What happens after you’ve conquered your past? Where do you go once the demons are slayed and peace is made? With who you were, where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and what you’ve been through? What happens when the only work left to do lies ahead of you and not behind?

In truth, what happens for many of us is a stumble. We fall backward, land on our asses, and wonder what the hell just happened. Make no mistake, it is not graceful or elegant or in any way reflective of how we see ourselves now. It is not something we are proud of, especially because it often happens right as we are feeling strong and confident in our growth. But still, it happens.

We may find ourselves once again hurt or devalued. Or we may even have slipped and trusted the wrong people, but in a whole new way. It didn’t happen because we ignored the parade of red flags or because we made excuses like we did in the past. It’s not because we forgot everything we learned when we stepped into our new confidence. It happens because the universe will always place people in our paths to teach us a new lesson or give us an opportunity to relearn an old one.

The challenge for us is to remember that a stumble is not a failure. It takes nothing away from the value and the truth of our work. It doesn’t invalidate all the progress we have made. The stumble makes us human and it makes us beautiful. It does not make us broken.

My hope is that when you stumble, you treat yourself with kindness. That you breathe through the panic and the feelings of failure and terror. My hope is for you to fight the urge to run back to the safety and security of your solitude. To the place that kept you sheltered while you stared down all your pain. You don’t need it anymore. Not the way you used to.

My wish for you is to remember that while healing the past was always a goal, it was never the only one. Having the courage to live and love your life on your terms is the grand prize. Keep moving forward and trust that the stumbles will never be enough to derail you for good.