One year ago, I was on my way to work beating myself up because I had promised to bring in a dish for the Thanksgiving luncheon my job was hosting for the students.
I couldn’t make the dish. I didn’t have the energy to do it. At that point, I didn’t know how I was still making it to work.
Two months into working after a 6-month break, I was back at ground zero mentally. I was having panic attacks on a daily basis. The toilet and my boyfriend were my best friends: he would pat my back as I threw up, then rub my stomach and send me off into the shower so I could feel well enough to make it to work.
Sometimes, I would get to work, throw up in the staff bathroom, clean myself up (I started carrying a toothbrush and toothpaste for this purpose), and get back to work.
Other times, I would sit at my desk going through silent panic attacks all day with severe chest pain. Completely dissociated from what was going on around me, the students would often ask if I was okay.
My living situation was far from ideal. I was not making enough money to do what I wanted to do. I was having issues at home with my family. I was going through shit in my relationship. I was learning about spirituality, and coming to face with parts of my past I never wanted to re-live or think about. I was re-evaluating all of my friendships and personal relationships. I was realizing I poured out a lot, but had very little shared with me in return.
It was one of the most difficult times of my life.
It made me realize I was not giving myself my worth. It made me realize I was insecure, seeking approval and validation, and I was unhappy with where I was in life. I had lofty goals, but no concrete plan to accomplish them. I had dreams of being a writer, but the thought of going back to school to study something that came so naturally to me was appalling.
I knew I was settling in life. I knew I could do better.
And I got tired of settling. I started to remember how much potential I had, and although I knew it would take so much work to bring my confidence up, I also knew I had to start somewhere.
I pulled out a journal that my beloved sorority sister copped me for graduation, and I started writing in it. I would write in it during my breaks at work, on the train on my way to work, at home while bae played video games. I just wrote and wrote and wrote. I spilled my guts on to paper.
It hurt me to see all the things that were putting a damper on my mental health and on my journey towards self-actualization. I felt like I was carrying too much.
I was carrying resentment, hurt, and heartbreak. I was carrying trust issues. I was carrying everybody else’s issues. I was a wreck.
But I fell in love with the mess, because I knew all of my biggest weaknesses could be turned into my greatest strengths. Eventually, my life started to mirror what my soul truly desired:
- I started meditating and spending time in nature
- I started this blog
- I stopped tolerating negativity and toxicity
- I cut people out of my life
- I started monitoring my thoughts, transforming negative ones to positive ones
- I worked to build a better relationship with members of my family
- I figured out the issues in my partnership, and we worked through them
- I became unapologetically selfish
- I quit my job
- I quit trying to satisfy and please others
- I started to breathe life into my goals and plans
- I started to say affirmations on a regular basis
- I quit seeking validation from other people
- I stopped living up to other people’s expectations of me
- I stopped letting people control my narrative
- I started allowing myself those breaks we often need–from going out, drinking, partying, answering messages 24/7, and existing solely for the pleasure of others
- I started praying and setting intentions for my life
- I put my trust and faith in the Universe
This is just a short list of the things I did in order to take control of my life. And after a year of consistently doing all of this–even when it was hard, even if it cost me days in bed crying, I did them. I decided to put myself first, and being my first priority is working out well for me.
It wasn’t and hasn’t been easy. It is still a work in progress. But I can effectively say I have changed my life. I have built the foundation for the life I want to live. I have gained mental and emotional strength from my journey with radical self-care.
Now the task before me is to continue evolving. Continue growing. Continue glowing.
I’m eternally grateful. Thank you, 2017, for the ass-kicking I needed.
Happy Thanksgiving ❤
Featured art: Alex Grey