happiness

Pain brings change

There is no reason for someone to change their experience if it’s not painful.

These days before Thanksgiving are difficult ones in our house, Thanksgiving 2011 was effectively the moment our family ended, or as my then 10 year old son called it the night that ended my childhood. It’s brought up to the surface a little more this year as that same source of pain is making life very difficult for us.  What he seems to forget is in his haste to hurt me, he’s hurting the kids. This too is a pain large enough that it will bring about some kind of change. Enough is enough.

The event 6 years ago left me in enough pain both emotionally and physically that I knew something had to change. There were to be so, so many more betrayals and rages to come in the next few years, but this was the moment I knew that if I didn’t find a way out I would die. That’s a motivating factor for change let me tell you.

The pain was strong enough for change again when the kids and I had our finances cut off with a “good luck with the rest of your life” text last year and I finally filed for divorce and had to get a court order for support. That again changed everything about our lives, it also destroyed many memories as more and more lies came out.

Added to the time of the year is the fact that support is so far in arrears that we are having to gear up for another court appearance, or have some other consequence sought out. It kind of sits there like a dull pain. A pain that is calling for change -because things can’t go on as they are.

But here’s the other thing…

I’ve discovered that no matter how badly I want a person who has hurt me to know they’ve hurt me, and while I can maybe get them to acknowledge they hurt me, I can’t make someone care that they hurt me. Decent people with compassionate hearts will care if they hurt someone, but you can’t force someone who has no empathy to care that they hurt you.

But you can change things so that they can’t continue to hurt you.

And why am I talking about this? Especially on a happiness blog?

Because people don’t talk enough about this stuff. They don’t talk about abuse that goes on behind closed doors – and that those doors can be in any neighbourhood, they don’t talk about how difficult and scary it is to get out of, and they certainly don’t talk about the fact that the aftershocks of the trauma last for years.

Am I happier now than I was 6 years ago? You better believe it. I’m happier all the time – I mean there are the occasional bumps on the road, but in general I love this road I’m on. The best part of this road is there’s hope on it. There was no hope before, that was something I started building when the pain got bad enough that I started changing.

So where’s the happiness moment in all of this? There is always a moment of happiness in every situation if you look hard enough. I had to take my son to his therapy appointment today, and as I watched him I realized how far this young man has come, how much he has grown, and how incredibly strong he is.

Because through all the pain, all the change, there has been a constant source of love. The three of us have made a strong triangle based on unconditional love, and at the source, the centre, the creation of that we have connected to the Divine, to God’s love. And that is a gift we found as we changed through the pain. And that is happiness.

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happiness

Something about this house 

We were walking up to the house after school today and the boy stopped part way up the yard, looked up at our house, and said 

There’s something about this house. I don’t know, it’s the leaves and the snow, it’s just….

And the girl said 

It’s just home. This is the first house I’ve ever lived in that feels like home. It is filled with love and I love being home. 

I sometimes wonder if they miss their lives of privilege. They may have had a lot and lived in nice places, but they didn’t feel safe and secure and happy in any of those houses. 

The fact that this home is here for us and is holding us in love is a kind of happiness I have a hard time describing. This is my kids’ childhood- this is where their foundations begin for the adults they will become. 

Thanksgiving is a hard time for the three of us. It is a reminder of a very ugly incident in our family. And we have worked hard ever since to make happier memories to lay over that painful one. 

And moments like this I know we are on the right path, we will be ok, we are healing, we are finding happiness. 

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Get it together 

I had a mini meltdown today as it was the Mondayest Monday ever. As I was feeling sorry for myself and throwing a good old pity party the boy interrupted me. 

He said mom I’m going to talk to you like you talk to me when I’m like this 

For God’s sake get your shit together. Look around, don’t you see what a great life you have? You look after us, you’re a great mom, you’re dealing with all the support issues, you’re learning new things so you can get a job. You pull us up when we are down. Sorry I’m not all rainbows about this- but that’s not how we are. Get yourself together

Dammit he’s right. Having moments of feeling overwhelmed I think is normal, but remembering to be grateful for all be wonderful things in our lives. Those are the happiness moments. 

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Small things, big changes

I got to share a little bit about what I’m learning and what I do with someone today. It is exciting to be able to share that more with people now and feel more comfortable as I keep moving ahead with it. 

I’m learning how to teach people how to change habits so that they can live a happier and healthier life. 

From small things big changes come. 

It’s happiness. 

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Friends who balance 

I was having a pretty crappy morning – it felt like everything that could go wrong was. 

I got a text from one of my best friends as I was having a personal pity party. This woman is amazing and brave and has lead the way on a path we never thought we’d be on when we met years ago (and were both playing be role of Stepford Wife. Whatever we are now we are much more authentic versions of ourselves). 

She could feel my angst and stopped her world for a few minutes to help calm mine. It’s amazing what a huge difference a little act of kindness can make. Soon I was feeling balanced and peaceful again. It changed the mood of the entire day. I’m so grateful for her, for all of my tribe. We aren’t made to walk through this world alone.  

It’s happiness 

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Change the story she tells herself

Probably one of the only good things about getting older is that it means that the angst filled years of being a teenager are getting further and further in my rearview mirror. The more I watch my daughter step onto this phase of life the more this is confirmed for me.

We had a minor tragedy at the mall today. She had been gifted a small sum by her nana to purchase whatever she wanted as a back to school treat- she’d be able to buy some earrings or a sparkly headband – or whatever tickled her fancy. However, somehow on the way from the car to the store the money got lost.

Her reaction was heartbreaking. She started beating herself up – saying how stupid she was, how she didn’t deserve the money in the first place, and how it was all her fault.

None of this is true. This girl is amazing, she’s got this amazing pure heart and will go out of her way time and time again to help out others.

But no matter how many times I told her this she wasn’t hearing it. She was playing the soundtrack over and over in her head that was telling her she had no value and that all bad things that happen is her fault. She burst into tears and said what do you expect me to think? I was told this over and over for all of my life until we left and came home. The aftermath of the chaos of her childhood, it’s hard when one of the people who is supposed to protect you tries instead to destroy you.

I tried telling the story of how amazing I think she is in many different ways, but it was making no difference. We drove to the grocery store and I grabbed some things for supper, then we went to Safeway to get one more thing. She was tired and sad and stayed in the car so I was by myself. As I came out there was a young guy sitting by the door, head down, holding a sign that said homeless- please give – anything helps.  I had $3 in my pocket and I walked over and gave it to him.

But, as I got into my car with my crying daughter, a backseat full of groceries, and prepared to head back to the home we love; I thought of two things:

One was how grateful I was that we had a tribe to pick us up and help us out when we were left with nothing.

The other was how weird it felt to drive home with so much food and leave this poor kid sitting outside with nothing.

So, I said to the girl that we were both going to get out of our funk, she was going to see what the real value of money was, and we were going to get him some supper. We went to Good Earth and got him a panini, a fresh cookie, and some iced tea. We went back to Safeway and both got out of the car and walked the supper to him. Jenna commented after Mom, did you see the look on his face? His eyes were so sad at first, then he looked like he couldn’t believe that we were doing that for him. I feel so different, even my tummy feels different. I’m glad we were able to do something nice for him.

And I reminded her that years ago we used to buy gift cards for food for some of the homeless people in Roanoke. I said this is who you are. This is the kind of heart you have. When you’re telling yourself who you are – this is it. You give to people, you help people, and you love people. Even when you feel like you’ve got nothing to give, there’s always some way you can help someone else. 

And she said yes – that’s true.

That is happiness. A deep, make me cry, love her so much, happiness.

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The memory keeper 

My dad was the family photographer, in effect he was our memory keeper. Everything that we did that was recorded was thanks to his passion for photography. I appreciate it even more now that he’s gone and we no longer have someone snapping shots of the good moments in our lives.

Jenna needs a new computer for school this year and my mom said that she could use dad’s old laptop. For the first time in 2+ years it got turned on and we took a look at what dad left behind (as an aside – when I die I need someone I trust to go through my things and delete, delete, delete).

Here are some photos from their trip to Virginia in 2013 to visit us. Our lives took a HUGE turn sideways within a day of my parents going back home, and it was good to look back and see some really happy memories from a time I’ve tried to wipe out.

So, here’s a little trip down our memory lane. I’ve found it hard to look at Dad’s photos – they bring back such bittersweet memories. But today we looked at them and it was Jenna’s turn to laugh until she cried. There were a lot of good times. A lot of happiness.

This was Easter 2013

 

Neither Jenna nor I have any idea what this is. She says I look so proud of it, but it looks like poop. So there you have it.

Swimming was always a huge part of any grandparent visit. My kids inherited dad’s love of the water.

Day trip to Monticello – one of our favourite spots – I loved Charlottesville.

Jenna rode this scooter everywhere. Interesting that I made her wear a helmet here, but there’s no helmet on the toboggans at home.

Those of you who know me understand how emotionally scarring this was for me. Freaking mascots.


These girls love doing this still.

 

And these from 2010

 

These kids and these cats – good buddies. We lost Tawny last year in an accident 😦

I grew up being super close with my cousins – I love that this tribe of cousins has kept their close bonds even when we had thousands of miles between us.

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