attracted to joining the same kinds of groups that I am? They could be out looking for a new, improved spouse, or maybe victim-hood is a comfortable place for them to dwell and they aren’t interested in breaking new ground. They could also be the women you’ll find joining the Purple Thong Society or throwing themselves into the becoming the best damn Church Lady in their congregation. It’s hard to play amateur analyst with someone you’ve never met. I try anyway. Someone has to make broad generalizations with no factual basis what so ever for their assumptions. Then again, things become a cliche` for a reason. Happily married or not, I must also note that some of us are not joiners by nature---I never was before---so I don't know if anything definitive can be drawn by my experiment. All I really know for sure is we can't change our lives for the better by sitting on the couch.

In the past two months five women have asked to exchange contact information and, dumb me, it didn’t occur to me with the first three that there are probably unwritten rules covering who makes the first move after exchanges like this. The ball was in my court. I should have followed through with a call since they were gutsy enough to show interest in becoming friends. These were all lovely women, our conversations were organic and there was no reason to fear rejection. Still, by the time I decided to make a call to invite one of these ladies to an art show, I had lost the number! An accident or was I subconsciously being careless because I thought I’d never follow through?  Bottom line: after two months of trying to find friends I learned two very important things: 1) There are good opportunities for developing friendships out there for those who want to make the effort, and 2) I’m inclined, now, to believe that I really don’t want to achieve that goal as much as I thought I did. I’ve made the opportunities materialize with my master plan. Good opportunities. But my need for human contact seems to be satisfied by the warm acquaintances I’ve developed over the last two months and the fact that I’ll keep seeing those acquaintances at reoccurring events in the future. If something more one-on-one develops over time it will because I’ve become the mouse instead of the cat. For two months I’ve been the cat stalking the mice. ©

8 comments:

  1. What a great topic today. I don't know the "rules" for making friends! I have given my card/info to others when they asked ... but so far none have followed up. Now I understand that IF someone gives me their contact information, I should make the second move!! Who knew it could take such thinking. In Kindergarten we were just friends with everyone we met.

    Thanks again!!

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  2. I don't know if there are rules or not but it seems logical. It dawned on my recently that my five potential friends could have been waiting for a call and it makes me feel bad that they could have taken my not calling as a rejection of their interest. I ran into one of my "five" today and we had a warm conversation again. That was nice!

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  3. I didn't much like Kindergarten--as an only child--all those kids and their noise scared me. I have only had a few really good friends in my life--a lot of acquaintances that have come and gone, but only a few really good friends--and they are starting to go over the Rainbow Bridge as the years pass. Perhaps the Senior Center is scary to me because it might be like Kindergarten? Perhaps because I was an only child, I am used to being alone and entertaining myself? Or perhaps I just use that as an excuse?

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  4. Judy, you have daily contact with people and a few close friends where you live. If I didn't join something I wouldn't see a human only at the grocery store. Your theory on why you're not by nature a joiner sounds logical. I only know one other only child and she's super involved in group sports, though.

    Did you mean your good friends were all four-legged---the Rainbow Bridge poem reference---or did you mean human that went to human heaven? It's funny you should mention this because I'm just finishing up a book set partly at the Rainbow Bridge.

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  5. This is a very thought-provoking post! With my husband's cancer fight, I may find myself a widow later on. Though he is doing very well right now, it has certainly been a fear and worry. Of course, the odds are that he will pass before me because he's 8 years older. I am very much an introvert, so it will be difficult to reach out and join groups. I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

    I admire your tenacity! One thing that you might want to do is to print up personal cards. I always keep some in a business card holder my purse. You can include as little or as much information as you want - blog address, phone number, home address, e-mail address. You can get Avery blank card forms at office supply stores, and then you can use Avery's free online program to design them. Just a thought!

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  6. Thanks, Donna, for the comments. I've discovered the Avery program, too, and have designed a couple of different cards to give out to different people. I agree that it's a great tool for a widow---or anyone for that matter---to have in her purse.

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  7. Hi Jean,
    God has been the difference in my own life during times of loneliness, heartbreak, and pain. I know too well what it means of not getting encouraged by others and the hurt that comes from that. I've found that only God always offer encouragement and hope, much better than any human can offer. I can only imagine how it feels to be widowed. I have the taste of having a soul tie broken- I've gotten dumped in the past and it's hurt me so much in the past. The Bible teaches that a sexual relationship (whether marital or premarital) results in the man and woman becoming one (a soul tie). Rejection and abandonment are all painful things. King Solomon said that everything in this world is vanity, everything is meaningless- a chasing after the wind. Eventually whatever we gain in this world (relationships, success, wealth), we lose them all at some point. There is something you can never lose though- God. God surpasses everything in our lives. Our thirsting for things in this world (especially human relationships) is evidence that we need something greater than those things to satisfy us because everything except God will end up failing you in some way. God has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. God can't die on us and leave us in a state of loneliness. God won't cheat on us, dump us and go off with someone else. Whenever you feel lonely or feel that you're missing something in your life- realize that God wants to fill that void in your life. So many times I've been ignorant about the Bible. We're trained from our birth to live by our 5 senses- thus we look to perceive God with those senses. Most of the time, we can't perceive God with our 5 senses as He is a spiritual being. God has wanted me to develop my spiritual senses and rely on His word (the Bible) to experience Him. I've learned to always see God's word as alive, powerful, and relevant for each day. When I've failed to see that in the past, it's robbed me so much joy and peace. I've learned to look at the Bible as a powerful and active gateway/portal to God. We can try to occupy our minds with so many different things in this world to try and fill the void in our lives or suppress the pain, but all of those things will keep us still hungry and thirsty. God has promised us that if we reach out to Him, He will give us rest, quench our thirst, and satisfy our hunger. If you haven't done that, I hope you will give God a chance. I further hope that God will use you to go and reach others with His word, just like He has used me to reach out to you. Many people in this world are hurting just like you. Many are just looking for a simple act of kindness or a word of encouragement (words are powerful- they can heal and motivate or when used in an evil manner destroy others) which they don't receive from others. Ultimately, many even end their own lives because they feel hopeless and want to end their pain of torment- all because they've failed to see God was nearby all along and they failed to perceive Him with their spiritual senses. God loves you more than any human in this world! He wants to be your companion today and take care of you and your family's needs. I hope you see and explore His love for you today through the Bible- the Bible is the secret source for unraveling peace and joy for you when you can't find them in this world. I can't give you physical copy of the Bible right now, but you can freely access it online at (www.biblegateway.com). May God bless you, heal you and strengthen you and your family. Continue to write and help others for His glory. Claim God's promises to you from His word today. Humans will likely fail to encourage you when you really need it, however, God won't fail. All you need to do is turn to His word. It is available 24/7 whenever you need it- to experience God. Please read these verses when you get the chance- Jeremiah 49:11; Psalm 146:9; Psalm 68:5; Isaiah 54:4-5; Revelation 21:1-4

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    Replies
    1. We all must find our own road to contentment. I'm glad you found yours.

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