I was sitting on the floor, in the candlelight. It was a random December evening and the house was quiet. It was just me, my records, and my wine. Here I was, reflecting on 2019, everything that went on that year in my life. My mother's unexpected passing at the top of the year, my new exciting job that I was so ecstatic about, not working out. My boyfriend's father passing a month later. My world was literally shattered at the start of a year that I looked so forward to.
And the wild part, is that the year progressively became more and more difficult.
I sat immersed in the moment, continuing to reflect.
Wishing I smoked or even had ganja on me to cleanse the year. This wine and candlelight will do.
Anita is blaring. She makes everything better.
A few months prior to this day, I made a note in my phone labeled, 'Two Thousand Nineteen'. It had items listed that had a major effect on me in a year's time frame. When I added them all up, the total came out to 29.
I figured if I saw it written out loud, I could wrap up those 29 negative things, and throw them out with a simple 'delete' option. But in reality, they were there whether I deleted them or not.
I didn't say much to anyone throughout the year, even though I knew they just wanted to make sure I was OK. Text message responses got slower. I tried with everything in me to give myself just a few months to get back to normal. But every high was met with just as many rock bottoms. Every plan I made for myself was thrown to the side. I had fallen into a silent depression over something only the universe and a higher power had control over.
And I needed to figure out how to heal, but had no clue where to start.
After all, there was too much to do, I was on a mission to be promoted to a director-level position within my industry in a year. I had all these events I needed to plan and network for, buying a new car was a priority, and I needed to find a board to sit on. There was absolutely no time to be anything other than what I had always known: an industry hustle.
Go, Charmin. Figure out how to buy that property and help build this other brand. Also, go be a good friend, go check on your family. Go. Go.
And one day, it occurred to me: like sis, you're not going to be able to accomplish anything. So, stop. Especially now. Especially in this headspace.
I remember that moment like yesterday.
It was so unfamiliar, yet a moment that would ultimately reshape my outlook on life. But I knew it was what I needed.
We as women say that we need a break all the time, or we need a vacation to get away from everything. This time was different. This time, I needed healing. I decided then and there to take a break from everything. So, I metaphorically packed my bags, and told my dreams I'll see you in a year.
In the initial stages, being ambitionless was tough. Our generation is so programmed to always go after the bag. It's almost as if we have some soul-tie to advancement—and I was no different. I knew I had to structure out a plan if I was going to succeed.
My plan was written as:
Do things that make you happy.
Give people who give you the most peace, the most time.
Find a purpose.
And as a grand finale, create an escape plan from everything you needed an escape from.
This allowed me to be more aware of what potentially stressed me the most. I knew my stress triggers would present themselves and I'd act accordingly to what was revealed.
Now, to clarify, my break was not an opportunity to be a bum and sit home and wallow in sorrow. This was instead a time to not directly work toward any of the goals that I've had for myself, and that had developed over the course of 33 years.
My only goal was to work on nurturing my mental health.
So, I would often unapologetically leave work and take myself to the movies or on lunch dates, I'd spend time researching local activities. I discovered new podcasts and worked on forming new habits. I focused on actively redirecting my thinking to more supportive, positive places. I am someone who never buys anything for myself, so I rediscovered shopping (I know, right). I would visit family 600 miles away or invite them into my space (major key). And I spent time seeking experiences and activities such as skiing road trips (experiences were also a huge factor).
And slowly, I began to feel welcomed back into my body. Soon, meaning returned back into my consciousness.
Ladies, I've learned that it is OK for us to take a moment. Just step outside of yourself and take a moment. Not every hour of the day has to be dedicated to "winning." Sometimes, what we're after is silently killing us. As adults, if you think about it, we deal with so much trauma, yet dust ourselves off and continue to work in mental chaos. I personally sought refuge in my home, simply because it was where I was happiest. And combining my home life with activities that I learned to love out loud, satisfied my healing process.
Today, I am happily back in the swing of life. My year is complete, and I am on a path that I literally had no idea I would be on 365 days prior. Everything is looking up. And that's all I wanted. To look up.
At the time of this article, I hadn't visited a therapist just yet, but maybe one day. I know that's probably where this final stage of healing lies.
But for now—just for now—I can truly say that packing those metaphorical bags to take that year off, saved my life.
Charmin Michelle is a writer with xoNecole, based in Chicago, IL. You may find her on instagram @charminmichelle or shoot her an email if you would like to know more about her break.
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