On May 1st, I made a promise to myself. It was time to take my life back–walk away from all the drama, negativity and get my life back on track.

When my father passed away on June 3, 2015, my life stopped. I now had a new path I had to take and I just stood there. Every now and then, I would get ready to step forward and then another loss would hit, my foot would go back down and I would stand there once again. Over the course of two years, I lost some of the most important, influential people in my life–my father, my grandparents, my great-uncle and his wife, my college mentor and my fellow 10/21. I also lost friends, neighbors and distant family members but it was that initial group of losses that kept me at a standstill.

I did try to move forward. I started writing articles which brought some great new friends into my life. I discovered a new home-away-from-home, The Perky Nerd, which provided me with a new support system of friends and a creative outlet. We started a foundation in my father’s memory so we could continue his work with veterans. I also joined other veterans’ family organizations. I did what I needed to do to keep busy but it also kept me at a standstill since I wasn’t really facing my new reality–a reality where I had to figure out who I was without these important people who molded me, guided me and offered advice to help me shape my life. They never showed me how to live a life without them and I just wasn’t ready to figure that one out for myself. But a recent, rather emotional, trip to Orlando, Florida forced me to see that it was time to take that first step.

It is finally time to let go and move forward. So far, it has been painful and rough but I am set on staying positive (and finding the funny) so I can make my way out of the darkness. I know it is going to get worse before it gets better but I am finally aware of how strong I am. I know I can do this.

I am finally ready to embrace the change that is about to happen in my life. I admit I am afraid but I now have a large group of guardian angels on my side. One of those angels, my fellow 10/21 Carrie Fisher, who personally gave me advice on my career, life and glitter, has the perfect quote for what I am going through (as well as for others in the same boat): “Stay afraid but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and the confidence will follow.”