Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sartre Says...

While browsing wise quotes for my Monday Bit of Wisdom spot on another blog of mine, The View From the Pond, I came across this one from Jean-Paul Sartre, and thought it would do nicely for here:
"If you are lonely when you're alone, you are in bad company."

I think that's a good target for anyone who finds themselves having to get used to being alone after sharing their lives with someone for a long time - to be content in one's own company.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Samaritans - Not Just For Suicide

By the way, I must recommend the Samaritans. I've called them twice since the Golfer died - most embarrassed the first time, as I am used to coping on my own. Also, I had assumed that they were there just for people thinking of killing themselves and, at least the first time I called, I wasn't near that stage, I was just desperately lonely.

But I had seen a leaflet in my local supermarket, aimed at farmers who might be feeling isolated, and it struck me then that the Samaritans weren't just for the suicidal. I kept that at the back of my mind and, when a few months later I got really desperate to talk to someone, I called.

There's a quote from a caller on their website:

"There's very few places you can go to in the world where you can pick up a telephone and another human being, no matter why they're doing it, will listen to you unconditionally. If you want to pour out in a phonecall, they will listen for hours, for as long as you need them to."

Samaritans caller

- that sums up how I feel about the Samaritans. I've used them twice, I don't know if I'll ever need to use them again, but it is comforting to know that there will be a friendly ear at the other end of the phone if I do feel lonely, isolated or suicidal in the future.

Getting Used To It

Okay, it's time for another Puddock ramble. I'm still not sure which direction this blog is going to head in, so forgive me if I plunge one way, then change my mind in a week or two.

I've had a pretty good week. Widowed now for more than two and a half years, I find that I am definitely through the grief process. How do I define that? Well, in my experience at least, I knew I was through it when I became comfortable with myself as a single unit, instead of as part of a couple.

I reached this point by way of baby steps, and the occasional grazed knee. In fact, it's been after some of my worst moments that I have really begun to make progress - it really has been a case of 'always darkest before the dawn'. January 1st was a horrendous day for me - a drain-centred domestic crisis, with no-one to call on as all my friends were off doing nice normal family things with their nice normal families, being in the midst of a dark and gloomy winter, and the feeling that things were never going to get any better, had me calling the Samaritans after really beginning to think that suicide might become an option for me.

After talking myself out for half an hour, I felt a bit better, and found I had regained some of my old resilience and defiance. I got the big gloves on, screwed up the drain rods, and set to work on my drains again - this time not thinking poor little me (well - a bit) but instead - brave, clever me and stuff the rest of the world. I still had to get the professionals in the next day but I was so proud of myself for attempting the job myself. No-one could take that away from me. Ever since that low point, life has been steadily improving. And somewhere along the line, I stopped feeling like a wife left to cope while her husband was away on some (extremely) long business trip and began to feel like my own person. There is nothing like being up to your elbows in shit (literally) for giving you credibility as a real, genuine grown-up.

With that new-found self-belief, I began to really believe that I had a right to exist. I began to stand up for myself. And I stopped feeling guilty for being alive, when my lovely husband was dead.

So now, three months on, how am I doing? I still get depressed from time to time - sometimes unexpectedly and inexplicably. I still think about the pain of the Golfer's illness and his anger at dying before he was ready, but it doesn't crack me up the way it used to. And at last, after thirty years of being entwined with another human being, I feel that I am standing straight on my own - I am going to be okay.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Old Lady Bites Back

This blog isn't going to be all gloom and despondency about living alone and getting older - oh no! Every so often (or maybe very often) there will be inspiring and sustaining posts like this one. Here is my first Rosehip or Prune heroine, courtesy of Archie's Archive- watch and enjoy:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Borg, alone

It's two and a half years since my husband died and I've done a lot of growing in that time. I hope in this blog both to describe my experience of the process of getting through the grief process and also the baffling (and sometimes hilarious) experience of being single in middle-age. Hmm - awkward balance, that. But then so is life. I'm hoping that loads of people in similar positions will comment and add their experience to the blog. It's always good to know that you aren't alone when you discover that you have forgotten where the stop cock is (surely you used to know. It can't be in that many places. Where the hell is it?, you yell, as water gushes from that burst pipe), or that you have absolutely no idea how to get a date, never mind how to behave on one, you've been out of practice for so many years.

So I thought today I'd kick off with a simple thing. As I was packing up my bottles and paper to take to the recycling depot this morning, I remembered that doing this chore was an event worthy of a diary entry and a big gold star in the first months after the Golfer (my late husband) died. Seems daft now, and the job is (almost) routine now, but I wondered why I could possibly have found it challenging in the early days.

I think I've figured it out. When he was still alive, whenever I did a job like that - filling up the car with petrol, doing the recycling, going on a long journey - simple, routine things, I always knew that if anything went wrong - if I got to the garage and I had forgotten my purse, if I leaned too far and fell into the recycling bin, if a got a flat tyre - then he, the wonderful man, would be there to get me out of my pickle (or my recycling bin.) That is why the smallest, most trivial task becomes a worry and a trial once you are widowed (or divorced, I guess) - there is no longer anyone there to pick you up if you fall on your face.

And that is one of the biggest and most fundamental tasks of the grief process - learning to survive being separated from the entity that was you-and-your-husband. I felt like Seven of Nine (though without the skintight suit) separated from the Borg. It is hard

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rosehip or prune?

The title of the blog was inspired by something I read a few years ago in a book for older women, in which the author, to make us feel good about ourselves as we age, said that if young women were rosbuds, then women in their middle age should see themselves as beautiful rosehips. I rather liked that analogy. It stuck with me, and I am desperately trying to ignore the wrinkles and see the rosehip that I truly am. But sometimes I feel more like a prune...

Surviving alone?

This is a blog dedicated to those of us trying to make sense of lives changed by death or divorce, especially those of us who are in our forties or older. It came about from my own experience of being widowed at 47, in the same month that my only child left home to go to University. It has been difficult - still is - to find a new purpose to my life.

I've been blogging - The View From the Pond, where I muse about living in an existentialist Universe and Two and a Half Acres, where I blog about the nature around me here in the Highlands of Scotland - for nine months and have met many people in the same boat as I am - widowed or divorced, middle-aged, and trying really hard to get on with their lives. Our experiences filter through into our posts on other topics and I thought it would be nice to have a dedicated blog for us to share our problems and our good news, our fears, frustrations and hopes.