What Now? Who am I?

What Now? Who Am I? 

It was 14 years ago this May that my world was turned completely upside down. I’ll never forget it, because like clockwork that day runs like a video reel every anniversary. That day I lost half of me, half my identity, and involuntarily labeled a widow. I remember going through all the stages of grief, some many times over and over, still trying to get my heart to accept the fact that he had chosen to leave us. That day I made a deal with God. You’re always taught that suicide is a sin you can’t ask forgiveness for, that you go to hell if you do it. I begged God that day to allow me to take his eternity of suffering in exchange that he go to Heaven so he could be there with the kids. They were having to spend their life without him, I wanted them to at least have eternity by his side. Wether or not if that’s how a deal is done with God, who knows, but I still accept my fate for the deal I made. That day that he left us, I felt like even though I was surrounded by people promising to be there, come over, help with the kids, some even promised to set up college funds for the kids. It felt as if I was on a tiny, isolated island all alone, just me and my children, and somehow we had to make a life on this new island. That day I set aside any plans I had for my life, any dreams I wanted to achieve. I threw myself into being the best mom (and dad) possible for my kids. The only thing I knew from that day on was my children. Making sure they got counseling, making sure they were as ok as possible, being there for every single ballgame, school play, sleepover, awards ceremony, I never wanted them to look out in the crowd and not see me standing there cheering them on and somehow trying to keep his memory alive in every single achievement, accomplishment or new stage in their life. We became much like the three amigos, we supported each other and fought for each other. I wanted them to have every experience possible, any hobby they showed interest in, we dove into head first. Any sign of depression or upset, I made sure we spent one on one time, we talked, we cried, we reminisced. I worked jobs to keep us afloat and made sure they had what they needed. We celebrated their dads birthday, remembered him on his death anniversary, I was on top of it all. The children flourished. They succeeded at so many, many things. I was so beyond proud and reminded them how proud their dad would be. My identity was them. I was determined to somehow make the label of widow be out shined by the title of mother. Was I perfect? No way. I still made mistakes, and mentally punished myself when I did. I had gotten so good at being a mom! My kids turned out to be amazing people; people I was proud to send out in the world and call mine. Then, it seemed to come out of nowhere, far too soon. You see, last month my youngest graduated high school. I spent that whole senior year making sure he had every senior moment and finished his schooling on a good note. When they threw those caps outside the graduation auditorium, my job and title seemed to be thrown away with it. My son quickly got a job he had wanted, 15 hours away. I was so focused on getting things packed, writing lists of phone numbers, making sure his gps was correct, checking his truck to make sure it was ready for the trip. I remember that last hug in the driveway that was so hurried so he could get on the road at a decent time. I waved furiously as he disappeared from sight. Then it was if my world imploded. I walked back into the house that had been filled with laughter, calls of “Mom I need…..” and friends coming over for dinner and there I was completely alone. I had no idea who I was. For 14 years I was Mom, I was dad, I was everything. I sat down and cried tears that I think had been hidden and held in for all those years. I had been strong for so long, taken my job so seriously, and I felt this humongous loss yet again. Who am I? What do I do? Where do I go from here? I realized in that very moment, I had spent those years so focused on them, that I had never fully grieved, I allowed my life to be put on hold and in that time I lost who I was. That girl before she had any titles or labels. I knew immediately that if I let myself sink down into the depression that was calling my name, I may not make it back out. I asked myself how I could lose my whole identity. I can barely remember what dreams I had, what I wanted to be, all the places I had once dreamed of going. I didn’t even have a circle of friends to rely on because I had been THAT focused on the kids. Who the hell am I?! Even a month later, I still don’t know where/how/when to even take that first step at finding myself again. Joining the widow group was key in starting the process. I finally had a community of people who understood what I had been through, they understood my isolation and devotion to motherhood whether it be out of pure panic or that it was the only way I survived his death. They get it. They totally get why it’s so hard to befriend and be around normal people, who we nickname “normals”. I see other widows going through this same process of losing themselves after their loss. Having to start over, learning baby steps of how to focus on me. I served my earthly sentence in a sense. Time served, model prisoner, now released. My journey is just beginning. It’s scary out here by myself, but I have a community who gets every part of me. I have found goals to start focusing on, from things I went through during my prison sentence that I endured because in a way I thought maybe I deserved those things to happen. At times I had thought that was my punishment for not saving my husband, for all the mistakes I had made. But I am now able to see those things happened for a reason so that I could have purpose now. I ask myself daily “who are you?” I feel like a baby just learning to walk, beginning to explore this vast world wearing my new unfamiliar title of “ME”. I’m not sure a normal would understand why we go through these processes. It seems so trivial and odd to have to wonder at this stage in life who you really are. It’s just another layer of this widow title that no one is ever ready for, but it has to be done. So my question that I’ll leave you with is “Who are YOU?”

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