Yeah. I just stopped. Everything.
I stared into the wild, dark, abyss (aka my new future as a 29-year-old divorcée with plummeting job satisfaction, skyrocketing debt, anxiety that burned my gut with the fire of a thousand suns, and self-esteem levels that were utterly nonexistent).
I contemplated for .00235 seconds before I put down the book that was my life (displaying true millennial impulsivity, might I add)—a book that, quite honestly, I was too bored with to keep reading.
At that juncture in my life, the work functions for my spouse, the nine-to-five that was barely paying the mortgage and squeezing the very soul out of me like the last bits of toothpaste out of the tube, the weekends of barhopping just to maintain surface level “friendships,” the insert-fitness-craze-here classes to sustain aforementioned “friendships,” were all too much and yet also not even close to enough.
F***ckin’ A. It was quite literally the most boring and mundanely stressful book I’d ever read.
I wanted not just a new chapter, not just a new book, but an entirely different library. Maybe I didn’t even want a book anymore. I didn’t know. Maybe I wanted a podcast, an audiobook, a film, a TV series; maybe one of those ancient scrolls.
I just knew that this life that I’d fallen into, without consciously creating it, had become too painfully dull. Too quietly demeaning.
Unlike many of our stereotypical millennial brethren (and…sisteren? siblingen? whatever!) I got married young. Not, like, in a religious cult young. But, this-thing-that-I-think-is-love-feels-so-good-that-I’ll-do-more-or-less-anything-to-keep-riding-this-high” young.
I was 24 when I got engaged, and 25 when I got married. I’d never dreamt of my wedding as a kid, and wasn’t even sure I “believed in marriage.” I just knew that I’d met this person who loved me. Not just loved me, but worshiped the very ground I even considered walking on. That’s love, right?
Turns out not so much.
Four years, a total lack of prioritizing one another, faded magic, next to no sexual fulfillment, too many obligations and responsibilities, and I found myself cursing Steve f*cking Jobs.
I’d woken up feeling the same level of dread that I did on most other Sunday mornings. But this time, I was pretty sure I knew what was to blame. The awesome thing about having an anxiety disorder is that truly trusting anyone is a Herculean feat, so things like questioning your partner’s every move come quite naturally.
I picked up my then-husband’s Apple watch off the kitchen counter. And there they were. The barrage of text messages from the night before. With her.
You all know her. The one you’ve always been jealous of. With the eyes and the hair and the smile and the personality and the body and the glimmering perfection. The one who you can’t see yourself in, like you can with everyone else. She’s that perfect, that much above the rest of humanity; she is entirely unrelatable.
It was at that exact moment that my soul came rushing back.
I stopped. I dropped the watch (after briefly considering its destruction with the ball-peen hammer that I’d left out after a fruitless attempt at changing the kitchen lighting fixture). I walked out of the house that was in my name. I drove an hour to the nearest mountain and just started walking up it. Just like that.
I got moving. On. Up. Forward.
I stopped and dropped the life that I’d allowed myself to fall into, and rolled with what I had. I kept up the motion—one foot in front of the other.
And that cliché about how we can see who people really are based on how they react in these moments of crises? It is totally true.
I started slowly learning on that day, not just about heartache, coming apart at the seams, grief, and self-destruction, but about myself. About who I truly am and who I truly am not.
Sure, I love the smoothie bowls and all things fitness, and f*ck me if I don’t love a good pair of yoga pants. But the thing I started to learn and now live and die by, is the knowledge that I’m meant to be moving. Growing. Evolving.
Whether it’s one foot after another up a mountain, on the road, on a dirt path. Whether it’s scraping together any disposable income I can find to pay for plane tickets or AirBnBs to go see someplace new. Whether it’s up and down with a barbell in my hand. Whether it’s forcing myself to be still for 12 minutes so I can mentally evolve on my meditation cushion.
For better or worse, ’till death do I part from myself (thankfully my soul has remained with me since that day), I’m human. Highly flawed. Highly fluid.