I thought It would be fun to have a day where I just tell you all about a few things I’m learning or have learned in the past. We’ll call it “Tea Time Tuesday”, because I’m usually drinking tea as I write, so we can just sit hear and have a deep heart to heart, or…
Eh I’ll open my heart and let you see all the good, bad, ugly and beautiful, and if you feel like it you can share with me via email, or in the comments.
So a recent struggle of mine, or I guess you could say a life long struggle of mine, that I’ve just decided to deal with, has been, having joy.
My journey of learning to be happy.
In order to for you to get a clear picture of why I struggled with this, I’d like to get personal with you and share some of my background.
Around three years ago, my dad had a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which means a bunch of small blood vessels in his brain hemorrhaged and flooded his brain with blood.
We thought he was going to die, but through God’s grace he is still with us. For about 2 1/2 years it felt like he was only with us in body. He still talked, walked, and some days acted like a fairly normal person.
Most days he would rarely leave his bedroom. He slept a lot, and had seizures up to 10-15 times a day. It was all so hard to watch.
Prior to his sickness, we were a close knit family. There is 14 of us kids. We all lived at home and all worked together. I thought that we would always be this way. Close, loving and forgiving each other. I thought that nothing would change that. Not marriage, or anything else.
I was so wrong. What I didn’t realize back then, was just how many issues my family had. We were very religious. Our morality came from a fear of displeasing God rather than a love for Him and a thankfulness of what He had done for us.
Naturally, a faith that is that shallow, didn’t withstand the storm that we had coming to us.
I like to think of it as a refining process. We were being refined. All of those ugly things, the deep seeded issues that were buried below the surface, were being exposed.
Prior to my Dad’s sickness, my parents were very controlling. We all lived at home. My brothers worked with my Dad, and us girls stayed at home and took care of the house and my younger siblings.
Us girls weren’t allowed to have jobs. I had asked, even begged to be able to get a job. My mom would usually get mad at me and tell me if I wanted to go live my own life, that I should just leave.
I knew that my mom said things like that to manipulate me, but I didn’t have the guts to stand up to her. I was to brainwashed to do anything that my parents would deem disrespectful.
The year before my Dad got sick was the worst of my life. I felt like I had nothing to live for. I had no friends, no social life, no job and no ambition, because I had no opportunity for any of these things under my parents control.
I knew it wasn’t supposed to be this way, but at 21 with no money to my name, no licence to be able to drive and no connections, I didn’t dare to try and leave. I was brainwashed to think that that would be rebellion against God, and I also knew that I would be disowned and never allowed to see my siblings again.
I became depressed. I cried all the time. That’s when my mom started to emotionally abuse me. It was the darkest time of my life.
After my dad got sick, my mom was no longer able to keep such a tight grip on us without my dad backing her up. For the first time in my life, me and my siblings went places without my parents being there with us.
We had friends. I got a job, even if I did give the majority of my earnings straight to my mom, at least I had a job. Within a years time, 5 of us got married. My two older siblings and I, ended up marrying friends that we had grown up with, but hadn’t been allowed to see for years, due to their parents control (not my own).
It was a happy, but hard time. My dad was sick through it all. He doesn’t remember my wedding or most of my siblings weddings, but after 2 1/2 years, he made a sudden recovery.
Sadly, his recovery came to late to patch up the issues that were surfacing. My family split apart, many of my siblings refusing to talk to my parents and some of them wouldn’t talk to each other.
During my 5 month engagement, I started to talk to my fiance about the emotional and verbal abuse that I had experienced. He was the first person to truly show me that he loved me for exactly who I was without asking me to change.
His love was the most healing thing I had ever experienced. I slowly began to heal and gain back the confidence that had nearly been destroyed in me. I learned to love and accept myself. But it came with many many tears. Through those tears I begged God to heal my heart. I didn’t want to be broken anymore.
During the process of healing I realized how wronged I had been by my parents. They had caused me heartache when their job was supposed to be protecting me and preparing me for the future, Instead they had crippled me.
I was angry, frustrated, and bitter. I was hurt deeply and now began another stage of depression as my family who was so precious to me, was ripped apart.
I can’t wait to share with you how I overcame this heartache and depression, next week in my post, 5 Things Happy People do (part 2).
In my next post I’ll share with you how I learned to let go and then began observing joyful people who I knew. I learned so many things through books I read, and by asking my friends questions about how they learned to be happy despite some pretty tough circumstances.