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

Friday, February 8, 2013

If Dreams Have Meanings and Words That Do

Woman Sweeping, Edouard Vuillard C 1892

If dreams have meaning then a recent dream of mine has some interesting things to reveal. It was set in a motel room that was long and narrow with a door at each end. It was messy inside and I kept trying to sweep little boxes into the corners. Every time I’d get the boxes all swept up, Don would open the front door of the motel room and shove more boxes inside. According to the dream dictionary a motel represents trying to hold on to temporary feelings and boxes represent gifts or presents. Doors in dreams have several meanings depending on if they’re open, closed or locked---everything from resisting something to exploring new feelings. But in my dream the door at the far end of the room kept swinging open and shut and it was daylight outside that door, but still night out the other door Don that kept opening up. I was annoyed that he wouldn’t quit shoving boxes inside so I could quit sweeping.

I’ve always loved John Steinbeck’s title, The Winter of Our Discontent. It rolls off your tongue so smoothly and paints an image of bleakness with so little effort. But I don’t like the feeling of living in a winter of discontent and you guessed it, I feel like I am. I’ve been restless lately and I can’t decide if it’s because of the winter blues, boredom, loneliness and/or a deeper grief related issue. Maybe my dream was trying to help me figure that out? My dreams are so real at times that I often regret training myself to recall them. I even quit keeping a dream diary 13-14 years ago when my dad developed dementia and literally couldn’t tell the difference between dreams and reality. The dream described above woke me up 3-4 times through out the night and like a needle stuck on an old phonograph the dream would replay again when I’d fall back asleep.

When I’m feeling this restless I ramble-write, not knowing where I’m going to end up and ramble writing often reminds me of a John Steinbeck’s well-known quote from In Awe of Words:  “A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn’t telling or teaching or ordering. Rather he seeks to establish a relationship of meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all life trying to be less lonesome. One of our ancient methods is to tell a story begging the listener to say—and to feel—“Yes, that’s the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.””  

The winter blues, boredom, loneliness and/or a deeper grief related issue, does it really matter what is causing my restless discontent? The cure for all these things is basically the same. We need to reach out to others---sometimes I go a week without hearing the sound of a human voice except for those on television. We need to think outside the box we’ve taped ourselves inside and find a way to bust out of our safe little routines. For me that also means I need to quit fighting what my dreams are trying to tell me. When put in context with what I’d been doing the day before the above mentioned dream, it’s easier to understand why I kept getting overrun with ‘boxes’ from Don. I’d been working on identifying the lessons that Don taught me about life and love (see my last blog post). My subconscious mind obviously twisted my list of lessons into the boxes/gifts. The long motel room (temporary grief tunnel), the door that kept opening and closing (the future I’m both ready for and afraid of) and the sweeping (me preparing to say farewell to Don) all make sense. The question I have now is would I be better or worse off if I said ‘good-bye’ instead? Do I want to keep a string attached to the past or not? ©

“Farewell has a sweet sound of reluctance.
Good-bye is short and final, a word with teeth sharp
to bite through the string that ties past to the future.”

John Steinbeck
The Winter of Our Discontent


  1. I wonder if all the media coverage of Richard III this week embedded the "winter of our discontent" into your subconscious?

    That's not to dismiss your dreams. It may have triggered these other thoughts and symbols and interpretation, which are profound.

  2. I hadn't thought of that but it's very, very possible you're right. Our subconscious is able to weave some very weird and seemingly unrelated stuff together when---during sleep---it takes our temporary memories and files them into a longer term storage place.

  3. I know this. Sometimes I go for days without speaking and then someone will call on the phone and they wonder if I'm sick because my voice is so raspy. I have taken talking to myself--actually quite an interesting conversation AND it keeps my vocal cords from rusting up.

  4. That happens to my voice, too. I don't talk enough anymore!