“After all this, you deserve to be happy. Nobody deserves to be happy more than you, and you should do WHATEVER makes you happy.”

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New Year, Old Memories, Mixed Emotions…and how Moving Forward isn’t Moving On

Posted By Proud Military Widow, Jessica Wilson

Over the last few years, I cannot tell you how many people have said to me, “Wow, you could write a book!”…I suppose I could, if I had the time, the energy, the organizational skills…I could write about my experiences. Thoughts and feelings. Lessons learned. Perspective and outlook gained. But, really, I am not sure how many people would want to read the jumbled up thoughts and roller-coaster emotions. I already know that there is a limited set of people who would completely relate to or identify with my story. Then again, maybe there are more than a few people out there who share a similar experience and would like to know they aren’t completely insane. So, maybe I should write for them. And for myself, of course.
People always usher in a new year with a certain amount of excitement for what it is to come. I, on the other hand, find myself slightly excited at the possibilities, but also apprehensive and nervous, like I am waiting for “the other shoe to drop” or the sky to fall out of the relatively-happy-new-do-over life I am living now…I always find myself looking backward in time as I look forward to the future, and it makes my head swim.
If I was to write that book, it would, of course, be a story of love and loss and tragedy and triumph. That’s a given…
I would write about being a 25 year old college student, who felt like she didn’t belong anywhere. There she sat, in her college hoodie in her Psychology class, listening to the cute little sorority girls say things like “OMG, last weekend Jason got soooo wasted, it was ridiculous! I laughed so much!” And fighting back the urge to answer their questions about what she did last weekend with responses like, “Well, I looked over the police report from my dead husband’s car accident and filled out more forms for the VA, and wanted to die, myself. That’s a typical Saturday night at my house, you ditz!”…
Or maybe I would write about how the biggest difference between losing any other member of your family and losing your spouse is the constant judgement you feel from everyone around you. Lose your Grandma, and no one really minds if you go out to dinner and have a few laughs a month later. Do the same, when you are widowed, and everybody has something to say about it. There are those who think you are “moving on too soon” and are somehow being disrespectful in your early show of happiness. And then there are those who say you should of been out to dinner way sooner. Either way, there is always SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE who disapproves of your every move, every decision, and questions your motives, loyalty and love every step of the way. This of course, happens at a time when you are in so much pain, it takes everything you have just to BREATHE on your own; you are not strong enough to bear other people’s opinions of you. It will ruin you if you let it, that constant feeling of judgement and accusation, or at the very least, that sensation of total uncertainty. But, you can’t let it ruin you. If you do, you would ruin the best part of the story…And that’s the last thing I would write about—finally being able to live a happy life again. Not because I have “forgotten” anything, but because I want my “memories” to create something positive. And not because I am an entirely different person, but because what I have been through has made me absolutely certain about what really matters in life, and what really matters at the end of my life…And not because the opinions of family, friends and loved ones don’t matter, but because I realize that they don’t understand the whole story. I am the person who has to live my life the only way I know how, and I have no time for or tolerance of anybody’s judgmental attitude. …..And also maybe mostly because I got lucky enough to meet someone who showed me that it is NOT disrespectful to be happy again, nor does it mean that I have “moved on and forgotten everything” just because I want to keep moving, keep living life to the fullest, and fill my time with smiles and laughter rather than bitterness, anger, and sadness.
Maybe, like me, you will meet a person who makes you realize that your past experiences are not the “end” of you, they are just a part of you. Maybe this new person will restore your belief in happiness and love and faith again, make you feel like it’s possible to have a second chance at a happy life. Maybe, instead of judging your every thought, word, and action, you will meet a person who just looks at you and says, “After all this, you deserve to be happy. Nobody deserves to be happy more than you, and you should do WHATEVER makes you happy.”
And then you’ll look back on all your memories and past experiences, thankful to have had them, thankful for the strength and perspective, and also so very thankful for the chance at new memories, and a new life…lived in the most heart felt way.
The kind of life that makes the past bearable, the future bright, and the story worth writing 🙂

New Year, Old Memories, Mixed Emotions…and how Moving Forward isn’t Moving On

Over the last few years, I cannot tell you how many people have said to me, “Wow, you could write a book!”…I suppose I could, if I had the time, the energy, the organizational skills…I could write about my experiences. Thoughts and feelings. Lessons learned. Perspective and outlook gained. But, really, I am not sure how many people would want to read the jumbled up thoughts and roller-coaster emotions. I already know that there is a limited set of people who would completely relate to or identify with my story. Then again, maybe there are more than a few people out there who share a similar experience and would like to know they aren’t completely insane. So, maybe I should write for them. And for myself, of course.
People always usher in a new year with a certain amount of excitement for what it is to come. I, on the other hand, find myself slightly excited at the possibilities, but also apprehensive and nervous, like I am waiting for “the other shoe to drop” or the sky to fall out of the relatively-happy-new-do-over life I am living now…I always find myself looking backward in time as I look forward to the future, and it makes my head swim.
If I was to write that book, it would, of course, be a story of love and loss and tragedy and triumph. That’s a given…
I would write about being a 25 year old college student, who felt like she didn’t belong anywhere. There she sat, in her college hoodie in her Psychology class, listening to the cute little sorority girls say things like “OMG, last weekend Jason got soooo wasted, it was ridiculous! I laughed so much!” And fighting back the urge to answer their questions about what she did last weekend with responses like, “Well, I looked over the police report from my dead husband’s car accident and filled out more forms for the VA, and wanted to die, myself. That’s a typical Saturday night at my house, you ditz!”…
Or maybe I would write about how the biggest difference between losing any other member of your family and losing your spouse is the constant judgement you feel from everyone around you. Lose your Grandma, and no one really minds if you go out to dinner and have a few laughs a month later. Do the same, when you are widowed, and everybody has something to say about it. There are those who think you are “moving on too soon” and are somehow being disrespectful in your early show of happiness. And then there are those who say you should of been out to dinner way sooner. Either way, there is always SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE who disapproves of your every move, every decision, and questions your motives, loyalty and love every step of the way. This of course, happens at a time when you are in so much pain, it takes everything you have just to BREATHE on your own; you are not strong enough to bear other people’s opinions of you. It will ruin you if you let it, that constant feeling of judgement and accusation, or at the very least, that sensation of total uncertainty. But, you can’t let it ruin you. If you do, you would ruin the best part of the story…And that’s the last thing I would write about—finally being able to live a happy life again. Not because I have “forgotten” anything, but because I want my “memories” to create something positive. And not because I am an entirely different person, but because what I have been through has made me absolutely certain about what really matters in life, and what really matters at the end of my life…And not because the opinions of family, friends and loved ones don’t matter, but because I realize that they don’t understand the whole story. I am the person who has to live my life the only way I know how, and I have no time for or tolerance of anybody’s judgmental attitude. …..And also maybe mostly because I got lucky enough to meet someone who showed me that it is NOT disrespectful to be happy again, nor does it mean that I have “moved on and forgotten everything” just because I want to keep moving, keep living life to the fullest, and fill my time with smiles and laughter rather than bitterness, anger, and sadness.
Maybe, like me, you will meet a person who makes you realize that your past experiences are not the “end” of you, they are just a part of you. Maybe this new person will restore your belief in happiness and love and faith again, make you feel like it’s possible to have a second chance at a happy life. Maybe, instead of judging your every thought, word, and action, you will meet a person who just looks at you and says, “After all this, you deserve to be happy. Nobody deserves to be happy more than you, and you should do WHATEVER makes you happy.”
And then you’ll look back on all your memories and past experiences, thankful to have had them, thankful for the strength and perspective, and also so very thankful for the chance at new memories, and a new life…lived in the most heart felt way.
The kind of life that makes the past bearable, the future bright, and the story worth writing 🙂

6 thoughts on “New Year, Old Memories, Mixed Emotions…and how Moving Forward isn’t Moving On”

  1. You deserve to be happy and to find what does that for you. Don’t ever let someone else’s opinion about you effect you in a negative way. Your story is touching yet heart breaking at the same time. I do hope you find what you need to help add to your life but would not dream of asking you or advising you to forget the old one. Your experiences and what you have endured is what makes you who you are so keep moving forward. I wish you peace and happiness as your story touched my heart. God bless you.

    • Boy!! Do I understand this!
      Widowed way to early, I have been told take off my rings, start dating, sell this, keep that, yada yada yada! It is about how I heal and how fast or slow I feel I need to go! One should only move at the pace they can keep up with. I still wear my rings, have not started dating and have most of his things still. Some widows I know have gotten rid of most of “his” stuff and taken off their rings. Each should do what they feel is best for them. I say ” Until you walk in my shoes shut up” Just my 2 cents.

      • Jessica,
        Thank you for taking the time to write this. I lost my husband in June of 2010 and have been struggling with moving on. Some days I just wouldnt allow myself to be happy and somedays I felt it was ok. I believe its a battle that all widows will continue to face with the years ahead of them. Judgment by people not living your life can be disheartening. It has been hard to allow myself to move on or what I would say “start a new chapter in my book of life”. Time never heals it just allows us to live with the pain we will carry the rest of our life. The only thing that has kept me sane is knowing that my husband Mike would just want me and the kids to be happy and taken care of. May your future be filled will happiness.

        • Crystal Johnston

          I lost my husband one year ago today. Movers were at our door ready to pack our things so we could PCS the morning I found him. Since then everyone knows how to live my life, raise my son, and grieve my husband better than I do. You’re suddenly thrown back into this “civilian” world that seems so foreign and you don’t know where you fit in. Everyone has an opinion on what you should be doing, or they treat you like widowhood is a contagious disease and want nothing to do with you. December 31st didn’t mark a new year for me, March 19th does because that’s when my world came crashing down around me and I had to start over. I have finally reached the point where I decide where my life takes me, other people’s opinions can’t dictate my happiness. Thank you for sharing your story, it’s encouraging and inspiring. I’m not sure where life is going to lead us and for the first time since my husband died I’m okay with that. I know all he wants is my son and I to be happy. Today marks the start of a new year and finding happiness in life again doesn’t take anything away from the 9 amazing years I had with my husband. Thank you for making me feel like I’m not alone. I wish you all of the happiness the world has to offer, you’re an amazing person and you deserve it!

          • When my friend died in a car accident after a birthday party he threw for me on my 15th birthday peoples reactions were similar stories we were not really engaged that was not an engagement ring just a friendship ring to varying degrees of rumors and melodramatic stories threats you name it to feeling isolated and loneliness some just don’t know how to react or what to do so they just leave ?you alone. If you only have puppy love it hurts no less if you are just a puppy. I have learned over many years since not to worry about the bad choices of others I can do a good enough job of that by myself.

            • I have to admit–I’ve been searching tons of online blogs for young widows just searching for that perfect one–the one that says exactly what I’m thinking and feeling. I found it. Widowed at 31 years old 3 days shy of our daughter’s 2nd birthday, I’ve been through a roller coaster of emotions. 2.5 years later, I am in a relationship and I am happy. What makes me unhappy and consumes my every thought is the judgment you speak of. I look around at all the people who are divorced, who were cheated on or left by their husband. When they started dating–everyone was thrilled! I look at the people close to my husband who are also experiencing the loss and they are of course very hurt, but are continuing to live life. Smiling, vacationing, and enjoying precious moments. Then there’s me. How dare I smile. How dare I date or consider getting remarried. Why should my daughter and I have a family and be happy? I’ve actually been told, “you’ll find a new husband, but I will never have a new “insert family member here.” Oh, so that’s how this works. People are replaceable? I think not. So just because I’m in a happy, committed relationship that makes this all better and less painful for me? No, it doesn’t. I swear the day I let go and not care what others think will be the happiest day of my life. Thank you for writing what I’m thinking.

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