Pressing the Reset Button

Kaly Sullivan essays

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Everyone has moments they wish they could rewind.

You snap at your child for no real reason. You mishandle an encounter at work. You lash out at your spouse for something beyond irrelevant.

An incident plays in your head on repeat, and you think, “Wait, what just happened? Did I really say that? Did I really do that? Can I get a do-over? Can I press reset?”

Imagine how I felt when I realized I needed to reset my whole life.

I wasn’t the mother I wanted to be. I wasn’t the wife I wanted to be. I wasn’t the employee I wanted to be. I wasn’t the person I wanted to be. I felt defeated, exhausted, and drained.

I felt like a robot. A robot that was always running on low batteries. A robot with a lot of anger. A very angry, low-energy robot.

Underneath the constant buzz of anxiety, I heard a whisper: It doesn't have to be this way.

It wasn't one decision that got me to this place. It was a slow incremental build of compromise after compromise that led me down a path that wasn't true to me. It was like acting in a play with a never ending run. Eventually, the actors start to lose their sparkle and their commitment to the roles.

On paper, I was doing everything right. Married, homeowner, two cars in a garage, two kids, desirable job, saving for retirement, attending Little League games. We were living like everyone else around us, one foot in front of the other. But I hadn't stopped to ask, is this what we want?

I hit pause and took a giant step back.

When I did, I could see that the general, low-level anxiety I had become accustomed to was a result of being disconnected from myself, my true purpose, and the people that were the most important to me.

I realized that I had to start from the very beginning. Get back to the basics. Strip everything away and learn to walk again at my own pace, on my own path.

I reevaluated everything. I cleaned out closets. I dismantled baggage. I let go of relationships. I focused on renewing and strengthening others. I asked very hard questions. I dug really deep. I relearned how to listen to my gut.

Pressing the reset button forced me to connect to what was really important to me. It forced me to ask, was our family life reflecting those values?

The answers were hard to swallow. We had gone off course. And so we made some decisions.

I left a job that caused me stress and frustration. I focused on unearthing my true purpose from the avalanche of expectations it had been buried under. We moved our family to a community that was a better fit for us and offered us a better quality of life. We spent more time making a life and memories together as a family than shuttling from place to place. We used the resources we had to do things and create things instead of buy things and improve things.

None of this happened overnight. And none of it was easy. There are pieces that took years and some I still work on every day. But instead of feeling like life is happening to us and out of our control, we now make conscious choices about the path we are on. With our values as our compass, we are finding our way.

There are set backs. Sometimes I slip into my old ways. The buzz of anxiety fill my ears. I lose my patience. I get frustrated. I have moments of disconnection and fear. I feel like there's not enough.

But I am not paralyzed by these feelings anymore. I don't feel like I am banging my head against the same wall every day. I don't feel crushed by an invisible weight.

Stepping back is a luxury we might not feel like we have. It might feel like taking time for self-reflection is for other people. It might feel like pressing the reset button is too risky.

But pressing the reset button doesn't have to be a huge dramatic shift. It can be a small choice that aligns us with where we want to go.

It can be choosing connection when we'd rather contract into ourselves. It can be opting out of the things that bring us stress. It can be standing our own ground instead of following the herd. It can be knowing who we are and being true to ourselves, even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard.

I don't know if my children will ever understand the shifts that our family went through. But what I hope does stay with them is that no matter how far down a path you are, you can always stop. Reset. And try again.


About the Author

Kaly Sullivan

When Kaly doesn’t have her nose in a book, she wrangles and referees two elementary age boys and about her often humorous efforts to lead a mindful, connected life. She's the co-founder of Harlow Park Media and is the author of Good Move: Strategy and Advice for Your Family's Relocation. Her writing has been featured on Mamalode, In The Powder Room, and Scary Mommy. You can follow her on , and .

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