Lately I have been doing much ruminating on what exactly my status is.
For decades I held well-defined titles. Things such as daughter or sister or aunt. While I am my parent’s daughter, they are no longer alive to call me that. Sister and aunt are still one of my titles.
Then came wife and mother. For twenty years I was a wife until Mike died. Then I was a widow. That was who I was for a short period of time and then came girlfriend and fiancée followed by wife once again.
And for the next 17 years I was a wife again. In the midst of all this I was also a caregiver, twice over, for George’s mom and for George. Those roles would keep me very busy for much of my married life.
Life passes by so quickly, and before I knew it, I was a widow once more. However, within my community and the community at large where do I fit in? Recently attending a singles group at a local church, I felt out of place.
There are so many layers going on here and I find myself wondering about the various things I am uncomfortable with. I think when I hear the term “single” I feel people labeled as such are in search of a mate. While I know that is not true for all single people, there truly is a part of me that cringes at calling myself single. I joke that I may have relationship phobia. If a male looks at me, I find myself stepping back and away, far away – maybe not physically but emotionally (not that there has been any opportunity for this to happen since everyone has been masked and distanced for so long).
After losing two husbands, I have sworn off ever marrying again. Although I know you can never say “never”, perhaps there will be a relationship in my future – WAY in the future…. But married is not a title I can endure again.
I don’t feel single. I am alone, yes. But single? While I am more comfortable using the term widowed (times two), what socioeconomic group do I truly fit into? So far, the singles group I have attended seems to be mostly divorced people. They relate in such a different way than I do. They are single “by choice”. I am not. They are nice, but is that where I fit in?
Yet I do not want to hang around a bunch of widowed people as well. While misery may love company, my relationship status is not what truly defines me. Where do I find the common ground between widowhood and singleness?
In my “new life”, I am learning to seek out those people with whom I might have more interests in common, whether it be sewing or bocce, hanging out at the pool, or going out as a group dinner or movie. It is there where I will be able to relax and let my guard down, mostly with women at this point.
I will continue to treasure my other titles: Sister, mother, aunt, yaya. Those titles will never go away in my lifetime and will remain the one constant in defining who I am. Perhaps that is enough for now.