I Believe 8

Photograph by bell wether interiors

I believe that we are meant to be happy.

We were born happy and I believe that we are meant to stay that way.  Unfortunately, layers are put on top of this – expectations, societal standards, parental/family influences – and it’s easy to lose sight of where our happiness lies.

My Mother, for the 51 years I’ve been alive, seems to have been permanently in a bad mood.  She complains all the time, is very negative, imposes her own standards on others – and objects when they aren’t met and appears to delight in nagging my Dad.  He puts up with it – even seeming to accept it – and I’ve always wondered why he never left such a nagging woman who seemed to find fault in everything he did.  But then again, she seemed to find fault with everything I did!

So I spent my life trying to be the person I thought I should be based on her standards.  Actually, I believed that her standards were the only standards.  Her dominance was so far reaching that I had no conception that life could be any different.  I got a job when I left school and met the man who became my husband.  I had a daughter.  All the things a girl like me was expected to do.  I knew I wasn’t happy.  I shifted furniture around the house.  Bought stuff.  Got into debt trying to sort what was wrong.  Then suddenly, like one of those focus pull cameras, my perspective changed and I realised that the one thing that was wrong was my marriage.  It took three years and another child before I plucked up the courage to announce that I was leaving – and even longer to tell my mother!  Once I had moved out, I was on top of the world.  I was 32 and a year into a four year Psychology course at University and I felt like I had the world at my feet.  But the remnants of the expected standards were still there, and because I felt that I could never meet them, my work suffered.  I gained my honours degree, but at a lower class than I expected.  By now I had met my soulmate and things should have been wonderful, but we were short of money, struggling to find jobs and then within two years of graduating we had a baby.  A hungry baby who didn’t like to sleep!  Five of us were squeezing into a one bedroomed flat – life was not easy.  All I could see were the things that were wrong.  We moved into a bigger house (provided by our local authority), but the area wasn’t the most salubrious and there were times when we didn’t like to go outside – incidents with guns, knives and baseball bats occurred among our neighbours.  And so we moved again.  A lovely big house with room for us all, in a nice neighbourhood.

But I couldn’t see it.  Still all I could see was what we didn’t have – the highly paid jobs, the nice cars.  Then depression reared its ugly head.  Treatment sorted it and I went back to University to study Nursing.  I qualified as a Mental Health Nurse and went into a job that I enjoyed, but Tech Guy was travelling lots for his job so we moved to the town where he worked and I transferred to another hospital where I felt excluded and undermined.  My health deteriorated further – both physically and mentally and once again I was not meeting the expected standards.  This time medication didn’t work and the depression didn’t shift.  I lost my job.

And found my life.  When I re-read the above I realise that my life has never been as bad as I’ve made out, but I was unable to see it – I was so busy focusing on what was wrong that I was unable to see what was right.

I hadn’t been able to see that we always had a roof over our heads and food on our table.  We may have been five living in a tiny flat, but we were a family together.  I was unable to appreciate how lucky I was to have three beautiful, clever, funny, loving daughters and I believed that I needed ‘stuff’ to make me happy.

When the medication I was taking for my depression wasn’t working I realised that I would have to find some other way to get better – and so began my spiritual quest – my journey to find myself.  I understood on some level that things could be better – I just had to work out how.

I searched for like minded people on the internet.  I explored my psychic side (with not a huge amount of success) and bought loads of self-improvement books.  I tried affirmations and I bought (still blank) journals.  I had tarot readings and Reiki and Angel Healing treatments.  Then, one day I had an experience that taught me that I could trust myself, that my judgement was ‘good enough’.  If my judgement was good enough then maybe I was.  I found out about Gratitude and began looking at the good things in my life.  I tried keeping a journal, but it kept falling by the wayside – it felt like I was just writing lists of the things I should be grateful for rather than actually feeling the gratitude in my heart.  But slowly, as I allowed my heart to begin opening I could feel this gratitude.  I still compared myself to others, but was able to use this in a constructive way – they may have had a big house or fancy car, but I had wonderful days with my Tech Guy and was home for my youngest daughter during school holidays.  I was learning to appreciate the birds, nature, the sunshine and the rain.

As time went on, I realised that I was no longer depressed.  Things still get me down – usually about lack of money, but not that ‘black, hide in my bed, run away from it all’ kind of down, and it is relatively short lived.

Over a period of three years I have formed questions that I’m now beginning to explore and find answers to.  Answers which are helping me to be comfortable in my own skin and which I am allowing myself to write about.  I am coming to the conclusion that, more often than not, I’m happy – and I’m happy with that!

This post is published as a contribution to Amy Palko’s Beautiful Beliefs Project.  If you would like to know more about Amy’s Beautiful Beliefs Project, then click here Amy Palko or on the box – it’ll take you straight there!

8 thoughts on “I Believe 8

  1. Oh, dearheart. This made me get all misty – both for what you went through in sadness and for what you’ve done and how far you’ve come. This is truly a phoenix story, a rising from ashes and breaking old chains. Even starting to ask the questions takes HUGE courage. Listening to your deepest, truest Self can totally shake your foundations. I’m so happy and proud to see that you’re investigating with bravery and curiosity. <3

  2. Karen,
    Exploring new questions is so, so essential and it’s great that you’ve discovered this. It’s one of the main reasons coaching works so well! Every time I start to feel stuck myself, I ask a new question. It’s not always immediate, but questions have a way of working on us, don’t you think?

    • Deinitely Sandi – and it helps if you are naturally curious like I am! I read your blog (and the blogs of some of the other commenters here) and I always find that the posts throw up some question or other that relates to where I am in my journey. So thank you to you guys for helping me on my way!

  3. Karen-
    I am grateful that you brought my attention to this post. A lot of what you’ve gone through resonates with me, especially the gratitude & journaling practice sometimes feeling faked. I have been writing a page of Gratitude tacked onto my 3 pages of daily morning writing (used to be MP’s until I realized that what I am doing in my morning journal is more Writing than simply MP’s) and cannot recommend it highly enough. I can totally relate to the feeling that you’re just listing things that you should be grateful for but aren’t, not really, not in your gut anyway.

    One way I found to get around that was to give myself a “Rule” that states that I can ONLY write down things that I can actually conjure up an embodied gratitude for. Sometimes this really brings me back to basics, like running water & electricity. Gratitude is like an activation key for the LoA- being grateful naturally creates a state of receiving within us that opens the door to even more abundance. Pretty cool, if ya ask me.

    Over the last month or so, my Gratitude page has morphed to allow room for Questions. These questions usually start like “What would it take to…” “What would it look like if…” and “What would happen if I…” I love questions. They are one of my more recent discoveries that are quickly becoming one of my favorites.

    Keep Writing!
    Brandi H

    • Aw Thank You Brandi! I love questions too – especially the ones that are not necessarily easy to answer because then I have to go deep within. I’ve never tried morning pages – mainly because I take so long to come around in the morning – and I have a sleepy hubby that I don’t want to disturb! But definitely writing for this blog has illuminated a love of writing that I didn’t know I had – and a belief that I might even be good at it! Good to have you along – maybe we can keep in touch – I’d love to share your journey too!

  4. Thank you Leanna. We definitely need reminders – but I’m finding that the work I’m doing is helping to peel back the layers of conditioning and I’m finding that I need fewer reminders – I’m happy to remind myself!

  5. Teary-eyed here too…wow, Karen! This really struck a chord. In the past two years I’ve learned to be setting my own standards for living, breaking away from why my parents, in-law and others do, and what they think I am, etc. They all love me, and I them. But the “dysfunction” of all sorts has to stop somewhere, doesn’t it? ;o) And one can only start with one’s self… Great courage you share here, bless you!

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