Guilt and New Beginnings

In what appeared to be a first attempt at a new beginning, I decided to do a complete overhaul on my body. I bought dumbbells and a stationary bike. I started brushing my teeth with whitening toothpaste. I used these religiously, as if my life depended upon them.

As a result, I was now in better shape than I’d been in for twenty years. Why didn’t I get fit when Michael was still alive? I asked myself. It had only been ten months since he died, and it was as if I was preparing myself to “get back out there,”—far too early to even consider such a thing. Besides, the whole idea of meeting somebody new terrified me.

It didn’t seem to matter that I had started losing weight before Michael died. Whatever the reality, I felt like I was cheating on my dead husband every time I worked out—or that I was getting ready to cheat on him.

When I mentioned these invasive thoughts to my best friend Jenny, she gave me another perspective. “You’re working out every day despite the fact that you feel guilty for doing it. You’re moving on with your life even though you feel like you’re being disloyal to Michael.”

I paused for a moment, considering this revelation. “You’re right,” I said. “Because I know that working out and writing every day is what’s keeping me sane.”

Something Jenny said must’ve hit home because I left this conversation feeling better about the whole thing. In the midst of all my guilt, I hadn’t taken into account the fact that I was engaging in these rather ordinary but life-affirming activities because they allowed me to be something besides sad and gave me hope and a tiny hook on which to hang my future.

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