The new fun thing to do on the widow board these days is to take male profiles from a dating site called Plenty of Fish and post them to the social forum for other women to see and comment on. The comments are invariably cruel. The kind of stuff that passed as fun back in one’s high school or college days. It really wasn’t acceptable back then either, but there comes a point in a woman’s life where it crosses the line from dubious fun to simply a telling commentary on what kind of a person she has become over the years.
One of the less helpful side-effects of emotional pain, of any origin, is the tendency to redirect it. Often we take aim at those closest to us, but our targets can be stereotypical too. If we are suffering from insecurities related to our physical appearance, we might develop a habit of poking fun of the overweight in the form of jokes and snide remarks. People suffering rejection in matters of romance and relationships fall back on unflattering gender stereo-typing and bashing. When we see ourselves as completely misunderstood, we gladly cloak ourselves in martyrdom. The professionals refer to it as displacement and, lately, I seem to have less and less patience with this in others and in myself.
Try as I might to always put a correct name on the vagueness that is my grief experience now, I am still not always successful. A week ago I turned fear into homesickness and as a result upset my husband rather needlessly. We talked it through and as it turns out I was homesick, but I wish I could sort out my emotions in a more articulate manner. Words are a timesaver that I don’t appear to have when it comes to how I am feeling and it frustrates me. When I watch the schoolgirl boy-bashing on the board, it occurs to me that it would be more productive for those engaged to just admit that they are afraid they are too old or unattractive and with personalities that are an acquired taste for any man to be attracted to them now that they have been thrust unwillingly back onto the “market”. It would certainly be easier to tell them to quit being so stupid if that were the case than to try and wade through the thinly veiled loathing of their situations, and point out to them that what they are doing by ridiculing these poor men is tearing them down in an effort to build themselves up. And that just can’t be done. Self-esteem is not built on the crushed bodies of others. How do I know? I used to be one of those women who engaged in similar sorts of slamming. It was before Will. And it didn’t make me a better person. Nor did it fix the real problem, which was me.
My problem now is to find a way to express what seems inexpressible. Those moments of sadness that feel connected to my now and aren’t. Take today for instance, I had to drive into Sherwood Park to the RCMP to have my fingerprints taken for a background check that Immigration needs to process my residency card application. For some reason, I felt like crying after it was all done. And it had nothing to do with being homesick, though I am a tiny bit, or with Rob and our relationship because I can’t imagine myself anywhere but wrapped up in his arms. What it comes down to is that it is another step away from Will and that past. The trigger was not the fingerprinting, but a conversation with my daughter before we left for the police station. She wanted me to dig up her father and bring his remains here, so she could have a place nearer by to visit him. The other day she insisted that we call him “Will” now instead of “Daddy”. One step and one step more. Thankfully I was able to track down the source and talk with Rob about it when he came home for lunch, and I felt better. It’s not always that easy. Caregiving as long as I did and watching Will die for as long as that took, I couldn’t allow myself to feel everything that wanted or needed to be felt in the instance that it did. Feelings were diverted and renamed for survival’s sake. Useful at the time. Not so much now.
Knowing what is wrong is half-way home to fixing it, I guess.