Sara's story - Happier

"Sadness was coming in waves to me and I realized that it's not about my best friend, my father, or anybody, it was about me."

Illustration of a pink bird

I don't remember much suffering before graduation. Things were not so bright, but things were normal. I got ups and downs in life like everybody else. Yet I didn't lose that sense of belonging till then.

I majored in English Literature and humanities, by the way. I also love my major so much, I picked that and I would take it again if I have the choice.

I was raised in a broken family. My parents are divorced. They live in different countries. I've always been living with my mom and dad used to visit every now and then. And for some reason, after graduation, I decided to move and live with Dad for a while.

Let's say the main reason was me wanting to be a writer. It's been my dream since I was little. And I believe that achieving this would be more realistic and attainable there. Life conditions there were better and the job itself is a high-ranked one. So it pays off really well.

Unlike here, writing on its own would never help me out. And it happened. I moved there in November 2016. That sounds six years ago. I was qualified enough to join the team of the national magazine and the sky was my limit. I was really happy.

I remember the feeling I had when I walked into the office for the first day. I couldn't believe I made it there. I was totally fascinated. Not to mention, I had to meet my father's second family.

My half-sisters are so lovely! But of course, I had my issues with the situation, especially with their mom. I wasn't trusted by her. She was always doubting me in one way or another. Things between us were a total mess.

But I was trying my best to be friends with her just to avoid the family drama. Also, I wasn't ready to have my own place at that point. That's until I lost my favorite aunt in 2016.

She died in an accident, and I couldn't make it back home before the funeral. I couldn't see her one last time. And it still hurts me. I remember her around on the day of my flight. And I was so busy with my luggage. I didn't even give her a proper goodbye moment.

And I thought I deserved the pain because I was selfish enough to seek my dream career and leave my mom and my loved people behind. I wasn't feeling comfortable at my dad's house any longer by that time. So I made my decision to come back home.

I could save my mom from her deep sorrow. But I couldn't survive the sense of guilt I had in my guts. I managed to find a customer service job, which I basically hate but it paid me well.

One year ahead, I had the chance to join the training team of the company. I never knew I had the passion or the qualifications for learning and development. My colleagues encouraged me to apply for it and the competition was real.

I remember from ten people, the ones who made it to the final assessment were just me, and another experienced lady of few years in the field. Let's say it was a miracle, but I got the job, which was a little bit of a turning point in my life because I thought I would never fit in a career other than writing.

I started to feel bright again and acted like hard times are over, at least for a while. Until I made it one morning to the office and received a call from my best friend's mother telling me she's dying in the hospital.

But that wasn't the worst thing. The worst was us having a fight the night before she decided to commit suicide. I also remember myself telling her, "I don't want to see you again. I don't want you in my life."

I was extremely angry with her. And I know that wasn’t an excuse but things were getting really disastrous between us. We were having fights on daily basis and no longer understood each other.

I didn't stop loving her for a moment through those years. But at one point, you just decide to pack your stuff and leave the relationship for good. No matter what's happening, no matter who's right and who's wrong.

I spent the Christmas of 2018 in the hospital with her, my apologies would never be enough. The guilt was eating me up day and night. And I managed to get back with her. But I didn't feel safe again.

I was always threatened, she's going to end her life anytime. So I fell into a trap. That big, scary trap of people-pleasing, which wasn't good for the relationship either. But I was trying everything.

In December 2020, I received a job offer from a national organization that directly has business with Prime Ministry and United Nations, which was a great deal for me. I joined them for a very good package.

My boss got horrible mood swings, but I think I can handle her most of the time. Things were not easy to learn. But I was thrilled all the time that I even quit all my hobbies and life activities just to prove I can be the one for this job.

Consequently, I'd been picked out of the whole team to be an Assistant Training and Development Manager. And also, a few days later, I received an email that my novel was chosen by an American publishing house to be turned officially into a book.

Oh my god, what's going on! And though good things were happening my way, this is where it all started. And I didn't have red flags.

Day after another, I was losing contact with the world. I didn't even reply their email. I didn't want to wake up. I consumed almost 90% of my annual leaves at work.

I didn't want to play music or attend my film criticism workshops. I didn't want to join my mother to have a cup of tea. I didn't want to go out for a walk or treat myself to my favorite ice cream.

Well, people didn't see that. They just thought I'm busy. Maybe because I didn't look sad. I looked fine. I don't know. Or maybe because I was supporting them all along while I was actually falling apart.

I tried psychotherapy online. It wasn't so useful. I've been diagnosed with colorful depression and a little bit of borderline. Anti-depressants weren't so much of a help.

And it's like all the bad feelings I've experienced in my whole life decided to gather up and stay with me. They even had a contact with my bad memories and invited them over.

It was weird for me, to feel all those things. Like, for example, I could feel the abandonment my father did to me like 20 years ago. I mean, why am I feeling this trauma now? I was doing perfectly fine. And why am I having odd reflections of my life? I didn't understand my feelings and kept pushing them to the back of my head.

Things were getting worse. And it reached the peak when my best friend realized we're not right for each other and decided again to walk away, safely this time. And I didn't fight for the relationship. I decided to accept it. Knowing I'm the bad guy here and dealing with the loss.

Sadness was coming in waves to me and I realized that it's not about my best friend, my father, or anybody, it was about me. I was entirely attached to figures in my life, the way I shouldn't have been. I didn't have limits. And I was letting everything and everybody affect me.

The way I think, the way I feel for the day, it's like they were in control. As far as I remember, I was spending the whole day working, sleeping, or on the phone doing random stuff just to pass time.

Until one day, I wanted to write down how I feel and organize my thoughts. So I searched my app store for some journal apps. I had real diaries before, by the way, but my trust issues burned them all down.

Also, I was having the thoughts of not leaving my diaries behind if I suddenly died in a car crash, for instance. I didn't want people to know how I felt or what I suffered from, you know. And yeah, this isn't normal to think black thoughts all the time. But that was me at that point.

Also, those black thoughts were always at the top of my mind. So I wanted to have a digital one, maybe even with a self-destruction timer. Going back to the journal app, it was the end of August.

I downloaded multiple apps and started to try each and every one of them. Gratitude app for there too, the first thing that caught my eye was the colorful theme. I like these colors, and I loved the outline. But I didn't understand the app at first.

What does it mean to practice gratitude? And what will it do for me? It felt ridiculous to me at that moment. I decided to give it a try. I launched my first gratitude challenge.

It was the 7-day challenge. I remember it was August 28th. I'm so concerned with dates, as you may notice. Every question was something for me. Some days, I literally didn't know what to write or figure out what the questions talking about. I was always checking for examples and trying to find something similar in my life.

I can't deny it was difficult for me to keep the gratitude approach. Also, life happens. I couldn't go straight on my streaks for long. I'm not even using the app for long, you know, it's almost 50 days.

But it was getting better with time. I started to spot the joy of my day and look at the bright side. I surprisingly learned more about myself.

I didn't know I would write those answers if I hadn't been asked those questions. By the mid or the last third of September, I had the notification in the app to join the 21 Day Self Love Course. And I just clicked it casually. I didn't know this one day might change the way I look or deal with myself.

I was entirely alone by that time. That's not because I was alone. It was because nobody was there to understand. And I was exhausted enough to explain or elaborate things for people, psychiatrists, or whoever.

The best thing about those videos was that Aarushi was talking to me and I didn't have to talk back. Also, it felt really personal. Like she was actually talking to me.

And the prompt by the end of each session was really essential. I enjoyed writing each and every one. I learned to embrace my emotions, that they are valid and they don't have to make sense for anybody.

I learned how to self-reflect, to accept myself, and to keep in contact with my inner child which is really cool and fun to keep around. And I didn't wake up and become the butterfly all at once, but I woke up one day and it wasn't feeling heavy. I didn't hate the world. I didn't hate myself.

I missed people. I wrote a letter to my favorite aunt and texted my best friend telling her, "I love you. I'm sure we can make it through."

I kind of fixed my relationship with my best friend, however, things will never be the same. The last thing I wanted was to lose her, but this time, I'm filling my cup first.

I just mean to say I'm not thinking of myself as a bad guy anymore. I'm still trying to lose that sense of guilt. And I think I'm having good progress. I'm having fun again at my workspace, and I'm back to writing. I'm working on my second novel now. And it's so exciting!

I started to appreciate my mother way more. The way she's always there for me and I even realized I kind of look up to her on specific aspects like kindness, wisdom, and stamina. She always believes things will be better. And she always makes sure I believe the same.

I decided to forgive my dad. I'm trying, I'm on good terms with him for now. Also, having kindness as the first option in my mind with people, especially when I deal with his other family, I no longer have much of an issue. I'm even growing a close relationship with my sisters. It feels like I’m back to life.

With a different perspective this time. I wouldn't believe one day I would enjoy a long walk, communicating with nature, didn't even know nature can communicate, you know.

I wouldn't believe I would appreciate a random act of kindness. I also learned no matter those acts are little, they count and leave a very lovely impact on the person.

Of course, it still hits me on some days, that feeling or that rage, whatever we can call it. And I suddenly zone out for a moment, but I believe I'm capable of understanding those feelings by now.

I'm not containing my negative feelings and locking them inside like I used to do. I don't want to hide them for like five or ten years, then go through another explosion like the one I barely survived.

Instead, I embrace them, let them out, and talk to myself. Not to mention, I'm also growing self-friendship. I'm enjoying my company so much lately. And I know there's still much ahead of a journey, but at least now it feels like I got a map.

And I understand that happiness doesn't have a secret recipe. You can just walk in home and find her in the kitchen or laying down in your living room. Happiness lives within us. We don't choose when to be happy, but gratitude helps a lot.

Team Gratitude

Team Gratitude

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