Young Widow Forum

Young Widow Forum => General Discussion => Topic started by: Wheelerswife on October 29, 2017, 11:32:08 AM

Title: I need to be more vulnerable - update
Post by: Wheelerswife on October 29, 2017, 11:32:08 AM
This board has been way too quiet.  Perhaps that is because other people are like me – they have trouble showing their vulnerable sides.  I know that people think I am “strong”.  I, like many of us, hear this all the time, right?  We sometimes want to be strong, hold ourselves together, persevere, be resilient.  It helps us manage day-to-day challenges without that partner or spouse that we relied on in the past.  But what happens when the façade we put on really isn’t matching what is going on inside us?  I imagine that a whole host of things happen.

For me?  Anxiety.  Racing, repetitive thoughts.  Heart palpitations.  Chest pain.  Paralysis.  Irritability.  Impatience.  Sometimes, despair.

How do I cope?  Being strong for others.  Listening so that I can swallow down my own uncomfortable feelings.  Spending time out on a lakeside beach or walking with my dog.  Retail therapy.  Travel.   Anything, perhaps, except showing my vulnerability.  What will happen if I crack a little and let it out? 

I wish I was as brave as some of my friends are, because I wish I could let people be there for me.  I have good (no, great) widow friends that do offer an ear and a shoulder.  But I still hold a lot in.

I have never been particularly close to my family.  My siblings and I left the nest as soon as we were able and established our own lives in different geographic locations.  I don’t think any of us ever felt appreciated for who we were in our nuclear family, which was, at least in our views, oppressive and controlling.  We all “get along” well and see each other a couple times a year, but we have never been particularly close.  Our parents are aging (91 and 81) and my father is slipping slowly.  My 2 sisters have offered distant support for the last few years, but I lived too far away to be of any assistance.  I have relocated to my parents’ home temporarily as I trudge through the job search process, trying to jump-start a second career. (Let’s just say that isn’t moving very quickly – one of my big stressors.)

For the last few months, I have been staying with my parents and offering some assistance.  My mother is appreciative and I know that it is perhaps the right thing to be doing right now, but it is very difficult staying here.  My parents are much older versions of who they were when we were growing up.  We are on different ideological planets.  My thoughts and views are unwelcome.  I walk a bit of a tightrope trying to be cordial and helpful and conversational while holding in every thought that crosses my mind.  I don’t want to be here.

Yet, without a job, what are my options?  I rented out my house in Kansas when I realized I couldn’t even get a job interview back east with a Kansas address.  I consider renting a place of my own, but every time I think that might be a good idea, I get a call for an interview and I realize that it makes little sense to get my own place because a job might be right around the corner.  And then I get another rejection.  I started applying for jobs last February and moved east in July.  It really has only been a few months, but this is miserable.

The empath in me starts thinking of other wids and widowers out there who have it worse than me…less financial stability, kids to raise, etc. and then I feel badly about complaining.  I have a roof over my head, some money in the bank, food on the table and the opportunity to get in my car and go away for a long weekend.  But underneath it all, I have great sadness and I really miss my guys and I just wish I could have the life I had with my polarbear back. I have zero motivation and confidence (and perhaps that shows in interviews?)

I want to be able to dive into life again – a job, a home, a community where I can be myself, and to eventually find another person to love and cherish and share my soul.  I don’t think that is too much to ask.

Thanks for listening.

Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: Quixote on October 29, 2017, 01:06:09 PM

You're pretty darned strong, Maureen.  More than I think you know.

I think cracking a bit from time to time is needed.  One of my grief counselor told me to try to pick a quiet, alone time and then let it go. Helps cut down on the crying while driving incidents. 

I think you're at the "Why am I not over this?  Shouldn't I have a normal Life by now?" stage.  I think the only answer is that there is no such thing as a normal life.  Not really joking there.  But we can hope for islands of safety, security and love.  That thought keeps me paddling, anyway.

Crossing my fingers for you in the job search. 
Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: Bunny on October 29, 2017, 02:35:36 PM
Yeah, I think you're right about the quietness on here. I'm very happy this place exists, but it just seems kinda...I really don't know how to word it exactly: a bit reserved, a hesitancy to truly share- or something like that? I tried to put my finger on it in the other thread about this, but couldn't.

Yes, the ywbb was very much like the Wild West, but it was raw and rowdy and painfully honest and, well, it had all those years of people sharing their very different experiences. I really miss being able to access all those words. I've tried on here to delve into some of the painful complicated stuff I'm still dealing with in case others might be able to relate, but it just usually ends up feeling kinda flat and unhelpful and pointless.

Here's hoping this thread cracks some things open a bit more...
Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: Trying on October 29, 2017, 03:42:15 PM
Maureen I am also someone who holds things in and shows the world my “strong” persona. I then resent people for calling me strong because I feel it minimizes all I have had to cope with.  I have lost most of my close friends because I put walls up and didn’t let myself be vulnerable.

You are undergoing some major stressors right now, moving, job hunting, living under your parents’ roof and doing all of this without your partner by your side. You definitely need to let some of that out or it’s going to find it’s way out in a messy way.

I don’t know why things have gotten so quiet here, I’m pretty sure it’s not because widows are no longer struggling.  I hope people find this to be a safe place to express themselves.
Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: oneoftwo on October 29, 2017, 04:30:14 PM
Yes, the recent topics here get very little discussion and those that do seem to revolve around
Widdow/ers with new partners
Widdow/ers partnered with new folks with kids
Widdow/ers partnered with new folks who have crazy ex partners

more power to you, but I cant really relate, and am not going to comment- some of it seems better suited to relationship blogs.
So, like Mark Cuban, for those reasons I'm out
Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: Bunny on October 29, 2017, 05:23:09 PM
Yup, the social section is definitely the most hopping. But - logically speaking- that's just because, in comparison, there is so little participation in the other sections. That's the mystery. And, while it's easy enough to just skip over the Social Section, I admit when I was newly widowed I ventured in there fairly often even though I had no interest in socializing simply for the distraction from my grief and the pure entertainment value. Now, it's just easier to talk about my bf than my lingering issues with anger, anxiety, and loss. I do sincerely wish that weren't the case.
Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: BrokenHeart2 on October 29, 2017, 05:40:27 PM
I do agree with you oneoftwo, I certainly hope you don't mean you're leaving the board!
Thanks Maureen for putting your vulnerability out here!
I too am reluctant to show my vulnerable side but for me I think it's because since I lost DH, whenever I've tried, I've been either shut down or told I'm not doing it right by people that really have no idea what they are talking about.  It's not like I'm doing anything crazy or going wacko either.   I am very reluctant to talk about my concerns, decisions or feeling even with my own siblings (I have 5...yeah, Catholic family LOL) because they still do it so I don't go there with them anymore.  I have to admit I have one brother that doesn't do that too much.  He's a lot like my Dad was (died 29 yrs ago :( )  and for that I am so thankful!
My Mom just turned 85 and is bedridden in a nursing home. She was my rock in my "earlier" grief but sadly now she is not doing well and I don't think she will be with us much longer.
I did post a while back about this board being so quiet and what you all think could be why this is so.  I remember almost 4.5 yrs ago on ywbb (wow, has it been that long) if I missed a couple of hours there would be tons of posts to read and share my thoughts and input.  Not sure why this is not happening here. I don't know how I would have gotten through those excruciating days without all of you, my pillows as I like to call you because you were all my soft place to fall when everything else seems so cold like stone.
Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: Jennica on October 29, 2017, 07:28:21 PM
Also agree, very quiet. I used to come on every night right before I went to bed to read posts and to feel a bit normal I guess. I have to say, I haven't been jumping on because nothing new has really popped up.

I too hold a lot in. I don't think my family wants to hear how lonely I am or that I MISS my husband so very much. Plus I don't want my parents to worry about me or the kids. I do tend to push my feelings down and just push through. Today, however, I had a good cry. I was playing with my almost 2 year old and she was laughing up a storm, so was I. Then i just started balling because my husband is missing this moment. Of course, I cut my good cry short because my 12 and 9 year old could walk in and ugh, just don't want them to see me like that.

Thanks for starting this post Maureen. Prayers for you and your job search.

Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: Mizpah on October 30, 2017, 11:20:25 AM
Before I say anything about your topic, Maureen, I don't think we should be discouraging people from talking about ANYTHING.  There's nothing wrong with people working through their new relationships, and if there's not a topic going on that fits your needs, create one.  Navigating life post-widowhood is hard, and new relationships can be part of that.  Judging people for leaning on one another during those challenges... it's no good.  I remember being a new widow, and the social/relationship part was always very busy - I rarely read or commented because it wasn't where I was at.  So what?  No harm to me to have other people talk about what they were facing.  We're all in this together.  Or should be.  We should be free to talk about whatever's going on in our widowed lives.  This place is for support, am I right? 

Ok, Maureen.  I'm so sorry.  A few things that came to mind as I read.  Many of us often bristle at being called strong.  I've never really minded it.  He11 yeah, we're strong!  We've had to be.  We've had no choice!  I think we have this conception that being strong cannot happen while we are emotional, or hurting, or feeling need, or feeling lost.  To me, the strength is in grappling with these things - with the events in our lives and in processing them and in making whatever each of us will of them.  Another thing I think: don't underestimate the mental impact of not working.  I had a period of not working in my life, and it threw me for a loop (I also was crashing with my parents for a bit).  You feel outside the world a bit.  You lose a routine that keeps you in some kind of momentum outside yourself.  And don't underestimate the difficulty of living with aging parents, especially where you feel such a cultural not just disconnect but tension/difficulty.  You are in a really hard time.  You're ready, but still waiting.  I've been there.  It's so hard.  And for me, when things are hard in my current life, it makes the loss of my past life hurt that much more.  I'm thinking of you, and hoping for some movement for you in a good direction.  Sending big hugs.
Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: Julester3 on October 30, 2017, 12:01:37 PM
Thanks for sharing Maureen! Hugs! I feel your frustration in your post as you sit in limbo looking for a job and wanting to get setttled but yet you can't! I hope the patience and waiting will end soon.
Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: Wheelerswife on October 30, 2017, 12:50:57 PM
Thank you all for your responses.  It feels good to know that people are, in fact, reading and responding to posts.

Quixote, my friend, I don't mind being recognized for being strong by people who truly know me.  I know how strong you are right now, too.  And hugs back at you! 

I also believe that any relevant topic should be fair game here on the board.  There was a time on the previous board (called YWBB for those who were not around then) where bringing up new relationships was felt to be insensitive to those who were more recently widowed.  There is a difference, in my opinion, between flaunting a successful re-coupling or trolling for a hookup and discussing real-life challenges and successes with new relationships.  There is a place for those discussions...and that place was created so that people would know what can of worms would be there if they click on one of those threads.

Anyone remember the bistro thread?  I think that people who started to post on that VERY long thread eventually became real-life friends.  I can't think of a better outcome than finding friends through fun banter.  If a certain subset of members enjoy sharing their dating stories or any other topic, so be it.

I think they key that is missing is people in various time frames feeling comfortable writing about their experiences.  Heck, I'm 8 and almost 4 years out and I know I need to get some things that ruminate in my head out on "paper".

As for me, you all pretty much nailed it.  I want to be working and building the next chapter of my life (chapter 13, maybe?) and I'm stuck sitting in chapter 12 and it is dragging on...

Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: MR on October 30, 2017, 01:59:08 PM
Hugs Maureen,
Sorry for what you are going thru. I myself is not good at expressing it myself specially in writing but do go thru the forum and relate to most of them.

Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: twin_mom on October 31, 2017, 10:50:18 AM
I'm 5 years and 2 months (tomorrow) out - and I'm still afraid to really let my grief out. I'm afraid I won't be able to put the pieces back together again.  At first it was that I needed to make sure the kids were okay and I didn't have the bandwidth to do that and really do my grieving. Now I know they're going to be okay and NG encourages me to work through my grief.. I quit my job partly so I could focus on myself for a bit... And while I've let a little seep out I know I still really have a lot to process.  But I'm still too afraid.

Okay,  sorry to hijack your thread with my rambling - but you aren't the only one that needs to be more vulnerable.
Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: Wheelerswife on October 31, 2017, 03:50:48 PM
Okay,  sorry to hijack your thread with my rambling - but you aren't the only one that needs to be more vulnerable.

Ah, no worries!  I'm probably the worst thread hijacker!  I would rather people would tell their stories.  It is good to know that I'm not the only one coping with similar concerns.

Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: kjs1989 on November 07, 2017, 06:34:48 PM
Yeah, vulnerability leaves us well, vulnerable.  It doesn't happen as much here as on the old board, but perhaps quite a few of us do think once or twice before posting something "sensitive"  if we  have been corrected or censored before when we laid  all that ugly soul baring nakedness out there.  I know the first time  it happened to me here I thought, "ok then, won't do that again!" Even this place is not as safe as it should be and that surprised me early on.  Now I cringe when I see others taken to task for their "humanness." ( Is that a word? Ha.)  Don't get me wrong; the vast, vast majority on this board are thoughtful , empathetic, and so profoundly eloquent in their written words that I usually read the responses two or three times because I am so blown away.  Words that just won't come to me! But then, there are a few  that I just don't understand what their motivation is in putting others in their place, and then claim to "stand by it" when confronted by more supporting members regarding their snarkiness. What is the payout for these people?

And Maureen, bless you, you are one of the most caring and supportive members on this board. I may not have answers, but I read everything you post and my heart is with you. Please be as vulnerable as you want. Many of us are listening,

Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable
Post by: Captains wife on November 08, 2017, 06:32:15 AM
Maureen - you have always had a great attitude...that is one thing that has really stood out and I think we are all stronger than we give ourselves credit for. I wish you all the best for the next chapter - you have so much going on (relocating, job search etc) right now.  Interestingly, I have been a lot more vulnerable on this board (and the one before it) than I have been in real life. I am so thankful I've had a place to do that as I wasn't comfortable showing people directly in my real life how I was really doing. I hope others will continue to find that support here and feel comfortable doing the same thing.  I think there is an evolution in being a widow/widower. I used to post a lot in the early widow or general section or in the children section but admittedly I post a lot in the social sections now - I appreciate the support while navigating these waters as being a widow (with children) does factor into it. I agree that we should feel free to post what is impacting us as widows/widowers and that expands beyond our initial grieving days. I try and venture into the early posting sections once in a while to provide support but I'll try and make more of an effort to do that. I'm also not sure why there isn't more activity as I know the support is needed.
Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable - update
Post by: Wheelerswife on December 07, 2017, 06:31:02 PM
So....since this post I have let myself be more vulnerable to some of my good friends and I have made some changes.

Things continued to deteriorate with my mother.  She lacks the self-awareness to even understand what she is doing, I think.  She has snapped at me for things such as having a different opinion on which singer might have a chance at winning the competition on the TV show "The Voice"!  I know she is not going to change, and living under the same roof was just not working for me.  I'm used to a combination of robust conversation with people who are respectful in agreement or disagreement as well as long periods of solitude which I have needed to find focus for work and personal endeavors.  I was getting neither in my parents' home.

After a particularly challenging Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I decided to take the offer of some dear friends and move into their vacant second house.  I also knew that I wanted to make this transition well.  In other words, it would do little good to confront or upset my parents and make this move about the unspoken tension between my mother and I.  My father now has some memory and other perceptual issues and is no longer a significant source of angst, although he used to be worse than my mother. 

So...I took several days and visited some other dear friends who offered support to my goals and to my lowered spirits.  I returned home and casually told my parents that I had decided to make a move because I needed to refocus myself on my job search and I needed the solitude in order to accomplish my goals.  I took a few more days to spend time with my parents and go out shopping with my mother, and this morning, I loaded up my car with clothes and other essentials and I am now sitting at the kitchen table of my newest temporary home.

It feels good.

I will return to my parents' home in a couple of weeks for the Christmas holiday weekend.  My parents will get to return to their unencumbered routine, too.  My mother told me she will miss my company, even though she can't seem to help being critical of everything that I am that is different from her.  Part of me is glad I gave it a try with my parents.  I do have a good handle on my father and his decline and my mother's ability to handle his needs.  But...I have learned the lesson I probably already just isn't a good idea to try to live with parents when you are a fully capable adult!

So...thanks to my wonderful friends who lovingly have listened to me and given advice.  I really was listening, despite my resistance!

Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable - update
Post by: kjs1989 on December 07, 2017, 07:48:56 PM
Congrats! I can't imagine how hard it was living with your parents. My parents are gone; my dad died three years ago and my mom one year ago this month. I loved them beyond measure, but it was evident in just occasional weekends with them that the same dynamic that existed when I was in high school and college was still there to a certain extent! Not good for any length of time.

Wishing you the best. It sounds like this is a good step for sure.

Title: Re: I need to be more vulnerable - update
Post by: First Widow on December 08, 2017, 05:00:36 AM
Good for you Maureen!

I adore my parents and spending time with them, but I am always ready to go home after a long weekend.  Enjoy your solitude!    :)