Ever since my husband George died, I’ve felt like a fucked up alien.
In the two and a half years since his death, I thought I’d feel better about my life without him, but I don’t. It’s like I’m viewing the world through the prism of Planet Widow, where you wake up every morning and your spouse of thirty-two years is still gone.
In movies, widowhood seems like a self-improvement course. The bereaved mourns gracefully, then she’s at peace. After establishing a new business, she remarries within a moronically short amount of time and moves into a renovated yellow cottage with French doors, a Labrador retriever and a guy who looks like Richard Gere.
I watch movies about widowed people and throw cocktail olives at the screen.
Here’s why I think I’ve morphed into an extra-terrestrial from Planet Widow.
My Head Feels Oversized and Throbbing
With or without being widowed, I worry about everything.
When I was married, my husband dealt with the home repairs, paid the bills and handled neurotic wife maintenance. He was the one to say,”Yes honey, it’s a plumbing leak. But it’s likely the sprinklers or a toilet. The house won’t explode. Here’s some food coloring. Look it’s a toilet leak! ” Then if the plumber were running late, he’d go for take out while I waited at home.
He handled the physical world. I was responsible for paper work. Now it’s all me.
My first reaction to a big plumbing leak was, ““The water bill has doubled! The house going all Amityville on me! Time to open some chardonnay.” Then I had to deal with it alone, obsessing over what could it be, would it get fixed, how come the plumber didn’t get here, etc.
I think there’s something called widow’s entropy where a lot more stuff goes wrong than it did when my husband was alive.
When not worried about domestic issues, I obsess that I’m not organizing my life effectively. A few ill-advised friends have said that I have an opportunity to create a new life for myself.
But I’m not sure how to do that. Do I relocate? I’d know even fewer people. Do I try to be a practicing lawyer again (I hated it the first time, but unmarried AND unemployed seems really sad.) I don’t think “dabbling writer” is a profession.
At night I watch “How to Get Away with Murder” and eat chocolate cake. But shouldn’t I be watching my weight if I’m going to be single? Plus, I’m wasting what’s left of my life. I need to accomplish things. You can go at any time. I found that out. It’s like I have this voice in my head telling me whatever I’m doing, I ought to be doing something else.
Then I start to feel like a stressed out movie alien with a big head and bulging bug eyes.
Partnered Earthlings Speak a Different Language
My life feels so different from that of partnered people. Or from my life when I was married. Especially during the holiday season, that joyous time of dashed expectations. Married people have prescribed holiday plans with their families. They have date nights with their spouses. They have someone they love to share their evenings with, to ask about their days, to sleep next to, and to notice if they don’t come home when they’re supposed to.
I live alone. I don’t have kids. If I vanish, it will be a while before anyone realizes I’m gone. I don’t have holiday plans. It feel like I’m looking at a different species: the partnered and familied.
Single people, if they’re really lucky, apparently get together for a winter season of “cuffing,” wherein a pair of single people hook up for the winter because it’s too cold to leave the house to troll for sex. They “uncuff” themselves when the temperatures warm up. I had love for thirty-two years, now I can shoot for being a fake demographic created by the media.
If I say I’m lonely, my partnered friends tell me to “get out there!” Why do they think I want to get in my spaceship (ok, my VW R32) on a cold winter’s night to go to some random meet-up to hang with strangers. In contrast, they get to stay home watching “Fair Oaks” on HBO and eating butternut soup garnished with creme fraiche.
Actually, when I said I was lonely, I was hoping for a coffee or lunch invite.
If you’d like to know the other two reasons, please check out the rest of my blog post on medium.com. It’s right here: The Widow as Extra-Terrestrial.