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There are so many misconceptions about the relationships we see online.  Everyone seems so happy.  Relationships look so easy.  Social media is covered with smiles, travel, family gatherings, celebrations, engagements, marriage, and much more.

It’s all so HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!!!

Come on get real.  It’s not all butterflies and cupcakes people.  Relationships can be hard and complicated.  It takes commitment, work, and compromise.  It also takes a lot of love. Recently I have reconnected with people I haven’t seen in a long time.  I love it!  One of the first things they always tell me is “Wow you look so happy”, “I am so glad you found love again”, “Watching your posts inspire me”.  I always tell them, thank you. Yes, I am happy.  I am blessed to have met such a wonderful person.  My favorite, and part of my life’s mission, is to inspire people, so I love hearing that (please don’t ever stop sharing).

But, and it’s a big but, I also mention it is a journey.  What looks like pure joy in the pictures online is not always joy every single day.  There have been lots of struggles along the way.  My life and the lives we see online are far from perfect.

Family and friend relationships after a loss can sometimes change.  And that can be hard to take.  Losing connection with friends, hard.  Losing it with family, even harder.  The couple is now one.  The family of four is now three.  What does one do with that?  Keep moving forward.  That is what you do.  Everything and everyone keeps moving forward, so we must move too.  And it’s all ok. I am not afraid I will lose them forever and understand life is messy.   I am also a firm believer in people will circle back into your life.  How beautiful is that!

As someone who has entered into a new romantic relationship two and a half years ago, after losing her husband of twenty-three years, (we like to call it our “Plan B”) I have had the opportunity to learn a lot of lessons.  Not always willingly I might add.  Here are just a few of the lessons I have learned.

Lesson One – Family

The vision, experience, and dreams of the family have permanently changed.  The father or mother of the children is no longer there.  When entering into a romantic relationship after a loss you have officially stepped into second place.  You were not and never will be the first love to the other person.  Even if you get married you will remain in second place forever.  So, get used to it.

Speaking from a personal perspective I was the top dog for twenty-three years.  I ran the family.  I was in charge.  I was the connector.  I was number one.  Going from number one to number two stings in some ways.  But it’s exactly where I belong and here is why.

I am not the person he fell madly in love with thirty years ago, built a family, had three beautiful children, and created a life and future with.  The same goes for me.  He is not the person who changed my life, showed me how to love, and blessed me with two amazing boys.

I am not the creator, the connector of his existing unit.  I am only an addition.  And for me in particular, I am an “outside” addition.  Meaning I wasn’t part of the friend fold.  I wasn’t someone a friend knew.  I wasn’t part of the group, or live in the area, or went to the same schools.  You get it, I am the outsider!

Lesson Two – Pictures

This might sound corny but it’s a thing.  As an outsider and being in second place you might never be a part of family or group pictures in the time frame you think.  Give it time.

This one too can also sting a little bit.  When you’re with your new partner you want to be a part of this new tribe, but sometimes you have to stay in the background in a supportive mode.  All tribes, his and mine are still grieving.  For those grieving it’s not natural to bring you or him into the picture.   But give it time, when it feels right for them you will be ready to hop in that next selfie.

Lesson Three – Trust

You could experience trust issues.  Emotions and reactions are at an all-time high after loss.  Feelings get hurt. Egos get shut down. Shit happens.  This is not the tribe you have spent your life evolving with.  It’s not a tribe you have spent years building trust with.  It’s all new to everyone involved.  You’re the outsider.  Feelings could get hurt.  Once that happens it takes time to heal.  Give it time. Build the trust coming into you and the trust going out from you.  It will get softer, I promise.

Lesson Four – Friends

His friends were her friends, they miss her terribly.  Don’t expect to become their best friend overnight.  There is also the chance you will never become friends with everyone in his group.  Its life.  Not everyone likes you.  Some could form their own preconceived ideas about you.  Try and give them grace and time to get to know the real you.  Getting to know you might come with some heartache, it’s just part of the process.  Again, give it time.  New friendships will come and if you stay open to the process, it can be amazing and very rewarding.   It will take time but it’s worth the wait.

Lesson Five – Kids

Talking with your kids becomes a sacred time.  Private.  The conversations are separate.  His kids.  Your kids.  On occasion, you will have shared conversations, but it’s rare.  You want to protect the trust of the original tribe and having an outsider listen in on a conversation is uncomfortable for all parties.  You have to be ok with that.  Family time doesn’t always include you now. Our children need to feel connected to the remaining parent in their lives more than ever.  So give them space.  You are not part of the history of this tribe, so don’t expect to know everything about what is going on in their lives.  Stay in background supportive mode.    Sharing will come in time.  Be patient.  When they do start to share with you, your heart will be filled with joy.

The bottom line for me is that a Relationship after loss is messy, hard, complicated, and definitely not social media picture-perfect.  But it is worth it.  I would not change a thing about this journey I have been on, and looking forward to where it goes and what I learn along the way.

Luv, Luv

Julie 💙


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