Rewriting Your Life After Crisis

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rewriting your life

Ashley Wellman suddenly became a widow and lost her job at age 34. She discovered that rewriting your life helps you move forward into your next chapter.

Ashley Wellman lost her husband in her early thirties. She found that rewriting your life is a highly effective way to heal and move forward in life. She is a criminologist specializing in trauma/victimization with 30+ publications. She serves as a media expert/television commentator and is an advocate for survivors. After her own tragedy, she added author to the list, launching her business with the creation of her first children’s book, The Girl who Dances with Skeletons: My Friend Fresno.

In this episode of Last First Date Radio:

* The shocking trauma Ashley experienced

* How to heal from trauma and focus on rewriting your life

* How to rewrite your story during difficult times

* Ashley’s inspirational story of turning trauma into an opportunity to reinvent her life

* Why it’s important to follow your dreams       

Rewriting Your Life

Can you tell us about your experience surviving trauma?

I studied trauma, violence and loss. But when it happened to me, I wasn’t prepared for it. We had moved to Texas from Florida. The day before I started my job in the university, i heard glass break. I called out, “What happened?” and no one answered. I ran downstairs and found my husband not breathing. I called 911, and my daughter was screaming, ‘save my dad’. I couldn’t help him. EMTs told me he had a heart beat, and I should leave the house. Another ambulance and firetruck pulled up. I grabbed one of them, and asked if he still had a heartbeat. He did not. I watched CPR for an hour, and he came in and out of consciousness. Eventually, they stopped trying to keep him alive.

I fell apart. He was 44 and healthy. I was 34 at the time. I didn’t understand how this could happen to me. And I had a baby to tell that her dad was dead. I then became not a scholar/wife, but a single mom and a widow. I didn’t know who that is.

What was it like returning to life again?

There was pressure to return to “normal” life/the “old me”. I thought I was ready to rejoin life, and I thought I could go back to work right away. It was the foundation for me. I didn’t know how to be a single parent or widow. I had been promised a job at this new institution. Some colleagues viewed my bereavement leave as a break, and I was excluded from the job I had signed up for. I felt worthless and valueless. 

How did you begin rewriting your life and redefining who you are now?

I opened a small business and redefined who I am now—a writer. I allowed myself to break the rules. We’ve been told ‘safe is a paycheck’. But, it’s important to take risks. I wanted to create a company about loving ourselves and others, to have empathy and grace when we have different life experiences. My goal is to go on book tour with Regan, my daughter, and talk about not bullying and loving people who are not like you.

What’s important for you to model for your six-year-old daughter?

With Regan, I encourage her to be whatever she wants to be. I support her. I am now saying the same stories to myself. We’re learning together. 

What advice do you have for someone who’s entering a new chapter in life?

Do you say to yourself you’ll be able to do something if only ____ happened? Put aside everything you have been told, and focus on what makes you happy. Is your current path going to get you there? What if there were no restraints? What if your best friend was in the same situation? What would you tell them?

You’re worth fighting for. Try. If it doesn’t work, that’s a new chapter.

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