4 Steps to Get Back on Track After a Setback


Sometimes life can just be plain shitty.  Even with the best laid plans and a kick ass team to execute those plans, one can experience a setback that throws the world into utter and complete chaos. The worst part isn’t the obstruction itself, but the mental anguish that follows.  Yet, amid the grief, lies the opportunity to start again. So dear girl, beautiful sister, super mama allow yourself to refine, redefine and refocus.

The Setback.

He asked me to marry him this past Mother’s Day. I was sitting on the edge of the bed listening to Boyz II Men’s A Song for Mama on repeat. Tears were in my eyes as I ironed my clothes to go to brunch. All the children were home (I co-parent) and I was grateful for life. For one complete, uninterrupted moment, I had complete clarity about my life; love had manifested itself through a new relationship with the man of my dreams and his two beautiful boys, my own children were happy and learning to love life after divorce and I was five months pregnant with a boy. All was well within the kingdom. The kids gathered in front of me and babe was by my side and they presented me with one last homemade card. It was a pop up of tiered paper strips that read, “I love you!  Will you marry me? I gasped and babe is on one knee with the most perfect pledge of that forever affection… A ring. Nirvana. Fast forward to October.  The seventh of October was about to be the pinnacle of lit by my standards. I was completing the final touches for our wedding. I had all the feels that a blushing bride should have. Something after midnight, my fiancé calls me in tears. A bear hug gone wrong, two days before my wedding. Two fucking days y’all! Talk about being crushed! I was angry.  Humiliated and embarrassed. Grateful that the injury wasn’t what it could have been.  Most of all, I felt let down. Like really life? Is this how you feel about me life? I cried. Vomited and then cried some more. My family and friends tried to ease my pain, but there was nothing to do but allow anger, sorrow and defeat to take their courses.
Even after all that I suffered from that fateful Thursday to sobering Sunday, I was reminded that delayed is not denied and sometimes one has to go back to the drawing board, in order to redefine, refine and refocus.

So, here’s what to do:

  1. Feel it.
    I once heard Iyanla describe the physical aspect of grieving as “feeling the full devastation of what has happened.”  Curse, scream, cry, throw two kinds of a fit-whatever.  Allow whatever emotions that surface to flow without restriction.  It’s natural to feel all kinds of crazy during a setback.

  2. Call on your squad.  
    As the song goes, we all need somebody to lean on. During a setback, you’re going to need support. My bridesmaids organized a brunch for me on October 7. They loved on me and lifted me up. Allow those close to you to be strength where you are vulnerable. Turn to those who can love you through this time.

  3. Decide delayed is not denied.  
    It’s important to know that when a setback happens, you must be intentional with how you will move on. This is where the work comes in. Decide to accept the setback as a delay. This will help you to move past why it happened. Pondering on the why can turn the mind into a battlefield, which invites an unwinnable war. Believing that delayed is not denied, ends the war before it even begins.

  4. Get to work.   
    I recommend purchasing a journal. Write your name in the middle of the first page and draw a box around it. Next, draw lines extending from your name with words and phrases that describe who you were before the setback. Then, do the same for after the incident. Read your work. Breathe it in and exhale it out. Choose one before word and one after word and redefine who you are. With your new definition of self, refine the vision of yourself. Think about where you will be tomorrow, next week, next month, in a year even. Write that version of yourself in great detail. With a new definition and clearer vision of yourself, list three steps that you can take towards this new you. From that list, pick one thing to hone on. This is the refocus. You now have a place to start.  

Feel free to share your experience and how you bounced back from a setback!