What should you do when your life is falling apart ?

I grew up in Morocco, in a small town called Tangier. My family and I lived in a beautiful house by the sea, my parents drove a fancy car and we went on holidays very often. My life was this easy until that I went to France to study with the hope of making  my parents proud.

It was all simple and boring, until it happened.

Last year I lost my dad. There, I said it it. He fought cancer for twelve years of his life, never complained, and never shared with us the details of his illness so we wouldn’t have to worry. He always found a way to somehow stay on earth with us a little bit longer every year. Until the day that God decided that his superpowers were needed up there.

After that my world was completely crushed, Life decided to give me another chance at happiness by giving me a dream job in Canada. I went there for the first time during my exchange year, and that’s where I met my best friends and boyfriend. Canada felt like home away from home, just a bit colder. (Actually, a lot colder).

So here I was, conquering the world again, full of ambition and excited about all the new possibilities that came with this job. I left my family and my broken heart on the other side of the Atlantic and decided to put all of my energy into my new responsibilities. And it worked ! Somehow. I was so busy that I couldn’t think about how I felt. All the anger I had inside of me, I turned into energy to outdo myself. I had the chance to work with amazing people who cared about me, and I had hope that I would feel whole again.

Then one day, I had a big fight with my roommates and they asked me to leave the apartment within the end of the week. After that, I decided to move in with my boyfriend as a temporary solution, which didn’t seem like an awful option.

The day after, my manager told me that she had some bad news. I thought it couldn’t be worse than being kicked out of my own place… Well, I was wrong. The company decided to end my actual contract, because they didn’t have the financial means to hire a non- Canadian employee. And when I finally went home to cry my heart out, my boyfriend ended our 2 years-old relationship, just like that. The timing could not have been worst: all of it happened a week before the 1-year anniversary of my dad passing away.

I felt lost, angry, and broken as I had never been before. And all the emotions that I tried to ignore from the loss of my father came back right to my face. I was thousands of kilometers away from my home and family, I had lost close to everything that mattered to me, in a matter of days.

Yet, I survived it all. Which gets me to why I want to share all of this. To share the lessons I learned along the way about healing, and to get better when something bad happens to you. Here we go.

  • You shouldn’t ignore your pain, nor try to find a distraction from it, because no matter how well you lie to others about how great you are feeling, you can never hide it to yourself. You can try what I did and put on a mask, drink every night, go out with your friends and try to forget everything. You can work out every morning after that and feel stronger than ever. You can be a workaholic and focus on being perfect. But if you try to cover up your scars instead of healing them, at some point you will only end up even more wounded and hurt.
  • Take your time to grief. Being strong doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have feelings. It doesn’t mean that you don’t need a break sometimes. You have the right to be sad. You have the right to cry for hours or even days. You have the right to feel, and you must take your time to process those feelings. This won’t stop you from moving forward. And you have to trust me on this one: after the darkness comes the light, even if you can’t see it right now.
  • You have to accept that sometimes you will fail, and fail again, and you must forgive yourself for it. During tough times like this, questioning or even doubting yourself is a part of the process… “What did I do wrong?” “What if I had done did this instead of that ?” “What is wrong with me?” “Why this keeps happening to me?” “Am I am worth it ?” Don’t let these kind of thoughts bring you down, because it’s not a reflection of who you truly are. Living in the past won’t help either. You have to focus on the present, on feeling better, on new projects, and keep believing in yourself.
  • Take all the positive energy you’ve created from all that negativity and try to move forward. And it doesn’t necessary mean that you should close the door on your past and forget about every shitty moments of your life. Moving forward is about growing up, it’s taking all the good and the bad from your life and try to turn it into something great, into something that will improve over time, into something that you can be proud of.  

The most important thing to remember during this entire process, is that you must stop being so hard on yourself, and take a break from time to time. You want to go to the movies 5 times a day ? Jump from a plane ? Travel to a new country ? Listen to Mariah Carey song’s all day ? Eat an entire pizza by yourself ? GO FOR IT. And relish every. Second. Of it. Because you are managing the hardest job on earth: you are making yourself mentally strong.

« Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind » Proust

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