There are so many expectations to being a widow. Ridiculous really given that I had no choice in the matter and it’s not what I wanted. Some of them are expectations I put on myself.
I’m constantly afraid that I’ll be judged for how I behave. I won’t let anyone tag me in a picture or an event in case people think I’m not behaving appropriately. If you don’t think people will, just look at what happened to Alec Baldwin when he was seen smiling with his children weeks after the accidental shooting of Halyna Hutchins. He didn’t cause the loss, he was dragged into being involved, and yet people could not accept that he might be able to experience a moment of joy in the rest of his life. Do they think he won’t struggle to sleep every night or isn’t traumatised by the event?
I always worry that I’m not grieving hard enough for you, even with all of the secrets and betrayal. People say ‘you’re doing so well’. Well compared to what? Should I be doing worse? When I smile or laugh it feels like treachery, god forbid anyone find out I lay in the bed of another man? Those who love me, who know what you did to me, understand that part. I can’t begin to tell them that I might have feelings for him though. They would judge me for that, tell me I’m going too fast, that I need more time for myself.
I thought that too, I thought I needed to heal alone, that I shouldn’t risk a part of myself on another human the way I did with you. I messed up any chances with a person who is pretty special and could have been something great in my life. I put my walls up quickly. I excused it by only sharing the bad parts of you with him too. What kind of person makes their loved one into a monster in someone else’s eyes?
He judges me for caring too much about your loss, for sticking around for you at all. The ones who love you judge me for not supporting you enough, for letting you get too ill. Another friend tells me I did more than anyone else on the planet would because that’s just in my nature, even his angelic mother wouldn’t have been as good as me he says. He won’t let me express my regret for letting you down, even when I tell him I know you let me down too. There’s no winning when you’re a widow everyone has an opinion on your thoughts, emotions and actions.
The only person who just listens and makes everything seem normal and ok is my widowed friend, but then I think I’m not as good a widow as he is. He has created a mental shrine to his wife, one that means he stays separate from the rest of the world so that it can’t be damaged at all. Does that sound like I’m judging him? I’m jealous that I can’t see you that way anymore. A terrible widow that hasn’t set you in amber, perfect forever.
When people hear what you did to me, about your secret life, they think I should hate you, they think I should be walking away. They tell me I definitely would have if I’d found out when you were alive. They might be right, but I didn’t find out when you were alive, I found out while I grieved so hard I didn’t speak, move or eat in case it tainted your memory. I had to fight hard to keep any of the you I knew in mind at all and I tried to keep some love alive for you. My feelings aren’t going to be the same as if you were here, but until you experience it you can’t know that. Just another opinion from others.
I keep the new part of you a secret from those who loved you, exposing you would only cause them more pain but when I speak to them they judge me for not being able to get back on my feet quickly enough. Your dad tells me I need to get moving to do my best to live the rest of my life. I can’t tell him that you ripped me apart with a dark personality none of us could have guessed was hiding just under the surface. They call you a ‘great guy’ I doubt they’d believe me if I told them, judge me for mentioning it at all.
Tomorrow I have to face Universal Credit, strangers will judge if I’m actually sick enough to rely on the system. A system I’ve happily paid into since I was 15, that I wanted to exist to show people their significance didn’t only rely on their ability to add growth to the capitalist structure. Never mind that for the past 5 months I relied on my own funds and tried to leave the pot for those who aren’t as lucky as me. The funds ran out though and now the government gets to judge my worth against their arbitrary targets.
Will I ever get past the judgement of myself or others? I guess it’s one thing that I’m sure changes with time, no one expects a 33 year old to remain celibate her whole life but when do they think it’s OK for me to start thinking about it? When I get stronger and back on my feet they won’t look at me like I’m pathetic or ‘milking it’ anymore. When I’ve built my new life people won’t feel the need to tell me how well I’m doing anymore. There might be new judgements though, when I buy the house we were saving for do I hang your photos or not? I bet they have an opinion on that too.
Weird that I’ve stopped talking about the nothingness and started talking about the future. Should I judge myself for that too? Is it that I don’t care anymore? Is it the medication? maybe it’s proof that I did everything I could to keep my promise to him. Does it make me a poor widow or maybe a good friend?