Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hormones...Grief...Bitchiness...Oh My!

I’ve come to the conclusion recently that being a young widow is very complicated.  But not for the reasons you might think.  This realization was brought about when I spent about a week solid, completely irritated at the world.  I don’t know if it was the pull of the planets or what, but everything just annoyed the heck out of me.

So, as a young widow, I’ve noticed that when I go through phases like this, I have a little mental checklist that I have to go through.

Am I PMSing?
Is there a milestone coming up that I didn’t realize?
Am I just grieving in general and angry with the world?

And lately, after I’ve been through this little mental checklist, which only takes me a few seconds, and the answer to all of the questions above is “no” that has left me with only one conclusion.

I’m a bitch.

No, no.  That’s okay.  Really.  I’m okay with it.  Because for years I spent so much energy NOT being one that I think there were some areas of my life when I got completely run over by people who had the fine art of being a bitch perfected.  I would cower when asked a direct question by someone who seemed surer of herself than I did (never once thinking, “How is any of this her business anyway???”).  I would take something in the chin because I was too concerned about making the thoughtless deliverer feel uncomfortable in my presence (something that they were obviously not concerned about).  I would smile and nod at whatever life threw my way, never asking myself, “Do I really have to put up with this?”

And I think that’s starting to change.

It’s probably a combination of getting older and a little wiser and even though I hate the wrinkles that come with age and the rolls that just won’t go away like they did in my 20s, I really don’t mind this little side effect.  I grew up in the Age of Oprah when she constantly talked about how much she loved her 40s because she was really starting to know who she was and what she wanted.  And even though she didn’t come right out and say it…I’m starting to think that she might have been talking about embracing this inner bitch.

Bitchiness is not always such a bad thing.  Actually, the reason for my reoccurring bitchiness is probably because I’m reacting to something that has probably bothered me for years.  I mean, let’s face it.  We didn’t fly off the handle the first time someone cut us off on the highway when we were 16.  Hell, no.  It took years for that aggravation to build up.  So that now, when it happens, we have no problem rolling down our windows and yelling, “Stop playing Words With Friends at 80 miles an hour and drive, moron!!  And get a car wash while you’re at it!!!”

Well.  Maybe that’s just me.

I remember years ago, my husband and I fighting over PMS.  Now, his answer to what he thought was my irrational irritation was to pretty much ignore it until the storm blew over.  One of his favorite sayings came from Everybody Loves Raymond when Raymond says to a PMSing Debra, “This is not Debra!  This is a woman who shows up once a month and rips into me like a monkey on a cupcake!”

For some reason, my husband never seemed to understand when I tried to explain to him that whatever I’m “ripping” into him for…I’ve been irritated about all month.  I just had the sudden hormonal surge to get it out of my mouth.

Same thing with grieving.  It always surprises me those days and weeks when I get weepy and irritable.  I either want every person I run into on the street to give me a big hug…or I want to run over them with my minivan.  And when I think about it…it’s not that those feelings haven’t been there all along.  They’ve just built up so much that I have to let them out.  So being a weepy, angry, irrational, Chardonnay-drinking mess isn’t coming as out of the blue as I think it is.  It was always there.  It just took my husband’s birthday or an anniversary to purge it.

Given the time I’ve spent thinking about my bitchiness (which is considerable), I have to come to somewhat the same conclusion:  That it was always there, just as the irritation was there before the PMS and the weepiness was there before the milestone.  It just took age and wisdom to draw it out.  And I’m not perfect.  Puh-leeze.  I’m just tired of dealing with all of the people who figured this out before me, handing me their own bitchiness on a platter while I take it with a smile.

There is a mental warning sign that I have when I know my inner bitch is about to emerge.  The moment the words “life is too short” flash into my brain, I know I either need to remove myself from whatever situation I’m in or be prepared for the fact that whomever I’m dealing with will probably not be speaking to me in the morrow.  And that’s okay.  Accompanying my bitchiness has been this wonderful ability to accept the consequences, whatever they may be.  So I guess that makes me a morally responsible bitch?

The only thing that I worried about at the beginning stages of my bitchiness was that I would wake up one morning, alone and friendless, wondering why no one calls me anymore and thinking back to the many things I shouldn’t have said.  But I’ve decided to stop worrying about it.  After all, if you’re nice, I’m nice.  If you’re considerate then of course I will be, too.  If you’re not either of these things then I’m better off without you.  And if you’re one of those magical people whose bitchiness coincides with my own…our friendship was meant to be.

‘Cause let’s face it.

Us bitches like to travel in packs.

Widow Chick (aka, Catherine Tidd) is the owner of and the author of the upcoming memoir Confessions of a Mediocre Widow (Jan. 2014).  She is also a writer for The Denver Post's Mile High Mamas and a contributor to several books on grief and renewal.


  1. It certainly has been a surprising, embarassing and liberating part of my new grief. Thank you for your honesty.

  2. So true. i am sure people thought I was a bitch before Mike died, probably some even said how did he get stuck with her? I am not a mean person, but I speak my mind. I don't let people walk all over me and I stand up for what I believe is right. Widowhood has only magnified that with me. On a post in a group I belong to, while mentioning this very sick man was put back in ICU because he was released to a rehab before he should have been, this guy says..."shit happens"....I wrote, you wouldn't say that if you were the one laying there, or it was one of your loved ones. WTF???? Or put your big girl panties on and deal with it..or It is what it, were these not referring to my widowhood, maybe it wouldn't bother me. I told my sister I would never say "No one ever said life was easy" to anyone again, because whatever they are upset about at that time for me to say that is very important to them....All of these stupid sayings we all said at one time or another, and when you are a widow, they take on a life of their own!!!! I don't talk to a lot of "friends" anymore because they can't understand why I am not my old self, that I never will be. I'm a pack animal!!!!!

  3. I agree with Maria. It is liberating to be a "bitch". I have to focus on my healing and not focus on the self centered people around me. I have to stand up for myself because my biggest supporter is gone. If that makes me a bitch, I'm finally okay with it. Thank you for this post!