A Realization of Being Empowered
By Elaine Williams ©2008

I've become empowered, in total and full control of my life, even when there's something that blindsides you when you least expect it. The thing is, I didn't ask, seek or want this new empowerment. I thought I was doing okay. I was married 20 years with three beautiful boys (okay, they wouldn't appreciate that description, but they are beautiful human beings.)

I had been published in women's fiction, my life long dream and then wham! life or whatever hit me in the face. I was forced into a lifestyle change by my husband's illness and subsequent death. I had always considered myself an independent, self-sufficient person, but suddenly, I was Numero Uno and many days I didn't know which end was up. Everything fell to me, whether it was figuring out where the money was to come from for the next car payment, or it was juggling schedules for the kids. I felt raw, needful, secretive about my sometimes depressing feelings, but hey, I was the one making the decisions and I took the bull by the horns and charged ahead. I was scared many times, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.

However, I slowly, over four plus years, began to discover the person I was meant to be. The person who had always been inside me but perhaps if I hadn't had my exact life experiences, I may have never met this person fully face to face. My life changed, I grew, my quest for knowledge was a deep thirst, and sometimes I didn't even have a clue for what I was searching. Many times I felt clueless about what life seemed to be dishing out to me.

Now, in hindsight, I understand so much more about what was happening in my life. My dating failures made me realize I was letting myself be a doormat. My trauma when my boys had big and small troubles made me reevaluate the way I handle stressful situations. There were many days I didn't think I could handle another crisis.

I handled all of it, lived through it and I came out whole on the other side. Slightly singed and a little wobbly, but oh, how much I have learned. I rejoice in the woman I am today. I'll be someone different next month and next year, but right now, I feel whole and almost complete as I move forward to the next phase of my empowerment. What more could we ask for? http://www.ajourneywelltaken.com

If You Knew the Ending, Would You Change the Beginning?
On Caregiving
By Elaine Williams ©2008

The last two months of my husband's life I slept next to the bed Hospice had set up in our living room. At night, I lay on the loveseat I'd come to hate and listen intently to his labored breathing. It was what I did when my kids were babies-listen intently for the next breath to make sure everything was okay. I managed to sleep in bits and pieces of time, fragments that made no sense to me. I was exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically. There was such uncertainty and the fear of what was going to happen to any of us. The last week of his life, as he gradually grew weaker, I reached a point where I knew there was no going back. This was it.

Many times, I would lie awake and stare into the dark, feeling an utter, unremitting aloneness. It was then I asked God to take him and take away his pain.

My husband mentioned a few times the last week of his life that he really needed a haircut, but I didn't have the heart to call the barber. I wanted to spare my husband the possible shocked reaction from someone who had last seen him when he was healthy.

I wanted to shield my family from all pain, but many days I knew I couldn't even protect myself. http://www.ajourneywelltaken.com

My Shirt Says . . ."I Waits for No Man"
Elaine Williams ©2008

Wait, does that sound feminist, or sexist? It's not meant to. There's a story behind the shirt. I re-entered the dating world after 27 years absence. I had high hopes. I was a good person, a valuable human being with wants and needs. I'd been married 20 years, considered myself a well grounded person, and I knew how long term relationships worked.

When I first met Carl I felt instant attraction. There was the physical part, but I was also attracted to his fun loving personality. I enjoyed being in his company and he seemed to enjoy going out with me. We dated regularly for three weeks, and then he literally retreated into some kind of emotional hermit cave. It wasn't anything I could pin down, beside the sudden lack of phone calls, but it was an emotional connection that was suddenly pulled back. I felt it in my gut. I actually jokingly asked him about it and he said, "It's not like we're going steady or something." What?

I was taken aback by what I thought of as a 50's type statement. I wasn't asking him to go steady, I wasn't asking for a ring or even to know where he was every minute of the day. I was just wondering why he suddenly seemed so distant and. . . different. All he would say was that things were moving too fast.

Lack of caring is a good term that comes to mind when I think of Carl.

Sometimes I would stop at his work and bring him a little treat, maybe pick him up an ice cream cone or a candy bar. Just a little something to let him know I was thinking about him. I had an uneasy feeling he didn't want me there at his workplace, even though I'd only stop for ten minutes. I got the idea he didn't want anyone to know we were seeing each other. Being compliant with his unspoken wish, I would only go later in the evening when I knew there wasn't much chance of running into his coworkers. If he invited me over to his house, it was later in the evening. He never took me out to dinner except for our first date, and then I paid for dinner because he bought lottery tickets.

I'm a fairly intelligent women. Why wasn't I reading the writing painted in glaring red letters on the wall? I was letting myself get sucked into wanting someone in my life. Someone to make me laugh, make me feel good about myself. I was a good person, darn it! I deserved to have someone. However good or bad that person was, well, we all had shortcomings.

He would come to my house on his work break, eat the dinner I'd prepared, then doze in my chair. The last time this happened I asked him if he'd like to talk. He looked at me blankly and asked me what I wanted to talk about. I knew that was it. He was a social moron and up until that moment, I was his sidekick.

He never expressed much interest in my life. He did help me out with some things around the house a few times, but I more than gave back. One time I offered him some lumber I wasn't using, and he must've known we weren't going to be going out much longer, because he asked me to bring the lumber over to his house a full month earlier than planned.

I cringe now when I think how gullible and how very lonely I was, to allow anyone to treat me in such an uncaring manner. I let him take advantage of my innate goodness and kind heart.

After about two months, I wised up and talked to myself. I wondered why was I hanging around with a man who cared nothing about me except in the most superficial way. Why be with a man who made me feel bad about myself because he could give me no more than his superficial dating self. I decided enough was enough. I cut him out of my heart and my life. And yes, it was difficult but I deserved better. I was better than the 1/16th relationship he offered. That day I made the decision not to see or correspond with him any more and I stuck to my guns. He never said a word or asked why.

To prove my point to myself, I had a shirt made, and it says, "I waits for no man." End of story. http://www.ajourneywelltaken.com

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A Journey Well Taken:
Life After Loss by Elaine Williams