Monday, November 26, 2012

Envy

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Envy means "to bear a grudge toward someone due to coveting what that person has or enjoys." In a milder sense, it means "the longing for something someone else has without any ill will intended toward that person."

I'm intimately familiar with the emotion of envy. I've felt it for as long as I can remember. I've longed for so many things other people have that I don't.

A mother. A father. A childhood free of fear and the iron grip of an alcoholic, mentally ill father. A parent who shows up occasionally for a school function. A brother or sister.

And now, I also feel it when I see couples. Happy couples, unhappy couples, young couples, old couples, couples discussing their everyday lives over dinner or arguing over groceries, couples who text each other and touch each other and look at each other longingly.

I don't want anyone else to be alone or miserable just because I am. I don't even want to be in a relationship right now. I don't think I'd be any good for anyone, anyway.

Before I find myself involved with anyone else again, I have a lot to do on my own. You know, a few little things like healing, learning to do everything on my own when I used to be spoiled rotten by Dave, confronting the trauma I've experienced and my fear of losing again, learning to be okay with being with myself, alone, which should all take, oh...forever.

It's not that I think that having what others have will fix my problems or take away my pain. Instead, seeing couples makes me long for what I lost and want back so badly. My love. The love of my life.

I was so very, very loved and that man was my everything. All that I see reminds me of the loss of that.

I can think thoughts like The love you had wasn't lost, it's with you, inside of you and Comparing your situation to others' is pointless and Be grateful for what you DO have, but feeling them deeply is something very different.

It feels like the love we had is gone. He is not here to hold me or touch me or tell me how lucky he feels to have found me. I have my memories, but even they are painful, still because they're all I have.

It feels like I'm alone in a sea of couples.

Statements of gratitude still feel empty when I miss him so much and face a life without him.

My biggest concern right now is that on top of just missing someone I so adored, I also don't know how to value or love myself unless I'm wanted and loved by Dave.

Why do I feel so meaningless when I don't get a check-in text or a declaration of love from him? Why do I feel worthless when he's not there to pick me up at the airport? Why does it feel less meaningful to cook for just me than to cook for him? Why do I feel ugly unless he's telling me I'm beautiful? Why do feel stupid unless he's telling me I'm smart? Why do I feel terrified unless he's taking care of me? Why do I feel so lost unless he's telling me where we're headed together? Why do I feel lonely unless he's there, even when I'm surrounded by people? Why do I feel misunderstood and left out unless he's taking an interest in me?

Scariest of all, how will I ever feel okay without him and is it possible to feel okay again without the love of a man, without being a part of a couple? Can I value myself even when no one loves me like that?

Will there come a time when I can see couples and feel okay with my single status? Will I be able to look at families and not feel like I'm missing out on everything? Will hearing someone say "We've been married for 40 years," not turn my heart inside out and leave it barely beating?

In the meantime, I miss the man who made me feel complete and gave me a sense of true belonging for the first time in my life. I miss my family and I feel very alone even when surrounded by people.

In the meantime I hope for the strength it takes to learn self love and acceptance.

 I hope for the ability to appreciate myself without any outside reassurance that I'm worth appreciating, and I'm going to do whatever it takes to get there.







14 comments:

  1. I could have written this...except of course that I didn't even get to experience a lot of things that you and many widows did, so I'm envious even of that. Gahhh. And wondering if you'll ever be able to not be so, to heal, etc.? Oh I so relate.

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  2. Cassie,

    Thank you for articulating so well what I am feeling. The anger/jealousy I feel when I see other couples being couples and having that one more day with their spouse that I'll never get is pretty intense. Memories can be wonderful, but they're no substitute for the real thing.

    The necessity of me becoming my own cheerleader is not one that I relish. It was so much better when C had my back.

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  3. WOW. Does this post hit home. Last night I had two couples from "our old life" over for dinner. Both had been together over 20 years - and were telling stories about college, when they met, how long they have been together - and I realized that all that history - and the only person I shared it with was gone. No matter what - the person I went to college with, grew up with, married, bought my first house with, had children with (along with 22 years of other history!) - is gone and I have no one to share those stories with. I was practically green with envy. While I try to stay positive on this journey I didn't choose - sometimes the memories alone - with no one to share them with - hurt more than they comfort.

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    1. Yes they do. What a strange place to live in when the happy memories hurt the most.
      I'm so relieved (as usual) to hear that I'm not alone in feeling this way. This post, in particular, was especially scary. It made me feel incredibly vulnerable to admit to my envy, but even more so the fact that I worry that I need to have a man (Dave, in particular), to feel complete.

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    2. Yes.
      This is another painful dimension of widowhood. We all have stories and nobody to share them with anymore. (Well... nobody that really cares or can connect anyway.)
      I met my husband, (Dave as well) in high school. After being together for 28 years, you quickly realize that all your history died along with him.

      Nobody else knows OUR story, MY story, like he did.

      This widow stuff is not for sissies. Just when you think you're getting your shit together, it feels like it might be about to unravel again - which is another effing scary feeling. Seriously. Over the last 2 1/2 years, I've done 6 months of individual counseling, 3 months of group grief support, 1 year of Mindfulness meditation, and then I think - “I'm ready to face the world again!”. I find a guy. He might actually be close to perfect, but after 9 months of dating I think I'm afraid to get too close. I keep things from getting pretty deep between us. I start to think I still have more crap to process.
      And now I still see a lot of myself in your post too. I have FAR too much left to process.

      BUT I'M SO SICK OF PROCESSING GRIEF OVER AND OVER AGAIN!

      And at $50 an hour I’m particularly sick of processing grief with a professional. (And $50 is apparently cheap!)
      On the bright side, posting here is free. Lol!

      Honestly. A good part of the problem is I’m just waiting for the bottom to fall out again as soon as I’m truly happy again.
      I know I can’t live the rest of my life feeling that way. But there’s no shaking it.


      Thanks for writing Cassie.

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    3. To Valerie, Interesting post. You answered your own question. You have the fear of the bottom falling out all over again. It's a really valid fear, and I wonder if you are moving too fast. Grief makes us so vulnerable and fearful that we will be alone forever. All of the counseling and work you have done is so helpful and necessary, but some of the work has to be done by ourselves, in walking through our feelings and gaining independence. Maybe take a step back and take it slowly for awhile? Take more time to heal?

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  4. Cassie,
    This so resonates with me. Esp all the parts about how things in this new life hurt so deeply and how Dave completed you! My Marty completed me too. It wasn't something we set out to do, it happened over many years and being in the front lines of the battles of no money, three kids in five years, and finding out way into adulthood. But oh so rich!! I too know that my transformation cannot come in the form of another man - though I do hope that another man can compliment my transformation!! - initially, for the first six months, I was so deeply in pain and sorrow I never thought I could love again. But then, over time, that began to change. One reason Is because randomly he and I had a conversation many years before he died suddenly about remarriage. I know that he would encourage me in tht direction. But more importantly, I think the deep deep love that he and I shared is what propels me to love again. It seems easy to talk about, this loving again, when there is nobody, and I mean NOBODY in the wings or available to me.....if the real thing, like a real man came along who demonstrated interest in me, I hope that I would allow myself the freedom to love and the courage to take that risk. Upon gazing at the many, many hard, awful, and horrid things such as picking out my husbands funeral clothes, I think that taking the risk to love again would only make sense! I've already had to take so many flying leaps. Another thing I know is that having been a well loved woman, I will NEVER settle. I'd rather be alone than settle for mediocrity.
    I too struggle to find value and worth....my widowhood alone causes me to indulge myself in twice monthly massages to get some of that deep pressure touch that my neurological system is so deeply missing daily; and even a shopping spree at Kohls. I'm a widow, I've earned this is what I find myself saying to me!
    Will I ever feel value or worth as a single? I don't know. I know that I have a deep longing to love and be loved. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  5. Ugh - yes.
    Old couples holding hands, with their tottering walks and scarves and hats and that look that says we have loved and known each other forever.
    That was supposed to be me. Me and my love. Old lovers, an old couple together always. We used to joke that I would die first and he would die four days later. So as he said "i can do everything that needs to be done and we will meet up".
    Instead - he died first and despite feeling certain I was just going to die from heartbreak. I didn't.
    Two years later - I am still here.
    Widowed.
    Single.
    Alone.
    When I see couples I feel happy and sad. Happy for them, lonely and sad for me.
    This part "Can I value myself even when no one loves me like that?" I think is the work for each human being on earth.

    There is nothing wrong with longing for love and loving.
    I have a new love.
    But - here comes the hard part. Sorry if I am bursting anyones dreams or wishes.
    It doesn't touch the love I have for him - my late husband.
    It doesn't take away the pain, the grief, the longing, the desire, the missing every day.
    Somedays it complicates it.
    This being newly loved.
    is complicated.
    But I realized without it - life seems harder, lonelier, a colder place.
    I can live without it.
    I just don't want to.

    So i have love.
    For now.
    But I dont have him.
    I want to share my life.
    I don't feel I am settling but that I have left earth and landed somewhere near bye. It looks the same but it is really different.

    However, in small moments when I am with my new love, and we are in each others arms. I feel that somewhere my greatest love, is looking down and saying "it's okay my sweet. I am happy for you."

    Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks for your honesty. You state many of the things I struggle with in my mind...could I really find love again, could it find me? I know I am a different person having gone through losing my Marty....so therefore a new relationship would look different, because not only would it be with someone new, I am someone new now! Who I am, I don't know yet.
      I love your sentence, "I don't feel I am settling, but that I have left earth and landed somewhere nearby. It looks the same but is really different." I like that because it describes a lot in widowhood - so much looks the same, but everything is different. Non widows really don't understand the full impact of just how much change there is in our lives. Thank you for this.

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  6. Cassie, this post definitely hit home for me, especially this line: "I also don't know how to value or love myself unless I'm wanted and loved by Dave." I have been on this journey for almost 4 years now, and the envy of other couples has waned a bit (though there is always that initial twinge). And I really think I will be OK if I am not ever part of a couple again (I was a single parent for 12 years before Jim and I got married). However, the not knowing how to value or love myself has definitely impacted me.....this has been the worst year yet as far as self care. I KNEW Jim adored me, and I could receive that and it made me stronger. And I do have lots of friends that really love me, however, I don't know how to translate that into being able to love myself right now and take care of me. That is the part of this journey I need to focus on now - learning how to love me the way my husband loved me and see myself through his eyes. Thanks for posting this.

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  7. I think one of the most unexpected things when one becomes widowed is the identity crisis we go through. It feels similar to being a teenager all over again in terms of "who am I and where am I going," except we have already arrived at where we were going and now it's been taken away. It's a very confusing time. What's different about it is that now we have some life experience behind us and we are independent and can make our own decisions. The questions you are asking about how you can be this or that without him are a part of that. But, remember he married you for who you are. You already were completely satisfying to him when he married you, and you are no less than that now. It takes time, but you will find your identity again. We get used to seeing ourselves through the eyes of our spouse, having that mirror every day, but we are no less after they have passed. If anything, you become more. Peace and blessings to you in your journey. It will all be OK.

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  8. Cassie,
    I have a hard time, too, seeing the couples everywhere, they seem to stand out more now that I am not one. It's getting easier to see them as time goes on. I think we have to remember that in this process of grieving for our partners/spouses we forget that we are also grieving for the lost "you", the person you were and will no longer be, as well as the couple that isn't anymore.

    You are your best friend, you need to be compassionate with yourself, and accept yourself where you are. I understand your feelings of worthlessness and loneliness even when surrounded by people, the one who made you feel otherwise isn't here to tell you you matter anymore. It's hard to boost yourself up when you don't have someone rooting for you on the field. But keep at it, that's what others farther along have told me, keep going...you are doing so much more right now than you realize just by writing here. Your widow family embraces you.

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  9. Cassie,

    One day at a time....you don't have to please anyone but yourself! The main thing I've learned thus far on this journey is there is no time table for healing. Everyone heals differently..I am taking one day at a time with no expectations for tomorrow...Many hugs from your widow family!!

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