Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Outlier

Date: 
Monday, July 29, 2013
Posted By: 
Eden Maheras
In stats, an outlier is a data point that falls noticeably outside the normal distribution.  They can be the result of measurement error or just part of those small numbers of cases that fall more than two standard deviations from the average.  The young widowed can relate.  Our situation feels like it should be a measurement error.  We don’t fit in.  We’d like to discard that data point and try the measurement again. 
 
I often feel like an outsider in groups.  Where I once was comfortably part of a labeled faction – whether it was my rugby team in college; a work group; or defined by relationship status (part of a couple, then part of the married group, and finally the married-with-kids crew) - I’m now in No Man’s Land.  I’m alone now, without the person who made me feel like I always fit in somewhere, no matter what; the person who was the definition of “home,” of “stability,” of “safe.”  Of “love.”
 
For a while, I tried to find “my” group of data points.  But no matter where I looked, it was clear that I was the odd woman out.  I’m no longer part of a couple, and my parenting experience is now so different from that of my married mom friends as to be unrecognizable as the same thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends who have kids, or are part of a couple.  I cherish those relationships, and don’t know where I would be without them.  But it’s different.  Where we used to do a little harmless complaining about our spouses, I get the feeling that my girl friends are no longer comfortable doing that around me.  And I hate thinking that they are censoring their conversation because of me.  As a mom, it’s hard for me to feel like I really fit in with my single friends.  My classmates are significantly younger than I am, and again, not having the freedom to be able to socialize after classes has made it difficult to feel like a part of that group. 
 
The young widowed community itself doesn’t even have a normal distribution of data.  Because of the magnitude of each of our tragedies, the variations in our circumstances, and individual differences, it’s impossible to feel like you truly can understand another’s situation.  Each of us has to work on redefining our identities.  We are challenged with figuring out not only who we are and how we will deal with our circumstances, but also where we might best fit in – where we belong in relation to others in our lives.  JP was someone who naturally fit into the fabric of groups in his life.  Whether work, school, or personal, he just always seemed to be part of the in-crowd.  And I, by association, was as well.  Now I find myself in a constant struggle to put myself in context, to find the crowd into which I can blend.  And I’m realizing that it’s ok to be someone different from before, and it’s ok not to fit in.  I think JP would approve.

Comments

Yes!! I love that more than "widow". Thinking of making a t-shirt for myself!! You took the words right out of my mouth!! Thanks for sharing!!

Eden, I love this analogy. I have often felt like i don't belong with the defined data set. What a perfect way to describe it. Excellent blog entry.

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