It was maybe 2 years after my husband died, when a Facebook memory popped up. I am sure many people feel the crippling sadness and/or joy that comes when a memory pops up. It’s like a dagger to your heart and a ray of sunshine at the same time. It was most likely a happy time or a funny time that you shared with your loved one. But this one had me thinking… “I don’t look like that anymore.”
While I can’t remember the exact photo or memory that it invoked, I continue to struggle with how it made me feel about myself. More specifically about how I looked. We are all a little vain about our looks. We all struggle with something that we don’t like about ourselves, whether we want to admit it or not.
I remember going into the bathroom and looking at myself and looking at the photo and thinking that “I DO NOT LOOK LIKE MYSELF!” Shocked and horrified. And wondering why it took me almost 2 years to realize it, but my appearance/face was so different.
I looked sad, weary, drained, and a 100 more unflattering adjectives. I even tried to smile- to see if that made a difference, it made it worse. It bothered me so much I brought it up to my therapist and I showed her the picture to make my point. Her simple response was that the picture showed me full of joy.
JOY. The dictionary says it is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Its antonyms are misery, despair, trial, or tribulation. Well those adjectives make it easy to see why my physical appearance was so awful to me. But I was angry, because grief was stealing one more thing from my life. Sure it might be vain to think about beauty but grief is all encompassing. It touches every aspect of our lives. But I also realized that it had jolted me out of feeling numb about everything.
I wondered, “Would I ever feel joy again?” And right now I can say, yes and no. There are moments of joy in my life and I do treasure them. But the journey that we, as widows, continue to travel is never a straight road, it has many twists and turns. I can only hope and pray that there is a time when joy will shine again.
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.” Jean Shinoda Bolen