Starting over is terrifying. No matter your age, your gender, or your position in life, drastic change can inspire feelings of panic, insecurity, and bone-numbing fear.
I’m in the midst of starting over, starting fresh, and creating a new life for myself. In my early forties, I’m beginning from ground zero with little money, no belongings, and a complete lack of a safety net. Before I started my journey, I focused on one simple truth:
That to which I devote my time, energy, and love will grow exponentially.
Originally, I focused on other people. I gave them all of my energy and attention until nothing remained for myself. As a result, I didn’t grow as a person, as a human being, as a woman in my own right.
Over the last few years, I accepted that I was doing things all wrong. I didn’t know how to start over or what horrible, terrible things would happen if I tried.
The Turning Point
For every person, there is a specific place, time, or situation that brings the world into focus with a sharp slap. For me, that came in the form of being laid off for the first time. After months of being unable to find another job, my entire body was coiled tight with the effects of stress.
I started to write. I wrote thousands of word a day for months on end, purging everything that festered in my head, filled up my heart, and influenced my daily outlook.
It relieved the pressure and I was so grateful when I learned that I could make money doing what I loved. I embraced my new path with true joy. I still struggled financially but it was better than being unemployed and far more fulfilling than my years in the corporate world.
Know You Are Worth Saving
Despite undeniable truths, I fought daily to hold on to a marriage that was toxic. I invested copious amounts of emotional energy into an unhealthy relationship that was beyond repair. I allowed myself to accept treatment that makes me ashamed looking back.
One day, my friend said, “On a plane, they always tell you to put your oxygen mask on first and then help the people around you. Girl, put on your mask!”
When I stopped trying to force a misshapen relationship into my new existence – built on calm, focus, and positivity – I was able to see the ripple effect it had on my entire life. I knew I had to stop the cycle of emotional chaos and figure out how to start over, start again, with myself and my own needs as my primary focus.
Unfortunately, even people who are bad for you as a person are not always easy to release from your heart and your mind. My marriage’s foundation of more than twenty years of friendship blinded me to the daily emotional pollution that became the norm for me.
You are what you repeatedly do. Aristotle
I hated the idea of being a quitter. I constantly second-guessed my decisions. My emotional struggle didn’t change the fact that hurtful negative behaviors never stopped, never improved, and were often outright denied.
It is in my nature to give. As a result, I attract many people who like to take. This scenario works out great for them, not so great for me.
Finally, to the relief of my family and friends, I let go of something that I’d held tightly to for way too long. I had to let it go inside before I could take another step outside.
Starting Over…No Backup Plan
Writing is a vocation that can leave you with few financial options. When I prepared to move my daughter to Florida for college, I planned to return to my toxic household and endure what I had to while attempting to save money to leave.
It never occurred to me to ask people for help.
I had a specific list of things that had to happen for me start the next phase of my life and none of them felt within my reach. I arrived on my daughter’s grandmother’s doorstep with less than $200 to my name and no clue. I slept on her couch for a month. I took a few terrifying risks and was positively shocked when they paid off.
Every day, I did a temperature check on my mental state, my emotional balance, and my physical wellbeing. Every day, I realized I was getting better.
I started to think more clearly. Plans and ideas flowed faster, with more solidity. I began to see solutions that had been available all along but were hidden behind what I “should” do or what I felt I was “expected” to do. I started to feel stronger.
Charting a New Path…Navigation by Shayne
Today, I am six weeks into the voyage of my new life. I still have no money but I see where I can earn it. I still have no belongings but I don’t need much. I still don’t have a safety net…but I can make one later.
Despite the fear that sometimes overwhelms me, I find myself excited, hopeful, and filled with anticipation for what happens next.
Right now, I’m working on clearing away the sludge left behind after a lifetime of toxicity, breathing air into my body that isn’t laced with tension, and building the business that I love and makes me feel amazing.
Not everything has magically fallen into place…but I now know that I can work to get myself exactly where I want to be. One actionable step at a time, I make progress.
Learning how to start over begins with one critical piece of truth: you are worthy of happiness. You can’t wait for it to come from others, you can’t put it off until a checklist is completed, and you can’t lie to yourself that you’re happy if you’re not.
Your personal experience can be like standing in the middle of a maze. There are so many directions to go but you can’t see anything far enough out to make rational and informed decisions. You become overwhelmed with thinking of the could-haves and should-haves and what-ifs, and convince yourself that there is no way out.
Recently, I had a few people (some I knew and some I didn’t) fly over my maze in helicopters, waving bright pink flags that were clearly visible. I stopped telling myself about all the bad things that could happen if I took so much as a single step forward…and I started running.
I found my way out of the labyrinth. I see the exit just ahead. The sun is shining, the air is clean, and I can be anything I want to be out there.
You can find your way out, too.
Shayne McClendon is an author and positivity practitioner. Shayne believes love crosses all boundaries, social castes, races, genders, and belief systems. If you are lucky enough to find soul-deep love, you should fight for it. Life-certified, reader approved.