Saturday, February 6, 2010

For GOWs Who Are Discouraged

It's sooo difficult to be in the "limbo" of GOWdom. Eventually, we all come to a crossroads and wonder if we should stay and fight, or chalk it up to experience and leave before another shoe drops.

As a GOW, you wonder, "Is it worth it? Is HE worth it?" You worry about investing any more time and effort into a relationship that seems so unbalanced and one-sided. You feel unloved and unworthy. You think to yourself "Is there a light at the end of this tunnel?" as you cling to whatever shred of hope you can find. No one understands you - least of all, the W himself - and you feel so alone, frustrated, and insecure. You start wondering if what you feel is selfish or simply unappreciated, and the frustration of that leads to anger. You are angry about putting your needs on hold to pacify his. You are afraid of communicating your needs for fear of sounding demanding or selfish. You are angry at grief itself and its stranglehold over your W. You secretly rage at this beast - The Grief Monster - for occupying more of his time, emotions, and thoughts than you do. You fear for your future security, and wonder if he will ever learn to manage his grief, let go of his past, and move on...yet you worry that the damage he may survive will always be a part of him, creeping into your future life together without warning. You question whether or not you have what it takes to be a helpmate, support system, and sympathetic counsellor...yet a part of you wants nothing to do with babysitting grief until it - and he - matures beyond bereavement.

The roller coaster ride of GOWdom is like being bipolar: the highs are manically sweet and intoxicating, and the lows are destructively negative, wreaking havoc on your self-esteem and your need for security. Most times, you feel like two people at once: the angel on your shoulder whispering softly into your ear about love and hope, and the devil on the other shoulder nagging at your fears and urging you to be self-righteous. The inner boxing match you suffer daily is fueled by impatience -an overwhelming need to do whatever necessary to shake W out of his abysmal situation so the two of you can just get on with life. You constantly question how W cannot see the forest for the trees - how he can't seem to appreciate the wonder and beauty of the love you bring to him, and start basing his hope, and his future, on you.

Ladies, I understand how you feel. I have been in your shoes. I may not be that someone to give you the right answers, but I can most certainly offer the wisdom of my personal experience and that of working with Ws for more than a decade. The simple fact is: there ARE no "right" answers, since each relationship is unique and different as the people in them. You have to take whatever advice, illustrations, or examples you find here on this blog, in my book, or on the Official WOW/GOW Message Board on my website, and tweak them to suit your unique siuation.

But most of all, you have to hope. Without hope, you have reason to be happy in the moment, to practise patience, to give your best, or to rise above your fears and work through them. Sometimes, hope is a leap of faith...a blind jump into the unknown, with only your belief in yourself, your W, and your God to get you to the other side. I can shout it from the mountaintop that "YES, your W WILL be capable of sooo much more if only you just hang on"...but I can't MAKE you believe that - that is up to you. I can tell you with 100% certainty that hope is always worth the ride. With love, nothing is can climb mountains. And hope is the harness to keep you from falling.


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  2. Well, all I have left is hope. I've been in a relationship for 3 years with a widower and at a crossroads. Right now, leaning towards leaving. There is no perks in dating a widower. While they've proven they can be in a long relationship, that seems to still ring true long after their spouse is deceased.

  3. Anonymous,

    Please join me at The Official WOW/GOW Message Board, accessible via my website at Over 475 members who understand what you are going through will be there to help I will. :)

  4. Thanks for the new blog that pertains to "Soulmates". I for one do not believe that there is a one and only for me. Out of billions of people I am pretty sure I could love and be loved by a few million men in the world. Ever since dating my "W", who is now my husband, I have not had to face the insecurities that so many women seem to. Hopefully it will stay that way. My "W" loves me as much as he loved his LW and how fortunate we both are to have found each other.

  5. Julie, thank you for such a wonderful site! What a gift you are to others. I have been dating my widower for a little over a year. He is a wonderful, incredible, supportive and kind man. He makes me laugh and I hope I do the same for him. I am struggling...I know he loves me, but he has never told me. Yet, he couldn't be more loving and supportive in his actions toward me. He is so supportive of my family and my children; he is truly a wonderful man. Yet; fears keep nagging me, whispering that he has already "had the love of his life" (he had a long and happy marriage with his LW) and that I am just a pleasant amusement. If we marry, we would live in the home that he and his LW built together; he is older, so he does not feel up to starting all over again. I am sad, because I am afraid that "we" will never be as important to him as "they" were. "They" did all the things together that couples do: have children together, a passionate love life, build homes together....I'm afraid that it is too late for us. Yes, I believe in hope, and I will continue to do so. It just hurts to feel "second best."
    Thanks again for all your wise insights - it has helped me more than you can know.

  6. Dear Julie

    It is wonderful to find this website and other people who understand exactly what it is like to be a GOW.

    Everybody can identify with the W's grief, but often don't realise that we GOW's have real challenges too. No-one expects the GOW to have needs too, do they! The worst thing is that to some extent we are on our own and many of us will at times feel second best - particularly because that's how the other people in the W's life will see us.

    It really helps to find other people who are in the same situation. Thank you.

  7. Hi Julie,
    Am having problems differentiating my W's grief from his financial problems. Since his LW died he hasn't had a job and its contributed to his self esteem and possibly the rate of recovery. We have being seening each other for 10 months and the fact that we kind of like dated b4 he married his W, his a totally different person. I don't know if we were ment to be and God is giving us a scond chance or may be his LW was meant to be as he married her after she got pregenant 5 years ago.