I was a “we” for almost exactly half of my life. I met my now deceased husband when I was 20 and he passed away just a few months after my 39 birthday. All of my actual adult life I was a “we”. You know what I’m taking about…”we are buying a new couch”, “we have plans- so sorry” or “we don’t like that restaurant.”
Being a “we” brings a level of comfort many of us don’t really think about. When you’re part of a “we” it is known immediately who will accompany you to a party, gathering or event. If we have to go alone everyone knows straightaway that our “we” must be out of town or at another activity with the kids. There is a level of comfort there. That was me…swimming blissfully unaware in the “we pool of happiness” then…BAM. It was only me. And it SUCKED.
I can only describe walking into certain places and events those first few months like I was walzing in wearing my underwear or even less. It’s as though someone had stripped all of who I was away and there was only this shell of me, my ever present satchel of grief and the “you poor thing” looks that people were giving me. I was now a “me” who looked like crap, couldn’t eat (who could eat while the “we” people starred at you??) and felt brutally exposed in whatever environment I was in. All the confidence I had spent nearly 40 years cultivating was slashed. It was unlike any kind of humiliation I’d ever experienced. I constantly felt raw and exposed.
(I don’t write this to make anyone feel bad about how they looked at me or treated me during that time. It’s human nature. I get it. I’ve done it to others. It’s part of belonging to the crappy young widow club.)
I realize now, 10+ months down the road, that I had to go through the “we” humiliation to become a quality “me”. Somedays I had to stand in a room (or wedding reception or beach) full of “we” to see that I was strong enough to be just “me.” It’s still not always easy or fun. There are days I ache for that feeling of “we.” Days I would give most anything to get that “we” feeling back. Defining this new “me” has not been simple and I’ve certainly lost my footing a time or two.
What I now understand is that the more time I put into being a praying “me”, to owning “me” to growing “me”, the more prepared I am if the time ever comes that I get be a “we” again. For now I embrace the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 and keep walking (sometimes trudging) forward in faith.