So today we went on an adventure to find a Christmas tree. We piled my 2 daughters, who are still at home, and the dog in our trusty old suburban and traveled about an hour into the mountains. We got to the point where the roads were no longer maintained and almost got stuck. At one point, the girls, a kind stranger, and I were pushing the suburban to keep it from sliding into the gutter and getting stuck in the snow. It was fun and although it was stressful for my loving, amazing, husband, who entertains my crazy ideas, the girls and I laughed and had a fun time. I’m still smiling from the experience.
In the past, an experience like this would have sent me into a complete melt down. I would have been in tears blaming myself and feeling like a failure for having such a stupid idea to go into the mountains to get a Christmas tree. Or, I would have blamed Brian and been frustrated and angry with him and the rest of our day would have been ruined. We ended up buying a Christmas tree at a local store and won’t put it up until tomorrow or Tuesday but that’s ok. It was still a fun adventure!
I love to laugh! I spent so much of my life not even knowing how to smile, let alone laugh. E.E. Cummings once said, “The most wasted of days is one without laughter”. I completely agree with him. I’m not sure why I struggled so hard to be happy. There were times that I experienced happiness, moments that I can look back on, and I was happy in that moment.
I remember spending time with my cousins and the fun games we played. I have 2 girl cousins that are close to my age and we spent a lot of time together. In the summer when we were together we lived in my grandparents camp trailer. It was our house, we liked to pretend we were in college. Those are some of my most cherished memories. I remember birthdays and holidays, family get-togethers and celebrations, and yet, no matter the memory, the happiness was only for the moment.
As I got into jr. high and high school, the happy times faded even more. I struggled to even feel happiness. My smiles were fake, and laughter was rare if it ever happened. I felt like I was living in a fog. There were so many things that happened that I didn’t understand. I felt confused about my world. I felt like I was just floating along.
It’s easy to look back now and understand that I was struggling from depression. I had a deep emptiness that I didn’t know how to fill. I felt nothing. I can’t even find words to describe it. I just felt like a black hole, void, empty, nothingness.
I tried many things to fill that void over the years. I tried beer for the first time when I was in jr. high. It was nasty. I had no desire to try it again. Not long after that, I tried my first wine cooler, and that I loved! I liked it a lot. The fortunate thing about living in a Mormon community and having a dad who knew the kids in the community, they didn’t let me go too many places that might get me in trouble. If they had been more lenient with me I may have ended up in a lot more trouble than I did. When I was in jr. high, my group of friends got in trouble for drinking on the bus. I wasn’t on the bus because I had older siblings who could drive. I think in a lot of ways, God was looking out for me.
I was never exposed to drugs, although I probably could have gotten them if I had really wanted them. I was scared of using drugs because I already felt dumb and I didn’t want to be any dumber. I did take some of my mom’s blood pressure medicine. It made me really sick. I’m not sure what my motive was other than I knew it wasn’t something I was supposed to do.
I really think I tried to find ways to rebel or do things that would go against my core values and beliefs. I did this because I knew I would never be enough. I remember thinking about every little thing I did wrong and how I could never do enough to make up for the sins I had already committed, so what was the point.
By the time I got into high school I had a new resolve to at least try and do better. I had better friends but I still struggled with the void in my heart. I continued to try and fill that void with everything other than the one thing that was meant to fill it. I believed that if I found a boyfriend I would feel better about myself. I had a few. And then I met Brian, and although he brought me more happiness, he didn’t fill the void. I believed if I focused more on the Mormon teachings and tried harder to be a good person that would help. Again I fell short. I thought if Brian became Mormon and we got married then I would be happy and the emptiness would be gone. Brian got baptized and that summer we got married and, although I was happy, it was only a temporary fix.
Everything I did, it was only temporary, having a baby, moving closer to family, moving into a house. It didn’t matter. In the moments when things did seem to be going right I would find a way to sabotage the happiness because I didn’t know how to handle happiness. I don’t think I ever did this intentionally, but I would do this because I was afraid of having anything good because I knew it would only be temporary. I was looking for the missing piece to the puzzle inside my heart in all the wrong places. It wasn’t until the dark moment in my life when I was tired and ready to give up on life that I finally figured out where to look for the piece I was missing.
Once I gave my life to Christ, things were different. The void was filled and I no longer struggled to find something to fit into that hole. It was truly an amazing difference. As I’ve stated in previous blogs, through all of this struggle I was cutting, binging and purging, and had constant suicidal ideation. That all stopped when I gave my life to Christ. I work in mental health and I understand mental illness. I know there is a time and a purpose for medication and time and a purpose for counseling. That wasn’t the path God set for me. When I gave my life to Christ, it’s like I woke up. The fog I lived in was lifted, I was no longer living in a black hole. I began to see the world in a different way than I ever had before. I began to understand things that seemed so confusing before. And the best thing, I learned to smile, and with smiling came laughter. Not just a giggle or a small ha ha, genuine belly laughter, laugh out loud laughter. I had not genuinely laughed or smiled in so long the muscles in my neck were sore.
I don’t remember exactly when it was or what happened, but I remember I laughed out loud at something and Brian just looked at me, almost stunned. I asked him what was wrong and he said something about me not ever laughing, he was a little unsure. I think there may have been some uneasiness about me sabotaging the situation.
Even today, we talk about how far I have come. I know my happiness and laughter is a direct result of accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior. I am still amazed that I can see humor and laugh at things. I have not only learned to be happy, but I have found joy. One of my co-workers told me my laugh is contagious, he loves to hear me laugh. For a girl who didn’t even to know how to laugh that is one of the greatest compliments. I laugh on a daily basis and can’t imagine a life where I can’t laugh, at least laugh at myself. I think laughter is contagious, it can be a universal language, it can diffuse tension and bring people together.
I think one of the hardest things in this world is letting go of control, especially to God, who you can’t see. But one of the best most amazing things I did was quit trying to fill the hole in my heart by myself and let the God of the Universe who crated everything take control of my life, and it brought me happiness, laughter, and joy.
I’m just a small town girl… living in a gleeful world.
Just for laughs!!