Has anyone ever questioned your ambition? Widows, has your process through this new life been judged?
I know a lot of self-starters and entrepreneurs that get a lot of eye rolls over their life outside the box.
And if I had a penny for every time I have heard “get a job” by now. Even before Shayne died. When I was working two businesses from home, it wasn’t really “real” because I wasn’t sitting in the millionaires club. Well.
Now that I am here, and basically severed ties with everything I had ever known up until the point of Shayne dying and now sloooowly but surely reestablishing myself, my worth, and entire life… those words, I have heard numerous times, especially now, bounce off me quicker and try as they might, they don’t make me feel as insignificant as they once did.
Am I making others uncomfortable with my lifestyle choices, even though the circumstances that brought me to this point were not under my control? Alas, someone will take my unconformity for their own inconvenience.
I do know I am not aligning with a lot of people’s expectations, maybe what they see their friend’s list doing on social, or their own journeys through this life. I do know this. I do know, also, that they haven’t walked a minute in my shoes. So grace, for them.
I am thankful for the comments because it did force me to think. Think about what it is I am ambitious about now. As a widow, and how its all changed. And yeah, all that truly has changed with my priorities and the outlook I have on my future. I am not over overexaggerating, even 6 months out I wasn’t looking toward a future at all. It still felt so unknown and empty. Void. Around the time the boys moved in did I start to knock down the wall of what was piecing together a future. Up until then it was like this big question mark.
I realized though that I get to choose, where my attention and energy and focus goes before I expire. We ALL do.
And for the better part of the last two years, you bet I have been pouring it back into me. I haven’t spiraled into despair, deep depression, addiction, destructive habits, or relationships (thankfully for the sake of all involved in my life).
I have been heavily and intentionally practicing self care. It may appear self-indulgent, selfish. I call it self preservation, survival mode, self care, …healing. Its been unconventional, but so was being held by a police officer who was crying with me as the paramedics left the house.
We’d all be a little more peaceful walking through this life if we took some time to be quiet with ourselves unplugged more than just once in awhile.
Here’s a fact: from 19 to 29 I was someone’s wife and half of that, two little people’s stay at home parent. Hardly any of that would have even entertained self-indulgence. I look back now and yeah, a shower and late night binge-watching The Blacklist was my self care. Shit has certainly changed. I have changed, I have had to. My ambitions as a newlywed was to just pay our bills. Then the ambitions as a new mom were to make sure I pumped enough milk to store in the freezer for Shayne when he got home from work for when I left to go to work. They evolved again, as did I, and we all just kept changing directions and pivoting our way with new ambitions as a family. Sometimes they were just get through the day without a meltdown, sometimes they were get this toddler to sleep without a 2 hour scream fest. Ya know, it just took different shape every day.
Every waking moment of my twenties I spent considering one other person, if not three. So yes, I have shared this about becoming a widow before… I have taken unapologetic time. To rediscover and get reacquainted with me. Who am I, and what I am doing. I am doing a lot of me time, and finding out who I am before the world and marriage and motherhood started driving this bus. So maybe this season of widowhood would look a lot like selfishness to the naked, judgmental eye. But I am loving myself through it. All the while, welcoming in new hearts and more changes to my life and lifestyle.
I didn’t have a lot of say in the day I had to pack it all up and put up and shut up and move onward in a new life, but I am trying carefully to choose my next move. Because I know, from experience as a 19-year-old, that its expensive and exhaustive to invest in an education and not use the damn degree.
I have been searching, for about year, but more recently seriously in the last few months.. more attention turned inward and to what exactly I really want to be when I grow up. There’s been pause. Which I am sure, can be misconstrued as I have ‘given up on life.’ Contrary. There’s pause. Because there’s been enough healing that I can go there now. Because its changed. Its had to change. I’ve had to change. SO MUCH HAS CHANGED, how can I not? And prior to Shayne dying, it looked vastly different. I thought I was on a path. I thought I had my place and I was settled in. People who say they are done changing are then people done growing. People who say they don’t want to change for anything or anyone, are fiercely protecting their thorns. How can you not go through this life unchanged by a person, place, or thing? I hope I never stop. Just as a parent of little people, I change every day I wake up!
I will have to choose how I spend the rest of my life. We all do. And… will assume all the consequences of that. I know where my heart and hustle is… and its been in healing. From a devastating separation I never thought I would ever have to endure.
I know the exact soul-stomping and heart-crushing steps and moments it took to get me here to this moment. I’ve been knee-deep in drunk and head over grief with anxiety, cradling my head in my hands wondering if it’d be better just to join him.
I know the only way out of hopelessness is small steps, there’s no timeline, and I don’t get extra bonus points for finishing the widow race any quicker.
I have gotten this far by a whole lot of things and people, but also, my own quiet belief that my life is of value, and if that isn’t ambitious… and if I didn’t believe in that….
Widows, I know how hard you worked just to get through the day after they died, the viewing, and the funeral. And the steps you took to rebuild since. Your ambition to live life knows no fear. My success looks and feels a whole lot different than it did prior to April 2016. I was focused on hitting benchmarks in my network marketing business, gathering clientele for both my businesses and helping us financially, keeping our girls safe and happy at home, and a loved husband when he got home in the evening.
My success now looks and feels like loving and living bigger than any pain I have felt. Not so much on the outward financial gains and expectations. Because my view on money has changed, too. Your successes? Maybe it was getting up today. Or talking to someone about your pain finally. Or starting a new job or program. Maybe it was just choosing joy. Or finding a new life and love beyond the loss.
Getting a “real job”, going back to my Whole Foods job, carrying on with life as usual and trying to make the pieces fit that had permanently been torn… just didn’t work for me.
I tried fitting in and reworking my resume and being “normal.” Maybe I’d feel normal. I failed, each time. I am a big fat failure when it comes to falling back in line. I quit my network marketing business, I moved out of town, I started over completely. I quit everything I started. I didn’t want anything to be anything it was. Because it already wasn’t. I couldn’t and didn’t go back to anything I was doing before he died. It was all past the point of no return. I had lost so much more than just his physical and emotional presence in my life.
He had taken a lot of our life with him. But not me.
And it does. It all looks, and reads, like a big fat whopper of a fail. I had nothing. No ambition to follow through, no real job, no plan. What a wash!
But I do know, I have this really tiny courageous voice inside that says, its all setting me up for bigger. Just trust. Its a marathon, not a sprint, and the timing is never up to me.
So I have.
And I just write. When I’m anxious, I write. When I miss Shayne, I write. When I feel things are getting too big and ferocious inside, I write. I’m supposed to write.
Its been who I am and its what I do.
I do know this, too. None of that ever has anything to do with you. Anything negative someone wants to dig up about you, whether in retaliation or just because they get a wild hair and misplace their love for a moment, …never is about you. Don’t allow someone’s misplaced words or frustration with whatever they’re dealing with, oppress and talk you down about your life and the choices for it.
Widows, and other survivors of tough shit, you know the truth about the journey you’ve been on and what it took to get where you are. Your sometimes soft and quiet ambition to turn the bus around from heading straight to Hopelessville …has been enough.
And even… this ambition scale I am scoring low on? Are we all on it?? Does that make us bad humans? Not hustling and grinding 24/7? Isn’t our success all just subjective anyway??
I know I am sitting on a pot of potential. Aren’t we all. All in growth mode.
I’ve been that coaster all my life. Straight A’s, but lacked competitive edge and cut-throat instinct. And I surely know I am not living up to a whole lot of amped and hyped up ‘success’ stories. We have access to treasure troves of sensationalized, gorgeous people and their thriving lifestyles all day, every day. I’m not them.
It just hasn’t been my time. I’ve been on a slow grow, no overnight success here.
But I work at it. I have worked at rebuilding myself. I don’t go to yoga and read only personal development books for shits and giggles. I am armoring myself for the battle of what is the rest of my life.
And by now, geez, its been two years, widow… get on with yourself already, yeah? Pick up the pace, DO something, you’ve grieved enough! …like I should be ashamed of what I’ve done – or not done….. but just so we’re all clear, me and shame have broken up, for good.
I can understand having impatience with someone who you think is just sitting on a goldmine of greatness. But grace. Always grace. We don’t always know what that person has stirring in their soul and what they have up their sleeve.
But you know what I hold as a really big success I am supremely proud of? Starting this blog and stepping out and being honest about the story of us, the story of Shayne, the shame and guilt I overcame to even share. That was so terrifying and huge and big. I cried big alligator tears of nerves when I even started considering to let that shit go. I had to leap over that to even begin my journey of healing and I did that with the help of an amazing woman and her blog here,
Brave Babes Movement.
And an even bigger success? Beginning, and even considering, writing my book.
And an even BIGGER one that took and takes lots of ambition? Falling in love again and really, wholeheartedly loving bigger and better than I could have ever imagined I could 2 years ago and sharing that openly on
Love What Matters.
More than any job I have ever had, I am proud of my heart and it’s ambition to start again and go all in, risk being hurt again, with all Shayne’s love he gave me. Everything I filled up on with him, and be ambitious and relentless in giving it back. Good, bad, ugly, never-said-I-was-perfection, but showing up anyway. And not giving in. The place I was in in my heart 2 years ago could not have glimpsed what it feels now.
Anyone making sure you know how much you’re lacking has never walked a mile in your shoes, remember that. Its hard to imagine what someone is going through if you’ve not experienced it yourself so grace for everybody. Show the kindness and grace you’d want shown to you, or have been shown during your darkest moments before.
Only you know what you’re doing and what its truly taken to get here.
Keep your grace, keep your peace, keep on loving. For them, but for you.
joy&health&ambition to love,