The phrase ‘falling apart’ used to sound so dramatic to me. ‘Everything is falling apart, my life is falling apart’. But, in actuality, the act of falling apart is more typical than I believed–especially with myself.
To be honest, there was a point in life where I felt as if I was ‘falling apart’ on a weekly basis.
There won’t be too many references to books I’ve been reading, more so just some feelings that I had to piece together and I hope that it helps others to piece their own together.
What Makes us Fall Apart?
When we say the phrase ‘falling apart’ we’re usually referring to the experience of breaking down emotionally and/or mentally. Even in the literal sense of something ‘falling apart’, it’s when a structure can no longer stand its ground. Typically this is a structure that is trying to support too much weight, not well cared for, or has a bad foundation to begin with. We operate in almost the exact same way when it comes to our emotional health; when we are not well cared for, when we try to carry too much, and when we have nothing or no one dependable to lean on, we end up suffering and ‘falling apart’.
Taking Care of Myself
From the beginning of the quarantine state of living, the responsibility of taking care of myself has been…quite inconsistent. I’ve stated in a previous post that I had very high expectations for myself. I expected to excel at work, excel in business, excel in writing, excel in eating right and working out, and plan out my wedding without a hitch. I found myself either doing good at a few of these things, or doing badly in all of them. I was enamored with the idea of being able to ‘do it all’, not realizing that I was creating a huge and unnecessary burden on myself based on what I’ve seen other people do during this time.
As a result, I would often have times where I’d just completely give up on my health both mentally and physically. I’d go from working out twice a day to barely moving at all throughout the entire day. I’d go from carefully planning out my meals and practicing mindful eating to just eating whenever I felt down and overeating to numb negative feelings. I would go from sticking to my writing schedule to constant procrastination. And whenever I did end up doing what I wasn’t supposed to do, I would give myself the hardest time. I’d doubt myself, my skills, my talents, my ability to be loved.
But something I’m realizing is that, when I’m not nice to myself, I pretty much put myself in a position to ‘fall apart’. No one can take this type of mental beating for a long time, not even from themselves.
Faulty Foundation (or Forgetting You Have a Good One)
When I say ‘foundation’, I mean having someone or something that you can depend on in times of crisis. This could be a person, this could be a higher being, but whatever the case it’s something sturdy and reliable.
I’m very sure in my Faith. While I have grown up in a Christian household and continue to be a Christian to this day, sometimes–just sometimes–I forget about this foundation. There was a time in which I was too ashamed to admit this. I thought it made me ‘fake’, and not a good Christian. But what it actually means is that I’m human. It means that, when I am feeling downtrodden, I have to remind myself of these fundamental practices like praying, reading my Bible, and leaning on people who I love and trust for support.
For me, it’s no coincidence that when I don’t lean into my foundation, that I start feeling even worse. And the same goes for someone who may not have much of a foundation at all. When we put ourselves in a situation in which we don’t lean into a solid support system, or ignore the one we have, we come that much closer to falling apart.
But still, I do find solace in the fact that when I do fall apart, I have Someone to look to in order to help rebuild again.
Carrying Too Much
For someone living with the level of anxiety that I do, a lot of times this ‘weight’ being carried is very much self-inflicted. A lot of the goals I have for my life are pretty lofty, and I understand that there’s an intense amount of discipline and work that needs to take place in order for those things to happen. As a result, I’m constantly thinking about what life will be like if I succeed, and what life will be like if I fail. Sometimes I worry that I’m toiling, delaying, or sacrificing for nothing.
What I thought was a fear of failure is more so a fear of not meeting external or internal expectations. And a mental block like that can really weigh you down.
What would typically end up happening is that, on a daily basis, I would be carrying these burdensome thoughts everywhere I went and in everything that I did. Think about carrying your groceries from your car to your home. If you’re like my husband, you try to make it all in one trip. But now imagine you’re carrying those grocery bags all the time. Everywhere you go you’re carrying these bags with you and they’re so heavy.
But that’s okay. Because at some point, we get used to carrying it. We get so used to carrying our ‘bags’–our fears, worries, doubts, anxiety, depression, secrets, etc.–that we live in a way in which we’ve reached a sort of acceptance of their presence.
However, at some point or another, those bags will give out. And there’s nothing more draining and frustrating then having a grocery bag full of items fall apart on you.
It’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back, the one brick that sends the structure tumbling to the ground. I found myself ‘falling apart’ just last week. I was given terrible news about a family friend and, all of a sudden, every single thing that I was carrying at that point became too heavy and fell apart.
The horrible thing about falling apart this way was that I wasn’t just upset about what happened to my family’s friend. I was upset about literally everything and our dear friend. I mixed my mourning of her, something that I feel needs its own moment, with every other negative emotion I had been carrying. This isn’t the first time I’ve lost someone close to me, but it is the first time I grappled with grief simultaneously with feelings of guilt and regret. Guilt for not remembering to call her on her birthday like I usually do, regret for not having her at my wedding due to the capacity restrictions we decided to have. Remembering how she treated me and my sister so special. And sorrow for not realizing that the last time I saw her would be the last time I saw her.
I’m definitely in a better place emotionally, even though the pain of loss is still present. A lot of that is just from accepting the reality of the situation, and realizing that she thought highly of me just like I thought highly of her.
Falling Apart Doesn’t Have to Happen (at least not a lot)
A better way to say it: my falling apart has mostly to do with the fact that I don’t process my negative emotions the way I should.
I wouldn’t have to fall apart if I would just accept some of my negative emotions for what they are. In times that I thought I was letting certain situations roll of my back, I was actually piling them on my back instead.
Which of these scenarios sound easier? Cleaning your kitchen everyday, or cleaning it once a month? Maybe the latter feels more convenient for your schedule, right? But thoughts of convenience leave the picture as soon as we start noticing all the built up grime and food particles, the dishes piling in the sink, the ants that gather around spilled sugar, the smell of old food, etc. For the sake of supposed convenience, you’re choosing to live in a pretty gross and uncomfortable environment.
I had to transfer this understanding to my own mental and emotional health. By not prioritizing my emotional needs, I’m subjecting myself to a gross environment in my own head. I’ll be honest, sometimes I’ll experience something negative and encourage myself to keep trucking along because that’s what I think I’m supposed to do. I viewed my emotions as an inconvenient burden that I had to overcome, rather than something that is normal and part of me. While I’m a firm believer that we can’t let our emotions and feelings dictate all of our actions, there are times where we have to practice discernment. Some things deserve our time to properly acknowledge, digest, discuss, and accept. Sadness, no matter how well kept, will always bubble over in due time. I’m finding now that I’d much rather practice healthy ways to cope instead of having these debilitating whirlwinds of sadness all in one sitting.
We Can Still Be Put Back Together
The last thing I want to do is perpetuate the idea that I know what I’m doing 100% of the time just because I like to encourage others. After all, the point of Serendipity & Such is to find value in the struggle and grow from the experience together. What I’m finding is that, for me, it does take more intentionality for me to keep my emotional health in check. I don’t always remember to do the following things, but I find that when I do they help me tremendously, so maybe they can help other people to:
- Talk to someone who loves me
- Update my gratitude journal
- Take a walk outside
- Review my self talk
- Open curtains and blinds
- Review my quotes of encouragement
The quotes of encouragement are just a list of sayings and scriptures that I keep handy for when I need them most. And they’re easy for me to read and recite even when I’m at my worst. Some of them include:
“Sometimes when we’re in dark days we feel we’ve been buried, but instead we’ve been planted”
“Don’t be afraid, I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10)
“You are stronger than you know, and more capable than you’ve ever dreamed of”
“It’s only a bad day, not a bad life”
“Casting all your anxieties on him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7)
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5)
“Do not be anxious about anything” (Phillipians 4:6-7)
“Give yourself another day, another chance. You will find your courage eventually. Don’t give up on yourself just yet.”
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” —Confucius
“Healing is not linear”
Falling apart is not the end of the world, but we also don’t have to subject ourselves to falling apart forever and always. After all, someone once said that tacos fall apart all the time and yet, we still want them.
This is just another reminder that our worth doesn’t change or diminish on those dark days. We are still worthy, we are still useful, and we are still loved.