Stop Being Sad and Be Awesome Instead

Initially, when I decided to write this blog, it was with the intention of using my personal everyday experiences as a lesson for others. Today’s experience will probably adhere to that theme more than any of my blogs so far. If you’ve been reading my blog, you already know that a few months back I broke things off with a girl I once believed would be my future wife. You’re also likely aware that I’ve had bouts with depression in the past as well as fairly recently. Today, unfortunately, did not start out as one of my better days.

You see, the truth is, as happy and relieved as I am to be out of an abusive relationship, no matter how bad the relationship, we are all bound to remember some of the better moments. I’ve been sick for the past few days, so I’ve been sleeping quite a bit. Needless to say, my inactivity hasn’t been helping my moods much either. However, it was after passing out during the afternoon today that I ended up finding myself at my weakest. And it was all because I had a dream, an all too nice dream, about my ex.

As I said, no matter how bad the relationship, there are always bound to be a few moments that made you smile. Today, I had a dream about one of those moments. It was a flashback to when we met for the first time, to when I gave her the very first gift I would ever give her; a small, sterling silver promise ring that I bought with all the money I had at the time. The dream continued to our first kiss, a hesitant, but soft and sweet moment. Finally, the dream brought me to the scene last fall when she was going up to see her parents.

We were at the airport, she was trembling as I held her close to me. I kept whispering to her how much I loved her, how she would be alright, how she would be in my arms again real soon. It was a bittersweet moment, but it was also the moment, when we kissed each other good bye for the last time before she walked through the gate, that I was positively convinced I would go to the ends of the earth for her and that she would do the same for me.

It was the last, genuine moment where I felt like we were in love because, in the months that followed, and due to all sorts of unfortunate events, our relationship would become increasingly strained and increasingly painful for the both of us. When I woke up, all the anguish of saying good bye to her last fall and the knowledge of what came after rushed back into my head and heart like a jet-propelled freight train. For the first time since saying good bye to her for the last time, I missed her.

I sat up in my bed, contemplating how things had gone so wrong for us and wondering if there was anything I could have possibly done differently. Maybe it was due to my exhaustion, maybe my cold, maybe a combination of both plus the weight of nostalgia bearing down on me. Whatever it was, for several minutes I had forgotten all the pain and all the abuse. I forgot about the abusive screaming, the projecting, and her violent temper and genuinely believed I had lost something precious.

It’s a dangerous state of being, but I suppose that goes without saying. It’s what depression can do to you and it is always hard to fight against to get to the reality of the situation. You begin to feel guilt over things that were ultimately out of control, blaming yourself for events and actions that were never even your fault.

And as cheesy and lame as this is probably going to sound, in moments like this I’ve found myself turning more and more to the immortal words of Barney Stinson. Yeah…as if you didn’t see that coming.

whenimsadBefore this blog loses all credibility, hear me out. As simplistic, simple-minded, and overall dumb, as Barney’s motto may sound, he still has a point.

And frankly, it also takes an enormous amount of will-power to enact.

Feeling sad and upset and depressed literally sucks the life and energy out of you. You don’t want to move, you don’t want to eat, and you certainly don’t want to smile. And in moments like what I experienced early, smiling is exactly what you should force yourself to do. Article after article has been written regarding the many scientific studies that have proven the simple act of smiling, even forcing yourself to smile, can make you feel better.

But that’s only the first step. When life beats us down, smile right back at life and don’t stay down. Get up, get active, and do something you enjoy, be it reading, writing, singing out of tune, or, in my case, working out until you can hardly breathe.

Today, I managed to channel the sorrow into motivation. Each and every day I’ve decided to prove to myself in some sort of way that I am better off. While I’ve managed to get back into my work out routine that I neglected so much while being with her, today was the first day my focus went from being “getting back in shape” to “proving she lost something wonderful” and not the other way around. There is nothing wrong with that because it is important to discover one’s own self worth. It is absolutely crucial that we all discover that we are of value, we matter. And people who mistreat us and take our energy and our love and our sacrifices will never deserve us. For every push up I did, I reminded myself of just how much better off I now was. For every pull up, I admired just how far I had come on my own without the burden of being with her weighing me down. For every sit up, every leg raise, and every mile I ran, I was reminded of just how much I loved finally getting my life back, instead of being subservient to another.

And you know what? It was the best damn work out I’ve had in a long time.



A Dark Hour and an Opened Door

Back when I began this blog, I started writing it the day I felt my life was finally making a turn for the better. But I left a lot of details out, details that I feel will possibly offer some encouragement and hopes to others who might be feeling as though things can’t get better for them. When you read my experience, I want you to focus on the main message. That being, you don’t know how and when things are going to turn around for you. So never lose hope.

I’ll start back by describing to you exactly how things had been going for me up until the evening of September 16th of this year. In May, I proposed to a girl I desperately wanted to believe was the girl of my dreams. Unfortunately, that is when, instead of our relationship getting stronger, they took a drastic turn for the worse. She became more and more distant, I became more and more depressed, and by July we hardly spoke at all. She made claims that her sudden absence from my life was due to medical concerns, but I can no longer believe that. I have no doubts she was cheating on me by that point. I had plans on confronting her, but I wouldn’t get the chance.

In mid-July, my ex would take it upon herself to call me at literally 2 am in the morning to curse me out over writing how I missed her and about me putting pictures up of us being together on my facebook (you can probably see why I doubt she had stopped talking to me over “medical concerns”). After screaming at me over how selfish I had been in the relationship, I ended it on the spot. She was, of course, taken aback. It was the first time I had genuinely defended myself from her attacks and the first time I ever told her I wanted to break up (she had, of course, said it multiple times throughout the course of our relationship).

We stopped talking for a few weeks. I tried focusing on other issues going on in my life, but it was difficult. My ex continuously tried contacting me. I knew it was because she didn’t care much for not getting in the last word, but like a fool I finally relented around the beginning of September. She went on about needing money to send me the ring back, how she was struggling even to feed her cat and buy necessities for herself, and also how she was still deeply in love with me. On the inside, I didn’t believe I was ever going to get the ring back and I wasn’t sure if I cared anymore anyway. I gave her some money, not believing that she was being honest, but believing that my generosity would be returned to me in some other way. It’s a philosophy I’ve always maintained and it’s also the reason why I couldn’t bear being called the selfish one in our relationship.

A few days later, my grandfather died. It hit me hard. It was sudden and seeing as for the last few years my circle of confidantes had dwindled down to my now ex-fiance, I felt I had no one to turn to for comfort. I remember, upon hearing the news, I had locked myself in the room, incapable of containing myself and blasting any music I could find to drown out my sobbing. All the while, realizing that it was in moments like these I used to go to my ex for support. But as I was gearing up to travel out of the country for the funeral, I had come to the decision that I didn’t want her around as a source of comfort anymore. In truth, she had rarely been around emotionally for me anyway. At least, nowhere near the level I had been around for her. I left her a message telling her that I wanted to speak to her with the intention of getting everything out in the open. I wanted there to be no loose ends. However, she didn’t respond until after I returned from my trip.

It was also upon my return that I learned of her infidelity. While I had suspected it, the evidence didn’t become clear until September 15th. While that was difficult to accept, it wasn’t surprising. What had bothered me though, was her professions of love to me literally a few days before. It made me realize I could no longer believe she had ever loved me. If she could say such words with feigned sincerity as she had, how could I believe she hadn’t done the same throughout our relationship?

The following day, I went into work determined not to bother with anything else or care about anything else other than my job. Unfortunately, in the afternoon my boss called me with the news that I had to be laid off. As supportive as he was, with everything else going on, the news that I was now unemployed became the straw that broke this camel’s back. I went back to my desk and, for the second time in my life since middle school I really struggled.

For years since my early teens, I touted and preached about finding the silver lining in every situation. After bouts with extreme depression in the past, I used to think my ability to overcome and find happiness gave me the privilege and the right to help encourage others to do the same. But now, at that point in my life, I felt foolish for ever believing in a silver lining in every situation. I had alienated close friends and family for a girl who, as much as I hate to admit, broke my heart and convinced me romantic love was nothing more than an illusion. I had lost a grandfather I had vowed to see alive, a grandfather who loved me dearly and who I loved dearly in return. And now, I was losing a job that had become my only means of settling the debt I had taken on after caring for a manipulative and selfish girl for the past two years.

I sat at my desk, contemplating all the mistakes I had made that I believed led me down to this path. As giving and caring as I wanted to consider myself, I had neglected many people in favor of a single, undeserving one. I began considering everything bad that was now happening as a well-deserved punishment. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t see a way out. All I could visualize were people in my life, people that I had ignored or hurt, telling me I deserved this. For a while, I sat at my desk, feeling myself ask that all too dangerous question.

“What was the point?”

I had effectively lost two years of my life. And while I don’t believe any years of one’s life should be considered “throw away” years, these two years specifically should have been a time for growth for me. But I had squandered the better half of my twenties and had become convinced that I had only just begun my downward slope into utter desolation.

That evening, I was supposed to give my boss’s grand daughter her weekly piano lesson. I recall him asking if I was still okay giving them. I said yes, realizing that while $30 a week was close to nothing given my financial situation, it was still something. I forced myself to smile for the rest of that day, despite feeling ready to give everything up inside. After all, from my perspective I no longer felt like I’d find love or that I even deserved the love of friends and family, and with debt looming over my head I could no longer pay off, I didn’t see much to smile about. But it was at this point where the moral of my story comes in.

I headed over to his daughter’s house, the same smile, masking a nearly crippling sense of dread, plastered on my face. She greeted me with a sympathetic smile and hug, asking if I was alright. I don’t know if she believed my “Yes” or not, but she told me not to worry, that things would work out. And then she got me a job working for her mother.

That’s the problem with depression. How we feel on the inside, the intense loneliness, the sense that nobody cares. It’s never true. But it is always damn near impossible to realize that. For years up until that point, I had been doing a good job of keeping it in check since struggling with it back in middle and high school. But I let my guard down and convinced myself that I was irrelevant.

Getting this job and being able to continue working for a family I truly admire and care for opened my eyes again. Just when things are at their darkest, that is the time when we should be looking for that silver lining the most. If I had not bothered with the piano lesson that evening, if I had told my now former boss that I was no longer comfortable with it, I might very well still be unemployed and hopeless even now. What’s more, it reminded me that there are those that still care. There are people who care about me. And as badly as I might have treated family and friends, the people who loved me were ready and willing to forgive me for everything I had done. No matter what, there were people who still wanted me to be happy.

That evening, I remember going to my parents, eyes admittedly teary, and telling them how sorry I was for the last two years, how blind and foolish I had been. And my father, through reddened eyes himself, told me he was just so happy to have his son back again.

This blog has gone on for a while. I realize it isn’t the most well-written, and I apologize for that aspect of it (a bit under the weather). But I do hope the message is clear and it’s a message I personally intend to keep in mind more so than ever before. Whenever you struggle, whenever you think there is not a single soul out there that cares, whenever you think your situation can’t turn around, know that today I am telling you, you are wrong. There is always a silver lining. No matter how dark the clouds, no matter how stormy the night, we have to do our best to find it. There is always a reason to hope and it is only when we stop searching for that reason that our situation becomes hopeless. This past September I was reminded of that and I hope my experience will serve as a reminder for anyone out there who is struggling as well.