Growing up I was obsessed with horses. I would walk around the house in pink cowboy boots, white snap button shirts, bolo ties and my pink cowboy hat that had feather tails.
After much begging I finally convinced my dad to get his baby girl her very own horse. Yes, I was spoiled. My dad spent the summer building the pasture and barn and then the moment arrived when we brought my horse home. I named him Dakota. It was a dream come true! I had spent years of my young life putting all my hopes and dreams of obtaining pure happiness into this horse and it eventually came crumbling down.
Dakota was not trained and my dad spent many months training him and getting him ready for me to ride. The day came for me to jump on the saddle and the ride quickly ended with my little 9 year old body face down in the dirt and it left my dad with an injured shoulder that still bothers him today.
All my hopes and dreams came crashing down and all I had to show for it was an empty pasture and a broken heart after my Dad sold the horse because I refused to get back on.
I never rode the horse again and immediately asked my dad for a trampoline, because then that would make me happy.
My whole life I have struggled with the mindset of waiting for the next thing. Stress and anxiety would enter my life and I was never taught the proper way of dealing with it. My first reaction was always to run away and try to remove the pain as quickly as possible. I never learned how to feel joy and contentment in the midst of trials and horrible circumstances.
Because I never learned how to deal with stress, I always allowed myself to suffer. I would create this imaginary solution or milestone in my mind. If and when “this thing” happens, I can finally be ok and move on and then feel joy and contentment. I was trying to control my world in those moments when my world felt out of control. Only problem was it never worked, it just started the cycle of having more and more anxiety.
“When I get a boyfriend, then I’ll be ok”
“If I just pass this class with a D, then I’ll be ok”
“If we have enough money to go out to the movies, then I can be happy”
“When we move out of this house and into our next, then I’ll be ok”
This pattern has carried me from one heartache or chaos to the next, with just glimmers and moments of happiness before the next chaos came along. I was living on an anxiety fueled rollercoaster, yelling and begging to get off. I would find a few moments of relief and then the next chaos would throw me back on the rollercoaster. Instead of realizing I was the one choosing to get back on I always blamed it on my circumstances or other people. They were the ones to throw me back on the rollercoaster and I was the helpless victim. Knowing what I know now, I realize that it is insanity that I would choose to keep living like this. With every chaotic circumstance I subconsciously hopped back on the rollercoaster, buckled up and would get lost in the highs and lows.
This is an exhausting way to live and I am ashamed to admit that I have lived this way my whole life. This isn’t something new. The only thing new is I am finally recognizing the pattern of which I live and interact with life, and it is not a good one.
When I became a Christian it was encouraged and popular to have a "life verse" for yourself; a bible verse that is near and dear to you. I have always loved Philippians 4:12 (ESV) "I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need". I used to pride myself at being a pro at this verse, but WOW have I been fooling myself. Maybe this life verse has been with me all these years to finally break me. This is my prayer for myself going forward that I can truly conquer any circumstance and still retain my joy. Right now "circumstance" still feels like such a naughty, dirty and evil word. It makes me cringe. I have a lot of healing to do.
These past 3 years living in Alaska have literally broken me in ways I never knew was imaginable. I have lived the last 3 years in bondage. I would try to convince myself that all the turmoil I was feeling was Alaska’s fault or it's my husband’s job. It’s our house. It’s everyone else’s fault. It’s my husband’s fault. It’s my kid’s fault. It’s this person’s fault. It’s that person’s fault. Everyone and everything I have been surrounded by, it’s their fault. I am the helpless victim that was taken prisoner from my happy home and friends in North Carolina and then brought to this God forsaken place.
I am ashamed to admit this, but this has been my mentality for the last 3 years. I tried to do my best at concealing it in order to save face. Putting on that smile, when inside I was dying. I am also ashamed to admit that it took 3 years for me to finally break. I am tired of pretending. It is exhausting.
Through my pretending and being exhausted all the time I began to consider that maybe my miserable outlook on life and reality is actually ALL MY FAULT. Maybe Rodney wasn't the enemy and he has actually been the victim to my crazy. That means my kids have been the victim too. My church has been the victim. It’s all my fault. Even though I am stubborn, I have honestly been the big baby that was never taught how to handle life’s ups and downs and still have peace, joy, happiness and contentment in every circumstance.
It is true that people have genuinely hurt us, and in some of the worst ways imaginable, but me allowing that hurt to keep me in those dark places is my fault, not theirs. Even though I was still feeling the pain and choosing to live in bondage and despair, it did not belittle the original pain that was inflicted on us. I had a hard time learning and accepting that. If I am still in despair and pain, it’s obviously their fault! WRONG! This mentality is what leads to a sad, bitter and lonely life.
"allowing that hurt to keep me in those dark places is my fault, not theirs."
I think it took moving into our new house that we built to finally break me. I put all my hopes and dreams into this house. This house was going to make all the troubles I’ve had for the last 3 years finally go away. Remember the pattern I mentioned earlier? Yup, I was falling into it again. “When this happens, then I can be happy”.
Five days after we moved in, Rodney and I faced the most horrible and difficult trial we have ever faced in our marriage. This isn’t me being all “end of the world, dramatic”. I’m being dead serious. A person I loved and trusted betrayed us and it affected our family immensely. This relational breakdown and betrayal hurt me to my core. I went through stages of paranoia where this hurt affected how I viewed my relationships with other people as well. My entire foundation of my life came crumbling to the ground. I laid sobbing for days on the couch downstairs on top of the rubble that was my life.
Why is this happening now? Our new house was already tainted with a heartbreaking catastrophe! In my mind we might as well burn it down and start over again. I was in our new house and I was the farthest thing from happy, contentment eluded me, joy was not in my vocabulary, and there was no peace in our home. It felt like God abandoned me there on the basement floor.
Alaska winters are naturally hard. I was numb but it wasn't from the cold weather. I don’t remember much about the winter months. I know I went to some dark places, places darker than Alaskan winters. Depression and despair ruled my life. Rodney was basically a single dad. He cooked, cleaned, and took the kids to school. I was unable to function. I would disappear for days without Rodney knowing where I was. One of the times he left to take the kids to school and I packed up my car, took his gun, and left. He had to call the police and they were out looking for me and trying to ping my cell phone. Other times I would drive to the airport and sit in the lobby for hours with my packed bags wishing I had money to leave. I would yell, scream, and cry all the time. My heart turned as cold as the winter’s here.
It seemed like I could never get a break because I would wait for the initial heartache to subside and I would be attacked out of the blue by another one and the hurt just continued to multiple. I would fall into a deeper and darker despair and my ability to pull myself out became more and more nonexistent.
My big breaking point that forced the beginning of my healing involved me laying helplessly on my bed with a cold, dark and empty stare with blood running down my arms. I couldn’t take it anymore! The pain was far too great! I walked into the bathroom completely numb and grabbed my hair cutting scissors and out of rage I put two lacerations in my arms. My husband found me lying in bed with bloody arms and blood on our white bed sheets. He picked me up and convinced me I needed help beyond what he could give and beyond what I could find on my own. I agreed to go to the doctor.
This was so hard for me, because a past hurt that has lingered in the back of my mind came rushing to the forefront, “I was turning into my mom,” and the joke was on me. I was already her this whole time. I was reacting to life and destroying everything in my path. I was afraid to seek medical help, because in my mind that would have been the confirmation that I was exactly like her. My husband helped me realize and accept that my mind and brain had gone through trauma by all this emotional pain and I needed help. When I finally relented and walked into the emergency room with the throbbing marks of shame on my arms, it was in that moment that I stopped being like my mom. My mom has never admitted she needs help. I pray one day she is brave enough to relent and get the help she needs just like I did.
This has been a turning point for me. It’s been hard and I am still having many ups and downs, but the steepness and height of the hills become smaller and smaller every day. I look forward to the day when I can encounter any circumstance and truly “shake it off” like my girl, Taylor Swift proclaims.
Right now I have been under the watchful care of an amazing doctor that I have seen and trusted for over a year now and she is monitoring me and keeping me accountable. She is helping me get healthy again and has helped empower me to take charge of my life without being ashamed and hiding. I have a hope and a positive outlook for my future. This is probably the first time in a long time that I can say that and be genuine.
A few days ago I was talking to my best friend and we were talking about my upcoming trip to see her in North Carolina and I caught myself falling into my old pattern. I began wishing away the summer because once October gets here and I can leave and visit her, then I will feel happiness. Ouch! I’m glad I caught it though. That in of itself is amazing progress!
I realized I have about 100 days till my flight to go see her. What can I do in those 100 days? There has to be something I can do and accomplish that will bring me feelings of happiness. Why am I trying to fall into the pattern of having to “wait until…” to be happy?
I decided to start a 100 day challenge to help combat my pattern of wishing and waiting until certain things happen in order to feel happiness, because honestly even though I am healing and making progress I still need to give myself a swift kick in the rear and I need to take back control of my life. Good control, not the crazy paranoid control that got me into this mess. This challenge will help keep me accountable and live in the here and now and look for joy and happiness in each day despite my circumstances.
My mission and goal is to get my overall health in better shape. My spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental health needs a huge makeover. I set small goals to help accomplish these things on a daily/weekly basis. I also joined the #100happydays movement and this will consist of me reflecting and finding things everyday that make me happy and I will be posting a picture of it on social media.
My other goal is that by the time my trip rolls around, my best friend won’t have to carry me. I won’t be putting all my hopes and dreams into her making me happy. That is abusive and she will more than likely fail, because no one is ever perfect and no one can ever live up to those crazy expectations I’ve set for my life. If something on the trip goes wrong, instead of being crushed, hurt and potentially losing her to my bitterness and anger, I want to be happy, content and joyful in every circumstance before I even step foot on the plane.
Anna, I’ll see you in 100 days!!!!
****If you are reading this and have been battling depression or know someone who is there is help and hope. Remember you are never alone, there are people who really love and care about you and there is a real loving God that created you for love, hope, joy and purpose.
Even though you may be embarrassed or ashamed, seeking help is not a sign of weakness. It is a step to you saying "I am done living like this, I am going to take back control of my life". I would encourage you to talk to a trusted family member, friend, pastor or licensed counselor. You can get on the road to recovery too!
I am a 30 something year old single mom of two. I have a 16 year old son and an 14 year old daughter. They are keeping me busy and on my toes in this new phase I call "Teenagedom".
Click my pic to read more about me!