Raggedly Rich

Canadian Finances, Musings, and Art

5-Step Guide to Clawing Your Way Back From Devastation and Heartbreak

How does this relate to personal finance?

Because it’s not just about finance. It’s about PERSONAL finance, and that means you. I’ve always had a knack for saving my money, and the money I have right now is a combination of that trait, the privilege of where I live, and the circumstances of my birth (parents, family, socio-political situation, etc.).

But your personal finances are just a pile of money and theory without you. You are the single most important factor in your finances. If you’re not in a headspace where you’re productive and happy, your personal finances are going to reflect that.

There’s something universal about getting stabbed in the heart. The way your chest sinks and you feel like you’re drowning in air; the weightless daze that makes the ends of your nerves tingle with an unsettling sensation that doesn’t feel normal.

It’s comfortingly human – the how and why might change, but every single person out there has experienced that emotion of heartbreak. Best friend betraying you? Significant other betraying you? Realizing things aren’t the way you thought they were? The weight of your debt finally settling on your shoulders?

It doesn’t matter what it is. The beauty of being human is that while our experiences are so incredibly unique, they’re also so incredibly universal. Everyone experiences pain and suffering, happiness and joy, and subjectivity can really level the field. Yes, that person who lost their family member might objectively have it worse off, but the pain you’re feeling isn’t discounted. It’s not a who’s suffering more competition.

I’ve experienced a few of these heartbreaks in my life. The most significant and depilating happened last summer, and even thinking about it brings tears to my eyes, because I still haven’t completely processed it. I don’t know if I ever will.

Heartbreak happened to me again recently, to a lesser extent. A working relationship wasn’t what I thought it was (though every single person close to me went: This happens every time!), and the experience hit on every single one of my triggers: patronization, inefficiency, disrespect, disregard, and subjection to bad management.

It took a couple weeks to dig myself out of the subsequent funk, which is why I haven’t been as active on the inter-webs as I used to be. It has, however, given me the inspiration to write a post about how to deal with it, to hopefully help out (if even in one small way) anyone else going through that fracturing feeling.

The first thing to do might be difficult, but I find it’s the first step to gaining perspective:

1. Remove Yourself From The Situation

If you’re getting burnt, step out of the fire.

In my case, it was more like a smouldering oven that tires to slowly roast me into submission. Sometimes, you can’t get out. Sometimes, all you can do is bear down and take it. If you can, get yourself out. If you can’t, do your best to maintain your integrity.

Shitty situations suck, but they get even shittier if you’re going to regret your actions and reactions to it.

And trust me, if it’s that particular feeling of bulldozer claws raking over your soul, you’re going to spend a lot of time thinking about it.

2. Take The Time To Reflect On The Situation

hiking makes for good reflection and percolation time

After you’ve removed yourself (or whatever equivalent of that is available to you), if possible, take a step back. Even a paper cut smarts when you first get it – and then again when you have a shower that night. But I find that usually by the next morning, it’s faded away and unless it’s somewhere incredibly inconvenient, I’ll forget about it by morning.

Time is important. Time is one of the most important things we have. And using that time to give you a buffer between the the event and yourself will allow you space to process what happened. Here are some things I like to think about:

  • Why am I feeling the way I’m feeling?
  • What do I feel towards the people directly / indirectly involved with the situation?
  • How did the reality differ from my expectations?
  • What do I need to do in order to regain a feeling of stability and balance in my life?

3. Be Honest and Truthful About Your Needs and Wants

As always, being honest with yourself, and knowing why you want what you want, is my number one piece of advise. WHY are you going back to a pattern that’s proven to fail? What is it you’re looking for, and why do you think things are going to be different?

In my case, I thought that time and experience would have made things better, but they just made all the things that were already bad, worse; and tainted almost all the things that had been good and decent. It’s my own fault for getting into a situation that’s burned me five out of the six years I’ve done it. You’d think I’d learn after the first time, huh?

Prioritize your life. What’s important to you? What’s not important to you? Make a list if you have to. If you’re not sure, make an educated guess and adjust as you go. And realize that you change as a person, and something that made you happy before might not make you happy now.

Knowing yourself is going to be the only way you’re going to be able to make yourself happy.

4. Figure Out What To Do – and Then DO IT

Need to get out of a bad relationship? There’s never going to be a ‘good’ time to do it.

Need to start tackling that mound of credit card debt? It’s only going to get worse if you ignore it.

Tired of working a dead-end job that doesn’t provide you with what you need? Stop reading this, and start hunting for a job that will.

Not happy with your health, or your work-life balance? Make a realistic plan of action, and stick to it the best you can.

Don’t say you’re going to quit smoking – quit smoking. You might fall off the wagon, but you can’t do that if you’re never on it in the first place.

Are you getting sucked into a vicious cycle every single time you take on a certain contract? Stop. Doing it.

5. When DOING IT Fails, DO IT Again; And Then KEEP DOING IT

Hey, remember all that spouted beauty about how we’re all humans and the beauty of the universality of suffering? I don’t want to be a killjoy, but failing is one of those awful-but-beautiful things too.

Falling off the horse sucks. Getting stuck in the hole sucks. And I’m apparently terrible with metaphors because that’s about all I can think up.

You can tackle whatever ‘this’ is head-on like a fucking badass, (or a determined-as-fuck sloth).

oh, you bet he’s gonna get there

Everyone has their demons. They’re not the same, but we all have them, and we’re all struggling to rise above them and succeed in our ambitions and goals. Sometimes that demon is ourselves, and sometimes it’s external forces. But you can do it. Take that hiccup of hope, cultivate it, tend to it, and know you’re not alone. We all have these struggles, and we all have to get through these journeys, and yours is no less valid than anyone else’s.

How have you over come a difficult situation?


  1. Sorry to hear you’ve had to go through such a rough time… I really like your paper cut analogy, though. Sometimes, when I get hurt by someone, I’m most upset and annoyed that I’m so affected by them. I want them to mean nothing to me, especially if I feel they’re treating me unfairly! But like you said, even a paper cut hurts at first, tiny as it is.

    Wasn’t sure what you meant by “working relationship,” but if you meant romantic, then this is my old(er) person relationship advice: when you meet the right person, everything feels easy. There’s little drama. If they genuinely like you, they won’t make mountains out of molehills and will give you the benefit of the doubt. If they don’t call, text, show up when they say they will, they don’t really like you. So goodbye. I think this applies if you meant client relationship, too. If there’s drama, bag it. My 2 cents. 🙂

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      August 25, 2017 at 1:53 pm

      I know what you mean – if they’re willing to hurt you like that, then screw them; but you can’t just make yourself stop caring or hurting, as much as you want to, which makes it worse.

      It’s a contract I’ve been working six of the past eight years during the summer. But your advice totally still works even though it wasn’t a romantic relationship. I’m willing to go a long way for people I consider friends, and I think that was the biggest problem recently. But I’m not interested in the drama anymore, and the friendship was clearly a superficial one / was real but has a dynamic I’m not at all interested in continuing.

      People’s actions speak much louder than the mollifiers they offer.

  2. Ugh, I’m so sorry you’re going through a tough time – I’ve been there many times and it absolutely sucks :o( Hopefully things turn around quickly!

    On a random side note – I think you’re a really fantastic writer! You’re so eloquent and articulate about processing how you feel, and then giving actionable advice that’s actually helpful. That’s much harder to do than it looks – so kudos on that :o)

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      August 25, 2017 at 5:08 pm

      Thanks – that mental hurdle is definitely the toughest thing to overcome. But somehow it always slides into bearable (if not entirely ‘okay’).

      And thank you! I’m glad you can’t see me blush :’)

  3. #1 & #2 really resonate with me. I find that I need to clear my head (usually by going for a walk, a hard hike, or a killer run to get some of the emotions out) and take a good look at the reality of the situation and try to count my blessings. But man, its hard.

    Keep up the awesome writing here on the blog 🙂 I’ve really enjoyed connecting with you this way!

    • Ms. Raggedly Rich

      August 26, 2017 at 12:42 am

      I’ve turned to writing a lot, in the past. Monologues and short stories and fiction. It’s only those truly debilitating times (twice, so far?) where I’m unable to do that. I find it hard to realize and articulate those feelings to myself, and I think the reason I write so much is to try and make sense of the things around me. Hiking helps a lot too, in thinking and processing – the thing that helps the most is probably gonna be really dependent on who you are, and I’m glad you have something that’s proven to work : )

      And thanks : ) I’ve really enjoyed connecting with you too! And drooling over your homestead / adventure pictures. So pretty… one day… : )

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