Famously Broken - the lessons learned from having a breakdown.
In the last few weeks, I have done a lot of traveling. Last two weekends, I had one of the scariest things happen to me. I had an emotional breakdown in the middle of the airport. Yes, an emotional breakdown. As in tears, sobbing and shaking…in front of everyone!!!! Sigh.
Here is how it happened…
I was standing at the baggage claim waiting for my suitcase. As I stared at the same suitcases going round and round in circles, I started thinking about the metaphorical meaning of baggage…emotional baggage. I started thinking about why no one was taking off their suitcases to allow room for new ones to put on. It may have been exhaustion, or the music I was listening to, but I started to feel a heaviness on my chest. I started to think of all the things that I hold onto as a woman, all the anger I have built towards people who have hurt me in my life. They say when you go through a tough relationship; it takes you half the time you were together to get over it, and I will be the first to admit that I hold onto things. If I have “dated” you before, and you broke my heart, said something hurtful or did something disrespectful…trust me I remember the date, the time and exactly what I was wearing.
The thing that troubled me about the whole situation was not that I was crying in public, but the fact that I was crying. Period. But this is a symptom of emotional baggage syndrome. Yes, so many of us women hold onto things that we should have let go years and years ago. For a while I thought I held onto things because I needed to make sure that it never happened again. But here is the truth, we hold onto these things because we haven’t forgiven ourselves for allowing things to happen to us. In my point of view, forgiving someone who hurt you is so so so easy, but forgiving yourself for giving someone that much power over your emotionally sanity can take forever.
Now, I never thought I would share this story, until I got this email today.
( ps- I got her permission to share this email, but she asked to kindly remain anonymous.
I do not know you personally, and I may never get to meet you again, but I want to send you this letter. A few days ago, I saw you at the Ohare airport. I have loved reading your blog and I was very excited to see you in person. I wanted to walk up to you and tell you how much I loved you, but I saw that you looked upset and it looked like you were crying.
I am not sure if you got some bad news that day, or was made upset by someone, but I just want you to know that I think you are a very strong woman, and a very courageous woman. You have given me so much strength to love myself and it helped me walk away from so many toxic things in my life. Anyway, that day I decided that Instead of walking up to you, I would pray for you that you would have the strength to overcome what was upsetting you.
And I just want you to know that.
This email actually made me cry. The kind of ugly cry that I had to go hide in the bathroom and get it all out. I thought I would be embarrassed that someone actually saw me cry, but It made me believe in the collective strength of women and our ability to lift each other up without even knowing the context of someone’s struggle. It has helped me redefine my new journey, where I have the confidence to walk ahead without the weight of the things that have so wrongfully defined how I see myself.
Since that breakdown, I have re-kindled my relationship with my therapist (yes, it is perfectly normal to have one, and it doesn’t mean you are crazy), I have spent so much time surrounded by girlfriends, and leaned on my older sisters harder than before.But most importantly I have prayed more than I ever have in my life. But the ultimate lesson I have learned about being a strong woman is learning to forgive yourself, wholeheartedly forgive myself rather than focusing on forgiving others.
It will not be easy, and lord knows it will not be quick. But it gets better in time.