The Spot on the Bathroom Floor

Bathroom for blog by DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley

I’m writing this post from my bathroom floor.

There’s a spot that’s empty next to the wall. I always thought I’d put a bench there, but somehow, I never did. Instead, it’s just a random spot of floor, perfect for curling up into a ball.

I guess it’s pretty obvious that curling up on the bathroom floor hasn’t just been a hypothetical idea for me. On the contrary. This is my spot.

How many nights did I sit here, arms wrapped around my knees and cry? God, it must’ve been at least six months. I knew that my kids and my dad were less likely to hear me if I was in the bathroom, so that’s where I found myself. Sometimes I’d cry in the shower, and sometimes I’d cry in this weird spot on the floor. Over time, it became less frequent. But this place on the bathroom floor was my spot whenever I needed to find a quiet space, a place just for me to process my grief.

I don’t sit here anymore. I can’t actually remember the last time that I sat in this spot, feeling despondent. Yes, having Chris in my life has made some of those last bits of intense grief fade. But really, I had moved through a lot of that specific kind of grief before I met him. In fact, it was about last year at this time that I can last remember sitting in this spot and crying.

It was the holidays, and I was alone.

Not alone-alone. I still had my kids and my dad and my awesome Clark family. I still had my friends and I was feeling like my writing was really going somewhere. I still felt energized by my students and I was still going to parties.

So really, I wasn’t alone. What I was actually feeling was loneliness.

I think it’s something that gets confused by a lot of people, myself included. Right now I’m alone for chunks of some days when I’m grading or planning lessons or writing and Chris is with the kids. But I don’t feel lonely. On the flip side, I was almost never alone a year ago (I was almost always with students or my kids) but I felt lonely at moments when I’d miss Shawn, or when I’d just simply miss being part of a couple.

That feeling is one that I can still access, sitting here on the bathroom floor. It’s not one I feel right now but it’s one that I remember so vividly that I can easily feel it in my bones if I take a moment to close my eyes and remember. It’s an ache to touch someone, a desire to feel comforted, a need to feel heard. It’s the feeling of being so alone, even when there’s other people who are physically around you. Sometimes I was able to get my needs met by my friends and family, but sometimes I just couldn’t. Sometimes I was stuck in loneliness.

And so I’m sitting here, in this spot on the bathroom floor, trying to think of the wisdom that I gained from living through so many lonely moments. What answers do I have for widows who feel lonely? What thoughts do I have about how to deal with the loneliness that often increases at the holidays? What’s the point of this blog post, anyway?

I don’t have any answers. I rarely do. But what can say is this: I have been there. It’s horrible. It’s not a linear path to the other side because dammit is there really another side anyway? Sometimes you just have to live with the loneliness. But you can also live with the knowledge that someday, things will be different. You may not find a perfect happy ending where you never feel pain (okay, you will not find a perfect happy ending where you never feel pain because that’s totally unrealistic.) You may not find a new partner or launch yourself onto a new career. You may not find that everything changes and you arrive at a magical new life.

But some things will be different in the future. So if you’re hurting this holiday season, you can at least hold on to that: the knowledge that things will change as time passes. Not everything. But some things.

And slowly, it won’t feel quite so lonely on that spot on the bathroom floor.

12 Replies to “The Spot on the Bathroom Floor”

  1. Dear Majorie,
    Thankyou for your story. My nightmare just like yours ( young widow) has been 3 years now, Oct 2017, what would’ve been the 23rd wedding anniversary month, when my beloved best Friend was taken from me, tragically as well. Very similar circumstances. I also have two boys. To be honest,
    I am hoping for a way out ( organically ) once my youngest goes off to college, in a few years. I know I won’t find my beloved best friend again. It is clear that pain hurts widows and widowers of all ages, but being a young version of this, we are an extremely small minority, that so few understand.I also have my corner places to cry alone , but anger, distrust, and despair comes right along with it. I feel very alone ( on the extended family front, and lonely on the couple front). Time as they say ?. I am not seeing that happening yet. The dating part of this, I have given up. To be honest, with 2 boys, and at my age 52 ( seasoned and full of energy still the men are way too young, my age / mentally messed up, and or much older and it’s just a companionship, where we become the caretaker. Any suggestions ( with your personal experience on how to even have hope for a new personal future ?

    1. First (and I hope it’s unneeded, but feel that it’s important it’s here) the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 800-273-8255.

      Second, there is hope for a new personal future. It doesn’t always come at the right timeline, but now that I know a lot of widows, I know a lot of stories of happiness after loss. Sometimes it’s a new partner, sometimes it’s a new job, sometimes it’s a new hobby or friend or a million other things. I tried a LOT of new things over the past 3 years and sometimes it was a disaster (okay, a lot it was a disaster) but every once in a while I found something that really brought me joy. I also really tried to communicate with my friends how important it was to be included even when I was the only one without a partner, and to do things on my own even if I felt really scared (going to dinner alone? Check. It sucked the first time. Then it wasn’t so bad.)

      As far as dating, I think it’s a persistence game. There are a lot of single people out there but it’s a needle in a haystack sort of scenario. I do think it’s a good idea to treat it like any other hobby – as something you do sometimes, when you feel like it, and take breaks (long ones) if you need them.

      Hang in there. I PROMISE there is light ahead.

  2. I can not tell you how much I needed to read this yesterday. I lost my husband tragically in October and after a whirlwind few months of friends and family and being away from home now I must sit with my own loneliness. Cause as you said I have t been alone. Not much. But I have an emptiness that many many others in our situation can not understand. When my couple friends talk about anniversaries and trips I feel like I did that or I was supposed to do that. 12 years of marriage and poof it’s all gone. And I’m left dealing with all of the pieces. Trying to raise my son. And I’m not alone but there is a deep deep feeling of no one can walk this but me and it’s soul crushing some days. So thanks for your post I needed it.

    1. Oh, I’m so terribly sorry. The first months are the worst. Truly. Hang in there. You may have seen that I have an archive where you can go back and see what I wrote in the early days (which for me was early 2018) and that might be helpful. Also, I wrote a series of articles to myself at different points, which may be useful. This is the first one: http://dcwidow.com/letter-to-myself-month-1-part-1/

  3. Thank you for this web site and the ongoing commentary. Married and intensely happy for forty years I find myself lost in this surreal world now called widower. It has been refreshing reading an honest blog full of feeling and adjustment.

    1. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s terrible, especially in the early days and months. You may find some comfort in this set of blog posts I wrote to myself in the past. Here’s the first one: http://dcwidow.com/letter-to-myself-month-1-part-1/

  4. It has been a year and a half since my wife passed away and I still feel this loneliness that you describe. It is the holidays, my kids are home… and I feel lonely! Grief has it’s course and I have found the last months difficult. The realization that everyone has gone back to their lives while I am still struggling with this new and unexpected lonely life is difficult. As I sit alone many evenings in my room this holiday, I realize how I miss our shared history and future…… and I don’t mind it. It reminds me how lucky I was!

    1. I’m not sure it’s super helpful, but I too went through a low spot partway through the second year. This blog post (and the time period of March 2019) may speak to you: http://dcwidow.com/backsliding-into-grief/

  5. Thank you for this.

    1. I’ve been thinking of you and hoping you’re hanging in there.

  6. Today is hard.

    1. I’m so sorry. Hang in there.

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