Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Widow Attention Span. Or Lack Of.

I recently saw a “conversation” going back and forth through some comments on the Widow Chick  Facebook page, and I so related to them.  I know that for those people who were writing back and forth...they got a glimpse that they were not alone in this, but for the people who didn’t see it...I thought I would write a little about it.  Because really...I think we all do this at some point or another.

So this is the official Widow Chick study on how our lack of attention span leads to monumental decision making issues.  This causes us to think that something sounds good one minute, and (literally) the next we start wondering, “What was I thinking?  I don’t want to do that!!!”

And by “study” I mean I’m just going to talk about it and not have any official documentation to back it up.

I’ve always had a short attention span.  Even before my husband died, I had a hard time connecting point A to point B without going some round about way through points W and M and ½.  I have always told myself that this is one of the things that people like about me, but the truth is...I can understand how this little issue can make me an exhausting person to hang out with.

And drinking wine, for some reason, never seems to slow down this process.  I tend to move at attention-defying warp speed.  That is, until I crash and burn and start blubbering about how I can’t get anything done...what’s wrong with me...hey is there any left over pizza?

I’m never short on conversation changes...even if they make absolutely no sense.  In my family...I’m kind of known for it.  One minute we can be talking about climate changes, the next we could be talking about the latest action on As the World Turns ( that even on anymore?  See!  I did it again!).  By the end of the conversation we’re talking about my dad’s golf game and how the economy is doing in Central America.

What can I say?  I keep people on their toes.

My lack of attention span had me wondering the entire year that I was engaged if I should even get married at all.  I mean...if I can’t even decide on what sandwich I’m getting at Subway without changing my mind 7 times...who was I to commit to something for the rest of my life?

I found out quickly that my mind’s need for constant change and my husband’s desire to live on the edge a little were perfect companions.

However, when he seemed like my inability to commit to a single idea went into overdrive. 

I’m going to sell my house!  Right now!  Today!  Wait...where do I want to live?  Do I really want to pack all of this shit up now?  Maybe I should just go to the mall.

I’m going to date!  That’s it!  I’m going to get back into a relationship, stabilize this bad boy we call Life, and get this show back on the road!  But who should I pick?  Should I marry for money like I always swore I would the second time around?  Do I want someone just like my husband?  Do I want someone completely different?  Too many choices and not enough sanity in my head!  I think I’ll take a bath instead.

New job!  I’m going to get a new job!  I’m going to show everyone this widow thing hasn’t gotten me down!  I can do this!  I don’t care if I’m not sleeping!  I can get up at 5 AM and have a productive day saving the world!

Oh look...something shiny!

I realize that those are the biggies we all struggle with, right?  Aren’t those the 3 main things that have us confused for a good 3...4...10 years?  House, Dating, and Work:  The Bermuda Triangle of Widow Confusion.

After awhile, we either have these things figured out or we have come to terms with the fact that we never will.  We delude ourselves into thinking we’re kind of in the clear because we start to understand that we will never really be able to make decisions like we used to.  We convince our Attention Spans that we’re the boss and if he doesn’t like it...he can just leave.

So he does.

Part of the problem is that for the most part...we’re doing a little better.  We’re feeling more and more like we can take things on.  We’re getting our bearings a little and realizing that we can walk and chew gum at the same time.  We start taking baby-steps in the decision-making department and for the most part...things turn out okay.

And that’s when we get blind-sided.

We all talk about understanding how to live in our “new normal” and most of us, who have come to terms with that, will also talk about how when we have bad days years completely shocks the hell out of us.  For me, my inability to commit to anything usually coincides with my “bad days” and I should know better than to try and make any decisions (good, bad, or otherwise) when I’m feeling this way.  Because what tends to happen is that, not only do I feel bad about life in general...I feel bad because I can’t commit to anything, even if it’s something that might make me feel better.


Simple, positive, life-affirming decisions even become victims to our lack of follow-through.  For example, we can think one minute, “You know what?  I should take a cruise!  I’ve never taken one and I should have something to look forward to!”

And by the time we’ve hit “Charge” on Travelocity...we’re second guessing ourselves.

“What was I thinking?  Being on a boat?  By myself?  I hate water!  I burn easily!  They never mix their drinks right!  Why can’t I just stay home?  Whose bright idea was this anyway????”

I personally have a great example of this.

As some of you may recall, I was having a really hard time a couple of weeks ago, dealing with my husband’s birthday and the week before, I got one of those Groupon coupons for a Denver holiday wine tour.  It was a smokin’ deal...bus ride to look at the lights downtown, wine tasting, snacks and sangria on the bus...I immediately felt this charge go through me and couldn’t wait to call my sister and sign us up.

I’m not kidding you...midway through dialing I changed my mind.  She answered the phone and I said, “I just saw a coupon for a wine tasting a few minutes ago and thought you might want to go.  But now...I just don’t think I’m up for it.  So now I don’t know why I called.”

I know I need to wrap this up because it’s gotten a little long and I’ve probably lost you already.  My main point is...don’t sweat it.  We all go through it.  And usually, if it’s something little like a wine tour or a cruise...once I get my short-attention-spanned butt there...I have a good time. 

I just try to recognize this little idiosyncrasy for what it is and be aware of what I’m doing.  For’s okay if I want to get engaged and I'm making an informed decision.  I just have to remember that it's not okay to meet a gladiator at Caesar’s Palace and run to the Little White Chapel.  ‘Cause chances are...about 30 minutes later...I'll  probably be thinking it wasn't such a good idea.

My other point is...


What was I saying?

© Catherine Tidd 2010


  1. "House, Dating, and Work: The Bermuda Triangle of Widow Confusion." - While I "think" I have a handle on these . . . I realize that I spend a LOT of mental energy doing "what ifs" about all three. Glad to know I'm normal after all . . .

  2. I feel this is our way of expressing our desires (want to go on a cruise) but later feeling our limitations (kids, work, babysitters, etc). If we were still married, we probably would have gone on the cruise/vacation or doing other things we don't get to experience as widowed women, like we did when we could share the experience and memories.
    For me, it could be as simple as housework. After I put the kids to bed, I think, "I should start clearing all this paper tomorrow and organizing this place more"...then, you realize how much work is involved on top of our already increased workloads, and the thought quickly passes by...or loads of laundry and dishes are staring at you.
    I enjoy reading your blog...many times your thoughts are exactly mine.