Blog, personal

The Night I Broke my Own Heart

Or so I thought.

This week has been rough. This year has been harder. Tonight is just weird.

I sent some texts to my friend, one of the few people on the earth I call that. He hasn’t texted back, but that’s alright. I’m going to write instead.

I was on the patio tonight thinking about a lot of things. I wanted to distract myself with the book I’m currently reading and some ice cream. It worked, but not the way I expected. I guess I’m just older, used to thoughts creeping in when I wish they wouldn’t. But lately, I’ve been less angered by them. There’s no sting, just this third-person view, like I’m watching home movies from my childhood on a projector; it’s me there, I’m sure of it, but a couple degrees removed.

Tonight I started thinking of the night I broke my own heart. It didn’t shatter like they describe in books, it didn’t send me falling to the ground, gasping for air. There are different kinds of heartbreak, just as there are different kinds of love. I’m not sure which there is more of in the universe.

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Anyway. I started thinking about a night in my ex’s apartment. I didn’t want to go, but I knew he wanted me to. I was scared, he probably knew that, but he thought I’d get over it. I tried to. I tried the entire relationship to shake the anxiety that had taken hold of my bones and brain the past several months. He tried to help when it wasn’t a problem, when it didn’t keep him from what he wanted. I think I thought making him happy was what would make me happy, too.

So I went to his apartment even though I’d said many times I wasn’t comfortable spending the night. The first day had been terrible. We started to kiss, he wanted to makeout, I told him I needed time after he pulled me on top of him.

He barely spoke to me the rest of the day.

We walked to and from dinner in (mostly) silence. When we came back, my anxiety had driven me to near exhaustion. I asked him to open a bottle of wine. It was some cheap prosecco knockoff from his last trip to Ukraine or something. I was fleetingly flattered he remembered prosecco is my go-to, even though I rarely drink to begin with.

I put on my favorite Spotify playlist. We sat on his small sleeper sofa and I started talking. I don’t know why I couldn’t stop. I just wanted the alcohol to calm me down. Not to do anything, just to stop feeling like my mind was caving in on itself.

I was so upset, so sad and I knew it, so I kept talking. I sat there in an over-sized t-shirt and my legs folded beneath me, trying to spill my life story to this person.

I watched his face as I went deeper into my thoughts, stopping halfway through the knots to defend myself against some mean comment he’d quip. What I remember most isn’t anything about him. It’s the feeling of sitting there with my playlist blaring through his speakers and the memory of being alone in my room with that same music, and finding greater company in those songs than the person sitting beside me.

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I knew that night that things wouldn’t work out between us. I’m not sure they ever had. We both wanted something in someone. Sometimes, I told him, when you look at me or say something, I feel like you’re talking to someone else.

And he was. He doesn’t know her, and neither do I.

But I know myself. And I know that as brief as the relationship was, it changed me. I don’t give him any credit for it. It was the person I realized I was in the midst of my struggle. I desperately wanted to be something other than who I was, and for who?

I broke my heart when, laying alone on his couch because I refused to share his bed, I realized what I’d put myself into. I’d placed someone else’s happiness before my own. And he wasn’t even happy because I wouldn’t give him what he wanted.

Who was giving me what I wanted? What I needed?

I had to do that. I broke up with him a few days later, after some other strange and unpleasant experiences that only solidified the sinking feeling I had to end things. And tonight, as I recalled the experience, I remembered another similar feeling.

I remember walking down a street in Philadelphia, where I used to live. I remember looking up at the trees, whose leaves had just turned bright green after a long, tiresome winter. I’d been struggling with depression for almost two years by then, and spent half of it not even knowing.

I’d spent a long time trying to fight my way out. And I remember looking up at those leaves who had survived that frigid, too-long winter. And I thought, “I’m not sad anymore.” 

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Mindful Living, Other, Self-help

Renew Your Mind: How to Start Living Life for Yourself

It’s a strange word. Renew. Maybe when you hear it, you think about a passport or your driver’s license. But you can renew yourself, too. It’s a foreign concept to us as human beings; we’re constantly chasing that high of uncertainty; the rush of ravishing, untouched perfection in the thrill of a new job, the eyes of a new lover who hasn’t really seen us yet, the excitement of a new hobby we’ll throw all our time and even money into until we’re burnt out and right back where we started.

Because you can never really escape yourself, can you? You can never start over no matter how many New Year’s resolutions you make or promises you vow under the comfort of a dark room when you lie awake and will say anything against the gunpoint self-doubt and regret gnawing at your thoughts.

Starting your life over from scratch becomes a dark fantasy, depressing but addictive. You zone out on the way to work, in your room by yourself, any soft moments when no one cares who you are or what you’re doing. You fill your ears with Spotify playlists filled with songs that sound like the person you wish you could be.

The good news is that starting over doesn’t mean erasing every bad memory and painful experience you’ve ever had. As damaged and broken as you might feel, you can renew your mind, recover from the past, and grow. You are capable exactly as you are, no matter what you’ve been through. 

The bottom line is this: You can’t chase happiness while running from yourself. A fulfilling life has to be developed from the inside out. If you feel like a victim of your own emotions, fearful of your next depressive episode or anxiety attack, trapped by your fears of intimacy, dominated by insecurity that turns your passion into sadness, it’s time to make a change.

The Power of Choice

You don’t need anything but desire. And that desire has to become a decision. To begin renewing your mind, regaining control over your thoughts and living positively, you have to stop saying, “I want to get better” to “I am getting better.”

Notice I said I am getting better and not I will. Saying “I will” puts your mind in the future. It creates an expectation to improve that can scare you from even starting. Every negative thought or bad day feels like a slip up, and you’re left dealing with disappointment on top of the feelings that brought you down to begin with.

When you decide to say, “I am getting better”, you’ve made a choice. You’re living in the present. You’re in control of every moment, even if you can’t control the things that happen to you or thoughts and feelings that move through you. But guess what? That decision, that definitive statement to get better and start living for yourself, is irreversible.

You’ll have bad days. You’ll still have sleepless nights. You’ll cry sometimes and feel like a failure, wonder if it’s all for nothing or if you’re a lost cause. But you aren’t. Remind yourself, “I am getting better.” Every day. Even when you feel like you’re at your worst, cause that’s when you need to remember it the most.

This life is yours, and this is only the beginning.

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