<p><span></span>After the tragic death of her ex-boyfriend and dealing with heartbreak on the last season of <em>The Bachelor</em>, <strong>Ashley Hebert</strong> underwent a transformation to prepare for her stint as the new <em>Bachelorette</em>. Now, for the first time Ashley opens up about triumphing over tragedy and heartbreak. "I knew I had to change," she confesses to <em>Life & Style</em> in an exclusive interview. "I said to myself, 'If I keep acting so protectively, I'll never allow myself to fall in love.'"</p>
Ashley's fear of rejection and terror of losing a loved one dovetailed right before she went on The Bachelor. The man she once thought was her true love, Joe Olszewski, died tragically just weeks before Ashley began filming. "He was so very dear to my heart, and his passing took a toll on me," she says, tears welling up in her eyes.
Joe's death rattled the 26 year old she admits now, but she put on a brave face while trying to let Brad into her heart. "I still struggle with Joe's passing, but it also made me realize life is so short," she affirms today. "When you find someone you love, tell him!" Ashley's certainly ready to open her heart for the right guy -- it's been nearly four years since her last boyfriend.
"Everything I've been through in life, including the passing of my ex-boyfriend, has brought me here," Ashley says. Whatever happens this season, she promises, "it'll be honest and from my heart. You can trust that."
For more from Ashley Hebert, pick up the new issue of Life & Style, on newsstands now in New York and nationwide Friday!
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