LOST

CATALYST

I was in my early twenties when my life fell apart for the first time. I was on what I thought at the time was a hiatus from my ‘actual’ life. A sort of sabbatical if you will. The more distance and time I put between me and what had become my norm, the more aware I became of just how unhappy I was. Sure, there were some moments of joy, and laughter and even peace, but underneath it all, was a pervasive sadness and unfulfillment.

I knew there was something missing, I just didn’t know what it was or how to get it. The only thing I was sure of, now that I was out of the fog of my ‘happily ever after,’ was that I was part of the problem. I was truly alone, and it was bordering on lonely. 
While being alone and enjoying it is my jam, I’d always had people around me that I could physically reach, contact, meet, etc., whenever I was ready to come out of my cocoon.

Que a continent between me and my tribe and the cracks I had always managed to shove out of my immediate consciousness reappeared with a vengeance.

I reached out. I tried to remain connected to my chosen family even as I felt them slip further and further from my reach.

The crickets on the phone calls could no longer be masked by sheer enthusiasm. The messages never went beyond the superficial. And therein lay the crux of the problem. The relationships that I had built around me were all superficial. 

There was no real depth or connection to them. I had to face the fact that I had never felt truly welcome or that I belonged, was understood, loved or even cared for in my tribe. I took a hard look at the reflection in my mirror one day and acknowledged the harm that I had done to myself by WILFULLY playing blind.

Luckily at the time I was consuming self-help content; books, videos on YouTube, podcasts… I was in a better place than I’d ever been, probably for all of my life till then. Only thing was …. where to begin?

TEST

Almost like the universe had heard the thoughts bouncing around in my head, a situation dropped in my lap. And by situation, I mean a tiff with someone I loved deeply.

One of the things that infuriated me about this particular relationship was that our issues were never the big things. It was always an array of small things that were on their own minor inconveniences, but compounded painted a very different picture. I didn’t know then that it was perfectly okay to leave over minor inconveniences instead of sticking around waiting for the drag out fight that ended a friendship.

I wasn’t willing or even able to see that this person was just being who they were, and who they were was both uninterested in and incapable of meeting my needs. Probably because they didn’t love me and more importantly, they didn’t even like me. I didn’t like or love me either because I kept staying for the shits even though this had become a predictable pattern.

Exasperated, my mouth moved faster than my mind and voiced the words I had thought often but never said aloud.

“This isn’t going to work.”

A pause, as the argument halted. Neither of us had expected that.

“What?” My friend asked, uncharacteristically calm considering the verbal warfare of just a few seconds before.

It was a challenge. Neither one of us really expected me to repeat the words. People pleasing tried to reel me back in, but the first time I’d said the words they’d rang true to the depths of my being. And given me the permission I’d never known I needed.

“This isn’t going to work.” I repeated.

I hadn’t gone into this conversation knowing I was going to end a relationship. I had an overpowering urge to take it back and patch up what was broken between us, like I always had. But the feeling of lightness and relief that had kicked in when the words had escaped me stopped me.

In the next week, I took inventory of my life and relationships and purged. No advance warning…. nothing. I just systematically began erasing people from my gadgets. Numbers, chats, social media…. the works. I wiped off any trace of 99% of my social life, so even if I was tempted to reconnect, there was no way for me to.

Extreme, I know.

PRIDE

I then sat back and waited for a reaction while low-key freaking the fuck out. I was sure my phone would start blowing up soon as people clocked what I’d done. I had no idea how I was going to explain basically ghosting them. 1 week….2 weeks…

Nada. Nothing. No calls from unknown numbers. No texts. Complete radio silence.

Utterly and completely crushed doesn’t even begin to describe what I felt when I realised that no one had even noticed my absence. Not one flippin’ person. To have none of my ‘friends’ – former friends now – notice, react or even care was heartbreaking.

It was clear that not only had I overestimated my position in their lives, the death of those relationships had also been long overdue, and I was the only one that didn’t get the memo.
Compounded onto the heartbreak was the hit my ego took.

It would have still sucked, but it would have been preferrable to know that as I was grieving relationships that had meant the world to me, the people’s whose loss I was dealing with were affected too. Even if it was in some small way. Now I had to grieve people who I finally understood felt nothing for me. People that I had overextended myself to, that I had supported, that I had loved….

And they couldn’t even be bothered to notice my absence? Not one fucking person? How in the hell did I get here?

ENLIGHTENMENT

That pain quickly morphed into anger.

 This was my chosen family??? I was absolutely disgusted with myself.

I think it would have been better to have been blindsided. At least there would have been no culpability on my end.

Unfortunately, there had been warning signs from very early on. My desire to be loved, to be chosen and the delusion in thinking that just because we hung out made us friends had kept me holding on because that had been easier than facing the reality and letting go.

Did I feel betrayed? You bet your ass I did. But who had forsaken me first? Had it been them? Or had I deceived myself first and carried on the lie to avoid facing my choices and what they meant?

My social life was a cage of my own making. I saw now that I had always had the keys to unshackle myself if only I’d stop playing coward under the guise of being nice and people-pleasing. After all, hadn’t I done just that by impulsively deleting any trace of said people from any avenue that was accessible to me?

If only I had done it sooner. If only I had had the self-awareness to realise when I’d long overstayed my welcome. If only I had loved myself enough to only place myself in situations and with people that valued, respected and loved me instead of surrounding myself with situations and people that tolerated me and barely at that. If only….

But then I think about the person I was then. And the obstinacy that has long been a hallmark of my personality, and I know that while it was not ideal, I needed to learn through that experience.

Some of us learn from other people’s mistakes and the rest of us have to be the other people.

~ Zig Ziglar

I have experienced the pain of being ‘the other people,’ the ones whose mistakes others will hopefully not make. It has tempered my hot headedness and my stubbornness as I’ve grown more into myself.

Were those people responsible for their misbehaviour? 100%. Were their actions a reflection of who they were then? Sure.

However, while I acknowledge the ways in which I have been wronged, it would be remiss of me to not acknowledge the ways in which I wronged myself. Because I was an ACTIVE participant in how those relationships worked or didn’t work. No matter my reasons, my traumas and default mechanisms, the bottom line is I stayed and participated in the shits.

It’s called ACCOUNTABILITY.

Will I ever go back there again? Fuck no. Been there, done that, No thank you.

I absolutely refuse to put myself in spaces where I am not celebrated. I have discovered active love and respect for myself, and I no longer tolerate anything less. I try to learn from others as much as I can to avoid putting myself through avoidable pains and aches. I CHOOSE the people in my current circle and for the right reasons. I have learnt from my past. And while I’m definitely not there anymore, I finally have compassion for the wounded girl that made those shitty choices all those years ago.


I hope this part of my life helps at least one person out there who may be where I was. If it does, I hope you know you are stronger than you think you are and are more capable than you believe. Even though it doesn’t feel like it. Even if you’re not there yet, I hope when you finally do get there, this serves as motivation to exit what no longer serves you.

For those, like me, who are no longer here, I hope it served as food for thought, or simply entertainment.

To the best version of ourselves,

Cira J. N.


Feature image by Geber Luis on Behance ~ Pinterest.

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