The art of starting over can also be called “the art of letting go.” You could study it for years, observe it in others… and yet, when you yourself are faced with it, it still feels as if you’ve been thrown out of an airplane without a parachute. It’s terrifying. Whether you saw this coming, or even planned it, it’s still impossible to fully grasp until you’re faced with the reality of your situation.

I’m 31 years old, and I fully admit that the pain of heartbreak does not depend on age. With the heartbreak is the fear that you’ll never measure up to the idealized relationships around you, and that this person with whom you are parting ways might be the last person your heart actually feels anything for… ever again! It’s so scary, it’s almost paralyzing.

There is a freedom beyond this, which is why I call starting over “art” rather than “the horrible state of” or “inevitable demise of.” Your life is about to change whether you want it to or not. The canvas of your life, whether in part or in whole, is being tossed aside and you actually have your world back in only your hands. It’s OK to panic and spend some time in a state of mourning and/or panic over a life you thought was going to happen. That is part of letting go, and you cannot let go without letting that sadness work through you.

We have all humiliated ourselves by crying to those around us (including perhaps the perpetrator of the pain) while we’re knee deep in emotional pain trying to accept that we have to move forward. We say things we don’t mean. We make fools of ourselves. Hopefully those around us know and love us enough to understand the process and pain of letting go and know that we’re going to surface unreasonable feelings of self-doubt and hopelessness. This process is real and we all go through it, whether we’re angry and punch a wall, cry uncontrollably or drink more wine than usual.

Escape is the wrong way to do this. This I know. It only prolongs your feelings or, even worse, makes them stronger and more powerful. You have to face what is happening. It hurts SO badly, and you have to lean very heavily on the people around you and sometimes bombard them with your immediate thoughts and insecurities. It’s OK. Those who know and love you will not only be there for you, they’ll come prepared with a plush mental pillow for you to put your head down on. They are the ones who sleep with their ringer on all night in case you need to hear a friendly voice. They are gold. Be thankful for them, and tell them how much they mean to you. Always.

Starting over requires a few things, and your friends and family are the most important support system you have. Sometimes you have to reach out to someone you’ve neglected and underappreciated. Do it. Tell them you shouldn’t have neglected them. Tell them you wish you weren’t reaching out merely in need, but you need someone to listen and be there for you. Sure, some will turn their backs, but most will not. I’m an emotional person who has trouble dealing with heartache and rejection of any kind, but I know that 97 percent of the people around me will accept my silly heartbreak phone calls and talk me through them. I’m one of the lucky ones.

Knowing I have these people around me has in a large way helped frame my reaction to difficult events whether minor heartbreak, job stress, or loss of a friend or loved one. Sure, I still react. I’ve cried in front of someone I placed my hope in and had pictured grand things for us, even though we had only been conversing for a few months. I’m imaginative—I’m a woman who sees life in colour rather than black and white. As often as that can create pain and heartache, it’s also the reason I dream big, am creative and love to laugh over little things people usually ignore in their memory. My friends and family tell me I have to practice the art of starting over/letting go often because I care so much and my heart is so big I give everyone around me the benefit of the doubt, and want everyone to have the best life possible. Sometimes I try to help make that happen, and fail, but I never regret the effort made in helping someone know they are great.

Back to Art. Art is subjective. Art is in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes the artist does not see worth in a piece by which others are completely mesmerized. Art can be anything—a painting, fashion, putting together a PowerPoint presentation at work. Art is meaningful, it is beautiful, it also reflects images of struggle and pain.

It’s all about perception and expectation. Reality and perception are separate things requiring balance to ensure continued motivation towards our goals and aspirations. The carriage does not come before the horse.

We all go through pain. It’s part of the process called “life.” We need to begin anew every day, start over, letting go without looking back. What is ahead of us is but a small experience—a little lesson—towards the greatness the future brings. We all need to become artists in this genre called “starting over.”

image: artist paints a picture via Shutterstock