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Five Months

by Leah Ella 6 months ago in coping · updated 4 months ago
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Lost and Found

My summer birthday

Five Months ago, I celebrated my birthday, poolside at the Freehand LA and afterwards? Jumped on a plane! My mood? Ready to live! Couped up for almost a year, all by myself in LA, I was ready to see people! I also had a moment of wanting the digital nomad life. I was tired of my own space. First stop? Miami!

High Above the Clouds

I was on the edge of my seat for the entire flight to Miami, but also super grateful for the empty seat between me and the other passenger, despite the flight being packed! There are some perks of flying standby after all. Every time I went out, I accepted the fact that I might get Covid, since no one wore masks in public and it was Swim Week. The crowds were everywhere! That’s the thing about Miami, you’re having too much of a good time to worry about not having a good time!

Fourth of July on Miami Beach

Miami was everything I imagined it to be and much more. It was the perfect balance of work and play. I’ve lived most of my life in Miami, so going back “home” felt like picking up right where I left off and the judge in me wasn’t sure if I liked that feeling… Did I want the four years of living away in Cali to feel like nothing had changed? I felt like a different person but to my friends and social club, I felt the same… They felt the same and I really liked that… I spent way longer than I intended to and the nostalgia started to settle in.

Within the last two days of my two week stay, I tried reconnecting with some of my estranged family members. If you’ve read the article below- A Letter to my Mother, you would understand what I mean by estranged… Unfortunately she wasn’t interested in a reconciliation, well because it wasn’t on her terms. Her messages- short and not sweet, stuck with me and added to my misery once I returned to LA. I felt like a failure. I had such high hopes and good intentions to reach a place of healing with my Mother. Instead, it turned out to be wishful thinking, nothing short of a dream, not based in reality. Reality is much harsher these days, hence, the subtitle- Lost and Found.

Healing Heartbreak

The journey to healing is a personal one, fought with good intentions of integrity that fly out the window the minute you are tested. This became all too real for me, I thought I was ready, somewhat healed, but I was so wrong. I never imagined feeling the way I felt trying to pick up the pieces of my broken heart to feel somewhat whole again. I fell… My world felt shattered… Nothing seemed to matter to me with as much intensity as before my trip to Miami. The heartbreak I had known for my entire childhood returned… I was lost. How could I not matter to my Mother, now, after all I’ve lived through? After all we’ve been through?

My Aunt “colluded” with me and I was able to see my cousins, brother and Grandfather, whom I met for the second time in my life. He was very frail and on dialysis. My Aunt told me stories of him and my Mom being best friends (at her expense)… I totally understood her and her need to treat me as her own despite my Mother’s knowledge or she would’ve forbade her… Are we in the mid-centuries or something? I felt banished from the family all by the word of my Queen Mother haha (give me a break)

Five Months of Lessons

I got back to LA and straight to work… Work became overwhelming as I kept swallowing my trauma and not processing my feelings. I became very insecure and mistrustful of my colleagues. One fateful August day, while working at the mall, gunshots were fired about 10-15 feet away from me. The moment was surreal. My first thoughts were of the children’s playground and how silent it was. Every other moment of the day, you can hear the sounds of children playing just outside the door. It was about 7:15pm, some screams and gasps then nothing. I turned my attention to the customer and invited her to get down in a stooped position as we both tried to guess if those were in fact gunshots… Three gunshots.

Trauma Times Two

In the days to come, I felt anger and despair but what stayed with me was the feeling of fear and sadness. Not just at the inconceivable nature of someone opening fire in a crowded mall but because I somehow found a way to blame myself for not being prepared. I felt naive. Not having the reassurance and closeness of my Mother to console me made me feel worthless. I wanted her to know how scared I was. My new normal felt a lot like living in terror… Still, what I feared most was never reconciling our relationship, before either one of us kicked the bucket, that thought haunted and terrorized me. Now all of a sudden, one trauma was magnified by another. I spent much of September afraid to venture outdoors, almost like I was holding my breath when what I needed was to take a huge breath. I had panic attacks, something unfamiliar to me and my thoughts plagued me day in and day out. When I tried to express myself in words my vocal chords hurt, there was a huge lump in my throat and I couldn’t breathe, I ended up in tears. I woke up with anxiety week after week, until I realized that my reality hadn’t caught up… I was still alive, I still am and so I must keep going, “in the direction of my dreams.”

Day By Day- One

Lesson One was to take things day by day, one day at a time and not become overwhelmed by everything I wanted to and felt like I needed to be doing.

Fear Less- Two

Lesson Two was coming to terms with the fact that the fear is always worse than the reality.

Let Go- Three

Lesson Three was learning to let go of the hurt I was feeling and trying to trust again. Not just trusting the people closest to me or my coworkers or myself, to be honest, but also trusting the opportunities all around me. It’s amazing how a lack of trust and a growing fear can change a persons outlook and entire wellbeing or way of life.

Lost…

I started becoming unrecognizable to myself. I sought isolation, I wanted the days to go by faster and I wanted to disappear. I fixated on not allowing anyone to take my life but me… I was angry at the person who shot a gun in a mall in spite of the fact that armed robberies happened every week and more and more in the areas surrounding me, it was inescapable. I was spiraling and it was all in my mind.

Purpose- Four

Lesson Four was to replace the fear with passion and purpose. The only thing that could “snap me out of it” was/ is my whole reason for being in LA. So I quit my job of which the burnout was real! Zoom fatigue is a thing and just not having clear boundaries or a work-life balance and reached out to my former (pre-Covid) booking service. I got back on set. There were days where I couldn’t get out of bed, it was a real heavy task for me to face the world… but I focused in on my passion and it took me exactly where I needed to be, I remembered my purpose. Each acting job rocked my world and brought my dreams back to life… I felt alive and mentally stimulated, longing for the next time… Camera crews, lighting, sound, the grips, the set design and wardrobe departments… If I was searching for home again, this was it. I had found my happy place again, which leads me to Lesson Five- Listen to Myself.

Listen To Myself - Five

Your inner voice knows, you’ve just got to trust it. My voice needed to once again become the loudest voice I heard. Listening to myself got me out of an extremist religious group that distorted my reality back then and forced me to not see or believe in myself, my worth or being deserving of any real love or success apart from servitude. The religion my Mom expects me to return to before we can be on speaking terms. When I revert to fear and self-doubt, these feelings reappear. I doubted for a second everything I was and everything I’d ever done, up until that day.

Acceptance- Six

Lesson Six is Acceptance, which has been at the forefront of my new set of core beliefs, having been at the other end of acceptance too many times. I completely forgot to accept my Mother for who she is and who she has always been, not who I want her to be for me. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” - Reinhold Niebuhr

Found

My biggest lesson is to continue believing in myself, silence the self-critic sometimes… I know what makes me feel my best and when I do, I thrive. I’m responsible for my decisions and no one else should decide anything for me… Breaking free from the shackles of guilt and the coercion of self-limiting beliefs, or, learned beliefs that no longer serve me…I’m courageous enough to face my fears and believe in myself... More importantly, I’m hopeful and I’m grateful for every opportunity I’ve been blessed to receive. Once I ask for it and claim it, it’s mine. I’m deserving and I am enough. I’ve also realized that being a “recovering” perfectionist is another form of fear and the need to control what I cannot accept… Even if it’s myself and my flaws… It’s what makes me, me and you, you and what’s more special than that? Embrace the messy imperfections, they’re yours and I doubt you’d want to trade them in for anyone else’s…

The Moral Of The Story

Life is comprised of the many layers we peel away at and live, kind of like an onion, with each layer comes alot of tears. Have you heard of the expression, “grow through it?” Well, it’s much more than just the physical growth that happens before your eyes, it’s the unseen but felt mental fortitude, it becomes a part of us, almost built-in, with each new experience both good and bad. The mental agility to keep going when we swear that we can’t go on any longer living in ‘this or that’ situation… The moral of the story is that I am capable and you are capable. I found Me and I love Me. It’s ok to be lost sometimes, just don’t ever doubt that you will be found and whole again. You can do it! Be thankful for everything that you are today. Keep your dreams alive and if you’re ever feeling down and out, remember that what goes up must come down, and what was lost must be found.

coping

About the author

Leah Ella

Caribbean-American(she/her)+Actor+Life Coach student. I value quality over quantity, simplicity over complexity but the perplexicity of life shows that the proof is in the numbers. Provoking thought and creating change, one story at a time.

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