My family has always been a bit strange. Let’s start with my mother. While she is a sweet, hard-working woman that I have a lot of love and respect for, also at time has the emotional intelligence of a 15 year old girl. She takes things very personally and has a hard time maneuvering through challenging emotional situations. As a result, she has skipped over or avoided a lot of grief. When my husband died suddenly last July, she finally met grief she couldn’t escape from and all of that other emotion from previous skipped grief came crashing down around her. She could hardly be around me for the first couple weeks. When she would be, she would just sob. Nearly six months later, she still starts crying uncontrollably every time she sees me, and then tells me I need to come see her more. Mom, I love you, but no thanks.
My father is a great guy. Following my husband’s death, he essentially moved in with me for several weeks and helped me navigate when I felt like I had been plucked from my old world and dropped into a brand new one with no road signs nor map. He and my mother are still married and seem to like each other, but even he still gave me lectures about being gentle with her regarding her outbursts that were rattling me.
My brother… oh my brother. He is an odd one. I try to tell people about him and explain that he is not quite like other people. He doesn’t march to the beat of another drummer, rather he hears drum beats in his own head that no one else can perceive and ignores them altogether. He does mean well and has made a huge attempt to be there for me, but he just doesn’t really know what to do, not that I blame him. No one really knows what to do.
As I have spoken of previously, I have someone new in my life that means a great deal to me. Although they have their quirks, the support of my family also means a great deal to me, maybe even more than I can usually admit to myself. I made an attempt to talk to them about him at Christmas, but it was like there was an invisible shield over their ears that my words simply bounced off of into oblivion. That said, they know he visited me in December and this past weekend, but have not asked any sort of questions about it. I tend to get told “Well, that’s nice.” The consensus from other people I have told about this is that they are not ready to hear what I need to tell them and maybe they are afraid of me being hurt due to my timeline. I really don’t know. It is whole new brand of strange for me.
I am set to go visit him for a week at the end of February, which I am very excited about doing. To get this set up, I had to find someone to take care of my four dogs. I knew my father was the best option. My mom enjoys a break from him sometimes and my dogs know and adore him. I decided to go ahead and ask, knowing full well I may finally get some questions about what exactly I am up to. Here is how the conversation went:
“Hey Dad, can I ask you a big favor?”
“I am going to go out of town for a week on a trip at the end of February, could you watch the house and dogs?”
“Your mom will be out of town that week, so as long as you don’t mind me dividing my time between my house and yours, sure”
“That should be fine. I am really looking forward to getting out for a while.”
“Sounds like a good time. Good for you.”
Now, what is missing here in this conversation? Not once did he ask his young widowed daughter WHERE she was going for a week. When even a casual acquaintance mentions going on a trip, is not the natural reaction to say “Where are you headed?” It is really strange.
Last night I had my monthly dinner with my brother and his wife. He did ask how the visit last weekend went and I said it was a good visit. I then said “You can stop calling him my friend. My friend’s name is XXXXX.” My brother then looked tight lipped, in fact so tight lipped the skin around his mouth turned pale from tension. I dropped it, but mentioned I was getting out of town next month. To his credit, he did ask where. When I said where, we were right back to the tight lipped expression. Still no questions about any of it.
So here is the issue, I am an honest person that has nothing to be ashamed of or to hide. This relationship is a good, healthy, helpful thing for me. I was a good wife that was true to my marriage, but that marriage ended without warning nor bothering to get my consent. How do I be honest about such an important part of my life when no one is willing to hear the words? Part of me thinks I just need to live my life as I have, communicate when he visits or I visit him and wait for questions that will come when they are eventually ready. Another part of me feels like I need them to hear me now so I don’t have this thing hanging over me. I despise the idea of something so positive becoming a “thing” to be dealt with, but that is where I am finding myself. I just don’t know.
Good thing for today: Did I mention my tickets are booked for a week long visit?
I can admit, I was surprised in reading your blog that you had started dating someone, but here’s my thoughts:
1. I am glad that you have met someone that understands and respects these new circumstances;
2. He adds joy to your days where there was only sadness, and that is a good thing;
3. It’s no one’s business but yours; they don’t need to understand it;
4. I am so glad to read of the excitement of your trip! I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get the reception you expected from family. Don’t let it impact your trip; have fun!
5. Everyone has their own journey and needs to find their own way in this insane world, on their own timeline;
6. I am in no position to discuss families, but I do know each member is typically in their own mental timezone. (Hoping that doesnt come across wrongly, I simply mean families can be confusingly complicated and sometimes crazy!)
So be excited for your trip; you deserve to have some excitement! Family will come around eventually; in the meantime, trust yourself and do what is best for you.
Oh, trust me, it surprises the heck out of me to be dating someone as well. On paper, it makes no sense at all and I am under no illusion that it does. We are both not horribly far out from our spouses dying. His wife died only 18 days before my husband so we are in pretty much the same timeline of nonsensical timing. He is 1800 miles away. It was not something I was expecting, but it happened so naturally that we probably took much longer to catch up to the emotions than the amount of time they were actually there. We are both still processing a lot of grief, which seems like not a good time to begin a relationship, but when something hits as deeply as our connection did, there really is no alternative but to give it a chance to see where it goes.
People’s support in this strange endeavor of a relationship means the world to me so I am very thankful you took the time to write out your comment. It is definitely a strange turn of events in an already very strange time, but I am holding onto happiness for all it is worth and focusing on processing my grief so I don’t give into the distraction of just feeling good to be in love.
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You’re doing it (grieving and communicating) your way, so you’re doing it right, in my opinion.
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