There’s no law that says everything has to be so tragic. Not all roads lead to the harsh side of reality and there is no rule that says we have to be miserable. No, really. It’s the truth.
It’s okay to not be okay. However, it’s also okay to give yourself permission to enjoy life or have a good time.
It’s okay to put the world on hold and step away for a while. Find the right song. Or find a good meal. Find somewhere to go and be there. Be in the moment.
While I grant that reality never goes away, there comes a time when you have to find a moment for yourself. You have to find a way to break the tension.
So you can breathe.
Take a walk. Take a drive. Go to a movie. Call a friend and revisit some of the times that made you laugh.
Go to a different part of town. Go somewhere (or anywhere) and allow yourself to blend in with the scene. Or better yet, allow yourself a mental vacation. We all need to do this because at some point, we hit the wall. We break apart because the mind can’t move at full-speed forever. Otherwise, we burn out and find that the damage can be irreparable.
There was a period in my life where I was alone. And I mean absolutely too. I was alone for the first time in my life. Or, so it seemed. There was no one for me to consult with. I was romantically alone, financially alone and emotionally bankrupt. There was no one else around. My only company was a television, a VHS tape and a computer which, in fairness, I have to explain that this was at the beginning of the social media blitz. There was no Twitter. There was no Facebook or Instagram. There was only Tom from Myspace. And that was about it.
This is not to say that I did not have friends. I am not saying that I was a pariah or banished by everyone. This is not to say that I was out of work or alone all the time. However, my story was simply this: I had moved away from a life that no longer fit me. I had made the decision to face my fears of being alone over living with discomforts I had while living in the wrong life.
I will add a note of caution here because the details of this part are sad and yet, the recovery from this is hopeful to me. I say this because aside from a moment when I contemplated the end and aside from the decision that I would either “end it now” or choose life, I chose to live. Yet, I had to find out exactly what this meant. How do a change thought patterns that I had lived with throughout my entire life? Or better yet, how do I change my belief system into believing that something good was coming my way?
At a moment of despair and personal helplessness, I chose to replace my thoughts with action. I was home in my tiny apartment. I chose to clean my kitchen and prepare myself for the greatest meal ever cooked.
I put on music. And perhaps my choice of music would not be fit for other people. But that was fine because what I chose was perfect for me.
The choice I made was more than music. This was more than recreation of a home cooked meal. This is more than where I was or who I was with, which was only me at the time.
I say this because the choice I made was me.
Rather than decipher between the sadness or the details of my situation and rather than succumbing to my thoughts or giving in to another moment of weighty emotions, I chose to create movement.
I chose to listen to the music as loud as I wanted to. I chose to sing along and dance if the mood hit me.
I took out the ingredients from my refrigerator. Then I prepped my station next to the sink. And here’s the best part, I chose to prepare a meal for myself.
I created everything I wanted in this meal. I beat the eggs and took out some flour and breadcrumbs. There was no one else to consult with. There was no one else around to tell me to stop singing with the music. There was no one to tell me about the dishes in the sink or the mess I made while breading my chicken cutlets or peeling my potatoes.
I fried my cutlets. I made my Mom’s mashed potatoes, which are the best in the world. I had a salad waiting for me. I had some caper berries and some artichoke hearts waiting for me too.
I made some gravy for my main course so that I could pour it over my cutlets and potatoes. And the best part about this is I ate the meal on the first dinner table that I had ever bought for myself.
I should also explain that at the time, I was new to my apartment. My television had yet to be connected to cable access, which meant that all I had was a few movies to watch. One of which was the movie Pulp Fiction, which I watched nearly every day because otherwise, I’d have nothing else to do.
I decided to put away my little tray tables and quick microwaved meals.
And here’s why –
My emotional bouts hit me early in the morning. I felt the plagues of shame and the worries of character assassinations which, to me, would humiliate me as a person. My assumptions caused a tragic version of social disgrace. I was afraid of what people thought of me. I was afraid to lose more friends and afraid of being ostracized, cast out and alone – and I mean truly alone and by myself, no visitors, no friends, and at night, the only conversations I’d have would be the sad reverberations of the talks within my head.
“I can’t live this way,” is what I thought to myself. I had to find a way out. Even if there was only a minute of reprieve or a moment of satisfaction; well, then at least I had this moment.
At least I took a shot. At least I made the effort to feel better about myself. More importantly, rather than be my own worst enemy, at least I gave myself permission to be my own best friend.
There was no technology used to create this day for myself. There was no help from anyone outside of my little apartment. There was no one else but me, cooking, eating, listening to music. And when I was done and happily full, the sink was filled with dishes and the apartment smelled of food.
And me . . . I took a nap.
I offer this in detail because this is one of the few days in my life that if I could live over, I would do so without changing a thing. Not one second.
And I’ll tell you why.
I had to find this moment in order to find myself.
I lived the wrong life for decades. I lived according to a sickness which either manifested in ways of addiction or alcoholism or other self-destructive measures. I lived according to my anxiety and my challenges with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I lived according to a medicated resistant depression and believed that somehow, nothing good would ever come for me. If it did, this would only be short lived. I lived with the challenges of anxiety and sleep disorders. Therefore, I believed that at best, my happiness would only be fleeting.
But to be fair, I realized that I could not live my life this way. I could not live in the mindsets of shame, blame, guilt, fault or regret.
I came to a decision: Rather than give in to my thinking errors and the degradation of a moment where I felt sad, alone, and literally unreachable, I chose to get moving. I chose to make a change.
The key words in this thought is “I chose!”
I chose to find an outlet that was different from my usual path. I chose to deviate away from the ideas that would lead me to old or uncomfortable thoughts and default settings.
I chose to move when my depressive thinking told me to sit still. More than anything, I chose to find it within myself to get moving, regardless of what I had done (or thought I’d done) or the guilt or shame of my choices. Rather than nurture my anxiety, I chose to nurture my sanity.
I gave myself something to eat. I gave myself something to do. And here I am. Situationally free from an all-out mission to end my own life. Here I am, fulfilling a commitment to be here every day, one day at a time. And here I am, faults and all. But still, here I am.
I am here in spite of the predictions that did not empower me. Here I am, in spite of my beliefs that no matter how hard I worked, I would only be fair, mediocre or average at best.
Like anyone else in this world, I am and will always be a work in progress. However, the work does not have to be intimidating anymore. There is no law that says I cannot enjoy my life. There’s no rule that says I can’t have fun or that I have to be miserable.
And, if I feel down or sad, I look to share a meal or listen to good music. I look to find an outlet and replace my thoughts with actions.
So I can breathe . . . .