I am a widow au naturelle. Yep, doing it on my own. I don’t have a therapist, and I suspect options in my small town would be limited. Actually, I haven’t even looked into finding one because that would require making phone calls, talking to people, figuring out insurance coverage, fitting appointments around my inflexible work schedule, leaving my house, and probably driving in the dark during winter months. Also, doing all of that more than once because the first therapist might not be a good fit is totally out of the question.

 

But lately, I’ve been angry, and I wish finding a therapist was easier because they could help me make sense of my irritability. I know anger is one of the stages of grief, but I didn’t think that meant anger at the world or getting angry 14 months into widowhood. (I’m not angry at Todd for dying. I’m not angry at God.) I just feel snarky, salty, sarcastic.

 

I fear I’m turning into The Bitter Widow. The entire world just pisses me off. For instance:

1. Social media. I’m really close to deleting my FB account because I cannot stand to see another happy couple, posed in a field, wearing matching outfits. Or any post that involves couples, engagements, and marriage. However, baby, cat, and dog posts are excellent as are old people dancing and people falling down.

2. Social media, part 2. I’m frequently on the verge of making inappropriate comments on posts because I’m tired of playing nice. A video recipe for strawberry cheesecake: “Strawberries are disgusting. Blech.” A new dye job: “Wow, that’s really bad. Like Cruella DeVille bad.”

Mercy, I’m on the verge of becoming not only a Bitter Widow, but a troll, too.

3. Commercials.  The jewelry ones–”Every kiss begins with K” or “He went to Jared”– used to make me cry. Now, I have to turn the channel to avoid throwing the remote. The holiday commercials were bad; I can’t imagine what the Valentine’s Day ones will do to me!

4. “Friends.” A real knee-slapper. Why don’t you ever visit me? Call me? Text me? Check on me? You know who checks on me every single day? My 76 year old dad!

5. Sanctimonious sorts. The ones who say things like: “Everything happens for a reason” or “It’s all part of God’s plan for your life.” No, I do not believe that on any level, and I am baffled by people who think religious-meme life-advice helps anyone except themselves to dismiss complex situations. (See #2–biting my tongue gets harder and harder)

6. Women who gripe about their husbands, who are very much alive. I mean, really? Really?

7. People who have taken advantage of me. In particular, the men I hired to remodel my house. These @$$3$ left work unfinished, uninspected, and overcharged me. They knew I was alone in this life. Growing up in the Bible Belt, I was naive enough at 51 to believe that no one would take advantage of a widow. I take care of myself now. Still, I can’t do all the work myself, and the longer I’m in my house and the more unfinished bits I find, the madder I get.

8. Expectations. Call someone for an estimate on the floor my contractor left unfinished? Design a syllabus for next semester? Take on another responsibility at work? Balance my checkbook? Leave my house for any reason at all? Hell, I barely got dressed yesterday and then binge-watched sci-fi movies all evening while eating donuts and drinking wine for supper. I do not function normally anymore, and if it seems like I’m okay, I’ve just gotten really good at faking it.

9. Isolation. Thanks for the non-invite and then discussing how much fun you all had in front of me. Invisibility is a Bitter Widow superpower, right?

10.  Inclusion. Thanks for the invite. Now, I’m mad at myself for not going.

Anger does horrible things to my blood pressure, which hasn’t returned to normal since Todd’s death. I know finding an outlet is important. So, being my own therapist, I’m trying three solutions to avoid turning completely into The Bitter Widow (who, sadly, is not part of the Marvel Avenger team because her trolling and invisibility powers would be epic):

  • Laughter. I miss laughing. I follow a few funny widows on Instagram and wish they were my BFFs. My family frequently shares with me funny videos and memes they find. I have to remember to laugh, since Todd’s hilarity expired with him. Even if the humor is snarky or dark, it’s my kind of humor.
  • Exercise. Endorphins and all that. My daughter and I have plans to join the local gym (we do have one of those in our small town), and I’m pretty darned excited about exercising with my new hips.
  • Writing. It’s hard, harder than exercise, even harder with widow-brain, but it helps me understand myself better. Flannery O’Connor wrote, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” Writing is the most theraputic thing I’ve done since Todd died.

Thank you for sharing, Sue.

Time’s up for this week. I owe myself another $150.

About 

Sue Leathers is an English teacher and mother of two daughters, 19 and 22. She had a huge crush on her husband Todd Kleffman, a journalist, when she was in high school, and she'd save his columns and stories. Decades later, she and Todd found each other through Facebook. He was the love of her life, her high school crush, and she was his biggest fan. She lost Todd in October 2017 to a heart attack. She has found solace in Hope for Widows and in writing of her own journey, and hopes to help other widows not feel alone by sharing her experiences here.

Sue can be found on Instagram: @susanjanie