Before I left Spokane, my friend said to me that he hadn’t realized how much of his identity was tied up with his wife. When she passed away, and as he’s dealt with his grief, he’s had to examine his concept of who he is and what he wants. This is no easy task.
I don’t know that I said much in reply aside from offering sympathy. I won’t claim to be an expert at this one, nor have I had a major grief, like his, to deal with.
Every time I’ve had a relationship end (my, I’ve had a lot more of these than I ever wanted to), I have had to adjust my sense of self. It is easier because I’ve spent a lot of time alone — then I know who I am when no one else is around, and I am mostly returning to this after a relationship ends.
What’s been harder for me is letting go of the things I wanted to be, but will never become. The one that hurts the most is that I will never be a parent. If I can’t find the husband, it makes it hard to have the child. I was never willing to go at that solo. Eventually, I got too old. 45 is pretty definitive. There are days when 45 is pretty hard to take.
There’s all the self-questioning that I can’t quite stop. I should have gone further into online dating. Sooner. Many boyfriends I should have broken up with sooner. I should have dropped the hard shell of defensiveness from my childhood sooner, and softened up. I should have been wiser about people, as if I could have just had the realization that when other people treated me poorly that this is not a reflection on my worth sooner.
We can regret, but we cannot change the past. We can only go on from here.
When we depart from the standard story, or any story we’ve told ourselves for a long time, it takes adjustment. I’m still trying to figure out who I am, as a 45 year old woman, aging more quickly than I’d like, without a family, without a significant other, with an anxiety problem that is fortunately not troubling me much at the moment, and, right now, in a new place without any friends or close friends to lean on.
We need more stories for women. More for men too, but I know less about that. I have female friends who are childless and happy with that, but I can’t think of many stories where that is the outcome for women. It never was an option in any of my happily ever afters. So I have no view of what this should be, even looking at my friends and trying to see through their eyes.
The only thing I’ve figured out is that you have to concentrate on the love you can give, not on the love you wished to receive. That is the path to happiness, but it is not easy to travel it.
One thing I hope is that I find honor and integrity, grace, generosity and kindness, warmth and caring, and lots of love freely given to others in who I am, whoever that may be.
Beautifully said, Jean Marie!