Love something. This is a crucial first step. Ideally, your selection should be something that brought you great joy or made you feel good about yourself. Dreams (careers, achievements, ambitions) are usually a good choice, particularly one that has just been made real or very close to success. People or relationships are equally suitable. As long as it’s close to your heart, where it has the ability to do the most damage.
Avoid the light. Night is the best time to cry. The physical darkness will match the spiritual one that now faces you. It’s not all for you of course. If you live with others for instance, the darkness will allow them to hide, giving them an excuse not to reach out to you with words of comfort (if they do, this will help your descent, but more on this later). And night reinforces that myth that says it’ll all be ok tomorrow – as if bad things never happen during the day.
Focus on details. Little things you should have done, advice you’ve ignored, things you missed, anything that may have contributed to your downfall. They don’t have to be real, but they should contain some truth. This will provide a fertile breeding ground for self-doubt and loathing. Let hindsight gnaw at you from the inside out with its thousand little teeth.
Refuse help. Put on a brave face and muster all that practiced (but fading) bravado. If done in the early stages, it sets up a wonderful pattern of pride that makes it virtually impossible to humble yourself enough to ask for help when you’re finally in some serious strife. Then, when you’ve drained your reserves of resourcefulness and composure, your pride will be the flimsy shell holding it all together. And because you’ve hollowed yourself out, when you fall, you’ll crack wide open. Then you can beg.
Be an island. When it becomes apparent that things are getting out of hand, you will have two kinds of people. Those who want to see the carnage and those who genuinely want to help. To the former, you will have to bite your tongue as you detect their condescension, continuing your charade. The latter, comprised of true friends and loved ones, you will alienate with your bitter dismissal ala I-don’t-need-your-fucking help-I’m fine. Either way, you will sever the last support lines you have. And you will be truly alone.
Have a sense of self-entitlement. It is the capstone lesson in your crash course in Falling From Grace. Fail enough times in a row, and it will be tough not to take it personally. It will be hard not to think fate doesn’t have it in for you. When it gets shitty, you will revert to your 10-year old self and say to the Universe that you deserve a break. That for once, just once, can’t things go your way? This is the final masterstroke. You will find that the Universe / fate / God is deaf. It owes you nothing.
The result is always the same. If you have all of the above ingredients, you will come spectacularly apart. For best results, wait for your heart to catch, and your throat to tighten and resist with all your spirit. And you will feel your self-esteem, your stability, everything you felt made you a worthwhile person leak out through your mouth as you scream. Before long, your scream goes silent (sound cannot carry in a vacuum) as you jettison the last particles of your dignity through the airlock of your soul.
How to mend (not be confused with How To Heal)
Make a list.
Write down, every day, as item number one, “I am still standing.”
It is the one thing that is fact.
Free from bullshit, from exaggeration, and it says nothing about how well you are doing.
But it is a simple, repeatable truth.
And when you’ve been brought low, low, low, you will treasure it.
But first, get up.