So… today I wanted to tell a story that I felt really compelled to share for some reason. I think it’s because today I realized how truly happy I am, and exactly a year ago I can safely say this was not the case. I want to assure you that if you’re going through a hard time and you think life will never get better and you will never be happy again, please do not worry because you will be okay. Hard times are like mountains you have to climb over. It will take a bit of time and persistence, but you will come out on the other side.
One year ago was the beginning of the toughest period of my life. When I think of summer 2017 I think of loneliness, confusion, and overall sadness. In the middle of June 2017 I went through a break up. Something was not feeling right in this relationship and my gut was strongly telling me to end things. The decision came as a surprise to him and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. The months that followed were some of the worst. This was definitely the beginning of the large mental mountain I was set to climb.
I tried really hard to mask my sadness and move on. This selfie was taken a few days after the break up, and I look happy. Just by viewing this photo, you wouldn’t know that I had spent the last three days bawling my eyes out. I could barely make it through a work shift without crying. I was missing him and everything felt clouded. My two best friends were out of the country, so they were hard to reach. My close college friends were doing their own thing with one another and it felt like I was an outsider. I was living in a town that none of my friends lived in. It felt like everyone’s life was continuing while mine was completely frozen in time. I felt so sad. It felt like… like I would never feel happy again. I read so many quotes and found myself googling things like, “how to get over a break up.” I didn’t know how to deal with it.
About a week after the break up I traveled a couple of hours to do a photo shoot with a boutique for the first time. It took a lot for me to even drive down there, but I knew I had to continue on with my life and try some new things. Looking back, I realize that if I hadn’t done this photoshoot, I think my life now would be a little different. Nevertheless, every time I look at the photos from this shoot I am reminded how sad I was, I am reminded how I drove home that day crying and belting out to a Taylor Swift song. I felt like life would just… never get better. I felt such a loss in my life. The person I confided in about everything, the person I texted every second of the day was gone.
Also, last summer I worked at a retail store and it was incredibly hard. The job itself was fine, but the hours were long and I was always working the evening shift. I got home late which meant I woke up late the next day. I hated it. When everything was happening in my life, going to work was the last thing I wanted to do. Instead of “taking my mind off” of everything, I felt like it gave me more time to reflect on my life and think about how sad I was.
Fast forward to the beginning of July, he started to contact me again and we began to revive our relationship. I felt like I needed to give it another go. I needed to try the relationship again and put my entire heart into it.
Life was fine for a month or so. I was still sad and lonely and I still felt like things weren’t really right between us. But I kept telling myself to wait until school started at the end of August to truly see how I felt to avoid making another decision I might regret.
This was the “in between” period. The weeks between the beginning of July and the end of August. I found myself eating less and exercising more. I couldn’t eat because I was anxious and if I did eat, my anxiety would burn the calories immediately. I would run and workout to take my mind off of everything and temporarily distract myself. At this point my relationship was long distance because we were living in separate towns, and when I went to see him the visit always ended in sadness because everything felt wrong. My gut was urging me to end the relationship, but I just could not bring myself to do it yet. I always found myself crying so much that I would throw up any food I ate that day. I just felt… confused. I would drive home after a quick visit with him and cry the entire ride home because I knew the relationship wasn’t right. I just couldn’t bring myself to end it again. I felt like I was never going to be happy again.
This is the thinnest I’ve ever been… and the worst part is I felt like I looked the best I’ve ever looked. I felt that way because I looked like I worked out a lot and people were commenting about it. The sad part is, the time I thought I looked “great” on the outside was the same time that I felt incredibly sad on the inside. And the only reason I looked this way was because my body was really distressed, which was not healthy.
This beach day… I looked happy. But it was the day everything kind of hit me. I went home and had a bad feeling; I had a really strong gut feeling that my relationship was ending soon. A few days later I ended my relationship for good. Surprisingly, I felt a little better this time around than when I did it back in June. I was obviously still extremely sad, but I knew it was the right decision. I felt a little at ease.
I wanted things to work out in the relationship. I wanted to feel it, but I didn’t. It was no one’s fault.
After the real break up, I still felt awful. I would wake up and walk to class with a cloud over my head. I listened to the same sad song over and over again. I felt like it was going to take the longest time to feel happy again. I really had to push through this period.
After a solid couple of weeks filled with sadness, I began to heal. Very slowly, little by little, my sadness started to go away. Each day I would wake up feeling a tiny bit better than the last. Although my Summer was not filled with laughter, I can happily say the following Autumn was. I was wearing outfits that I loved. I was pouring my energy into my schoolwork. I started laughing again like I used to. I became closer to my friends and life felt like it was getting a tiny bit better again. Not too much, just a little each day.
Of course, it wasn’t all progress. I had many moments of weakness and set backs in my healing process. Especially a weekend in September when I just felt down. I wanted to text him about all of these things I was doing, but I couldn’t. This was the time everything hit me… the relationship was really over.
But after my weak moments in September, I would really get over it and move on. I knew that what people said was true: time really does heal all wounds. So the only thing I could do was keep moving forward and let time pass. This was when I began to really find myself and my happiness again.
I began heavily reflecting on the relationship and why it didn’t work. This reflection and awareness helped to heal the wound and allowed me to get over the relationship faster. I would write in my journal. I wrote pages and pages and pages about how I felt. My writing is very much stream of consciousness, so there was no structure. I really just write. As if I am talking or ranting to someone else. It’s extremely therapeutic and I highly suggest this if you’re going through something and you do not want to talk to anyone else.
Fast forward a couple of months, I cut a good bit of my hair off and I started dressing in outfits that really made me feel confident. I was hanging out with my friends and laughing more than ever. I wrote in my journal and started getting excited about little things. I was feeling good again.
I look back on this photoshoot with one of my friends as a defining moment. I was truly happy and excited about life again. I was getting good grades and I was feeling more confident than I’ve ever felt before. I was feeling hopeful for the future, and that feeling grew as the days passed.
The photo above was taken on one of my favorite days. It was the first day of spring break and my parents and I went on a day trip. We had such a good time. It was truly one of my happiest days. I felt like my burdens were gone, and that everything was colorful again.
This was a defining day because I completely chopped my hair off. I remember a year before this, I cut a few inches of my long hair off and it felt incredibly short (even though it was still bra strap length lol). I remember calling everyone and complaining about how short my hair was. Well, little did I know exactly a year later I would cut it to my shoulders. Ha.
These are some of my most recent photos that truly capture my happiness. I can proudly say I have gotten over the mountain that I had to climb this past year. I am officially on the other side. There were moments that I truly felt lost, stuck, and hopeless. For a while life just felt… dull. But now it’s colorful again. I read a quote one time that said we all wish there was something specific we could do to completely get over a hard time. The quote said we all wish we could just snap our fingers, or read a certain book, and everything would be okay again. But life does not work that way. It may take some time, but you’ll eventually overcome whatever you’re dealing with. You’ll eventually notice that you’re over it. For me, all it took was driving home from work the other day (I work for that boutique I did the photoshoot for last year), and thinking about how all I wanted a banana slushee. That was the primary thing on my mind. I didn’t feel an ounce of sadness about anything. All I was thinking about was getting a banana slushee, what to eat for dinner, going home to write in my journal, and listening to music in my room. I realized then and there that everything is okay again. I’m happy again. And I’m better than the person I was before because now I am a little stronger, and way more independent. I have gone through a really tough time, but I have come out the other side. I know if it happens again, I will get through it again. Just as I did before.
Please know that everything happens for a reason. Life throws obstacles at you that are not meant to destroy you, they are only meant to make you stronger. And do not let anyone discredit your problems or your struggles. If it’s hurting your heart, it’s worth addressing and paying attention to. Also, do not worry if you feel like you should be over something in a certain period of time. Everyone heals at a different pace. You will eventually get through it.
Here is the first quote I saved on my phone when my hardships began last summer:
At the time, that quote was hard to believe. But I knew I had to force myself to believe it and someday I would look back and realize it was true.
And here is the quote I saved on my phone last night that inspired this post: