Written by Faye Bishop.
Life was loud, chaotic and downright noisy at times. But, it as also fun, carefree and full of predictability. There was always lots of alcohol, lots of people, lots of chatter, lots of late nights and early mornings. Every week I went out. Somewhere. Anywhere.
I knew tons of people and we went lots of places. If I wanted something, I went out and bought it. I was young. I had lots of money and tons of time to waste. And, although, I had everything, I still yearned for more. Truthfully, all I had were things. Stuff. I possessed hardly any memories or real experiences. I was just out doing whatever felt good. I was about 70 pounds overweight, drunk all of the time, careless and recklessly in love. Think of the movie National Lampoon’s Animal House mixed with Coyote Ugly. Yeah, that was me. Every other day.
While most people usually wait until weekends to have their fun, I was getting lit Monday through Friday utilizing Saturday to sleep it all off. On Sundays, I would take a break but only to set up to do it all over again the next day. My hangovers weren’t just from the alcohol fueled nights. I was hungover from a high lifestyle. I was always on the go and hardly ever slowed down. I was constantly in search of a good time.
When I wasn’t having a good time I came down from my highs to a very exhausting low. It’s how I concluded that this chase wasn’t good for me. In fact, it’s safe to say it was all an escape from a life that I hated. I’ll never forget one day contemplating if I even wanted to go home.
I remember looking down at my watch while still at the office, logging online to look up flights to book to get the hell out of town, leaving everything and never looking back. What stopped me was our son. I loved him more than life and absolutely had to go home to him. But I knew something had to give. I knew that the only way life could get better for me was if I simply began walking towards who I was meant to be instead of continuously drifting away from it, losing myself.
I can’t exactly pinpoint the actual day when I got fed up. I just remember there was a fire that lit up in me one day that told me to turn down the volume on my spirit because the turn up wasn’t working for me anymore. The man I had thought I’d die with and I officially decided to split after 19 years together. It needed to happen. It was either split up or die. We stopped having anything in common. We were already on the verge of the inevitable for years, we just needed to admit to it out loud. We spent several years lying to our family and friends about what was really happening between us, but we knew what was coming. Spending money, buying things, drinking and partying and consuming anything we could get our hands only kept us distracted from our dysfunction. It didn’t change it. It only kept us distracted long enough to keep from having to face the reality. This happens a lot in marriages whether many of us want to own it or not. Ignoring the truth doesn’t make it go away. It just hides it. But this was only part of the problem. Things in my life were always so damn loud, active and noisy. I feared boredom but needed peace.
After our split, I knew that my next steps were going to hard to adapt to but necessary. Imagine spending 19 years with someone and then one day, not. I had to start a new journey in my life didn’t include someone else all the time. Literally. I knew that I could do it but I needed a starting point. Here’s what I did to make the process easier.
Doing Things Alone
I started by making sure I slept alone. Every night. I hadn’t slept or done anything alone since the year 1999 so this move was very important. I needed to be unaccompanied with everything I did. Everything! I went out daily alone. I made sure to go to places that were filled with lots of people. I would just hang out or eat alone. I went to the movies and screenings alone. I didn’t date. I sat in parks alone. I traveled alone. Yes, even to remote places and cities. I’d people watch. I’d read. I’d write. I made sure no one knew where I was headed off to. I’d just leave. The goal for me was to learn how to enjoy my own company. I adapted pretty quickly. I don’t know why doing things alone is seen as an anomaly in this day and age but I fell in love with it. I also learned that someone out and about on their own does not equate to him or her being lonely, or having no friends. It just means that they aren’t up to entertaining company or socializing at the time. This was perfectly fine for me. I felt more pushed to try new things without the extra background noise. It’s made me far more focused than I had ever been.
I cleaned out my house. I stripped the walls. I bought a brand new bed. I gave a lot of old furniture away and threw the rest in the trash. I took all but one of my credit cards out of my wallet, called up the companies, paid the balances, closed the accounts and cut them up! I gave away most of my clothes to my mom and sister-in-law and kept about ten outfits. I own about four pairs of shoes and maybe a pair of boots. It might be less than that. I buy according to season and it’s never actually what’s in season so I don’t know. I had way too much stuff and I am positive that I had it around me because I attached my happiness to it. Most of these items carried very little meaning. It clogged my house, left very little space and I was tired of looking at it. I even sold my car. What was the use for it? I live in the city. I take the train or car-share like Uber or Lyft everywhere I go, which is often not many places. I’ve become quite the minimalist. My house is big but now bare, filled with nothing but books, two couches, plants, my son’s instruments, a few laptops and food. I hate clutter and excess. Living without it has become my new normal.
Got Rid of Distractions
I unfollowed every single celebrity on social media (with exception of the small handful I actually know) and other people I share no close personal connection with. I then deleted all social media apps. I don’t care to keep up with trends or people I don’t know. A lot of the people in my life were some of my biggest distractions. There is a such thing as knowing too many people. It’s not because they are bad people, but because the friendships were based on superficial ideals and weren’t leading me anywhere. Unless there was something to go out and gossip about and take some selfies over drinks we barely had two words to say to one another. These relationships became like stock that needed to be sold off quick because the value had fell tremendously from the initial purchase price. They knew it. I knew it. The distance grew wider and as things began changing for me, within months we stopped talking. Friendships are beautiful to have. They can be fruitful but they can also be draining. No one likes a loss. It’s an admission that something went wrong or you made a mistake. But cutting your losses can prevent you from suffering a devastating fall that’s too steep to recover from later on. Most of us are wrong about something 3 out of 5 times a day. We still live to see another day. I still know lots of people but I only have a small handful of real friends. Trust me, there is a difference. Alcohol was the biggest distraction of all for me so I stopped drinking. I quit cold turkey. Alcohol not only kept me drunk all of the time, it also kept me fat and sick. Eating out, too. I changed my relationship with food because I was consuming too much of it for no damn reason. Since then, I’ve lost the 70 lbs I gained plus 20 more and I’ve never felt better.
In a nutshell, doing things alone helped me to take better control of my thoughts so that I can de-clutter and get rid of all of the distractions. The reward is my having been able to reap the benefits of simplifying my lifestyle. I’ve gained so much by getting rid of nearly everything. It’s taught me so much about myself over the last few years such as how much I abhor accumulating things and molding my happiness around objects and people. I loathe doing things in excess. I’ve realized the idea that I don’t need to be around people all of the time to be happy and aroused. I’ve learned how to set boundaries. I’ve learned to stop spreading myself so thin and to take extra care of myself more. My relationship with money has even changed. Drastically. I’ve learned that the value is in the respect one should have for the dollar. I never had respect for money before. All I knew how to do was spend it. I realized all that I’ve ever wanted and needed I’d had all along and everything else was a matter of social currency rather than a happy life.
We live in an era where social status is the new currency. It’s why we take photos of everything we do and pimp our lifestyles on social media in a “get like me” fashion. Social media and current culture has it where our pedigree and class is now based strictly on social engagement and how much we receive rather than how much of ourselves we give. To an extent this has always been the case but never to this magnitude. An environment has now been created where we feel the perceived need to perform our ambitions in a publicly documented format in order to keep pace with our peers and it has become a soul sucking trap. Many of us are deathly afraid of living unfiltered lifestyles because it goes against social norms and is seen as a risk.
But, it’s not who we truly are nor is it what we really want. Trust me, if everyone were as well off and happy as they photograph themselves to be the world wouldn’t be in such chaos. We go out of our way to hurt each other often and are always seemingly stuck in a perpetual cycle of constant confusion. This is why depression is increasing and more people are dying younger. You don’t realize these things as they are happening because we are socially conditioned to keep up appearances. We’ve grown to staple our personalities around the idea that nothing we have or do is worth anything unless others approve. It’s such a shame that every single decision we make has to do with making sure someone either knows about it or will see it, somehow. Sun up to sun down. Everyday. All of the time.
I’m the happiest I’ve ever been since since I stopped bothering with all of that crap. It did nothing for me anyway. It added nothing to my life. Literally, nothing. I once avoided boredom and quiet rooms like they were infectious diseases. Now, I can’t get enough of either. I divorced the turn up in exchange for staying home, snacking on sour patch kids, playing interactive games, cooking and reading with my kid. As it turns out, I have a lot more fun! My sleep habits are better. My attitude got much better. I’m much more focused. My hair started growing again, my skin is glowing, my house is quiet and my heart is full.