The thing most people don’t get about losing your partner is that you also lose a part of yourself when they die. You lose aspects of who you were with them. You lose a lot of your innocence, without having any choice in the matter. You grieve a loss of your own self. This sudden identity change was an equally painful part of losing my fiance six years ago.
Death changes us, no doubt. And there’s this part of me that I had long-since accepted that I would never get back after he died. There was a lightness in who I was before. This effortless, joyful feeling. A distinct side of me that was silly and goofy and witty and warm. Which became replaced with something more akin to an over-serious somewhat distanced and far more uptight person. Of any part of myself, that lighthearted, goofy part is something I miss the most. My innocent self. My carefree self. Always ready to make those I love laugh. Always full of life and hungry for new experiences and filled with curiosity for life, love and people. She’s a part of me that my new family has not really even met, which always gives me heartbreak.
As my birthday hit this weekend, I’m doing some reflecting, and realizing that maybe that part of me didn’t actually die after all…
There have been glimpses of her, ever so small, this year. I hadn’t really realized this until sitting down to write this today. Until enjoying my birthday yesterday with my new partner and his/our kiddo and somehow feeling like my old self again – only in a new life. Feeling lighter and more joyful than I have in years. Feeling silly again. Feeling some part of me that is new but also old and familiar, coming back. I can honestly say, for this my 36th birthday, I actually felt AS happy as I did back before my whole world ended. Six years after the day that it all changed, I never believed I would feel that way… because I thought I’d lost that part of me forever. But somehow, she seems to be returning.
To even have the smallest glimpses of this part of me coming back is the most surreal feeling. To even know she might still be in there, with all her playfulness and lighthearted curiosity. Not only does it feel like a piece of me coming back from the dead, but also a reconnection to my fiance and the life we shared together. A part of that life that I have wanted to share with those in my new life for so long, but have felt unable to. For certain, there feels like an internal shift going on in me, and something waking up that I didn’t even know was sleeping.
I hope gives someone else out there hope. I never would have imagined that this piece of who I was would ever return to me. I had entirely given up on this in fact years ago. I’m still a new and different person. And I’ll never be the same person I was in that life. And that’s ok, because there’s parts of who I am now that I also love very much. But one of my favorite parts of myself went to sleep when he died, and I have missed her all these years. I’ve missed her just as much as I’ve missed him. To have even a little bit of that piece of me back would be so incredible. To have even small glimmers of her returning fills me with such gratitude. I hope this will mean something to someone else’s story out there too. Maybe we’re all in a process of waking up again.