I just deleted my entire post. I went to submit it, but I kept thinking something wasn’t right. It wasn’t honest enough. It was good. There were great tips about the differences in self care and self responsibility; and to be honest, you would’ve thought I really had my act together.
But that wouldn’t have been the truth. So instead of giving you tips on how to keep your life together, I’m going to tell you what my life is like, four years after falling apart.
Four years ago, I fell in love with someone who had no intention of loving me back. I put all of my worth into him, and he just let me go. I gave him my heart, and I did everything I could to be enough for him — funny enough, hot enough, cool enough. Guess what? It wasn’t enough.
And then I fell apart.
I lost all sense of self. I made decisions I would never make today. I spent weeks lying in bed at my parent’s house just staring at the wall, wondering what the heck about me could’ve been better. I blamed myself for everything. I let him break me. Or at least, that’s what I believed.
The truth was, I was already broken. My past had predicted my future for so long, and at 30 it all came to fruition. I just hadn’t been paying attention.
See, I was given up by my mother before I was one. I was adopted, and I had a fine life. But being abandoned by the people who are supposed to choose you doesn’t go away. My sister started showing signs of mental illness that my family could barely deal with and tried their best to make better. After that, my biological mother died. I was the oldest of six, and I had to do a lot of fending for myself because I was always able to figure things out and the other kids needed more. I was diagnosed with depression …. and then anxiety. (About 10 and 25 years too late.) And then, my sister became an addict.
I never really knew who I was. I just knew the things that had happened to me. I knew who I needed to be, but never for myself. I had learned early on to make people happy. Tell them what they want to hear, be what they needed me to be. Don’t let them know how broken my heart had been my whole life. Just smile and say it’s no big deal. All I knew is what I’d lost and that became what I thought I deserved.
That became what I thought I deserved. People always leave. Don’t ever let anyone know when you’re hurt. You’re never going to be enough for someone to choose you. Thoughts are things, y’all. And mine, four years ago, were awful.
Now, this is the part where I say I picked myself up and made things better and wow, look at me now! But that would be untrue. I picked myself up. I made things different. and I got a lot more of the same. I still spent so much time finding validation in every surface level thing, in running away from the things I needed to unlearn.
I drank. A lot. I slept with guys I shouldn’t have. I spent money irresponsibly and hung out with people who I thought wanted what was best for me but didn’t really care if I bettered myself. I looked to every external source for validation and still ended up alone, with myself, at the end of it all. Having to face all the crap I worked so hard to avoid.
And here we are. Four years later. Sitting in front of a computer screen, putting my life into a handful of words. Letting you know that even now, it isn’t all better.
Some things are. Some things are SO much better. I live in Nashville, which has been my dream for as long as I can remember. I have friends who genuinely care. And that makes me cry to even type that, because I can’t help but think about how they get mad when I apologize for leaning on them. Because I never knew until the past year or so that it was actually okay to do that. I have a family who understands me, or tries to. I’ve got Jesus. And I know that He makes me enough, regardless of anything else.
But I still feel broken most days. The truth is, anxiety and depression are ruthless, and it isn’t easy to walk around with them every day. I’m still coming to terms with the story in my head of what I deserve vs. who I really am. I still can’t date without feeling completely awful about myself, and that’s made me miss out on some great dudes, as friends or otherwise. I still have to wake up each day and think about where I was four years ago, to remind myself how far I’ve come. I have to remember that not everyone is going to leave, and that what is meant for me will never pass me.
Most of all, I have to remind myself that brokenness isn’t pretty, but it is real. And it’s what I do with my broken pieces that matters. It’s who I choose to impact and how I choose to live with that brokenness that will define who I am. It’s knowing that even though I have every reason to play the victim, that it’s in the choosing not to that I put myself back together. I have to remember that my brokenness gave me my power. I know that when I look at someone that the world isn’t seeing and I say, “I get it, me too,” that they know their heart is safe. They know they aren’t alone. And that makes every broken piece worth it. And it makes everything that isn’t pretty, kind of beautiful.
Cassie is a songwriter and blogger in Nashville, Tennessee. Growing up in Illinois, Cassie found her voice blogging for ChicagoNow. After gaining a following for her authentic and almost “too honest” approach to writing, Cassie packed her bags and crossed the Mason-Dixon to pursue her dream of songwriting. When she isn’t working or writing you can find her saying she’s going for a run that usually turns into a glass of wine, hanging with her pup, or coffee clutching with her pals. You can follow her rambling on Instagram at @cassiecichocki.