There’s no explanation needed when talking about why my life looks and feels completely different than it did when I was a wife. Almost literally, nothing is the same. I even have one less parent. However, lately, it has been surprising me that there are so many things about my new life and the new me that could not have been present during my wife life. And I am joyfully and genuinely embracing them.
There was a time when I thought I would never truly feel happy again. In the beginning, imagining life going on without Justin was impossible. Here I am nearly 16 months out (woah), and I feel very content with where my life is and is heading. Seriously guys, this blows my mind! If you’re a widow reading this you know what I mean, the impossible became our truth and living on through the loss is yet another impossible we have to make possible. And let me tell you ladies and gents, IT IS POSSIBLE!!!
Don’t get me wrong, I miss my husband more than I can even put into justifiable words and I always will. I have just accepted that the hole he left in my heart will always ache, and it’s an ache I can live with because it is all I have left of him, and that ache reminds me of the life I once had. Even though I have experienced incredible heartbreak, I can honestly say I have gained so much after losing so much. I will always treasure the memory of my life with Justin, but I am living on with loss and can still make room for all kinds of possibilities in my life.
My circle of friends here in Colorado has even changed and expanded significantly. My widow besties (AKA my Wids) are for sure one thing I could not imagine my life without and I probably wouldn’t have known them if it hadn’t been for this unbelievably shitty life circumstance we share. And since we can’t change that circumstance, we have chosen to help each other mend our broken hearts and embrace our new lives, together.
I also have these new circles of friends now. Some I have known for years but was never really close to them, and it somehow took my new reality to bring us together and I LOVE these people and am beyond grateful they are part of my life. A simple philosophy I inherited from Justin was, always surround yourself with quality people. With everything I have been through, it’s OK to be picky about who I let in.
I have even become more social and have tried doing new things, going new places, being more spontaneous and exploring more of this beautiful place that I am fortunate enough to call home. I am doing more and saying YES to more because why the hell not?
Without getting into too much detail out of respect for Justin, I believe the last few years of his life were pretty dark. I know I provided him with the light he needed to get by but after the abrupt loss of his parents, he became submerged into a deep pain and didn’t have the tools to dig himself out. Those of you that knew him probably didn’t even know this because he was really good at making everyone believe he was happy 100% of the time. However, looking back on our life and seeing how different my life is now, I have to believe he was in more pain than I was capable of realizing at the time. When you’re living with someone every day, what is actually going on may be hard to recognize.
Grief has many different faces and one of his was shutting himself out from the world outside of him and I. I’m only sharing this because I can now actually understand why he was the way he was during those last few years of his life, and it breaks my heart. He seemed to want to be home most of the time and socializing was the last thing on his list of desires. This is why I choose to be open and honest about the truths of life, I cannot shut out the world. I think it would kill me too. Recognizing how shut in he was, which in turn made me a shut in, had an impact on our daily life. I do know there was only so much I could do for him. I know it wasn’t anyone’s fault other than grief’s nasty hold that it had over him. I am not saying he didn’t handle it well, I just truly believe it took over a part of his heart and he didn’t know what to do with it. He didn’t have the support from people who could relate to that loss, he had me. I was basically it, but at that time in my life all I knew what to do was be his wife, love him and provide whatever I could to make life a little lighter for him.
When I met Justin, I had just turned 22. Now, being a 30-year-old woman starting over I am getting to know ME again and I have never loved myself more because of the heartbreak I have endured. I am who I am today because of it, and I am grateful for that. I believe that’s why I have been able to welcome all this beautiful newness in my life. I am surer of myself than ever before because I have been to hell and back and survived. With confidence, I can literally do anything!
I am living with grief but I am daily finding things that I absolutely LOVE about my new life. I am at a point where I can find gratitude for what I have gained after this unimaginable loss. Part of me died along with Justin, there is no doubt about that. But now, I am experiencing a re-birth of a woman who I am proud to be.