Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fighting The GOW Insecurity Monster

I think most women, as a gender, are naturally insecure. We get so many confusing messages from family, friends, other people, the media....all of them telling us how to act, how to look, what to do with our lives, what to eat, etc....arrgh!! I have two daughters, and it's always been quite the parental chore for me to get them to understand that they should learn to shut out the "noise" of others, and just be happy with who they are.


Alas, many women are chained to a childhood past that may have included harsh judgement, negative stereotypes, and absolute verbal abuse from misguided people who made them feel "less than". These women end up as very confused and insecure adults who carry the chains of their past with them throughout their lives. These women often perpetuate their own self-destructive cycle of insecurity by consistently mentally referencing the negativity, and they do this because, frankly, it's all they've ever known. It's like the only manual in their head is the one entitled, "You're Unworthy"...and the audiotape of that book constantly plays and replays over and over again.


When such a woman dates a widower, it's no wonder she will have the MOST difficult time being a GOW. Geesh, even an extremely self-aware and secure woman struggles with feeling second best in these relationships from time to time, so you can imagine how a chronically insecure woman would handle it! She may never feel "good enough" as she constantly compares herself to the LW herself and/or W's marriage to LW.


But there is hope! First of all, allow me to validate your feelings as 100% NORMAL for a GOW! There isn't a GOW or WOW alive who hasn't felt "less than" in her relationship with a W at some point. NOT ONE! Knowing she is not alone nor are her feelings "crazy" often relieves the pressure a GOW feels about her insecurity. However, as I always say, "Normal does NOT equal productive!" "Owning" the fact that you have insecurities is the first step towards healing them....and then the hard work begins. Healing from insecurity must begin from the inside out. What I mean by this is that you CANNOT and SHOULD NOT depend on others to validate yourself. YOU are responsible for your OWN happiness, and thus, your own sense of self-worth.


In therapy, counsellors use a technique wherein they teach their extremely insecure patients to "re-learn" their self-worth/value by substituting the negative "voices" (in the mind) of the past with positive affirmations. This takes a conscious daily effort. Some re-learning techniques include seemingly silly but very effective daily affirmations, such as beginning the day by looking in the mirror and saying out loud to your image, "You are beautiful, intelligent, and worthy of love...and you're going to have a great day!" As well, if you make a mistake during the day, you will learn to substitute negative responses such as "Oh, I'm SUCH a klutz/an idiot/worthless!" with "Oh well, fiddle dee dee, everyone makes mistakes. I’ll just have to learn from this and move on" affirmations. Admittedly, it feels weird doing this the first couple of times, and most people will struggle with believing what they are saying...but the truth is, sooner or later, substituting negative energy with positive energy starts to morphing the childhood lies into a new, beautiful truth - that YOU ARE INDEED a beautiful, intelligent, love-worthy human being!!


Secondly, understand that, while LW and W may have been "perfect" for each other back when they were together, YOU are perfect for him NOW. Your W is NOT the same man he was when he was married to LW. His loss, the strength he has earned by surviving it and coping with it, and other positive character traits he picked up along the way - such as patience and perseverance - have changed him into a very different man; one who is better suited for YOU than he would be for LW if, by some miracle, she returned. Also, remember that you and LW are very different people, autonomous and unique in your own ways. Look at it his way: If your W had WANTED a clone f his LW, he wouldn’t be with you, would he? Thus, he CHOSE you because you are better matched to the person he has BECOME, not the person he used to be.


Thirdly, remember that it IS possible to love two people at the same time for different reasons. Think of how parents do this with ease, loving ALL their children equally but each for their own uniqueness. Your W's love for his LW does NOT diminish what he feels about you, and vice versa. You and LW are like apples and oranges in the fruit bowl of your W's heart. ACCEPT that he will always hold a special place in his heart for her...but that his heart is big enough for him to love YOU with as much passion, if not more.


Lastly, forgive yourself your jealousies of LW and the life your W shared with her. She is not the enemy - grief is. Luckily, grief CAN be managed to a point where it no longer interferes with personal growth and happiness. And when your W finally gets to this point, the pay-off for you will be amazing. Trust me.

12 comments:

  1. I am coming upon the 2nd anniversary to my widower (of 6 years). I am surprised at myself at the insecurities that I feel constantly whenever the LW is mentioined ever, by anyone. Some degrees of the intensity vary depending on the situation. AND I hear nothing but positive reflections made about the LW.

    I have struggled with insecurity most of my life. There have been times (before I was married to my W) that I felt very secure. I hade made giant leaps of positive self-identity as a woman and a survivor of divorce. I was a survivor from a divorce where my first husband revealed to me that he was gay and had had several ongoing relationships or one-night stands during the 14 years of our marriage. But I have never felt more insecure than I do now with feelings of worthlessness in my new marriage, in the home of my W and his LW that I have moved into, my new job, my new blended family with 2 teenage girls, and as a mother whose own sons now live 55 miles away with their dad. The transitions have been oppressive and I'm struggling to deal with my stormy mix of jealousy, anger, grief an desperate search for peace and joy.

    I was ready to find someone who really loved me and my 3 boys. My W is a very loving man and also makes no apologies for talking about memories with his LW. He talks about the trips they took to Greece and Turkey, New York and Paris. Now,my husband is afraid of flying and we struggle financially. So, I feel as though I missed out. Experiences like his travels with his LW will not be easily shared with me. I have been cheated of experiences with him just as I have been cheated of experiences with my first husband because of his infidelity.

    I could go on, but I am very encouraged to find a site where others share my situation. Thank you for this place of shared expression and advice.

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  2. Hi Alicia,

    Please join the 500+ members of my interactive message board called The Official WOW/GOW Message Board, which can be accessed via my website at http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com. You are NOT alone!

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  3. I'm glad I found this site. Most of the advice is common sense and to be expected in terms of the grieving process. However, as a new GOW and as one who has to deal with dating a high profile and early stage (13 mos) W, I am relieved to see recommendations about dealing with the family, friends, and acquaintances of LW's and W's.

    I would however like to hear any recommendations on dealing with a high public profile and friends and supporters who not only knew and loved the LW, but then named their first born after them. These are people that also know, like, and support me as well... But they do not know about our relationship, yet. Me and my W have been dating for almost 6 mos and are now in the process of letting the public know we are an item... And a serious one at that. Mostly because we can no longer move along in our relationship privately since nearly every time we step out the door someone knows at least one of us (usually him). We even left the state and went to Vegas for a week to get away from all the madness and to be alone... And ran into a well connected acquaintance the second day there. So the time has come that we can no longer play off our relationship as strictly "political" or "work" related.

    However, I struggle as well with some of the same insecurity issues... But mine tend to be centered around whether or not he sees me or if he sees her when he looks at me. I understand everyone has their "type" that they are attracted to. But, the similarities are glaring. Very similar looks (hair, build, complexion, etc), similar personalities, similar education (and major in undergraduate studies), same religious and cultural upbringing, and even the same birthday. So, one can see where I would draw my insecurities from in this situation. I also worry that others will see me for only those reasons even if he doesn't.

    What would you suggest for announcing/going public with such a sensitive (and LARGE) audience? There is all the advice in the world out there on how to announce an engagement... But not a relationship. My guess is because doing so is almost never necessary for the average couple? Help?

    ~PublicGOW~

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  4. Hi PublicGOW,

    Believe it or not, your situation is not so uncommon. Famous politicians, celebrities, and other public figures who have been widowed and found love again are commonplace!

    All GOWS/WOWsface the inevitable scrutiny of friends, family, and indeed - the public. The trick is learning how to deal with them effectively. To do so, plkease consider joining the 500+ members of my interactive message board called The Official WOW/GOW Message Board, which can be accessed via my website at http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com. You are NOT alone!

    Best,
    ~JDA

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  5. I Googled and found this site and I already know I will be back! W and I just sort of re-met. Knew each other in high school, a few decades ago. Went our own ways, and then met one another at reunion earlier this summer.We just seemed to click. He's been a W for not quite a year. We are not together, yet enjoy the company of the other. I find myself letting him take the lead to when we do see each other. Maybe a bit insecure on my part. I've not known a W before. I like what you wrote in your post. About all his characteristics he's gained, he could be suited more for me now. I'm just happy to find this site. It helped me to hear something straight forward like this.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Anon!

    Good for you for researching this subject BEFORE you start a relationship with a W! You will be ahead of the game! I would like to invite you to join me and the 500+ members of my interactive message board called The Official WOW/GOW Message Board, which can be accessed via my website at http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com. You are NOT alone!

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  7. Thanks so much for the contact back. Only a couple of my girlfriends know how much I've enjoyed W. One of them says "be careful" and I think this is coming from a woman who's husband can't go to the grocery store in a two grocery store town with out her-while the other chum says the fact he took you to lunch and talks about doing things is a sign he's trying to live on with his life. It's just different for me. I find myself thinking about him, more than maybe I should. :) I think I'll get some ice cream to help me thru. I will definitely take a review at the message board! thanks again!

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  8. I have been dating a W for a little over a year. We were enjoying a nice time in the hot tub when I needed to ask him a "burning" question. I asked if he would rather LW was sitting there instead of me. To my dismay..he quickly responded.."well, of course I do". How in the world do I recover and continue the relationship after that?! He is very good to me and we get along great, but I feel I am just a stand in companion for someone he stills love. It also hurts to know I will never be the "love of his life"! Any insight would be so helpful...I am ready to throw in the towel.

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  9. I'm sure you W's response to your "burning" question really smarted, especially when you were probably hoping for affirmation of his love for you instead of his grief-inspired revelation. However, it's what happened AFTER his response that interests me moost: did you have a chance to discuss his response, or were you too hurt and/or angry to have a calm chat? All is not lost: chances are, he is still deep into his grief journey, and will most likely not have the same response once he has finished his recovery.

    It's not easy dating a man who still loves another woman. But once he gets to the last stage of grief - that of acceptance - he will be in a better place to let go of the past and begin appreciating life in the present.

    For more advice and ninformation, please join me and the over 750 members of The Official WOW/GOW Message Board, found at my website at http://www.juliedonnerandersen.com.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Just discovered your blog and have been reading through the posts. I've been with my boyfriend for 6 months (I prefer to think of him as my BF not W) - I was very hesitant at first as his LW had only died 10 months previously after a 5 year illness, but he was adamant he was ready. We are both still young (30s). This weekend we finally talked about his grief for the first time, which was triggered by a holiday spot they used to go too, and I seriously considered walking away - to hear about his hurt and his love for her and be told he was still grieving hurt a lot, but equally I know he loves me a lot too (I surprised myself that I could be so understanding and compassionate - and it has made our relationship stronger). Reading some of these posts help but I just don't know if I am strong enough to deal with it. Either way you have to, because I can only go forward with him I love him too much to walk away (which is somewhat annoying haha). In a way, I have to come to terms with it myself and I knowing there are other people going through the same thing and that it is normal makes me feel a little reassured - but terrified too that I might get my heart broken. I am still at the "I don't know what to do" stage because he has not reached the grief stage of acceptance. We are talking about moving in together but I wonder if he is doing it to try and move on though in his heart he isn't ready. Sigh! I should think of the positive things, of which there are many. The hardest thing is you give your entire heart - but have to wait (a long time it appears) to get all of theirs.

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  11. Dear Anonymous,

    Grief is not something a survivor ever "gets over" (they just learn how to better manage it); thus, grief can be triggered in a variety of ways with varying degrees of intensity. For more information and support, please consider joining The Official WOW/GOW Message Board at my website (juliedonnerandersen.com).

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  12. What do you do when your spouse says he and his late wife didn't have a chance to know if their marriage worked because they were too busy with work and kids?

    ReplyDelete