Yes, being widowed is sad. Yes, being “suddenly single” when you’ve reached a certain age and have already ventured down the parenting path is no picnic. But for those of us in either (or both) of these positions, we must look toward the bright side: life is a “do-over.”
We get a second chance. At virtually everything.
Yesterday, I received a letter from a recently widowed woman – she was devastated, yet clearly possessed the optimism, tenacity and spirit to get her through these dark days, until she’s reached the “other side” and can see the sunshine again.
I felt her pain, and also smiled inside for the unexpected silver lining that lies ahead for her; surprising gifts she can’t even imagine at this moment.
Being dealt a crummy hand in life can be a bitter pill to swallow.
Your world is suddenly turned upside down, and you can’t see through the smoke and flames. But life is about change. It’s our only constant: that things will not remain the same. That the status quo of today will not be the status quo of tomorrow.
Most people fear change – it’s uncomfortable. We opt for security over the unknown.
It seems many of us either feel entrenched in some form of stagnation – or chaos. Few of us truly accept that this dichotomy is what is called Life. Capital L. We feel underwhelmed, unfulfilled, itchy, possibly bored. Or, then the tide turns – and we’re suddenly overwhelmed, up to our elbows, frenetic.
When I was in the midst of my deepest grief, I read something that’s remained a favorite mantra: “Within chaos lies all possibility.”
It’s been more valuable than anything any therapist has ever said to me.
At those very times when we feel a loss of control, when our reality has been blown up by an unanticipated disaster – when we feel like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” – that is when we actually have our greatest potential for growth. We have options. That is where our fabulous future happiness lies.
Yes. In that scary mess of flying tractors and pitchforks and Toto in a wicker bicycle basket – and other dangerous objects that might clunk us on the head.
I learned to embrace chaos, and suddenly had a glimpse into the endless potential in front of me. I could start over. A second chance at life.
How many people get that?
Sometimes, we have change thrust upon us. Something so tragic and debilitating that it makes us consider crawling under the covers and staying there until the vodka runs out. Or until one of our kids comes in to ask for a ride to the store for Fritos.
And sometimes, we are the cause of the change. We wake up one morning to an empty feeling in our soul, and the inner knowledge that life is zipping by at the speed of sound, and that it’s time for us to change the flight plan.
And granted, that won’t make everyone in your life happy, but it’s better than waking up when you’re 92 and regretting the last 50 years. Or knowing you weren’t brave enough to accept that life “has an expiration date,” and that we all deserve to create a genuine existence that truly reflects who we are, that nourishes the soul.
I know many women who face these challenges, and I always feel excited for them and the journey they’re on. And I understand the courage and the struggle involved.
When we say, “I do” we generally don’t, in the recesses of our brains, think “yeah, this marriage thing is great. But it’s probably not going to last a lifetime. I’d better have a Plan B.”
No. We go into it thinking it’s going to be forever. We can’t imagine a different dream.
Then one day, you’re widowed or divorced, and you’re kissing some hot guy in the rain in an alleyway, and you suddenly realize, “This isn’t where I imagined I’d be when I walked down the aisle, but this isn’t so bad.”
Life is a roller-coaster. Things change. But in the end, if you’re still kissing someone in the rain, you’re doing OK.
No Sugar Added is Cape Elizabeth resident Sandi Amorello’s biweekly take on life, love, death, dating and single parenting. Get more of Sandi at irreverentwidow.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.