Day 22: How have you changed in the past two years
Two years ago, my life was a blur. My husband had died a few weeks earlier after a lengthy battle with brain cancer, and I was, in my memory, a tornado of emotion underneath my surface. I’ve been forced to face realities I didn’t know were a “thing” before. Some were difficult lessons, some were merely understood over time, but over the last twenty six months, I’ve had no choice but to change, to grow into this new “world”I live in, as an unmarried mom. The biggest ones so far, have been…
1) I no longer have a husband to have my back, and sometimes, vinegar is necessary.
Being a widow has not exempted me from shitty people and shitty companies. My whole life, I felt pressure to “be nice.” Truthfully, it was easier to be nice when I had a husband who had my back. When he got on the phone, companies didn’t try to sway him with niceties and pleasantries, they got down to business. When I had my husband with me in social situations, no one grabbed my rear, no one tried to say anything disrespectful to me, and no one tried to pressure me to drink too much, or stay too long.
Being on my own now, I feel as though I almost have a target on my back, or like I’m some kind of prey in the wild. I’m sure it sounds lame to women who learned these things in their twenties, but I always had someone who loved me to make sure I got home okay, that no one pushed too far, so this was “new” to me.
I played nice at first. I’d laugh off the innuendo, I’d shrug off the improprieties, I did as many women do, and blamed myself for being a “prude” or just not easy going enough. But ya’ll? No more. Not this chick. I’m pretty easy going, and I like to laugh about body parts, plenty! But sometimes, too far is too far, and this honey turns to vinegar.
I’ve had to learn how to say no with a look that says “I’ll scratch your face off if you try it again.” I’ve had to learn how to NOT smile at contractors and businessmen who don’t do their jobs correctly, because when I’m nice, I end up with five more weeks of waiting for the job to be done. I’ve had to un-learn to just “be nice.” Furthermore, I’ve made a mental note to teach my daughter that smiles and thank-you’s aren’t always the answer. She can use her knees as weapons, she can demand respect, and she certainly doesn’t have to take crap from anyone. My boys will learn how not to behave like primates in captivity.
2) The real world doesn’t really care about my loss.
There was a time that I felt so.much.anger about this fact, that I would shut down at the thought of it. Life isn’t “fair.” Credit card companies didn’t care I was hurting. The water company didn’t care that I genuinely didn’t have it in me to bring his death certificate to them, or they’d turn off my water. The car company didn’t care that the lease owner was dead, they just wanted their money. I remember, right before Kenny died, trying to switch his never used Carowinds season pass into his sister’s name (since he would never get to use it), and the girl nearly laughed in my face when I explained this to her. I remember white hot RAGE steaming off of my cheeks. I’ve had to learn that it is what it is - they’re businesses, not charities. Now, when stuff goes down, I just admit my faults and say “whoopsie!” And move on. Or, I break out the vinegar (I really wish I’d poured some balsamic on that girl at Carowinds…you live, you learn).
3) Standards aren’t just for exams
Someone, not long after Kenny died, gave me some really sage advice (note my sarcasm). They told me that if I were to ever “find someone” again, I’d have to lower that bar. I’m not a spring chicken anymore, AND I’ve got kids…so, that’s two strikes right there. At the time, my confidence already shot, because I felt exhausted, and defeated, and eighty years old after watching my thirty-five year old husband wither away and die, I took it to heart. It made me feel sad, pathetic, and worthless; on top of, ya know, being pretty dang sad that my wonderful, successful, young, handsome husband was now dead. I’d had my boat, and it sank. Time for a dingy, I guess!
Now that I’m wildly experienced (HAAAAA! Seriously, I have an ongoing inside joke with my friends, titled “this is why Megan is single,” including, but not limited to, my use of the phrase “You da bomb!”), but I’ve gotten to this point where I kind of don’t care. I mean I DO, but I’ve grown so much more confident these past two years, that I’m cool with my standards being pretty high, whatever that means for my future. That doesn’t just pertain to men…it pertains to everyone. I am no longer friends with people who insinuate that I’m worth less because of my life experience, age, or children. I’m not friends with anyone who zaps my energy, who spreads negativity, or who is generally a drain on the human existence. I am FAR more cautious of who I spend my time with, who’s opinions matter to me, and who I confide in.
I didn’t learn these things overnight. I’ve passed through so many different phases, these past two years, that I’m mostly grateful that somehow it seems I’ve meshed together all the different pieces. Old me, new me, young me, less young me (ha!). But most gratefully, I’ve learned that…
4) I’M GOING TO BE OKAY!!
Different, but okay. I’ll have my “days”-I always will, but overall, I’m going to be okay. Whether I ever launch a lucrative career, or not, I’ll be okay. Whether or not I win that Academy Award for screen writing, I’ll be okay. If I stay, if I go, if I see the world, or never leave the east coast, I’ll be okay. I’m smart, I’m tough, I’m resourceful, and as long as I’ve got my family, I’m going to be okay.