Down by the East River, Blown by the Wind
I am often asked why I chose to call myself bad widow. It’s astonishing to me how often people vehemently object to it. And even tell me that bad widow will have consequences, even lead to misunderstandings which could harm me. Or at least how people judge me or my reputation.
“No, you are a merry widow, not a bad one.”
“No, you look like a very nice widow.”
“No, you should call yourself badass widow. That’s what you really mean.”
“No, look at me. Listen to me. You are not a bad widow.”
My June 2017 Vision Board
I chose the name Bad Widow because it is unforgettable and easy to remember. Also, magically, BadWidow.com was available. I meant it as a challenge to what we call “bad” and “good”. If a widow expresses feeling desire after losing a beloved too quickly, they are judged as “bad”. If a person who is grieving a loss takes too long about it or leans too hard on their community, that’s understandable but bad too. People start avoiding us or staying away. Bad Widow is about challenging the assumptions which get in the way of asking each other questions. It’s the assumptions about how we name ourselves (or are named by others) which lead to misunderstandings not the name itself.
This is also true of other kinds of labeling, if you think about it. When we heard David was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, we assumed death because that name carries fear, grief, anger before treatment even starts. PMS means prone to anger. Mental illness has a stigma to it although one in ten people will experience at least depression in their lifetime so it’s NOT unusual. Trans means different things to different people but, open as I am, when I met 6′ 8″ Amazon Eve, I was not sure how to speak appropriately about her gender. So I asked, apologizing, in advance, if I offended out of ignorance. And she was incredibly insightful. Amazon Eve told me that because of her history, she was equally unafraid of the experiences of male privilege and feminine power. Wow!
I started writing Bad Widow in January 2017, four months after David died, because I could see the toxicity of these assumptions and I wanted to shine a light on the issue. Also, I needed my pain to serve a greater purpose than simply my suffering. I have been a maverick all my life, marching to a different drummer, so I’m continuing the trend. I chose to call myself Bad Widow very deliberately to ruffle feathers and rattle cages. Why should a widow be merry or badass or even nice although I am all of those too? I am amazed at the pushback I get about Bad Widow because, for me, it simply means I choose to live on my own terms, unbound by assumptions and conventions. In fact, it is disrespectful to deny a person the right to name themselves, rather than be named by others. Trust yourself with your own naming. Live life on your own terms, no matter what loss you have suffered or how long it’s taken to get over it. Yours to choose. As I have.
What do you think? Schedule a 20-minute complimentary call with me if I can support you in your journey at http://bit.ly/ConnectWithAlison.