If you’re anything like me, you have an obsessive mind.
I never realized this until I started my journey of recovery, until I had nothing to numb these thoughts. But they were there, and still very much are. I think about situations over, and over, and over again in my mind. I allow myself to be stuck in the things I should have, or could have said. I trap myself in my past, and beat myself up over it into the present and future. This is how I create anxiety in myself.
The thing about anxiety is, it is usually over one major thing in your life. There’s one huge elephant, he’s waving frantically, and there you are – avoiding the hell out of this beast.
The first time I learned this, was four years ago, when I broke up with the person I was planning on marrying.
The One Who I Thought Was The One (The One, for short) was – and still is – the best man I’ve ever met. He was incredibly kind, loving, protective, and born to be a father. He was not for me. I don’t want children, I hate picking out tiles, and I’m a good person but I am far from nice. If you know me now, you’d have no familiarity with me then. I was working National HR for The Salvation Army, looking at buying a home in Woodbridge (new money suburbs for those unfamiliar with this area), and had my size picked out for a Tiffany engagement ring. I had never really done drugs before. Well, not to the extent I have now. I knew how lucky I was to have this man, I even wrote it in the vows I planned. I also knew I didn’t deserve him. My heart was copper next to his, his family had more than mine, and he was so much more selfless than I knew how to be. But that isn’t why we didn’t work out. I loved him endlessly, I still do, but he wasn’t for me. I couldn’t hold back that person anymore.
People don’t seem to understand that if the relationship doesn’t end the way you wanted it to, or planned, doesn’t mean it was without value or purpose. Just because we didn’t get married, doesn’t mean it lacked meaning. I learned so much from that relationship, from that love I had the beautiful honour of being given. You see, my first love (the only other person I was with before The One) was incredibly abusive. We’ll get into that in another post, but he verbally abused me for three long years. I was so emotionally traumatized, I couldn’t take any bit of criticism without unleashing a fucking hell-storm on someone; my anger was out of control. I also didn’t feel deserving of any love. This is something I still struggle with but I am working on it day-by-day. So when I found The One, he showed me I could have a whole love while being a broken person. I was and (hopefully) still am worthy of something truly moving.
I had the most beautiful relationship with him. If I was sick, he’d take me to the doctor, wait with me for hours (after spending all day at work), fill my prescription and buy me all my favourite snacks. He once ended up in the hospital while working eight hours away – I drove all night to be with him when he woke up. He always said he was sorry, even when he didn’t mean it because he hated fighting with me. He knew I loved having my stomach rubbed, and I always lick both sides of the chip before I eat it. When he was sick, I’d stroke his hair and sing him to sleep. Poorly. We loved each other through morning breath, and bedhead. We loved each other in sickness and in health, through criticisms from our friends, and deaths in our family. I don’t know if there could be another love like this. It was so sweet, so naive, so unknowing. It was pure and stupid, beautiful and unassuming.
I know, this all sounds perfect, right? So, why did I leave? I woke up every day with a weight on my chest. I couldn’t figure out why I was terrified of turning twenty-four. And then I realized it – this was not my life. I had assimilated into what I thought was the right way to live. I was striving for the perfect husband, the perfect job, the perfect house, but it wasn’t for me. It was the idea of the perfect life that my family wanted for me. I wasn’t doing anything creative, I hadn’t written in years, I wasn’t happy with a future-stepmother pushing me to have children. I was so excited to get married because that felt like the next “big thing”. I needed to live in constant events because I was so unsatisfied with the in-between. I kept trying to make the external my joy, and it only sufficed for so long. I hadn’t fed my soul in years.
So I did what I had to. I broke up with The One. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. The moment that you look at the person you love most in the world, more than yourself, and they finally know how bad of a person you truly are. And you do too. It took all night. I told him I needed to be alone, that I was planning on moving for school. I really was going to, but that summer is when I fell hard into drugs. I ended up spiralling but we’ll get to that. He said this wasn’t happening, that we weren’t splitting up, and asked if I could stay the night. I agreed. We made food, and fell asleep. I woke up around six or seven in the morning, and there he was, my sweet love, staring at me, tears rolling down his face. My heart was hollow. He knew and all he said to me was – this is it, isn’t it? I couldn’t even utter words. I fell asleep with tears in my eyes. We woke up again a few hours later. We spent that morning in silence, our faces wet and swollen, and we held each other for our final moments. I left his house for the last time ever. Stepping off that doorstep was like stepping into a coffin; I felt like I had just died.
What I did was not easy by any means. My family was furious with me, it took them some time to move past my actions. Not because they didn’t agree (they didn’t) but because they were worried. They didn’t know me anymore. But that is also how I felt – I didn’t know this person I was living inside. I didn’t know who’s life this was. My mom tried to kick me out several times, my sister and I didn’t speak for months. While this was happening, it didn’t take long for me to try and suppress my feelings through drugs and partying. I have never been good at feelings, I was always taught they were weakness. This is how I started writing, actually. I could never express my emotions verbally, so I’ve written them for years instead. But I digress.
I was going out six nights a week, while working a full-time job. I would wake up at 7am for work, come home around 6pm, take a nap, get ready to go out around 9pm, go to the club, go to the after party until 5am, and sleep for an hour before doing it all over again. I would take naps in my car, or in the sick room at work. I soon spiralled into a depressive episode, I was wildly unhappy. I tried dating several men at once, being so careful to not get attached to anyone or anything. I tried losing myself in others, because I didn’t want to meet the person I was. I had no idea who she was, I was terrified of myself. I would start crying at random at work – I was a fucking wreck.
By the end of the summer (The One and I had split in the beginning of June) I knew it was enough. My anxiety never went away, I had suicidal thoughts, I felt everything and nothing all at once – it was rock bottom. I had to finish what I started earlier that summer in getting closer to finding my path. I tried to think of the last time I was truly happy, when was I time I felt safe. I had always loved New York, it felt like home to me when I was growing up and would travel there every year with my family. I told my boss I was suffering from depression, and they allowed me to go on an extended leave of absence. I then told my parents I was moving to New York City for a few months. They weren’t thrilled about the idea, but they knew I needed a change as well, and honestly, they were exhausted by me. So I picked up my first camera, learned how to use it, and moved out there. It seems extreme, but honestly – it saved me. Returning to my creative side, betting on myself, and just doing something that made me feel happy during a time that I was so gravely melancholic – it saved my life.
I didn’t feel heavy anymore. And I was broke as hell but that was okay – I was feeding my soul again. I went and visited my best friend in Florida for a week before hitting NYC. It was very grounding to see someone I knew understood me, and who I could share my darkness with. Then I went out to NYC and started my next chapter. I was fortunate enough to have family there, I worked in their restaurant, but on the side I started doing photography. I walked around the city at all hours, just taking photos, and watching people, and being with myself. I started writing again, and sharing it. I was healing; I was growing. I met the most beautiful people who I am still very fortunate to call my best friends to this day.
Someone recently told me, it gets so bad before it gets so good. And that has always been true for me. I was in such a dark place, I had given up so much comfort, just to end up in despair. But if I didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have ever found my creativity again, and let go of the anxiety I had of committing to a life that wasn’t meant for me. As for The One, he’s actually expecting his first child and I couldn’t be happier for him. I knew he would find the one after me, and I knew it couldn’t be me. When you truly love someone, you let them go with love. True love is loving someone past yourself, its loving them beyond what makes you feel good. Its giving them their best shot.
As for me? I still get anxious. But now I don’t live with it day in and day out. When it does hit me, I know its because I haven’t addressed something that I need to. I also know that I will make it to the other side of that feeling.
I hope you know, you are never stuck in a situation. You don’t owe anyone else your life, or your happiness. I know its sometimes incredibly difficult to make the hard choice, its harder to live with the consequence of those choices. The one true thing I have learned from all these lives I’ve lived, is that you need to do what feels right in the moment. If you do what feels good to you now, you won’t regret it after. Thats what helps me move when I feel the weight of the world holding me down.
What do I want to do?
What feels right to me?
What will make me happy?