Last year, I thought I’d hit rock bottom. I was in love for the first time in my life and had my heart completely shattered. It was devastating. I should’ve taken time for myself and dealt with it properly, but have I ever done what I should? I threw myself into a hazy year of self-distraction (and destruction): mindlessly latching onto one dating situation after another, substance abuse at any chance I got, and numbing any real feeling that would make me face the true mess that I was — all broken inside. For a year, I didn’t learn anything new about myself. I didn’t make any progress in any area of my life. I started picking up all sorts of bad habits and hid further inside my own illusions of myself: the fun city girl who didn’t really care, didn’t take herself seriously.
The outcome of this? I met someone who seemed to be very much my type physically and, without much consideration — if not at all, I immediately hooked myself on him. He was the perfect distraction and fixation. Not surprisingly, all the horrendous lifestyle choices in the past year finally caught up with me, and I ended up making every possible dating AND break-up mistake in the book. At that time, I basically had no life, no friends, no hobbies except for gym and writing which I could only do when I was in a specific mood, so I had nothing to fall back on when shit hit the fan. I fell completely apart. I experienced the worst panic attack and anxiety episode of my life. I felt physically sick. I had to call a crisis helpline and reach a talking therapy service. I thought I couldn’t go on. I was scared it would only get worse as I struggled to let go of the situation.
It did get worse and kept getting worse for several months. I couldn’t stop contacting him. I felt imprisoned by the complexly deep attachment to him and his world, knowing rationally we weren’t a match. It was like a disease. Not only was I hurt deeply but, in my head, I also lost my pride, my dignity, my confidence. My behaviours were appalling, unimaginably out of character. My ego was destroyed. All my deep-rooted issues were brought to the surface, leaving me all exposed and terrified. I became a shell of myself. I had nothing left, with nowhere to hide. Every day was a drag and I felt helpless towards my own psychology. My narrative of the situation was so harsh that more than once had I thought about ending myself for how unbearable it all was (Don’t worry, I won’t). The thing is, I could’ve done what I always did to temporarily numb the pain: Find a new shiny stranger to hook myself on again or bury my face in substances week after week, continually escaping my life which I’d come to loathe, but I did neither. I let myself fall apart. I let myself hit a new low. I let myself go through the pain at its maximum with no preventive measures, so I could face my ugliest demons and take definite actions to sort myself out for once.
I let my true, vulnerable self finally be seen.
They say sometimes the only way out is through. I agreed. Evidently, this time, I got out by getting through — through to the very end, fighting years and years of bad habits, misguided beliefs, and skewed perspectives every single day. Needless to say, it has been exceptionally tough. I was practically a recovering addict. My mind was a living hell that I had to constantly navigate. At many points, as withdrawal hit me full force, I couldn’t see any light ahead. I was consumed by the fear that I would just get stuck here and waste my life away. Even right now, I’m not going to lie — I’m still in and out of depression on a daily basis. But without pain and shame of this magnitude, there wouldn’t be any significant change. I wouldn’t have questioned my values and seriously discovered what I truly want out of life. I wouldn’t have expanded my horizon, made new friends, taken up new fun hobbies, learned new skills, opened up my mind and, most notably, started therapy. I wouldn’t have realised what’s important to me and what doesn’t work for me and ultimately grown a bit more into the woman I’d always wanted to be. I wouldn’t have faced my truths, and that’s more worthwhile than any short-lived romantic relationship that could have been at this stage of life.
So allow yourself to fall apart because that’s how you will come together much stronger and better. You will become much more assured and solid with a newfound sense of clarity, and it will show marvellously in your decisions and actions little by little. On the other hand, if you resist the pain, you won’t heal and you won’t learn. It will kill you slowly from the inside, and you will die long before you even notice you’re already dead. So embrace the negative emotions, the tears, the stress, the anxiety, the depression, the fear. Don’t be afraid of them, especially the fear. They’re giving you invaluable insight about yourself. Cut your losses and accept them now — it’s okay. You’re gaining plenty of other more wonderful things and you need to pay attention. Keep pushing through. Don’t give in to quick fixes and instant gratifications. Have faith that by letting be, nothing terrible will happen, and one day you will move on from whatever is hurting you, no matter how impossible that might seem right now. It just takes some time, perhaps a bit longer than usual, but you will get there.