I open my eyes and look up at the willow tree behind my bedroom window. Normally I love waking up to this tree. But on this day I have too much pain in my heart to appreciate its dancing leaves. As soon as I open my eyes, I remember the night before and the breakup and feel that aching in my chest. I lay there in my bed and ask myself what is really making me hurt right now? I know If I am honest with myself, this pain is not really from the end of this particular relationship or this guy, but really it is from a sense of hopelessness.
My mind telling me “You will be alone and lonely forever”, “You somehow fuck up all your relationships”, “You pick the wrong guys”
And then I think, how am I gonna tell all my friends? Why did I introduce him to so many friends so early? I want to just curl up and not be. I don’t want to be me. To be this person who I don’t understand why she ends up alone. Is she too loving or not loving enough? too needy or too independent? too picky or not with good standards? I don’t know.
I lay in my bed thinking I just wanna hide. I am never writing a post in this blog. What was I thinking writing about my life. Hopeless thoughts circulate in my head so fast and settle in my heart so deep that I am finally in that place that gets me to ask for help. Ask that higher power, something wiser than my mind, for help.
After begging my Soul/God/Universe to help me, I go on my phone and do a google search for “book on breakup” and a bunch of books come up and I don’t like any of them. I scroll all the way down and see a cover of a book. A silhouette of a person holding a gun to his head with a red heart in his chest and this catches my attention. It says “Love yourself like your life depends on it”. I’m curious and I start to listen to the audiobook and the author/narrator’s voice is so genuine. Like he could be a friend. So I buy it.
This book is not really about breakups. But the story of a start-up, silicon valley guy who hits rock bottom; a failing company, sickness, death of a friend and a relationship break up all at the same time and in the depths of darkness and hating on himself and his life, he decides to just love himself.
Obviously it is not the first time I hear of self-love. I have been trying to love and accept myself for some time now. But obviously I still don’t really or I guess fully love myself. I know this because here I am, after a breakup and my thoughts are that I am sick of being me and wanting to hide. Every time I start a new relationship, if my feelings don’t develop for the guy, I hate on myself for not being able to like a decent guy or if I feel that I haven’t been liked enough by the guy, I question myself and wonder if I am likable enough. How is that for “self-love”?
So I started listening to this audiobook and slowly it instilled hope in me. Because it reminded me of the truth with this perfect analogy.
A river bed is paved slowly though rocks. Over the years, with enough time and intensity, the river bed gets deeper and deeper. And every time it rains, the water finds its way down the path of least resistance, down the the old paved river bed.
Our thoughts are also like that water down the mental river. Over the years, having heard and learned one way of thinking, we form these deep mental rivers and with every situation, like this breakup, same thoughts get generated, same chain of neurons firing in the brain. Water down the same river.
Beliefs such as “If I am single and my relationship didn’t work then something is wrong with me”, or “If it hasn’t happened, it will never happen”, etc. Maybe for others it is “If I don’t have a career or am in debt, I am a loser”, “If I am fat and can’t lose weight, I am a failure”, etc. The mind, left to itself repeats the same stories, the same loops, mostly ones that at their core have a message of not-enough-ness.
I know that I am not the only one who gets caught in these mental loops. I hear it from my friends, family and patients too. I can listen to my friend about her self-deprecating beliefs and realize the false-ness of it and wanna shake her and say “You are amazing, you are a great mother” but her mental river is so deep that thoughts just go down that same river whenever her kid is screaming and she thinks she is a bad mom.
What I have come to realize is that trying to fix the mental loop by reasoning with it (in other words, with thinking our way out of it) doesn’t really seem to work. The only way out of the mental suffering is by shifting the focus of the mind to something else and this book’s suggestion is to shift it to love.
This guy, the author who decided to love himself by over and over saying “I love myself”. Just repeating this mantra even if he didn’t believe it.
I used to always think of affirmations as fake. But I have finally come to see the value of an affirmation or mantra, one that you can at least partially believe in.
So on that painful day I decided if my mind is making me suffer with all its conditioned bullshit, then I am gonna just create a new river in my brain. It is not impossible. It took 40 years for the current river to be so deep, then I will start investing in a new river and maybe in 10 years from now, my default thinking will be different.
For me, I have created my own mantras that resonate with me. And every time I catch myself in the mental loops, I try to remind myself that this is nothing but an old river.
I don’t know if it is the mantras, or the analogy of the river, or if it is the years of working on myself, or really just asking help from that loving wisdom that I have come to realize always delivers and this time delivered me this book, but somehow the weeks following this past breakup ended up really not being as difficult as I had anticipated.
Kamal Ravikant, the author of this book, says that he almost didn’t publish his book for fear that his silicone valley peers may judge him for writing this kind of book and yet he wrote it anyways and it came to work like magic for me on that really down day. I’ve been hesitating about writing this post for the past month, also for fear of being judged, but ultimately I figure if I truly loved this human on this journey, aka, Me, then I’d be ok with her experiences. I wouldn’t hide her. I would share her story. And maybe it will give someone else hope too.