Setting boundaries might be my widow superpower. Okay, maybe not a superpower but it’s a skill I continue to learn to flex.
By nature, I’m a people pleaser who hates confrontation. However, losing Tony and experiencing everything that comes along with that loss changes a person. I don’t have the time or the capacity to shove my needs down just to bend to someone else. That doesn’t mean that everything I do now is only for me and inherently selfish either. As a solo parent, I don’t think anyone in my life would deny that I am a giver.
Early on in my loss, I had someone in my life who was trying to be supportive but was sending questions that felt like an inquest. I attempted to redirect the line of questioning and give examples of how they could better support me. Instead of heading my advice, they mailed me notes and then cut off all contact with me. Our perception is our reality and I have no doubt in their version I carry the fault. I am at peace with this. I wasn’t getting what I needed out of the friendship, I asked for a change that couldn’t be met. For now, we’ve parted ways, time will tell how long it will last.
At work, I have stayed in the role I had before Tony died. I have been in my same role for 5 years now and usually at my company this is about the time people start looking for a new experience. Right now, I know that I am solid in my work, and I have no desire to learn something new. It feels good to be known as an expert in my role and efficiently lead the projects. My organization knows my story and they have given me the space to come forward if I am overwhelmed and acceptance for me to continue the path of least resistance until I’m ready for a new adventure.
As widows, we all have different examples of setting boundaries. For some of my widow friends, it’s keeping toxic family members out of their kids’ lives. Others have to guard their loved one’s belongings from poachers. Not to mention the people that can show up thinking we’ve somehow struck it rich with a life insurance policy.
Sometimes setting a boundary makes me feel like a mean girl. I recently had an acquaintance continue to text me for something they needed. I haven’t heard from this person in 18 months. The only reason I was hearing from them now was because they wanted something from me. This is not one of my people. I will not and do not get joy from this relationship. So, I continued to say no to the request. Admittedly, it would have been easy to concede, and I came close a few times. However, the knowledge that once the taking started again kept me strong.
It’s okay to say no, it’s good to set boundaries. Let it be your new widow(er) superpower!