I want everyone to love themselves, to be the most authentic, true, honest version of themselves, and to experience life with heart, passion, enthusiasm, drive, and appreciation. I lived for years trapped in a shell of fear, self-protection, insecurity, and sadness, believing the entire time that I’d simply become an adult and life was harder than I’d expected. I tried living as I thought I should, I tried fitting into the picture I’d created as a child, and I tried pretending I was happy when I wasn’t. I didn’t know when my life crumbled to pieces that it was my moment of liberation. . . it took a while to see beyond the anger and pain, but I think it’s truly amazing that we can learn to fly by falling. When our eyes are opened to truths we refused to see and we give our heart permission to move on and heal, we begin to transform. Everyday is a new beginning, and every ending is the start of something new. Maybe we need the heartache, disappointment, and loss to help us appreciate the real heart of living – the things that truly matter? Life is a combination of highs and lows, and when we stop resisting the lows or expecting life to be an easy, flat road, the sooner we’ll get to a place of peace, gratitude, and true appreciation for the human experience. Life is lived in the heartbeats between birth and death; we don’t know the number of our days, so let’s embrace the journey!
There isn’t a secret to being happy or a quick fix to a broken heart. I believe that willingness to change and quickly forgiving are necessary for recovery and ongoing happiness, and I also believe we can distract ourselves for long enough that we believe we’ve healed without fixing anything, which sadly takes our hurt into the next chapter of life. There is a difference between internalizing and releasing pain, and that isn’t something I recognized for a long time. I took every difficult experience as a sign that my tough exterior was too soft, and my loving heart was too kind. In the process of building walls on top of walls, I buried hurt on top of hurt, and believed life would be better “next time” because I was “smarter and stronger”. This did nothing but set me up to repeat the past over and over.
In our own unique ways, I believe we all have a “coming to Jesus” moment with ourselves; an experience or breakthrough where “enough is enough” and we’re ready and willing to end the cycle of disfunction. I often wish that life was like a movie, and my breakthroughs were an inspirational montage set to an awesome soundtrack. Instead, my most transformative turning-point related to heart healing took place in my bedroom while listening to a song about forgiveness on repeat, with hot tears streaming down my face, I fell to my knees and embraced my brokenness. I experienced the deepest sense of self-compassion for the hurt I was holding onto and the wounds I’d been able to heal, I mourned my loss and heartache, acknowledged all the fears that were haunting me, and rocking back-and-forth with my arms wrapped around myself, I felt peace in a way I’d never known. My children were on the other side of the door, and as quickly as the moment came, it was replaced with the need to care for my family, but in that experience I was forever changed because I finally stopped caring about what had happened to me, or the people who had wronged me, or what other thought about me, and simply loved myself, embraced the pain instead of fighting against it, forgave myself for everything I’d done or chosen that resulted in my brokenness, and I started positively talking to myself. Instead of saying “what’s wrong with you” and “why did this happen to me” and “your dreams will never come true”, I said “you are enough” and “I was created to shine” and “I am worthy of happiness, kindness, and love”.
I’m a survivor of cheating, physical and emotional abuse, religious hypocrisy, miscarriage, divorce, slander and deception, and financial loss. These are truths about my past, they are experiences that have taught me and shaped me, but they aren’t my headlines. They don’t define me. I am light hearted, have faith in God and others, hope for a life-long love, and a peaceful spirit. I experience joy every day, and appreciate the life I’m living with happiness and freedom. I don’t fear heartbreak or hold myself back from trusting and loving others, because I have faith that when dark days and heavy experiences come, I am equipped to navigate the difficulty, learn from it, and come out the other side a better, happier version of myself. My past and my healing journey have taught me that I’m strong enough for the life I’m living, and when I need to rise-up, fight for myself or my family, or start over in some way, I am capable. I refuse to hold myself back from the experiences in life that could result in loss or hurt, because I believe there’s more light in the world than darkness, and I wouldn’t just be protecting myself from pain, I’d be missing out on happiness, and limiting my own growth and potential.
My biggest hope in sharing my story is that you are inspired to be courageous in your own life, to walk away from dysfunction, to be true to your authentic self, and to ignite the fire burning deep inside you. It’s easy to become a shell of ourselves and not even recognize how lost, bitter, sad, untrusting, or broken we’re living, but we make decisions everyday based on how we view ourselves and the world around us. Unhappiness will create more unhappiness, and positivity will create more positivity. The choice is yours. The world needs more honesty, passion, love, and kindness, and I believe the purest emotions and actions come to life and become our reality when we release our hurt, let down our guard, and allow our uniqueness to shine. So marinade in the happy, sweet, calm, joyous moments in life; run from the people who use and abuse you; walk away from the experiences that steal your peace; and forgive quickly and freely (even when undeserved). Our human experience will include beauty and heartbreak, but we have more influence over how our experiences shape us than we give ourselves credit for.
Every day I choose happiness and live with gratitude because I have another opportunity to enjoy my family, challenge my mind and body, work, create, laugh, experience more of the world that I live in, and connect with the people I love. On great days and tough days alike, I go to bed thankful for the moments that brought me joy and the moments that taught me something new.