missing joy.

When I was growing up, we were taught to work for everything we wanted. My parents provided us with more than we needed, but most of our wants, we had to work for and purchase for ourselves. I started babysitting and making my own money when I was about 11 years old. As I aged, babysitting turned into being a cashier at my hometown grocery store, then on to working in our parish courthouse my senior year of high school. Christmas was a big deal for me growing up. For Christmas, my parents usually, without going overboard, bought my brother and I certain things that we wanted. I was always appreciative of my gifts, but I always seemed to still have a problem- my brother always seemed to get more gifts than me. Yep, I’d count and compare- not realizing then that the value of my gifts were always greater than my brother’s. He may have gotten more physical gifts than I did, but my small amount of gifts were usually of more value than his. Still, overall, I was bitter. I wanted MORE. Every Christmas, I’d usually have a meltdown that what gifts I received were not enough. Every year, I’d allow myself to become so bitter about Matt’s gifts, that I would miss out on the joy of the holiday with my family.

Into my adult life, I’ve experienced more hardships than I can count. The most obvious hardship was my young husband being diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer, and I felt like our lives were robbed. Luckily, in our newlywed bliss, I became pregnant with our daughter less than a year after being married. We had a healthy baby girl. Two months later, Kyle was diagnosed. My late husband’s doctor suggested that if we’d want to conceive any more children, we’d either need to start trying right away to conceive naturally, or we’d need to think about banking his sperm. Of course, with my daughter being damned near a newborn, upon diagnosis, the last thought in my mind was getting pregnant again, in hopes of beating the debilitating treatment my husband would soon endure. The shock of the diagnosis and the horrible prognosis caused me to be on one mission- getting my husband well again. I needed him to beat this dreadful disease- more babies would come later, if it were God’s plan. After the shock of his diagnosis wore off and we became accustomed to his treatment, the thought of more children came up. I knew that Kyle had already endured 4 grueling rounds of treatment, but I wanted to check- I wanted to check in on his body to see if we’d be able to conceive again. We found out we couldn’t. I became bitter. Not taking into account that I already had two healthy kids, I wanted more. My world felt rocked. I was so bitter that I couldn’t find the happiness in me to congratulate newly pregnant women in my life. I became a jealous bitch. Besides me not being happy for the newly pregnant or new moms in my life, I began to go beyond being bitter about their ability to have more children- I began picking them apart. I began finding every single reason to dislike those people. I didn’t want to be associated with them because I was, simply, just not happy for them. I couldn’t force myself to be fake around them any longer. This was for no good reason besides my jealousy. I was becoming toxic. Why couldn’t I let that go? I was blessed with two healthy kids. Some women never get to experience having one. Rather than enjoying and pouring my time into my own children, I became fixated on the fact that other women were having babies and I couldn’t. I allowed my joy to be robbed because of my inability to accept what God’s plan for my life was. Being bitter was ruining any joy that I had in my life. Instead of focusing on what I had, I was focused on what I didn’t have and I wanted more.

Before I finally discovered that I was allowing my own joy to be robbed, I spent a lot of time being bitter. I was bitter with my brother and his wife for not choosing me to be their daughter’s godmother. Being upset about that, sure- but, I was his only sibling and it hurt to not be chosen for that important role. Instead of choosing to speak with them about it, I built up a wall between the three of us and remained bitter. I’d show up to family events, but just about faked my want to be there just because I was so toxically bitter. I was intoxicating my relationship with my own family. I had to come to the reality that it was me. I wasn’t in the position to take on that role. I wasn’t chosen because they didn’t love me, but being my niece’s godmother, during their time of decision making, just wasn’t my season. I had to become aware of my own self and the character that I was portraying. It was constant negativity from me. Hell, my sibling wouldn’t have been my first choice as my child’s godparent if I constantly felt that he was negative and full of bitterness. For the sake of ruining my relationship with my only sibling, or pushing him away, I had to get over it.

I’ve been bitter within my friendships. They didn’t know. I hid my bitterness from them behind the ‘fake’ me. I withheld their opportunity to get to know the real me. The real me is a great friend, one who is there for my friends, happy, a do-all people pleaser who was, truly inside, full of life and humor, bubbly, and talkative. I spent so much time being robbed of my joy because I never self-reflected. I never looked at my inner self and reevaluated my character. It was all about me. Bitterness and misery had become my happiness.

I didn’t realize my own happiness until I finally let go. I let go of all of the bitterness, the hate and anger, the “why me?”, and all of the ungratefulness I had been carrying. I started being appreciative of the little things in my life that meant the most to me. I began to realize just how important my relationships were with my family and friends. It wasn’t about ‘things’, it was about relationships and the well-being of the people around me that I cared so much for. I realized that life was just too short. Once I finally let it all go and forgave, the peace and relief I felt was so rewarding.

I find it so sad that some people just downright choose to be unhappy and bitter. Is it circumstances that you’ve endured in your life that are holding you victim to your happiness? Whether it be the result of a loss, trauma, divorce, family feud, etc.- let it go. Seasons change. If you look at the big picture, so many things happen for a reason. Do you realize that when you’re so soaked up in your bitterness, it makes you toxic? In those circumstances that you’ve endured, have you done a self reflection to see if maybe you were the problem? In your head, you begin to play the victim and throw hate at everything. Who are you surrounding yourself with? I know toxic people get along best with other toxic people. A group full of toxicity will find great pleasure in bashing, gossiping, and belittling other people, only due to their unhappiness. What you’re not realizing is that the constant bitterness is only hurting you. Nine times out of ten, the person who you’re so consumed with hating could care less. So, why have so much hate? I know that if you have children and you’re exposing so much of your toxic self to them, they, in turn, become toxic. Sadly, what you don’t see is that you are creating a negative image for your children to the outside world. Kids pick up on your behavior. They carry many of our characteristics and turn into “mean girls”. Why do that to your children? It took me a long time to realize that I needed to be present for my children. I came to terms with my selfishness and bitterness and decided that that’s not how I wanted to raise my household. Instead of being pissed off at life, I began spending more of my energy on who and what meant the most to me. It was time for me to have better relationships with the people in my life that I was closest to. You know who your ‘good’ friends are. Your good friends encourage you, they talk you down from your high horse and put you in your place. Good friends give great, solid advice. They don’t take sides. They listen to the whole story and advise as necessary. If you aren’t surrounding yourself with “good people”, I feel sorry for you. I learned that I had to weed out the bad ones. I had to weed the people out of my life who were intoxicating me with their misery- no matter what their position in my life was. I was becoming just like them. I’d just hate people for no reason. I’d judge people right off the bat- not even knowing their story. It was all about ME, so it was my job to rip them apart in my head and jump on the phone and gossip about it. Then, I asked myself “why”? Why was I so mad? Why did I so thoroughly enjoy being bitter? Why wasn’t I rising above the bullshit? I realized I was better than that. It was my insecurities, my self-hate that was causing me to lose out on joyfulness. A lot of times, a person so bitter is actually a very insecure person. Yep, what they enjoy most is bringing other people down because they aren’t truly happy with their own self. Insecure people feel better when they take the finger off of themselves and point it at someone else.

Y’all, you’re making yourself sick. You are robbing your own soul from the freedom that comes with letting go of being so miserable. I’m hear to tell you, I’ve been through some big time circumstances that I could’ve used as excuses to continue to play the victim to, but it was destroying me. I realized I don’t have to like everyone and surround myself with their company, but I don’t hate them. I don’t hate anyone, it’s just too toxic- instead I create boundaries.

In certain situations, you will still have to deal with people that you just don’t like. For example, the workforce or divorced couples having to coparent. I know all about the coparenting part. My now 15 year old son was once a young child and I had to have dealings with his father. I hated it. I couldn’t stand my son’s father. There were no civil conversations between us. We were both bitter. Words and actions that we threw at each other were full of hate and pointless. We’d get so sidetracked being hateful to each other that we’d forget the actual reason for the phone call. That did nothing for us. I could care less what he said and I’d scream so loud that he probably hadn’t even understood a word I said. But, one thing I know, is that my child was in the backseat being exposed to this behavior. Not only did I hate my son’s father, I was making him hate him, too. Looking back over the years, his father and I realized that we just can’t speak to each other. I still don’t care for his father, just because I don’t, but I have to continue raising my son with him. Instead of the constant fighting with him, I set boundaries. I’m civil and to the point with him. I’m over the toxic behavior in making myself and everyone involved miserable. Don’t be mean just because you like it. How can you actually ‘like’ being hateful and miserable? I’m telling you, there is so much more to life than being toxic. Are you still not joyful after surrendering to your misery? Evaluate your circle. If you have to rid yourself of the bad weeds to get better, than do it. I promise, there are people in your life who want to see you happy. Those people have been your biggest supporters, but you’ve been so busy wrapped up in your own selfishness that you haven’t realized that they have been there for you. Freedom from your grudges is a much better feeling than any false object that is temporarily making you ‘happy’. Take it all in. Write a journal everyday. Discover yourself. Find your true happiness.

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