After My Breaking Point, I Decided It Was Time To Forge My Own Path

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“In February of 2020, I had reached a low point in my life. I recently quit my job, was getting over a toxic relationship, and my mental health was failing.

For most of my life, I’ve been pretty absent. Since my childhood, I haven’t grown up with the best tools to deal with my early depression and anxiety. Most of the time, I’d bottle up my emotions and just shuffle through the days.

Over the years, I became more angry and resentful. Especially towards my mother, as we didn’t always have the best relationship because we didn’t see eye to eye. I felt alienated from the idea of feminity as a whole because I didn’t have that mother-daughter bond many other young women have. I felt like I didn’t have an identity, which led me to many toxic friendships, relationships, and various jobs I was apathetic about because ‘at least they can pay the bills.’

One job in particular, prior to February, was my position as an office assistant for a construction company. It paid well and it was part-time. However, I didn’t have much experience in construction and this soon became apparent. I am a perfectionist by nature and if I feel like I’m constantly failing at something, I get anxious and abandon it. I repeated this pattern at this job. It became increasingly overwhelming as I was surrounded by spreadsheets, invoices, customers, and information I just couldn’t comprehend.

Courtesy of Nicole Leonard

My boss noticed my issues and sat down with me. She was aware I was struggling to keep up the pace and was trying to understand why I was behind. I remember sitting there and feeling terrified. I was sure she was going to yell at me or fire me. It was a tense moment as I felt my body tighten up and a million thoughts ran through my head. She was calm, though, and we maintained eye contact with each other. Her voice was soft but filled with understandable concern.

She asked, ‘What’s going on? Do you feel okay?’ I squirmed in my chair as I struggled to answer. At first, I said I was doing okay but quickly changed my answer. I wasn’t doing fine. I told her a brief summary of what was happening in my life both at work and outside of the office. My mental health was at an all-time low. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. She listened and said to me, ‘I-I just don’t know what to do… I don’t want to fire you, but you haven’t progressed since I hired you. I just don’t want you to feel dread when you come into work. I don’t want to make you feel like this isn’t what you want to do.’

I knew what was coming, so I simply said, ‘You’re right. This isn’t for me… I thought maybe if I’d try and study, I would eventually get accustomed. That’s obviously not working.’ I stared down at the floor and I realized I was crying. I felt tremendous pressure in my chest. She got up and walked around my desk and motioned for me to give her a hug. I did and completely broke down. Everything I held in for those few months came out like rushing water. She held me as I pulled myself together.

She was a mother—and interestingly enough, she was old enough to be my mother. She had a son who was a couple of years younger than me. It was comforting to know she genuinely cared about what I felt. I told her I had to quit and I was sorry. She quickly corrected me.

‘Don’t you think for a second you did anything wrong. You did your best and that’s all that matters. I will always have great respect for you because you were honest and upfront with me.’ I thanked her for the opportunity and left. At that point, I’d been there for four months.

I felt the pressure immediately lift from my chest. Not because I quit the job, but because I was free to forge my own path. Over the next few weeks, I spent time at home and slowly tried out meditating. I needed something to redirect my mind from the many thoughts I had about my unknown future. I also started taking daily walks around the park. Looking back on this, I believed it was the seed starting my journey, leading me to where I am now.

Courtesy of Nicole Leonard

During this time, my best friend came over to spend a weekend with me. I suggested walking around downtown and taking a couple of pictures for fun since she dabbles in photography in her spare time. It was a well needed weekend out of the house and I loved being with someone I actually could spend time with without care and enjoy the moment. That day was filled with hot tea, yummy snacks, a trip to the comic book store, and ending with a nice rest by the river.

Courtesy of Nicole Leonard

After this weekend, my relationship with my ex-fiance was getting worse. We had started dating in October 2019 and it was a whirlwind romance. Within two months, he had already proposed to me. My friends and family were, of course, concerned I had moved too quickly, but I assured them it was right for me. Behind the scenes, it wasn’t pretty. While there were some good moments, we had some equally bad moments for the majority of our relationship. I was secretly uneasy, especially after the proposal, wondering if this would work out. Around a month later, when COVID-19 cases were skyrocketing and we limited our visits to see one another, it gave me ample time to rethink my possible marriage.

While I was contemplating the outcome of my engagement, my godbrother reached out to me. Something inside of me was stirring. At the moment I didn’t know what it was. I just knew it was the right timing. I knew I needed to walk down this path even though I couldn’t see where it was headed. I spent a couple of nights with my god family. While I was there, my godmother, who I refer to as my second mother, taught me some life lessons, mostly how I should love myself first before trying to find love with someone else. I took everything my god-family said to me to heart because I know they’d never steer me on the wrong path. Those few nights with them gave me a renewed sense of self-worth and mental clarity to finally make my decision about my engagement.

Courtesy of Nicole Leonard

It was late March when I made the decision to break up with my ex. I called him and kept the conversation short and to the point. It was by no means an easy farewell, but it had to be done. I felt relief. I knew I avoided a possible catastrophic marriage and I didn’t want that for either one of us.

Over the next few weeks into April, I adopted my godbrother as my mentor. We were childhood friends for a long time and have cherished almost every up and down within our lives growing up. He is my best friend, an older brother I never biologically had. Around the time I called off my engagement, he started teaching me The Law of Attraction. I’ve never heard of this and was somewhat intrigued. I remember him pulling up a video titled The Law of Attraction by Bob Proctor. I asked what it was, to which he replied, ‘Watch it.’

I watched the 10-minute long video and I learned we attract what we want when we change our way of thinking. We have the power to create our own perspectives. That video left me with an otherworldly feeling I couldn’t even describe.

Courtesy of Nicole Leonard

May through August was the hardest part of my healing. In May, I slowly became alienated from the things and people I once knew. Long time friends were becoming more and more unrelatable. I couldn’t handle their energy anymore. Two friends, in particular, I’ve let go completely because I felt we were all going on our separate paths and none of our goals lined up. This was especially difficult because they were my closest friends since high school. I learned about setting boundaries with myself through this process. Even though I’ve let quite a good number of people go, I still wish them well.

Soon after this, I deleted all of my social media accounts. I didn’t feel any attachment to them anymore and I realized it was nothing but negativity for me. I wasn’t gone completely from the digital world though. I created a new Instagram account. I wanted a platform where I could share my journey of healing and also personally see how far I’ve come in this past year. So far, I’ve joined a small community of like-minded people sharing their inspirations and personal struggles. We are all honest about our journeys.

I had to start facing some very personal emotions—anger, frustration, sadness, and fear. I had to mend the tense relationship I had with my mother. I lost sleep because I was so anxious. Everything I’d kept bottled up or pushed away was starting to surface. I had a choice: face these fears head-on or lose all the progress I made so far up until that point. I chose to move forward. I didn’t have much courage under my belt, but I was brave.

Courtesy of Nicole Leonard

This was the time to completely forgive others and also forgive myself. I did this one day at a time by meditation, journaling, watching videos on forgiveness, and just practicing in the mirror to myself. This is how I learned to eventually become gentle with myself and build compassion for others. I also cried a lot during this time. I learned that when we cry, it is a chance to let go of pent up anger and sadness. As a child, I didn’t show others when I cried because I considered it as a form of weakness. As an adult, I realized tears aren’t a weakness, but a strength.

August and September were my months of trust and moving forward in faith. After the harder parts, it was a time where I could finally emerge as the woman I dreamt about becoming. These moments were about peace and detachment from things that no longer served me. I permanently deleted my social media accounts except for my new IG account. I started with a clean slate full of hope, love, and understanding. I still get frustrated or sad, but I don’t let those moments determine the rest of my day. I gently guide my mind back to the present. This, of course, takes a lot of patience and practice, but it can be achieved.

This year was scary and if you told me I’d be going through the deepest, darkest moments and coming out on the other side stronger than before, I’d think you were crazy. I never thought I could break the shell of who I always believed I was. I never thought I could get past my depression and anxiety. Most of all, I never thought I’d be here, here to share my story. To share the ups and downs. To share personal struggles and beautiful moments.

Courtesy of Nicole Leonard

I’m not saying depression just magically disappears. I’m not saying it’s always sunshine and unicorns. You will have days where it’s easy to just throw away everything. There will be times people and situations test you. There will be times where it seems the world is against you. But you know what? There will be times where you see the sun rise and set again. There will be times where you can laugh and dance so freely. There will be times where you feel safe and content. Just enjoying these small joyous moments and embrace that the not so great ones are also beautiful. It’s what makes us human. It’s what makes you.

We are by no means perfect. We all have flaws and healing to do continuously. There’s no end to it. So to anyone out there going through a period of transformation, it’s okay. Enjoy the moments. Live for you. Love for you, because as Ru Paul says, ‘If you don’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love anyone else?'”

Courtesy of Nicole Leonard

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Nicole Leonard. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. 

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