July 14, 1984You might already know that I am a widow, but it’s only been recently that I have fully embraced this part of my identity.

My first husband died in 1995, after 11 years of marriage and the births of two beautiful daughters–and six years after I predicted it. I knew the experience would change me, but I didn’t want to be different. I wanted to be who I had always been, and I wanted my husband to be by my side. Alas.

In the ensuing years, I tried not to wear my widowhood like a badge. I didn’t want to be seen as someone who had a piece of her heart missing. I wanted to be a whole and happy person, so much so that I didn’t allow my widow-self to show much. I kept her inside most of the time, occasionally sharing a few tears with her, and commiserating that we didn’t get any credit for being such a good widow.

I was so afraid of being defined by my widowhood that I didn’t allow it to be a part of my definition at all.

The other day, a friend helped me to see this–not directly, but she talked to me about feeling whatever negative feelings we have, so that we can move on to the happy feelings. And I started thinking about all the badges I wear–mother, daughter, sister, teacher, friend, hopefully wife again someday–and the ones I keep in a drawer–widow, ex-wife, ex-girlfriend.

What badges do you wear, and what badges do you keep to yourself? Even if you don’t want to share the “negative” ones, I encourage you to at least open the drawer and try them on in front of the mirror. Just once in a while, let them know you haven’t forgotten them, and they are a part of who you are.

Until next time, Susan K. Morrow (2-23-10)