10 years ago I wrote a “have a nice life” post that people are still reading for some reason. 26-year-old me didn’t handle being told that very well, especially since it came following a series of texts detailing issues with my behavior(s), a diagnosis from a psychologist who had never spoken to me, & the end of a friendship. Ghosted & blocked.
I mean, who would handle that well?
Usually, someone who tells you to “have a nice life” doesn’t actually care if you do or not.
“Have a nice life” means “I want you out of mine, permanently.”
It’s deeply & (arguably) intentionally triggering & hurtful depending on the circumstance, history, or nature of the relationship that comes to an end. While I believe things could have & should have been handled differently in my case, in hindsight, I’m actually glad this friendship in particular ended.
Still, I can admit the words of the other person involved cut deeply & impacted my relationships & view of myself going further. I can also confirm that it took me a long time to actually have a nice life following this experience. What immediately followed was a suicide attempt, hospital stay, & long journey to sobriety & healing – a journey that I’m not finished with yet. There’s still work to do, despite being sober for over nine years now.
Now at 36 years old, reading the 10-year-old post as I get notifications from others who do so reminds me that I was mentally stuck at 16 in a 26-year-old body. Maybe even 6 years old. Every time I read it I see the little version of myself; the little girl who feared being abandoned while believing abandonment was inevitable. The girl who wanted grace while believing she didn’t deserve it. The girl who wanted acceptance while believing she was a reject.
I’m sure this is what others feel when they hear those words, & is part of the reason why they are still searching for their meaning.
But four words shouldn’t have had that much power over me & should never again have that much power over anyone, which is why I felt the need to write an update to this – “Have a nice life” needs to lose its authority & effectiveness. People need to stop saying it, too, but… this post really isn’t for them.
Here’s how I learned to actually have a nice life:
- I took responsibility for my shortcomings & ways in which I might have negatively contributed to the end of the relationship.
- In my case, I had to realize that the trauma I experienced & hadn’t sought counsel for as well as my addiction to alcohol were… problematic to say the least. Our connection was unhealthy & codependent; our unresolved issues weren’t making it any better. But since I am the only person I can control, I had to look back on things with a sober mind and take responsibility for my actions.
- I took the necessary steps to move forward & become better to/for myself & those around me.
- I quit drinking cold turkey a little over a year later, changed my surroundings, sought counseling, & started over. Starting over as an adult, in any capacity, can be extremely difficult but it couldn’t be more worth it.
- I forgave myself.
- No explanation needed on this one – it’s just a necessary step, especially if the other person involved has set a clear boundary &/or refuses to further engage. Unforgiveness is bondage; make sure you free yourself from those chains. Do it daily if you need to.
- I forgave the other person.
- Gotta let them go completely. Again, do it daily if you need to.
- I began to prioritize my spiritual health.
- I grew up believing in the Christian faith, but I didn’t really get serious about it until later on in life. There was a lot I had to unlearn & a lot of trauma I had to heal from, but I wouldn’t have been able to get to where I am now without the grace of God.
The funny thing about all of this is, You’re Not Finished® wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for this experience. Seriously… I initially started this site in February 2012 following this very incident in September 2011 for survivors of suicide attempts who didn’t have a community that was free of stigma to turn to following their experiences. I’m not saying I needed this to happen, but rather demonstrating how negative things from our past can be redeemed & turned into positive things that can be impactful.
So, by all means, please make every effort to have a nice life. Especially in a world that can be not-so-nice.
Show up for yourself, seek community & counsel, forgive, & remember you’re worth genuine love & connection, even when it might be tough at times. Remember you are capable of giving the love you desire to receive.
Keep fighting, & finish well.
If you need additional resources for mental health, addiction, and suicide prevention, head over to the “get help” section.
If you want to share your story or journey or experience of overcoming mental distress or as someone with a diagnosed mental health or mood disorder you’re OK with that being shared publicly on the YNF website, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or contact me through the site. Anonymous submissions are always welcome.