How the Widow Badass Came to Be

When Joanne and I were hiking last weekend, she asked me how I came up with the name for my blog. I then realized that I have never fully explained it, although I briefly touch on this on my About the Widow page.

The Widow Badass was born when my husband died – in the first few minutes of November 14, 2013. She had been conceived in the doctor’s office where we received his diagnosis of lung cancer, a mere 6 months earlier.

My grieving started at that moment of conception, and also my oh-so practical (this sounds so cold, but it’s true) planning for my future without him.

I was working full-time, AND pursuing my MBA online (as was he), at the time of his diagnosis. Due to his insistence, I kept working and studying. He was too weak to work, but he kept studying also. We weren’t supposed to let the cancer “win” by giving these things up.

I fully supported him throughout the course of his disease. I researched cancer relentlessly; went to every appointment and treatment; sat vigil in every hospital room; shopped and cooked and worked and studied and cared and cried and prayed; and then got up after a few hours rest and did it all again.

During my quiet moments in hospital rooms I thought about about and planned my future without him. I knew I would have a huge mess to clean up once he was gone. His OCD-fuelled hoarding had managed to fill up the large building that he owned for the past 20 years, and had spilled into the residence that I owned.

Listening to the hum of the ICU equipment, I estimated it would take me a solid year of working at it every night and weekend just to empty his building of the accumulation of garbage that was his hoard (the last room was emptied just a few week’s shy of a year later).

Drinking my lukewarm Tim Horton’s tea while my husband slept, I decided I would move into his building and erase the 20 years of his neglect at great cost to make it my own (I did).

Watching the nurses take his vitals, I knew it would take a few months to clean up my property enough to make it presentable to sell but I would do that first, then move and start cleaning up all over again (done, and done).

Pacing the hallways, I vowed that at some point during all this I would complete my damn MBA (damn straight, I did).

And so it all happened. The Widow Badass made it all happen. She was/is that aspect of myself that took over and got shit done. And she had no time or patience for anybody’s bullshit. She was all: blinders on, full speed ahead and let’s deal with the wreckage later when the dust settles.

What I didn’t plan for was finding out about my husband’s unfaithfulness to me during the clean-up process, a couple of months after he died. Finding print-outs of emails between him and another woman shook my entire world-view of what I thought my life with him had been about.

But that didn’t stop the Widow Badass. Oh no. She mined the knowledge of that 18 month-long affair like it was diamonds buried in a refuse heap. She used that hurt and rage to further fuel the mission to create a new life.

So now the Widow Badass is here and here to stay. Long may she reign.

Rock on,

The WB









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  • Hi W B,

    Well since you’re putting it ALL out there, I have a couple of questions.

    What did your husband hoard? Did you ever confront him about this strange behaviour?

    Did you ever confront or contact the other woman? Do you think that she was seeing him when he was sick?

    How would you describe your relationship, in retrospect?

    • Just so you know, I have not put it ALL out there. This is the Cole’s Notes version of my life.

      What did he hoard? Everything. There was a memory attached to everything. He couldn’t let anything go. Paper, clothing, furniture, equipment, cardboard boxes, phone books, shoes, food – basically everything he ever owned or was given that wasn’t consumed. Yes, we had many a discussion about this issue.

      I did meet the other woman, who was as duped by my husband as I was. She thought he was single. She found out about me and ended the relationship before we got married (but were living common-law). She never contacted me or saw him again, but I found out about her after he died and reached out to her in desperation to help me process what he did to both of us.

      In retrospect, my relationship was with the person I thought he was and portrayed himself to be, not who he really was. He was a crazy genius and a master manipulator of people.

      • Thanks for that, Deborah.

        Wow he sounds like a complicated man. In what fields did his genius lie? Do you think that he was a bit of a sociopath?

        How did he personally handle the fact that he was terminally ill?

        Yes, I am a nosy (curious) person.


        • Then read my blog. Most of the questions (if not all) you are asking are answered in there.

  • Wow, you’ve been through a lot. I’m sorry to hear that your husband wasn’t the person you thought he was. Good for you for meeting the woman he was seeing; I hoped it helped that you were able to get some answers from her. Well done for carrying on through it all. You sound very much like myself; in times of difficulty I tend to keep pushing because stopping isn’t an option.

    • Thanks Jo. It did help a little (mostly to make this surreal situation I found myself in real to me, if you know what I mean). I did end up seeking professional help from a counsellor (dealing with the wreckage once the dust settled) to help manage my emotions and thoughts.

  • You are definitely a BADASS! An inspiring badass. A vulnerable badass. A badass who knows how to get shit done and then does it. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been, the mess and the betrayal, but I do know I’m privileged to call the badass who went through it and came out the other side whole my friend.

    • Thank you my friend Reticula! Your words means a lot to me.

  • I am truly sorry for all the bs you had to go through and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone – but it seems to have made you incredibly strong and able to tackle anything. I am beginning mid life myself – rather, I have eased into it and am coasting along. I am determined to re-invent my life, mid life, and have a hell of a time doing it.

    Just stopping by via Blissful Lemon’s NaBloPoMo linkup!

    • To have a hell of a time doing it is the best way, in my humble opinion!

  • Congrats on putting your story into words. You and I have already talked about this and I’m still dumbfounded by what you went through. In your case, what didn’t kill you, definitely made you stronger! 💕

  • Ah, Deb. My heart goes out to you, all the stuff that came across your pathway since the moment we met. I cannot even imagine! And yes, you are Very Strong. You’ve had a lot of experiences, not for the faint of heart. Just keep healthy through all these changes – what is a shock to your brain and psyche is also shocking to your physical health. But you already know all that. You’ve had an incredible journey, one I would not wish on anyone. And you’ve come out a very whole person. You have my admiration, Cuz! <3

    • Thank you Cuz! You are right about the effects on physical health. I have experienced them too. Thanks for the reminder to look after my outsides as well as my insides.

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