In the last year I have felt and thought, just, so many things. In the last month alone, I have felt and thought such a myriad of feelings and thoughts that I physically cannot remember 2020 at all. Everyday blurring into a lockdown loop, I cycled myself into a pit of depression, the likes of which I hadn’t experienced since my stepfather died or when I couldn’t get out of bed in high school. It has taken a genuine shock to the system to pull me out of it.
The break up took place late July, and though not unexpected, tore through my body. A rom-com worthy performance on my part, two weeks of crying, ice-cream and staying in bed. The sort of pain that can only be caused by intentional separation. A firm decision made by both parties that left my neural pathways crashing into each other, looking for a new home.
Feelings, weighing me down because they had nowhere to go, having to accommodate the loss that now belonged to me.
My friends did more than their share to keep me sane. And by the time my 27th birthday came around, I was ready to try sparkling again. I went rock climbing with a friend, an activity that fills me with a child-like glee. In fact, you could barely determine me from the 8 year old's enjoying the walls and obstacles with us.
That night, I wore a top literally made of sparkles and pretended like the world wasn’t closing its doors all around us as we entered a new lockdown.
Break ups are an unusual thing to comprehend. Unlike the grief of somebody passing, you know exactly where this person is. They are right there, and it’s up to the both of you to keep your distance, become unreachable. A task I fail at miserably time after time. You question everything about yourself and them. You spin a mental wheel of blame trying to justify and explain why this has happened. Even when you know the why and the how, you just can’t seem to band aid over the wound.
The reflection that occurred during this time (for me at least), was a deep dive into the worst Google search ever: “WHY AM I LIKE THIS?” asking myself, my mum, my dad, my sister, my friends, the angels, the astrological star signs, anything I could get my hands on to answer this question. Maybe if I knew why I am the way I am, I could counteract it and not be who I am anymore. In this mindset it didn’t matter how many people told me they loved me for all that I am, all I wanted was to be someone else because being me had clearly failed the relationship.
Call it anxious attachment, call it depression, call it empathy-overload, I did a lot of things that just don’t make up, well, me. I’ve never been academically driven, or athletic or competitive so my only awards in life have been a third place public-speaking ribbon and two participation trophies for dancing. It is so hard for me to accept that my accomplishments are just not going to be validated by a first place pedestal or ceremony,(as much as the Leo in me wishes that were the case.) It’s taken me today to realise that my relationships are some of my biggest achievements. The love, support, connection and memories I have with the people around me are genuine, authentic and fill me with pride.
I am, in the spiritual mumbo-jumbo side of things, considered an empath. In non-freaky sounding language I find it very easy to put myself in other people’s shoes. If we’re all in our own individual bubbles, I have a super power of absorbing you into mine. If you love something, so do I. If you’re hurt, I feel it. And I say this is a super power because I have had too many instances of strangers confiding in me, trusting me, crying on my shoulder. As if I could shed their vulnerabilities like I have laser vision. But like any power, I lose control without proper training.
This becomes evident when, without prompting, I mould myself into what I perceive the situation calls for rather than just being me. And that’s a shame and I don’t recommend it and it fails 100% of the time. I wonder to myself: I stopped being myself and now I have no excuse to do that again, but who is left? At this time, I have finance to do what I like and zero time restrictions. This is what winning the lottery dreams are made of, so why am I crying quietly while watching Netflix and scrolling mindlessly though TikTok?
I look to my ‘potential pile’, a mountain of creative endeavours that I’ve hoarded over the years. Lacking the self-belief that anything I did was at all good, I desperately wanted a partner; someone to hold my hand like a child on their first day of school saying “you can do it.” WHAT IS IT? I still don’t understand. Without a single focus like fashion, style or art, I aimlessly drag a million curiosities and thoughts like a suitcase with a broken wheel. Where do I go? I want to write because I’ve felt unspoken for too long. I want to be honest and authentic because I want people to have something to relate to. I want to be the face of my brand because I’m a Leo with a giant ego. I want to create because I want to connect people.
I want Pretty Gritty to connect the little messy lights that we are. Because it is dark right now and I can help that. I am lucky, I am smart, and I have nothing to lose. I tell myself daily that I’m not as alone as I think and some days ambush me and some days I steamroll them. If there’s one thing the entire population should have learnt by now it is compassion and understanding. And I hate to say it, it sounds so lame, so cliche, but it really does have to start inside. I don’t want to change anyone’s life, I just want that to be stuck in your head like a proud toddler’s finger-painting on a fridge.
Let trying your best be your best. And try again whenever you get the chance.
x❤x -Stephanie Jane