Today I hopped on a Clubhouse call (not sure if that’s what they’re called…maybe it’s called a “room”…I’m not sure). Either way, it’s an up and coming app that’s a mashup of a podcast with a chatroom and an irl conversation. There are no videos or recordings – it’s a live, fleeting gathering of souls exchanging ideas and riffing off one another. If I had to describe it in two words, it’d be: pure magic.
I found out about the call from a zoom I was on the previous evening (look at all of this socially-distanced technology bringing people together), and the topic for the Clubhouse chat was all about morning rituals and routines. Now, I’ll be the first to say I can’t stick to anything very long. I don’t eat the same thing for breakfast every day. I don’t listen to the same radio station when I’m in the car. Heck, I can’t even stay in the same relationship for very long (that’s a breakup coping mechanism joke in case ya didn’t catch that).
But in all honesty, routines are important. They can have the ability to hold you accountable when the last thing you want to do is roll out of bed and tackle another Monday. Well, today is the first Monday in a LONG ass while that I’m actually stoked for the day/week/month ahead.
After a dynamic conversation about meditation and exercise and even simple things like speaking kindly to yourself and drinking water throughout the day, the hosts ended the call by asking everyone to say something that they’re looking forward to this week. Initially, I didn’t know what I was going to say, then the girl who spoke before me said something about being excited about her relationship and planning a wedding, and without hesitation, when it was my turn, I said that I was excited about finally being happy, even elated (?) about a breakup that, last year, felt like the worst thing to ever happen in my entire life.
It’s been a long almost six months of grieving the loss of that relationship, but in the last few weeks I’ve seen so much freaking good come as a result of it. I feel like the tectonic plates must be shifting, because never in a million years did I ever think I’d tell anyone, let alone a handful of strangers that my “thing I’m looking forward to” is finally having the courage to throw away my engagement portraits, sell my wedding dress, and move the fuck on with my life.
Continuing to dwell in the past on what could have been and all of the what if’s do me no good, and the more time and space that occupies in my heart and in my head, the more it keeps me stuck, unable to enjoy what I have right now (like, dude, I never thought I’d be able to finish law school and now I’m doing the lawyer thing; that alone would’ve wow’d my younger self . . . forget about loving where I live, having incredible friends and family, two amazing dogs, the list goes on and on), not to mention whatever’s ahead in my future.
It’s pretty wild how someone who had been my entire world for years seemingly overnight reverted back to the stranger he once was before we met around this time three years ago . . . but such is life. I can either fight the process or learn to go with the flow, and tbh, life is fucking amazing when you let go of what “could or should” have been and just soak in “what is.”
I think a huge part in why I said what I said was because I’ve spent a lot of time trying to focus on how to reframe something that pretty much turned my world upside-down. Rescheduling and then eventually calling off the wedding (during a global pandemic, mind you) made me feel so much shame and embarrassment. Having to individually reach out to each and every guest to break the news took me to a an inordinately uncomfortable place.
Coming across things like invitations and keepsakes and other reminders of the life we’d started to build together made my stomach churn and honestly, it made me feel like complete garbage; like, I must’ve been so unlovable and I must have done something so wrong for yet another man to promise he’d love me forever, only to walk out of my life and delete every trace of me like I never existed in the first place.
If you’re new to the blog, the guy before him broke up with me a few weeks before he’d planned to propose (rip to that melted engagement ring and five years of my life, lol) and this guy called it quits a few months before the wedding (but I will say I now joke with people I meet who still use their “wedding email” because that shit was a game changer for corralling all of the vendor and registry emails in one place).
But then I started to find inspirational shit like “every ending is actually the start of a new beginning” and “if you could love the wrong person this much, imagine what loving (and being loved by) the right person could feel like” and probably my favorite, “stop rereading previous chapters when you’re writing a new one.”
Inspirational and cheesy, sure, but it’s just like positive thinking, setting intentions, meditation and other routines people build into their mornings . . . it’s all cheesy and awkward at first, but when you start to “fake it until you make it,” one day you will realize that you’re making it and you’re telling strangers that you’re excited to feel like you’re in a positive space when this time last year I was probably at one of my unhappiest, most depressed points in my life, ever.
I was worse off than the day of my car accident when the CHP officer told me he had no idea how I was still breathing. I was worse off than when I almost bled to death in the hospital because I had no lining in my uterus as a side effect from a birth control that was later recalled because it was found to be unsafe (ya don’t say?). I was worse off than the time I had to take a medical leave of absence from law school and thought I’d never be able to go back because my health was too fragile to be able to sit in a classroom without projectile vomiting everywhere.
Last year was probably one of the most difficult, most hopeless times in my life, and I can only say that now looking back at how often I would lay outside and cry for what seemed like hours on end, secretly hoping a neighbor would call out and ask if I was okay . . . but no one ever did.
I spent so much of that time absofuckinglutely miserable and it wasn’t until I lost my job, got broken up with, and had my health go to shit yet again (hello, banging breakup body that now fits into college clothes with ease; that’s a body image joke, btw, because I wasn’t intentionally trying to lose anything, just depressed AF and didn’t eat, so spinning it like it’s a good thing) . . . that I was able to unearth this next-level happiness.
ANYWAY, it basically took everything going wrong for me to be able to start this “journey to happiness,” and truth be told, I didn’t even want to be fucking happy . . . I just didn’t want to cry for hours on the floor tucked into the fetal position crying out to a God I no longer believed in because you can only take so many bad things happening to you before you think your life is just a series of cruel jokes and what’s the point anyway?
Then, one day I realized, well, actually on a series of days, that I could either continue this self destructive “woe was me, no one will ever love me” sob story, or I could calm the fuck down, do some breathing techniques, and do shit that actually made me happy. It started with a LEGO piano that I literally bawled my eyes out building for eight hours straight because I was alone on a Friday night for the first time in years and how the hell did my life turn out like this. Then it was painting and not being horrible at it. Then it was cooking and it not tasting like complete shit. It was talking to friends and family and realizing they too, had gone through horrible pockets of time that were same or different from my own . . . and before I knew it, I was feeling less depressy and more like myself before I even got sick in college.
Now don’t get me wrong, I still have days like yesterday when I just fucking cried because fucking Spotify turned on a song that was about some girl wanting her ex back and the feelings resonated until I realized how utterly pointless it was for my specific situation, so: I changed the song, I drew a bath, and I turned on a podcast about finding happiness in daily routines. Then I stumbled onto a zoom call from someone I’d met at a few workout events last year (shoutout to Katey), which is where I met Colin, who was hosting the Clubhouse thing the following morning (mind you, I didn’t even think I’d wake up for the 5:45am alarm to tune in), and here we are.
So I guess all of this is just a really roundabout way of saying, if you’re unhappy with your life – your job, your relationship, your whatever, don’t wait until someone pulls the rug out from under you, or do, because honestly who am I to say? But I think the absolute best thing I’ve learned when comparing utterly miserable me with tangible happy new me, is it’s all how you look at things. You can either seek out change, like I did by waking up at 6am for the Clubhouse chat where I got to meet so many cool new souls that I plan on keeping in contact with, or you can stay stagnant and continue to exist in a space that will slowly eat you alive; or at least that’s what it was doing for me.
I distinctly remember writing in a journal last year that if anyone found this journal, that it was too late and that I was sorry that I wasn’t strong enough. I vividly remember feeling so utterly hopeless and like I’d be doing the world the greatest service by seeing myself out because if these guys couldn’t love me, no one could. Sure, now, I couldn’t imagine saying those things, but in those moments, rereading those tear-stained pages and being reeled back into that headspace, man, that’s why I started this blog. That’s why I’ve continued to share the good and the bad; life’s not just a highlight reel. Mental health and mental wellness is a continuum that all of us are navigating separately, but we’re also doing it together.
I guess this is all a very long-winded way of saying morning routines, or evening routines, or really routines of any kind, even piss-poor journaling that’s cried all over and makes very little sense when you read it back a year later, can be the key to pulling yourself out of the throes of anything, whether that be: heartbreak, depression, anxiety, or anything else in life that feels overwhelming and impossible to overcome.
I didn’t see that the incremental progress I was making back then, even just by acknowledging I wasn’t doing okay, was progress all the same. I’m not 100% fixed or healed or whatever you want to call it; heck, I’m not even close, but instead of seeing things as happening to me, I see them as happening for me. This bad thing might have happened, but it happened so that I’m able to tell others it can get better. It didn’t get better overnight and I still have panic attacks and night terrors where I wake up shaking in a cold sweat, crying profusely . . . but it becomes less frequent, it becomes less intense, and over time I’ve built up and learned different tools to carry me through those tough moments.
It’s also hard because, I know for me personally, this last relationship felt like a saving grace on the tail end of another horrible breakup, but maybe I just needed the one-two-punch to realize I needed to build a relationship with myself or spend time on my relationships with others. Instead of getting wrapped up in the identity of being someone else’s person and taking care of them, I needed to take care of myself.
SO, on that note:
-make yourself that cup of coffee in the morning that sparks joy for you
-take ten minutes to play fetch with your dog(s)
-go on that walk
-call that friend
-have that bath
-turn that phone on airplane mode or consciously make the decision to check out for the night and answer those emails in the morning
-and at the very least, if you can’t even muster that, acknowledge how you’re feeling and sit with that.
There is so much healing and opportunity for growth in just learning to sit with discomfort. For me, I write . . . so I’ve got hundreds of drafts on here that’ll probably never see the light of day, but once I purge those thoughts and just get them out of my head, I can move on (or at the very least, make a very noble attempt at doing so).
I hope some of this helps or resonates with someone who is going through something; I mean, aren’t we all, always, going through some stage of something?
That’s all for now.