I am proud of how I’ve survived since becoming a widow. I’m proud of the fact that I am still living, still here trying after the battles I have faced. I’ve done the best I can. I have not done this perfectly. I don’t think that’s possible. Sometimes I’ve been mean to the people who were helping me. Sometimes I’ve planned my death. Sometimes I’ve had no energy to do anything. Sometimes I’ve been manic and insane. I’ve given what’s left of my heart to people who needed it. I’ve stood in front of crowds, knees shaking, and chose to be vulnerable and speak my truth.
There’s no manual on how to survive after your husband takes his own life. Each of us finds our own way through. Ive worked hard to make good choices and build a stable and strong foundation for the new life I’m building. Emotionally, there hasn’t been one easy day. But I’m proud that I have laughed a lot in the face of all of it. I’ve still loved people despite how much I was hurting. I’ve held on to the hope that I can be happy again. I’ve done all of this the best way I can. I’ve let other people love me. I’ve been humbled.
I have also learned my value. I’ve learned to do what Bob told me to….”love yourself like I love you”. In his death and by his example, he taught me how to love myself. So, I am saving seats at my table for people who bring love to the plate. People who treat people with love and compassion, despite their struggles. People who own their story and their responsibility to themselves to choose their attitudes despite their circumstances. People who laugh even when it’s hard. People who know that vulnerability is the key to connection. People who are not perfect but working every single day to be the best version of themselves they can be and forgive themselves and others when that “best” isn’t what they would want it to be. People who know that no one is perfect but if they are trying to do their best, that’s worth celebrating. People who don’t make excuses to be shitty and negative and ugly because they are struggling. People who understand that we can’t always choose what happens to us but that we can always choose how we respond. People who understand that failure happens to everyone and we all make mistakes and fall short but that doesn’t mean we aren’t still worthy of love.
If you can’t do those things, I still care and want the best for you. I will be your friend and listen to you if you need. I will cheer your successes and worry when you struggle. I just need you to understand that you won’t have a seat at the table reserved for my closest tribe. Those seats are reserved for people who are good for my well being.
I am my own guard dog. I will protect my own peace and health. I have others behind me that are bigger and more dangerous guard dogs. They let me protect myself until I can’t and then they step in.
I know what I want and what I deserve. I have learned invaluable lessons and I have lived a few lifetimes of experience. I will not be responsible for another persons self worth or choices. I will not shoulder the responsibility for other people’s self esteem. I will not chase people or beg them to treat me well or show me respect. I will not teach people how to take responsibility for themselves and I will not allow people to take their negative emotions out on me. I will compromise and support and encourage and share my insights and let people vent. I will always draw the line at disrespect. I will not share my heart and my time with people who make me feel like I’m hard to love because I don’t tell them what they want to hear or because I hold my boundaries.
I have chosen to remove many people from my life because, before Bob died, I allowed people to treat me in ways that were not good for me because I felt I had to. I didn’t love myself enough. I didn’t know my value. I didn’t know I could choose myself and my peace. I know that now. I am not sorry for making myself a priority. It isn’t personal to anyone. It isn’t about them, at all. They can live how they choose. It’s about me and choosing what is best for me. That is sometime I will never apologize for again.