“I want my old life back.”
I cannot count the number of times I said those six words in the first few years after losing my husband. I just wanted to turn back time and have everything the way it used to be. I did not want to accept that time travel was just not going to happen.
Eventually, I changed my words to “I want The Brady Bunch“. If I could not have my husband and my old life back, I decided that my favorite 70’s sitcom would be the next best thing.
I would find a widower with kids in the same age group as mine. We would get married and all live together. There would be silly little problems that could be solved in 30 minutes, but we would live happily ever after.
I remember saying these things to my therapist at the time. I was not wishing for it to happen, I was assuming it would. Why wouldn’t it? I could not have my husband back, and this would be the next best thing. I deserved that. My kids and I had been through so much so this should be how our story would continue.
She explained to me that, sadly, life does not always work that way. She told me that I might not meet a widower. I could meet someone who was divorced. It could also be possible that there may not be anyone in the near future who I would want to spend my life with. Most importantly, she suggested trying to be by myself for a while.
She just did not understand. OF COURSE this was going to happen.
I was proven wrong. My girls and I are not living the life of The Brady Bunch. My life is nothing like Carol Brady’s and is also very different from my old life.
Different is not necessarily bad, just different. It turned out that although I thought I did, I didn’t really want to be in a serious relationship right away. I needed time to get my life together, and also to devote to my girls who really needed me.
I found a different path.
Going through such a tragedy changes you, and it has changed me. I don’t think I could be that person that I was when my husband died. That person was great – she was a great mom, great wife, great friend, she was happy. She had a really good life.
I could have stayed like that forever and all would have been right with the world, but I suddenly lost my husband. Whether I liked it or not, things had to change. I just wasn’t sure how.
The biggest change came from inside myself. I realized that I had been looking for a relationship to rescue me from my grief. Instead, I found my own interests and gained some independence. I have a job, hobbies, and I solo-parent my girls the best way I know how. I also have a new relationship, but it is not the only thing I depend on to make me happy. My life is busy and that is good for me.
I like this new person I am becoming but it brings me to the question – where do I fit?
I am not the old me and I did not turn into Carol Brady. I loved my old life but I am starting to also love this new one, and this more independent version of myself.
I try to combine the old life with the new one as best I can. I have grown, while at the same time, I have kept important things from my past, such as my friendships.
It is not always perfect, and there will always be a part of me that “wants my old life back”, but I no longer want to be part of The Brady Bunch.
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, now ages 18 and 20, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.