A few days ago I entered a new phase of widowhood.
I was sitting in a cesspool of my own misery, sobbing to a friend on the phone, agnoizing over all the guilt that is eating me alive. Guilt over not being there for Craig at the accident, guilt over all the ways I could have been a better partner to him but wasn't, guilt over all the ways I was now failing as a widow.
My friend, clearly wiser than I in that moment, pointed out that these were all things outside of my control or standards that I was holding myself to that were ridiculously high.
This unspoken question hovered in the air: "Why are you trying so hard to be a 'good widow'?"
And it hit me.
Slowly, painfully my subconscious forced this realization to the forefront of my mind: I have been obsessed with being the best widow possible because maybe, if I'm good enough, he will come back.
That's how it works in life.
Work hard, study, write a good exam and voila! A+
Show up to work on time, do a good job, get along with your boss and tada! Promotion
Don't break the law, follow the rules, be kind to others... you will be rewarded.
And somehow, somewhere in the back of my mind I had fooled myself into thinking that if I was good enough - a gracious, understanding, forgiving widow, one who didn't fall to pieces in the middle of the grocery isle or make herself sick eating oreos on the floor of the kitchen - I could earn my way back to Craig. Or Craig back to me.
But I can't.
No amount of being good, no doing all the right things, no sacrificing to meet everyone else's expactions will bring him back.
It was at once sobering and freeing.
Sobering because he really won't be coming back to me. Not ever.
Freeing because now I can just be me. I don't have to meet anyone else's expectations for widowhood. I don't even have to meet mine.
So now I can just grieve.
And stop trying to be good.
And just be me.
Oreo cookies and grocery isle, here I come.