Have you ever had you life crash down around you? Everything you have worked for in life suddenly disappears? Being left with nothing to cling to. No metaphorical rope, just empty, bleak despair?
Then what happens? What do you do? It never feels like there are many options.
I had one of those. The summer of 2010 was one of the worst of my life. No, it was the worst. Hands down.
I had lost anything and everything I had cared about as well as everything I had worked for and tried to become. I had been kicked out of my college major. I had been told I was being let go at work to make space for other workers.
All of my friends had gone home for the summer. I had just broken up with my first boyfriend, which wasn’t exactly a healthy relationship to begin with, and I felt so alone.
I was upset and frustrated with all of these big changes in my life that I couldn’t sleep at night. A sleeping pill would maybe get me 4 hours of sleep. I couldn’t afford food so I ate very little. My health started to deteriorate.
Coming from a religious background and being raised to trust God, I suddenly grew very angry for letting all of this happen and at the same time. I was so angry, I questioned the existence of a God at all. This is especially poignant when you understand that this was how I identified myself. My family had referred to me as the “spiritual one.”
What happens when the spiritual one doesn’t believe any more?
I couldn’t recognize myself. I had never in my life felt so angry, tired, hurt, afraid…
Every good thing in my life had been replaced with my worst nightmares.
I reached a point where I couldn’t do it anymore. I started thinking of anything to just make it all stop, like tossing myself into the ocean and other suicidal plans. I’ll spare you the details.
The point is, my world had just come to an end. I had nothing left.
What I didn’t recognize at the time is what comes next.
Once the world comes crashing down, it isn’t the end of your personal story. It’s a fresh start and a new beginning.
My life up to this point had been full of what I was supposed to do and juggling all the things, while being happy and making others happy.
My life was a false store front. Back in the 1800’s in the Western United States, when stores were built. They were often taller than the actual building, making it look bigger than it really was.
My life appeared one way, but I felt another. I was as happy as I thought I could be, don’t get me wrong.
However, looking back, it turns out I could be a lot happier. I started to question everything. I started with the basic questions like, “Do I even want to live.” Which I did. But I wanted a very different life than the personal hell I was currently living.
I questioned my religious beliefs, I questioned where I was living, where I was going to school… EVERYTHING.
I started my life from scratch at 24.
Fast Forward to Now
This past weekend, I took a trip to Banff National Park with a few friends.
Looking back at where I was eight years ago and how drastically different my life is from this summer to that one, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed at the difference.
That summer of 2010, I could have had no idea that I would be a published author with two finished works and another on the way.
I had no idea I would wind up in the mountains of Utah, taking an amazing vacation with great people I admire and look up to.
I had no way of knowing that I would meet my long time hero just last year.
I could not have pictured the amazing depth of friendship I currently experience.
I live a more authentic lifestyle with out the false storefronts.
I feel. I’m not numb to what is going on around me because I just have to do what I am supposed to do. I allow myself to be angry, hurt or sad, rather than pasting on a happy face like everything is fine.
Not only do I feel more anger, sorrow, etc, but I feel more of the good things, too. I feel more joy, more love, more excitement.
After all, you can’t pick up one end of the stick without picking up the other. You can’t numb yourself to feeling no negative emotions and only the good ones. You either feel or you don’t.
Everything I had lost has been rebuilt 10 fold. There were certainly struggles along the way. This isn’t to say that one big tragic experience will allow you to fix everything and change your life around completely.
Since that summer, I have still suffered. I’ve been homeless, broken off two engagements, not gotten paychecks (while working) for months, attended funerals of loved ones, been so lonely it physically hurt and much more.
The point is that despite my world coming to an end, it got better.
So what happened?
How did life go from completely hopeless to suddenly being more than I could have ever dreamed?
Everyday I would wake up and make a decision. Today, I will not kill myself. That was the biggest hurdle. Today, I’m going to live one more day. And it was a hard decision every time for a while.
Then one of those rough days, I realized that I wanted to live. One day, it wasn’t as difficult, so I could then focus on the next step- changing the hell I lived in, piece by piece. I started to question every decision I had made that led to this point.
I went with an open mind, willing to let go of anything and everything that wasn’t going to help me get out. I questioned if I should still be living in Hawaii. I questioned my choice of college. I already knew I needed a new field of study, but had no idea what I wanted to do.
As I started to gain strength in my decision making and attempting to rebuild my life from the ground up, friends started coming back to school and I had a support system again. I started talking things out as I made more detailed and difficult life choices.
Things did not change overnight. I still often struggled as former insecurities would jump up.
Who am I that I should be happy? I can’t make life choices, look what happened last time. I’ll just fail again. I’ll just hurt again and I’m done hurting.
The thing is, several of the above statements are true. I did fail again. I did hurt again. I will continue to do so, because there are good times mixed in with the personal hell we all experience from time to time.
Luckily, those extreme and rotten times don’t happen often.
Most of what we face are daily inconveniences. And we have a tendency to make mountains out of molehills.
Things get in our way daily such as:
Why is this line so long?!? I’m in a hurry here!
I can’t believe this car just cut me off.
How dare they say such a thing? They don’t know me at all!
And a million more, I’m sure you can help me fill in the gaps here.
No matter what gets in my way now, I have an actual mountain of horror that I can look back on and say, “Yeah, that’s not such a big deal.”
As hard as that period of my life is, I’m a better person for having survived it. I now have a strength that I never knew I had. Small daily stresses-while they still irk me more often than I would like to admit- aren’t such a big deal.
So, when I know to ignore the little issues and focus on the big, more important decisions, I can keep going the right direction. The little things just fall into place as I keep maintaining my focus on where I want to be.
Sometimes, life just sucks. There is really no way around that part. What matters is that we keep going forward. Because life is also wonderful.
I never could have imagined the life I am currently living while in such depths of depression and difficulty.
My job, career, friends, the respect I have from others at times is overwhelming in contrast to those darker days.
And while I’m sure they aren’t over, it’s a great reprieve to enjoy this time where life is so good.
Call to Action
Next time, I will be ready because I am a warrior. I have fought demons and come out victorious.
Get my Free Guide Control Your Story (←Click Here and I’ll send it to you) to figure out where to start and some great tips on how to make a change.
You’ll get through it, too. Hang on just one more day, and I’ll help.
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