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Do you ever wish your spouse left you with a tome of sentiments, love letters and reflections to guide you through your darkest widow days? You know, like a guidebook with words of wisdom including permission to live an uncomplicated and carefree life?
Or visited you in your dreams to deliver answers to a nagging question that you just can’t get a handle on?
(For some reason, I can’t get the Full House cheesy, end-of-episode-instrumental-wrap-up music out of my head right now)
Surely, navigating widowhood with some tried-and-true stock phrases or dream visits from our dead spouses would make life SO much easier.
Or so you think.
When Permission is Not Enough
My husband DID leave me with those sentiments. You know, the “I want you to be happy” speeches.
I have letters, too. He essentially nudged me to go on and live my life and be happy. I even wrote a story about how he gave me permission to find love again that was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Miracle of Love.
But even with those instructions and sentiments and permission, I STILL struggle.
I’ve been dating my CH2 for a while now and I’m very happy. But, I still struggle with the being-happy-without-my-husband part.
My older son has been challenging. He’s been making bad choices for several years now. I know my husband would approve of my parenting decisions and how I’ve handled the situation, but I still struggle with the am-I-a-good-enough-parent-without-him part.
I’m still running the business he owned. I am not fond of doing this particular line of work, and he told me it would be OK whenever the day comes that I decide to close it down. But if I close the business it will be like he died all over again. I’m not willing to face that right now. And the crazy thing is, I know he would 100% support the decision to shutter it if it would make me happy.
So, regardless of his words of wisdom, permission, and support I STILL struggle.
Because words of wisdom from someone else mean nothing unless I believe in myself, give myself permission and support my own decisions. If I can’t rely on my internal fortitude, I don’t stand a chance.
And neither do you.
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What Glinda the Good Witch and Your Dead Spouse Have in Common
So, you know how in the Wizard of Oz Glinda the Good Witch is Dorothy’s mentor who instructs her on the way to get out of Oz? She tells Dorothy to follow the yellow-brick road to see the Wizard who can help her get back home.
Dorothy faces some harrowing scenes as she battles the antagonists on her journey. But she finally reaches the Wizard who tells her he can send her home in a hot-air balloon. When the balloon fails and Dorothy spots Glinda she begs, “Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?”
And Glinda replies, ” You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.”
Like Dorothy, we widows convince ourselves that we need assistance and we’d make better decisions if we only had some help. If you’re like me, you plead with your dead husband often and beg, “Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?”
And, like Glinda, I know my husband is right here watching me as I face my own harrowing scenes and battle the antagonists on my own journey. If he could talk to me right now, my husband would say, “you don’t need my help any longer. You’ve always had the power to make good decisions.”
I don’t know your dead spouse, but I’d be willing to bet he’d say the same thing to you, too. The mentor never does for us what we can or should do for ourselves. If dead people could talk they would tell you that you’re doing a bang-up job and they’re proud of you.
But that’s not what you, or I, need the most.
Peace Comes From Within
The problem with relying on others to buoy our spirits or tell us what to do is that we relinquish all our internal power. The words you think you need from someone else won’t bring the peace you suspect they will.
The words you need to hear the most come from a most unexpected source.
It’s not what your deceased spouse would say to you (or did say to you) that matters at this point. It’s what you’re willing to say to yourself. What you’re willing to believe about yourself.
The words you and I need to hear the most have to come from within.
It’s time we start giving ourselves permission to believe in our own words of wisdom. And stop waiting for ghosts to say or do the things we need to say to or do for ourselves.
How to Be Your Own Mentor
What do you need to hear the most?
I need to hear that I’m a good parent. That even though we’ve been through some MAJOR hurdles over the past few years, I haven’t emotionally scarred my children for life. I also need to know that it’s OK for me to be happy. To love my life, love another man and love the lessons I’ve learned from the worst time in my life.
So, I need to say those things to myself. Talk to myself like a friend would. Actually, talk to myself like my friends do.
It’s not easy to be your own cheerleader. It’s counter-intuitive to speak directly to ourselves.
But it works.
I’ve done it. I can attest to its power. I’m telling you right now, it works!
Here are three ways you can learn how to be your own mentor and say to yourself what you’ve been waiting for someone else to say to you all along:
1. Put a Note on Your Mirror
A really effective way to be your own mentor is to put a note on your mirror that you’ll see every day. Imagine waking up every morning to a respectful, thoughtful message that reinforces the amazing job you do. Put up several notes if you want to, but focus on one core message at first.
The more you repeat a message to yourself the more likely you are to believe it. Read the message on your mirror. Say it out loud to yourself as you stare at your reflection.
You’re a badass and it’s time you started believing it.
2. Set a Reminder on Your Phone
I use the Life Reminders app (Android) to push notifications to my phone every day at the same time. Every morning at 9:00 I get the following message:
Continue to shine the light around your children and give them the hope they need to be functional citizens. I see you shower them with love and I’m in awe of your strength as you continue leading them through your darkest days.
It’s amazing what these little reminders to myself can do. How they can change my perceptions almost instantly. I know I’ve made mistakes and could have done things differently on several occasions. I’m far from perfect. But, overall, I’m doing the very best I can for my kids.
What reminders do you need about the stellar job you’re doing on a daily basis?
3. Record a Note to Yourself on Your Phone
Oh my gosh, this one is powerful. I don’t really love the sound of my own voice, but the first time I recorded a voice note to myself and played it back I was in tears.
Try it. I’m serious.
Record a voice note to yourself on your phone. Write it out first if that’s what it’ll take to get you to talk to yourself, but tell yourself that you’re awesome and then list all of the reasons why.
If this is hard for you, just tell yourself what you think your spouse would say.
It’s powerful, man.
And don’t forget the Kleenex.
Widow Wrap Up
The most influential thing you can do for yourself is to talk to yourself in a kind, loving manner. It’s imperative for your well-being to be gentle and non-judgmental with your grief-stricken soul.
It’s nice when others give us compliments, listen to us as we pore over the pros and cons of a specific situation or offer advice for those I-have-no-idea-what-to-do moments.
But the words we need to hear the most – the words with the greatest impact – can only come from within.
Go on and give yourself the pep talk you’ve been waiting for. Write it down or record it, but say the freaking words.
And keep saying them. I can tell you that you’re an amazing human with unlimited patience and emotional reserves made of steel, but you don’t need to hear that from me.
You need to hear it from you ♥.
Which way do you feel most comfortable talking to yourself? Please share in the comments!