Stepping forward into a chapter 2 is scary, regardless of why or how your chapter one ended. Here are five things I learned along my journey.
1. You Will Never Be Ready
There is no “right” time. There is no magic timeline that exists.
If I had not met Jon, I still wouldn’t be ready for a chapter two. It isn’t about the time that’s passed – it’s about the people that come into your life. You are paralyzing yourself if you over-analyze your “readiness.” Be with people that make you happy – that is what life is truly about.
2. Be Confident
Confidence is hard to come by when the world as you know it disappears. You will never feel like you have enough confidence. The key is to have a clear understanding of what you do and do not want in your future life.
What I wanted was to be happy, to live in the moment, appreciate the people that add joy to my life, and be a good role model for my children. I didn’t know exactly what action I would have to take to get there, but those are the four things I wanted to focus on for the rest of my life.
When you are starting a second chapter, there will be people that actively support you, and unfortunately, there will be people that do not. Be confident in who you are. Understand why this person is important enough to invite into your life.
For me it was relatively simple – he made me smile and he gave me the gift of his time when I needed a friend. Cling to that knowledge when people doubt you.
3. People Will Surprise You
The surprise could be very good – there are some wonderful, kind, caring, and compassionate people in this world. The surprise could also be negative, because there are also people that are judgmental and those that believe widows “should” be doing/not doing certain things on a timeline.
You will be surprised where people fall on the spectrum. Just remember that their response is a reflection of them, not you. Refer to #2 – and have confidence in yourself!
4. Get to Know Your Chapter Two
Take the time to get to know him/her as a person. They are not your chapter one. There are many things I miss about Steve, but there are also many different things I love about Jon. There are new traits to appreciate, and it is okay to miss what you don’t have – just don’t let missing that something take away from the great things you do have.
No two people are the same, and no one is perfect. What is important is your ability to appreciate and enjoy your chapter two for all the positive things they add to your life. They will never take anything away from your chapter one – that chapter was written, and the words cannot change – for better or for worse.
5. Be Open to New Conversations
As I said above, a chapter two relationship is very different from a chapter one. People don’t go through life expecting to ever have the chapter two experience – you go through life hoping to find “the one” to spend your entire life with. When that doesn’t happen you are left trying to figure out how to piece together a life that you never imagined.
There may be kids, exes, extra in-laws, and grief to work through. There are new “meet the parents” moments and families are dynamic to say the least! Your chapter two may be going through their own loss or life transition, and you will need to support them just as they should be supporting you. You will wade through conversations that you never imagined, but having those conversations is the key to developing a strong long term relationship.
Transitioning from chapter one to chapter two has been a journey of personal development for me. Developing confidence in my ability to survive without Steve, and being a strong role model for our children has not come without challenges and a lot of self-doubt.
This past year has had a lot of ups, downs, and major life changes. There were many tears, but also so many moments of happiness. Life is never easy, but I have learned that adversity makes a person appreciate life just a little more.
This year has made me into the person I am today – happy, confident, and optimistic about the future. I guess that can happen twice ;)!
If you have a chapter two, what else would you add to this list?