Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dismissal & Validation

Earlier this summer, I dropped the boys off at summer camp. They went to two different camps, one day apart, so one was dropped off on a Sunday, the other on a Monday. On the way home from dropping off the first one, I imagined Bobby joking to me in the car, "One down, one to go", because whenever the kids went to camp, we would have a lot of fun on our own. We would go out to dinner, stay up late, watch TV together, or drive just about anywhere.

It's all different now. As I've done for the past two summers since he is gone, I cried again on the way home. Between the two camps they attended, I had almost three weeks to myself, and although I did not sit home alone all day every day staring at the walls, it was sort of sad. Sad because this is what my life will be in a few years when I drop my youngest off at college. I'm going to drive home to an empty house, and I'm going to wonder, what the hell do I do now? There are only so many closets to clean.

I've voiced this to several friends and family members. I get the same answer over and over. "Oh, don't worry about what is going to happen in four years. You'll find things to do. You'll probably have a significant other by then anyway." And frankly, that doesn't help. In fact, it does the opposite.

People do not realize by saying this that they are dismissing my fears, and thus my feelings, which in turn makes me feel like I am not allowed to voice my opinion, unless it is a happy, sunny opinion that everyone is comfortable with. One thing that humans in general do not like is to have their feelings dismissed, especially women. I know I don't. People tell me to "live in the present". Well, I am living in the present. I presently feel that in four years when I drop my younger son off at college, I'll have no life. (Yes, I can be a wise-ass at times.)

I wish my friends and family would realize that this fear is a very real, one that I think about almost daily. I am rational enough to know that I have to let my kids go when they get older, and I know better than to hold them back for selfish reasons, but that fear of having them move out and leaving me alone the rest of my life really haunts me.

I hope someday that when and if I voice this fear to a friend or family member, I'll get the more appropriate response which would be for them to acknowledge my feelings instead of dismissing them. As all women know, not just widows, sometimes we just need our feelings to be validated. We aren't always looking for answers.

1 comment:

  1. I understand why you feel that way, and I'm sorry you aren't getting your feelings validated. I'm guessing your friends and family mean well -- they want to help alleviate those fears. They are just skipping the step that you really need now, which is to listen and sympathize. It is important to have friends who will listen to and respect all the feelings you have, not just the "sunny" ones -- who the hell can expect a widow to have only those kinds of emotions and thoughts?

    If I can be obnoxious and add my two cents' now....well, I'd just say that the more you think about those fears now, the more power you're giving them. Four years is a long time, so you never know what might happen. You may or may not have new hobbies, new friends, a new love. Even if you have none of those, and you do end up being terribly lonely and bored for some time, there's no reason to start feeling that and dreading it now. Leave that suckiness for then, when it's actually happening. (Easier said than done, I know, but thinking of things this way has helped me try to focus more on "today" than future fears.)

    Sorry if that last part seemed preachy. I do sypmathize with you, and to some extent I understand your fears. I too have fears about the future and what I think will happen if certain things don't change, and I know I also have a tendency to fret about that instead of focusing on the here and now and having faith that things will work out in the end. So I'm just sharing a way of looking at things that has helped me; I certainly don't mean to discount your feelings. I understand, I think what you're feeling is normal, and I wish you the best while your sons are away at camp. Oh, and I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only widow who has become an obsessive closet organizer! (Yes, there are only "so many" closets to clean, but do you know how many times you can re-organize them?!) ;)