I first saw it on blessed Pinterest. It was a cute reminder in some cute font probably named something pretty and random like the Arielle font or the Pinky Promise font (I wouldn’t mind getting a gig naming font types), “When something goes wrong in life. Just yell Plot Twist! and move on.” That’s what I yelled (Internally I yelled this, you can’t be outside by yourself at a bus stop yelling, on the phone or not. You either look disrespectful or slightly left of center) Wednesday afternoon on my way home from work talking to my mom.
I “yelled” this as soon as I heard myself say to her “I keep going to the toxicity and I just can’t anymore. I don’t want to.” It took saying those words aloud, verbalizing the sick habit I had of constantly re entering that which I knew was chronically toxic and unhealthy, for me to declare a plot twist, that things as they had been were done (for real this time).
We hung up shortly thereafter and as I rode home, I rode quiet and content with a decision that I had been putting off at that point almost two months. A decision that would alleviate if not obliterate the dysfunction. I was hoping, despite just finishing a book about decision making (don’t judge me) that if I waited it out things would change and I wouldn’t have to decide. If I did more of this, less of that, tomorrow, next week, or next quarter, it would be different. If I re evaluated then maybe I’d see where it was actually my fault, that I wasn’t being gracious enough, was too quick to judge without all of the information, they were busy, I needed to learn to be more patient, maybe I was making mountains out of molehills. But nothing changed, except I was getting sicker (literally getting physically sicker) and found myself increasingly low key angry (I don’t know if low key angry exists, but I know when you are constantly the minority as a Black woman you work mad hard to keep that rational angry response under the surface as hard as possible), sad, or numb.
I arrived home, changed, and headed to the gym smiling. In part because I was hoping to cross paths with my super fine gym crush whom. Think Jesse Williams with a dash of Brian Austin Green, and that’s him. In part smiling because the nausea I felt for the last two months about my decision had dissipated and despite knowing that there would be many more decisions to be made after this one, and I’m gonna have to step my emotional resiliency game way up, it aligned with who I am, what I believe, and who I aspire to be.
Gym guy was not there, but was there as I pedaled, walked, and glided was the realization that I’d had enough of all the toxicity in my life. Somehow someway in the past couple of years, dysfunction had become a very regular bedfellow of mine. Just like the rise and fall of the elliptical, memories, decisions, relationships, circumstances came to the forefront of my mind that each were colored with various shades of dysfunction, toxicity, default. I’d been experiencing life in default. I was over it.
Dysfunction may seem sustainable, but honey, it’s not. It presents as low maintenance (and as women in particular, we like a break every now and then. We love a good deal, something that will make our lives just a little easier even if just for a moment), and it is low maintenance if the type of low maintenance you are looking for is death. Because that’s what it does. It squeezes life from us, our goals, dreams, relationships, etc. It leaves us less in a deficit and tricks us into dysfunctional default until we aren’t us anymore.
I took to my journal highlighting the various themes of unhealth. It was fascinating to see the overlaps and the commonalities. Moments where decisions seemed very independent of each other because it was a different physical environment, guy, area of study, charge card, number on the scale, age, but at the core, same patterns and familiarity of learning to settle, accept, and function in dysfunction and toxicity.
Post Wednesday’s epiphany, I’ve been looking at the themes and patterns of dysfunction in my life and what I keep saying I want (but am moving at a snail’s pace towards). It’s been everything from knowing I need a solid morning pre work routine that’s been hard to establish since moving to Buffalo so this week purposefully getting up earlier to go for morning walks and drink green tea and take in my favorite part of the day. There’s been a pause on communicating with folks who I should just wish them well, send up a prayer, and keep it moving to communicating with someone and letting them know that it just ain’t gone work. There’s been more reading, a balance of non fiction and fiction, because while I love a good book about helping me be the best version of me, sometimes reading and laughing about the lives of fictional characters and imagining their southern accents is what I need. There’s also been some time really planning my future, coming to terms that I’ve done more wishing than actually planning and making calculated decisions and steps to manifest the life that I want and believe I was created to live.
Sometimes we need to disrupt the stories of our lives. To do that, we have to be reading and willing to edit what has been written. It was not until those words left my mouth, intended for my mother to hear, that I heard them too and was jolted out of the haze of dysfunction I’d been recently navigating my life through. It wasn’t until I heard my own voice in my own story that I was able to say I don’t like this, and not settle for “it’s got to change” or “something’s got to change”, but that I’ve got to change.
So my hope is that this week, if your story needs disrupting that you go on and disrupt it. You don’t have to wait for someone else or something else to disrupt it. Truth is, it may not happen. The person may never apologize, pay the large amount of money they borrowed from you and has now left you in a financial bind three years later, tell you why they broke off the engagement, ask you out on that date, promote you, etc. The environment may not get any better despite how often you’ve gone to HR, senior leave administrators shuffled into new roles and more trainings, how much bigger the house is and it being in the suburbs, etc. You can change your story. You can re evaluate, re imagine, and recreate. You can yell “plot twist”. And if you aren’t ready to yell it, maybe you whisper it. Maybe it starts with a resolve to sit down and look at the dysfunction to see how isolated or pervasive it is. Maybe it’s just taking a break from seeking validation on social media. Maybe it’s giving yourself permission to actually leave the office at 5pm or tell your mom that you actually can’t take her to bingo this week but maybe your sibling who lives with her or the sibling that lives in the apartment of her can do it. Maybe it means you are going to the library to read after work instead of going home to make dinner, because well your 14 year old is totally capable of dinner for herself even if that means a bowl of cereal and your partner is capable of doing similarly. Maybe it means going to the gym and making sure that if you and cute gym guys cross paths, you’ll actually speak. Be brave enough to write your story and yell “plot twist,” and move on when necessary. Be well!