In my industry, we get sent on training courses about interpersonal skills and all that fo shizz. My opinion on said things is that if you’ve gotten to adulthood without interpersonal skills or a realistic sense of self then you’re never going to get it, no matter how much money you spend on self improvement courses. It’s too late. Ergo, some of these training courses are only really a bit of a jolly out of the office where, if you’re lucky, you’ll get some free De Vere conference venue notepaper and some booze.
One of the exercises that I’ve had to perform a billion times is telling other people what words spring to mind when i think of them. When others rattle off the same words time after time about me, I feel apathetic. I think course leaders are expecting me to react with amazement and to feel suddenly enlightened but I’ve heard the same thing again and again. I’m not enlightened in the slightest. I know full well how I come across – I’m a power bitch bossy boots. Of course, being in a work context, peope are very careful with their words.
Ambitious, confident, funny, poised, engaging, chatty, determined.
What they really mean:
Ambitious = bossy
Confident = up herself
Funny = inappropriately rude to the point that it’s hilarious
Poised = has a hot bod and good clothes
Engaging = her stories are so ridiculous that people can’t help but want to listen
Chatty = she won’t let anyone else talk
Determined = don’t fuck with her or she’ll trample on you
Being widowed may have floored me initially and changed my perspectives on life, but grief does not a timid person make out of a clever woman with power bitch dictatorial tendencies like me. I’m just as much of a bossy boots as I ever was. Grief does not tear to shreds a personality – it works its way around who you are and permeates only where you let it. Being widowed is not going to turn me nice. I’m a powerwidow and the bits of me that are nice always have been nice, albeit they didn’t get as much oxygen to thrive before. For sure though, I have the gift of empathy (but I really didn’t need to go through discovering the dead body of my wife five months after we got married to gain that, thanks universe).
Powerwidow bitch example. Last weekend, I was in Amsterdam, land of stag dos, with a selected group of young widows who I met online on a now defunct forum. The totally debauchery on a plate ready location was selected by yours truly. What started as me announcing some dates I was going to Amsterdam eventually turned into eight of us descending on the city for two days of Wids on Weed, as I called it. It turned out that only two partook in the weed in the end (funnily enough a strain called White Widow) but I still think Wids on Weed has a certain ring to it, rather like Widow Whine and Wine which I organise in London, so we’ll stick with it.
Wids on Weed was partly amazing, partly frustrating. Holding back from being bossy was only partly achieved.
It was frustrating to be in a group setting – I only like groups when I’m the leader of the pack – and I found that leading a bunch of widow brained widows, for the most part unfamiliar with travelling, walking places quickly and the Monopoly money that is the Euro, was next to impossible. Like herding sheep. Or herding tortoises that start out extremely far away from one another. They walked slowly. They took an hour and a half to eat breakfast. They couldn’t make plans ahead. They’d walk all the way to an attraction only to decide it was too expensive to go inside.
You know that way when you ask people what they want to do and they respond, ‘I don’t mind.’? Well, I never say that. I always mind. I always have an opinion. I found myself at times wanting to grab people, shake them and shout at them to ‘START LIVING AGAIN AND STOP FUCKING DAWDLING!’ Just because the cat died too doesn’t mean you truly have nothing else to live for. Just because your husband died, you don’t have to let yourself go – make the effort for you! Just because you have a child doesn’t mean you can’t have your own ambitions – go travelling and dump the child with a friend for a couple of nights. If you want sex but can’t have sex, get on Love Honey and purchase a vibrator. Ok – chapter 2 life is not so simple for everyone, but I found my patience levels really being tested. I’m living, so why can’t they? Everyone has their own timescale, blah, blah, blah, yeh. But some people really don’t make an effort to do anything but sit in their grief and hold onto the grey clouds above their heads. Don’t delay living again out of guilt or aspirations of being a career widow.
Nevertheless, even just one training course on inter personal skills is enough to teach me that that my bossy, blatantly honest style doesn’t go down so well with people who are on the brink of tears, and all a bit exhausted from the travel and dealing with very meticulously questioning immigration officers at Schipol. Shaking sense into people just wasn’t going to work. Telling people when to be at breakfast and where was enough of a challenge. Instead, I took myself for Heineken (doing as the Amsterdamned do) and watched the world go by. I am used to being alone now; I like my space and God did I need to breathe. I accepted bossy couldn’t bring it.
Parts of the weekend were amazing too, of course, namely the wonderful sense of community and the reassurance that I’m not a total freak of nature for experiencing some of the emotions that I do. Meeting people I know so much about emotionally face to face was bizarrely great. Something I organised happened! Everybody looked just as I had imagined; isn’t that odd? Some group activities were, indeed, successful. We meandered along the canals (slowly because widows can’t seem to walk fast), explored the Red Light district and the fake boobs in all their window framed glory, and enjoyed getting pissed on by the rain while contemplating buying cannabis lollipops at the flower market. We went to a diamond factory and tried on massive diamond engagement rings – miraculously nobody cried at this.
I found this one. Tinder Girls take note. It only costs one year’s pre tax salary of Tinder Girl #5.
Sometimes it’s just not worth being bossy. You need to sit back and accept others’ differences. I’m learning slowly that we may all be widows but some are mental, albeit lovable nutters. And I continue to be the bitch that plenty people, including fellow widows, detest! Please don’t get me wrong, fellow widow travellers. I LOVED meeting you. It was an empowering trip for all of us, a real honour to meet you, fun to explore with you, but gosh do I need a year to recover before we do it all again (if you’ll allow me to join despite the brutal honesty of the blog post…).