Woah, bit of a juxtaposing title don’t you think? Well actually, no. Gratitude is your best friend in this situation- trust me. How I have even found the courage to write this is a mystery, even to me, but here goes…
I don’t think I’ve ever fully appreciated the phrase ‘rug pulled from under your feet’ before. Then, all of a sudden, my entire life was flipped upside down in one swoop simply because the man I loved fell out of love with me. You see, I had emigrated countries, found a job I loved, moved in with the love of my life, and began our ‘happily-ever-after’ existence in our love den in the mountains … or so I thought. It was gut-wrenchingly over in what seemed like overnight.
It has been, and continues to be, a huge test of my emotional and mental resilience.
But so many good things were borne from the situation. It was unexpected, yes, traumatic, yes, confusing, yes, heart-breaking, yes, yes, yes; all the usual things breakups tend to be. But it was also a unique opportunity.
I was faced with a choice. I could put all my energy into how truly crap it feels to be rejected and unloved by one person on this earth (out of 7.3 billion people) or I could direct my energy and appreciation into the things in my life that were truly golden.
My first moment of gratitude happened almost immediately after the breakup. It was Friday 13th believe it or not, I instantaneously sent a message out to my closest friends and family even though it was almost midnight. I just didn’t want to repeat the news of my rejection over, and over so I decided to do it all in one go. It was something along the lines of “Best friends, assemble. My relationship has ended.” I felt hollow, distraught, empty.
My phone rang almost immediately. “You are loved,” he said with earnest; the familiar, comforting voice of a dear friend from home. He said it three, four maybe five times. It was like he knew that’s what I needed to hear, to pull me from the edge of the abyss of self-depreciation that rejection can so easily inflict upon you. You are loved, you are loved, you are loved. It resonated with me down to my bones. I had never been so thankful for everything that friend was and still is to me. His voice still swirls around in my head even now in moments of extreme doubt. You are loved.
In the days that followed, I was lost. I decided to buy a little notebook where I could keep track of my thoughts- make sure they were on the positive side. This is by no means a step-by-step guide of overcoming a breakup, but I can hand-on-heart say it kept the demons and self-destructive thoughts at bay. Each day I wrote at least 10 things that I was grateful for in my life, and I kept it with me at all times, writing in there methodically and when inspiration struck.
I had immense support from my family, even though they were hundreds of miles away, and I forged strong friendships with people I never would have had were it not for this situation. I could not believe the number of messages of support I was receiving, how many people actually still cared about little ol’ me. After all, it’s not like I was the first or last person to ever go through a breakup- this shit happens all over the place, every day.
I was now looking at my life from a new perspective. Like a cloud had been lifted. How long had I been daydreaming through my life? How long had I been taking the simplest things for granted? I wasn’t just grateful for the big things anymore… health, money, friends, family- I was grateful for the little things too (that are actually quite big when you think about it), somewhere to sleep, clean water, toothpaste- all of which had suddenly become dubious as I was living in his home not ours.
I became super aware of the things I was complaining about in day to day life. The little annoyances in work were not worth fretting over actually when 99% of the time I genuinely loved my job. I couldn’t stand listening or participating in bitchy discussions or insults to others any more. I was entirely consumed with avoiding negativity at all costs and really focusing on the positive. I didn’t want to spiral downwards- that I knew for sure. This is not to say I didn’t have episodes of extreme emotion that I couldn’t keep down. On a handful of occasions, I spent a few hours crying my eyes out in the bathroom simply for the release (Justin Timberlake can finally rest- I cried a river for sure). Tears are okay, I’m only human.
This was also the time I started to think about ME. It’s so important. Be grateful for what you’ve got… but reach for the stars (or New Zealand in my case). Compromising yourself or any of your aspirations to suit the circumstances of a relationship are not the ideal ingredients for a fulfilled life.
Despite everything, I could even be retrospectively grateful for everything he did for me. I was so upset with myself that I had taken him for granted and kicking myself I hadn’t thought about being more serious about gratitude sooner. I always considered myself a grateful person (I said my please and thank yous) but in actuality I didn’t wake up every morning thankful I had another day to live and experience everything being human has to offer.
But acceptance was and still is a huge factor in my happiness. Every day is an opportunity to accept the person that you are and be grateful for everything this wonderful world has to offer you… even lessons learnt from heart-wrenching breakups.
I could go on and on about the individual things I became grateful for but to be honest it’s better to discover it for yourself. You don’t need a breakup to do this by the way.
Whatever you are going through in your life right now, whichever circumstances are seemingly unforgiving and making you feel like a bag of crap, just remember to be thankful for what you do have and most of all remember … You Are Loved.
Don’t be afraid of passing that message around either, this world needs more love.