I can tell you first hand that widowhood sucks. Just like when you marry, you learn to blend, compromise and bend to fit into a pair and it is a little awkward – stops, starts, spills, so too, is widowhood. In a culture that practically elevates partnership to sainthood status, suddenly finding oneself pulling in a pair of harnesses where one is empty causes one to stumble, fall and struggle at the loss of balance. For many, the first response is to find someone quickly to fill that empty space. It is too exposed being a One in a world that seems to cater to Two’s. That’s perception though really. Plenty of singletons out there, by choice or otherwise. And although I didn’t come out of the faltering bit for close to three years, I tried that ‘fill-the-space’ thing and got burned badly. I withdrew to kind of lick my wounds while keeping my foot slightly in the door so it didn’t slam shut totally.
And then, once you get past the initial grief and numbness, the ‘What do I do’s’, ‘Why me’s’ and wobble back into uprightness (although I think one always remains a bit off kilter truthfully), including misplaced affections and the recovery, there are other things that come to the forefront like the ‘Who the hell am I’s?’ It is difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t been through it, what having someone young that is your partner, suddenly die does to you. It puts that frailty thing right up close and personal. Although I’ve always been someone for whom the status quo didn’t always seem quite right, it wasn’t until after my husband’s death that I began to solidly examine everything. Nothing was spared – life-long beliefs about relationships, God, families, the meaning of success, poverty, other cultures, food choices and a whole bunch of other stuff got hauled out and looked at. Not all at once. I do read sometimes too 🙂 But it slowly churned away inside of me, manifesting itself in peculiar ways at times. I went out dancing and drinking a few times. Hung out socially with different people. I rediscovered writing, photography, the natural world. I went camping. I drove over 1,500 miles straight through by myself, to places I’d never been. I learned new skills, some by choice and others because I had to do so. Most of what came out for examination remained basically the same, some tweaks here and there a bit. Some distancing from people who are toxic but genetically attached. Some releasing of misplaced expectations of others. A bit more forwardness in speech in some areas, paired with the realization that I didn’t always have to say exactly what I thought (this still needs some work, lol!), because in most cases it didn’t really matter in the end. I wear what I like, which might be 5″ heels and dressy one day, and a beater tank and faded shorts with bare feet the next. While I feel more authentically ‘me’ these days and not much different otherwise, all of this has caused some people close to me to, well, freak out a bit. It seems I am not fitting into the molds they have in their minds for me. I guess grandmother and fifties mean certain things to certain people and it isn’t what I am doing, thinking, reading, listening to or wearing. The decision to live remotely isn’t new, although crafting an off-grid lifestyle intentionally is another resurrected idea that my husband and I talked about a lot but didn’t discuss with others much. Hiking the AT is dream that pre-existed the current time period too; but again, not always talked about with others. My husband and I were a pretty self-contained unit, so many times those things remained just between us. Tonight I am pondering what it means when being your true self causes other people discomfort and puts them off-balance, and how to remain authentic but comfort them as well. I suspect it will be another thing that I’ll wrestle with under the surface and try, yet again, to explain myself to someone else. I’m not upset that it was brought to my attention (more than once recently), but I am a bit curious at why people think one will always be the same today, tomorrow and yesterday. Isn’t the point of life to learn, grow, and adapt?
But on to less weighty things(pun fully intended!) I took my Titan backpack on its maiden voyage this past weekend. I’ve been walking with it regularly during the week, getting acclimated on dog walks. I’ve scouted local places within decent driving distance to expand my experiences, camp, use my gear, find out what and how things work. While doing so I was running through music on my headset, and discovered a song with perfect cadence to my stride, and a title that seemed so apt “Dream Within a Dream” Unless I discover something more epic (which is entirely possible!), this will probably become my trail anthem; an aural pick-me-up when pain, fear, or frustration stands in the way.
The Glitch Mob isn’t exactly ‘grandma’ stuff I suppose 🙂 I share it here with y’all, one or two of you whom have expressed a desire to meet up when I’m out there and walk a bit together, and others of you who have said “I’ll watch and encourage, have fun!” And the rest of you that just drop in for a bit of a read from time to time. I’ve changed up most of my work out music too, as the new core work I’m doing just didn’t go with the dance-y stuff I usually prefer.
Enjoy. Close your eyes and walk with me…