It hit me just before my 25th birthday.
My varsity sweetheart and I were out to lunch. I knew that I would have to break up with this lovely soul who I had spent close to seven years with. He didn’t do anything wrong… more like he wasn’t doing really important things right. I knew the break up would make everything in my life change. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t angry. I just felt…
It’s like a cosmic shift maybe. Just something inside you tells you that all you thought was right with the world… maybe, most likely, is not right. You come into this sense of self. Instead of asking does he like me, am I going to do well enough to achieve my bonus this month, will I have enough savings to go on the Bali holiday with my friends… You start posing the same questions from a different view. Do I need his approval, what value is he bringing to me? Is being stressed and cutting out social time worth making a nominal extra per month? Why I am trying to escape to a foreign country, what I am running away from back home?
In the year after the break up, the first symptom of my quarter life crisis, I had no answers to those questions. None. Hell, I didn’t even realise that there were these profound question marks in my life. So like any normal human, I spent raucous weekends out with friends, drinking and dancing. I was actually excited to start dating again, not that I was missing it previously, but most girls don’t admit it’s really nice to have several guys texting you, taking you out for dinner and drinks. My favorite question to ask a guy on a date is: what attracts you to me? Listening to him talk about my best attributes beats a Thai massage any day!
But then it hits you again. Like a ton of cheap vodka brick bottles hitting your head. You are still alone. The guys texting you don’t have the best intentions and your friends are happy with their lives, so no one really relates to your pain. If you are like me and want to find the worst possible ways to deal with this pain, here are 5 key tips to follow.
At your own peril, you have been warned.
1. Do not talk to anyone about it
For months I didn’t tell anyone about the break up, some friends had even asked me a year after the break up if we were still together. When anyone did ask, I just said that we loved each other but it didn’t work out.
I didn’t mention that I had become a different person, that I hated him for not understanding the new me even though I hadn’t accepted this new persona yet either. Don’t get me wrong, I talked a lot. About his demons, how hard it was for me to deal with his personal issues. How he made me feel responsible for the problems in his life. How I couldn’t cope with handling his issues and my brother’s drug addiction damaging our family at the same time.
I Iearnt a lot when reading up about addiction, initially I was reading to try and help my brother through it. What I found out was that there were symptoms present in my ex, and more shockingly, in me too.
An addict will always blame external sources for his pain.
My ex was a pro at this.
An addict will make the people around them feel responsible for their pain.
Yip check mate.
An addict will not be ready for rehabilitation until he acknowledges he is the source of his own pain.
As much as my ex was putting all his emotional pain onto me, what was it in me that stayed for so long, taking in his pain as my own and not telling anyone about it?
Well, my name is Candice Simone, and I am an addict.
I craved the approval. The need to feel loved deeply by someone even though this person did not love themself.
I craved feeling needed, maybe I would be the one to heal him, even though he didn’t know he was ill.
I craved being the superhero, maybe because I really needed one.
2. Use work for rehabilitation
So even in your quarter life crisis mode, bills still need to be paid right? Nope, not when you think like me. I worked hard at my first job, straight of university into a multinational that allowed me to travel all over the world. I was top performer at the company for four years, I only worked there for five.
I was hospitalised almost every year in the past four years, twice in the last year of working there. Each time this sharp burning pain would take over my chest. It felt like someone with a hot smoldering glove was squeezing my heart. I couldn’t lay down at night, I could barely catch a breath.
Being the millennial that I am- I googled the symptoms “sharp burning pain in chest, shortness of breath.” Never google that term. Google basically tells you that you are dying from a heart attack, you should make it to the nearest hospital and retweet this from Heaven if you can (how’s the wifi there?). Luckily, almost each time I had one of these attacks, I was at my mother’s house, she’s a nurse. So I told her my symptoms and she rushed me in the car to the hospital. They ran all the checks, ECG, x-ray, bloods. Nothing. The pain was still there and still unbearable, the nurses could see it on my face and from the tears I was clearly holding back, “it’s just stress my dear, go home and rest.”
So I went home, I didn’t rest.
My boss asked me what was wrong, why my quality of work dropping and why I seemed truly miserable. I told him what I didn’t like about the company and that I didn’t feel a sense of purpose by being there. He asked me – Candice, do you think this company will change for you? I replied, of course not. He said, well then something else needs to change. So the next day I handed in my resignation. No other job lined up, not even any interview prospects. Just three months notice to sort out my projects, then ciao, I’m out beeeeches!
3. Assume no one has been through the same thing
It’s so easy to feel alone and that no one understands what you’re going through. Talking to people who I thought had all their shit together was really great therapy. Everyone goes through shit. Why didn’t ya’ll tell me this?! Everyone gets to this point where they wake up and they are like: What in the Proverbial Frankenstein, is this my life?
When you are honest about what is going on, how much you are struggling, how nothing makes sense, you’ll find that most people are feeling the same thing. Some people use social media as therapy. Others rely on booze, drugs, sex. Some take it out on their loved ones, others just sit in alone on Friday nights and feel sorry for themselves while they judge the contestants on the Bachelor. We’re all dealing with something in a some way most of the time.
4. Keep insanely busy
So tried starting my own business. I went to conferences that I thought would be interesting. I wanted to make a career change, to be a teacher, luckily the universe stepped in and saved those kids since my applications were denied many, many times. I was busy every day, working out, going out with friends, planning, seeing banks for finance.
Rest, what is that? Nobody needs sleep or quiet time, especially when you mind is completely scrambled by what is going on in your life.
I think distraction was my therapy. I hate that feeling of depression that hits when you are staying stagnant and have to acknowledge this crappery that is your life.
So I ran in several directions, at the same time. Not realising that this doesn’t get me any further than standing still.
5. Do not listen to the universe
Signs are being thrown at you all the time. When buying property for my initial business venture, a group of new tenants next door stole my goods and threatened my personal safety. I called to cancel my lease and demand a refund of the deposit. I received neither and shut down the business before having even one day of operation. There were so many things that pushed me not to go into that business, but of course I don’t listen to big bad signs.
What I learnt from all these lessons and a few that followed was to be still.
In German, the word for relax is “sich ausruhen” which directly translates to “quiten oneself”.
Relax, take a deep breath and be quiet.