“Am I a sociopath?”
Yup, that’s right. That line, verbatim, can be found in my very own Google search history.
I searched that last week.
I searched it, because I am in the midst of grief, the thick of it, freshly widowed, brand spanking new to life on my own, still seeking fervently for an old Jimmy Johns receipt so I can know what the hell my husband always ordered me. I am new to this, fresh to this… and yet, I only cry sometimes.
Worse than that… I only cry on some days.
This… me… my story…my grief…. It doesn’t seem to add up.
You see, I’m a bit of researcher. That’s actually a euphemism.
The truth is, I have an incredibly obsessive personality.
So, I have, admittedly, obsessed a bit, and researched an abnormal amount on the subject- how to be a widow? I’m achievement oriented, and this all feels weird, foreign. I am out of my league here. But like it or not, I am a widow now, and everything in me feels the need to do it right, do it well. For me, and for him.
And guys… according to the internet, I suck. I don’t seem to be doing this thing correctly at all.
Interestingly enough, I’ve found from books, and movies, and the opinions of online bloggers and reclusive poets who are far too anti-social to meet anyone and actually get married, that I should be crying into Chinese take-out, while wearing my late husband’s boxers, and tearfully dragging myself from room to room with my unwashed hair piled on top of my head in a messy bun, bonus points if there is a little smudge of last week’s pizza sauce still on my chin.
I’ve only ordered Chinese takeout once since he passed, and I didn’t cry into it, because, quite frankly, it already had too much sodium in it as it was.
I have not once had any desire to put on Andrew’s boxers, nor anyone else’s boxers, if that helps my case at all…
I shower every day… sometimes twice.
And some days, I even curl my hair, just for the hell of it.
The point is– I’m doing okay.
And THAT’S why, in my follow up research to this inconclusive data on widowhood, I Googled, “Am I sociopath?”
Because honestly, when I do the math, and when I look at the examples around me, and I read what people dare to publish, and I compare it to my own story, it seems to spell out very clearly, “HELLO, you calloused piece of crap, yes, you are, indeed, a sociopath.”
My grief is not a Sleepless in Seattle kind of grief. My Grief is not a P.S. I Love You kind of grief. My grief is not any kind of grief because my life is not any kind of movie. I’m not fiction…
And while I’m sure that the writers of these stories know what grief looks like, and they capture it in a way that is relevant to them, and some of them might even know the pain because they too have lost a spouse… they can’t define my grief or my process because they never lost my spouse. Only I did that, so only I can react to it.
They can’t define what this process should look like to me or on me, and neither I nor anyone should expect them to.
The truth is, I wear a lot of emotions in this season, but my chief emotion is relief, because my husband is now wearing a body that can breathe again, and that restores my own breath, my own life, in a way that I can’t even explain. That fact alone makes the rest of it bearable for me.
That fact alone makes me feel okay. It encourages me to swim forward in a world where he and I simply don’t have to drown anymore. I don’t have the keep treading water, and so I don’t. No one can or should tell me to feel or do otherwise.
Writing this blog felt weird because I feel like the eyes on me expect me to live my life in a cloud of devastation and Andrew’s cologne, and that is simply not the truth. That is simply not my grief. It’s not my process.
For me, grief has been hard. It has been plenty of ugly cries and nights where I was major over-served… by myself. But grief has also been this crazy journey of doing whatever the heck it takes to keep on breathing these breaths on my own, and there is hope in this act, hope for me in the fact that the breaths keep coming.
I’m writing this blog, because others haven’t really, and that let me down. That made me feel like there is something wrong with me, with my process, and it’s messed up that culture has convinced us that our love for someone can be measured by how pathetically we enter into the seasons without them.
I’m writing this blog because it is easy to mold into the role of the grieving widow in a black veil that the movies told me to be, but it is so much harder to be me. It is so much harder to listen to my own heart, my own grief, my own pain, and respond accordingly. But I have to do this. I have to be me again– not the girl shattered by his death, but the one he fell in love with in the first place.
I’m writing this blog because I think it is okay that I’m okay. I didn’t love him any less if my grief journey looks a little different. It is okay if I lay down the roles that don’t feel authentically like me anymore because I’ve moved forward from that part of the journey, that chapter of grief. It’s also okay if others haven’t.
Culture’s strange timeline does not have to restrict anyone. I don’t have to live in some culturally appropriate month to month basis that decides when I’m allowed to fold his sweatshirts or begin to contribute to society again. So, I won’t.
I’m writing this blog because I’m grieving, but I’m still finding joy—and that’s okay. I’m processing, but I’m not dwelling—and that’s okay. I’m a twenty-five-year-old widow, and that will always be a part of my story, but it is not my whole story—and that’s okay.
I’m okay, and that doesn’t make me a sociopath. It makes me human, and it makes my grief journey my own.
Beautiful girl, this world is hard, and rarely does anyone make it out of here without meeting up with their own burden of grief.
Know that your grief is always yours, and that it’s always okay. Whatever you feel at whatever hour, or day, or millisecond of the process—it is yours, and the simple fact that you are surviving, means that you are doing it correctly.
If someone has an opinion otherwise, don’t worry about it… they’re probably just a sociopath.