Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Saints vs. ....

                                               picture from here

.... Sinners.

That's what we tend to sometimes make our dead spouse ..... a saint.

It's a good thing they're dead.
No one could actually live up to those standards.

Jim was not a saint.
Not by a long shot.

But then, neither was/am I.

But ......
and this is a pretty large "but".....
...... we had almost 27 years to work on our relationship.

And we had arrived at a very good place.
We learned to let go of the little things.
We learned that each of our children is very different from the rest.
We learned what to expect and what to not expect.

We learned how best to communicate with each other.
And now to put each other first ..... before the kids.

And now there's someone new.
And while newness can bring excitement and happiness and fun .....
It also brings hard work.
On both sides.

Yet it does not bring an end to the pain of grief.
In fact, sometimes it magnifies that pain.
Or maybe it just magnifies the exhaustion that comes with being widowed.

Everything is exhausting.
And learning to be with, and communicate with, someone new ..... can be exhausting.

I'm not very good at this.
I fell in love with one man.
We met when I was 20.
Married when I was almost 23.
Had our first baby when I was 24.
Had our sixth when I was 34.

We learned to communicate well.
Even, and especially, without speaking.

A new relationship brings new lessons.
And sometimes .... misunderstandings.
And hurt feelings.
On both sides.
And times when I wonder, "Is this worth it?'

I think it will be. I know it will take work, but it will also be worth the effort.

It's much easier to remain alone.
It's easier to have no one to consult with.
It's easier to not talk too deeply .... in order to avoid facing one's feelings.

It's easier to not rely on anyone else.
It's easier to not have to explain certain feelings ..... feelings that you don't have words for.
Especially when you're having to explain them to someone who can't "get it" .... and explaining feelings is hard for you to do on a good day ..... let alone to someone new.

No, Jim was not a saint.
But he understood my moods.
Sometimes before I even knew I was in one.

Now I'm back to square one .... trying to recognize the mood I'm in, what that means, how it looks ..... and now long it might last ..... all the while trying to explain it to someone new.
Sometimes I'm less than aware of what's going on inside my head .... or heart.  Those are the times when I can't find words.  Or I can't find the "right" words .... the words that are expected.
I'm not very good at this.
But I want to get better.
I want to work at it.

And if I'm honest ..... there are those days....
days when it would be much easier to be alone.
Alone with my thoughts
Alone with my grief ..... whether I understand those thoughts ...... or not.

Easier?  Yes, sometimes.
But better?
No way.  Easier doesn't usually mean better.
And I want better.

So do I stay in this relationship, understanding that there are no saints.
Do I stay, knowing that this might not work out .... in spite of all of the love, all of the encouragement?
Do I stay .... knowing there will be moments of tears ..... because he can't "get it" (which is actually a good thing for him) ..... and I can't always explain it to him.
Do I stay .... because hopefully he'll eventually understand that not even I always "get it", so I won't' always make sense?

Do I stay?
Do I accept the frustration, sadness and pain that this new relationship will sometimes bring?

In a word ..... the answer is yes.
In accepting those, I'm also accepting the love, joy, happiness, encouragement, friendship and fun in this relationship.
I'm accepting that this man is wonderful and that he's willing to be patient with me during the hard times.
The good of the relationship outweighs the potential bad.
At least in this one.

Because there's no such thing as a saint down here.

And thank God for that.
Because who would want to live with the pressure that comes with sainthood?!

And really, who wants to live with perfection?
I would think it would work itself out once the other person decides you aren't perfect, either.
Well, once they get past the shock .  :)

So .... I'm hanging in there.  In spite of myself.
In spite of my shortcomings and my failures.

It might not be the easiest choice.
But it is the better choice.
And I know that something good .... is worth fighting for.

I'm still fighting.


  1. I definarely understand the twenty something years of working it out! That's where I was coming from. When my husband made me promise to find someone knew after he died, that is exact;y what I was referring to when I said,"It won't be the same- this took 20 years to build."
    That what really sucks knowing I have to start from stratch!

  2. sigh - yes.
    The constant internal dialogue "am I better off alone" or mine is "can I ever love anyone again knowing what I know, what i lived through, what I have lost. Will they ever really have me. The one I thought I was?"
    Thanks for sharing this Janine.

  3. having someone else in that bed with you, holding you when the night is so long, is certainly a powerful motivator to over look any superficial flaws.

  4. Wow. Thank you for sharing this. I'm nowhere near starting over with anyone else, and probably won't be for a long time. It helps to read and know I'm not the only one.

  5. The timing of seeing your post is amazing. I have been having this discussion with the new man in my life and finding the words, expressing feelings that I can't even explain to myself, is so draining and frustrating. You nailed it with your post. He asks me how Frank and I communicated, and I have no answer, after 30 years we just "knew" each other. Unless a person has been there they will never be able to understand. Thank you for your candor and honesty.

  6. Very early in our dating relatinship, my (then) future husband and I both realized at the same time that we were soul mates.
    We were married; and over the years, we also had two ceremonies in Church with a Priest to renew our vows.
    Our extra vow to each other in all 3 ceremonies was that we would be married to each other forever...

    We always said that we were married to each other 3 times! And I'm sure there would have been more renewal of vows, but....

    Since he passed away, I am comforted by knowing that he is my husband, my soul mate forever....and the moment wil come when we will be together forever...