Five Years Later: How I found Happiness After My Mother’s Death
I will apologize in advance for the length of this post. It is without a doubt the longest post I’ve ever written but I’ve been wanting to tell this story since I started blogging. I thought you guys might like to know a little bit more about me, my life, and my past. I wasn’t always the happy, productive person I am today. It took a lot of work to get here and I had to suffer a lot of tragedy before learning how to create happiness for myself.
Weather The Storm
Five years ago my life was turned upside down. After fighting cancer for two years, my mother passed from this life into the next. She had been my entire world. We were inseparable. My mother was kind-hearted, always smiling, and an extrovert to the extreme. In many ways, she was my opposite. Whereas I prefer to spend my free-time in solitude, find people emotionally-taxing, and tend towards skepticism, my mother needed to be constantly surrounded by people, drew-up her energy from those around her, and always viewed the world optimistically. In the first few years after her death, I did not know what to do with myself. I had always relied on her energy to balance out my own.
There were many, many times that I thought I would never be happy again. After her death, I began to view my mother through rose-colored glasses. Even her flaws were diminished in my mind. I imagine this is a very typical experience for someone who has lost the person with whom they were closest. At this point in my life I was twenty-four, divorced, stuck in a job I hated, aimlessly attending college and desperately unhappy. I was prone to harsh emotional outbursts and viewed myself as kind of a “karma police.” It wasn’t uncommon that I would curse at random strangers for such simple offenses as cutting in line at the store. Often, I would hunt down people who had wronged me, as much as a decade ago, and serve them with vengeance. In those days I was cruel and I was angry.
Time to Change
I knew I needed to make changes in my life but I didn’t really know where to begin. My (now) husband and I had just started dating and I did not know where, if anywhere, our relationship would go. He proved himself and stuck by me through my darkest days and encouraged me (gently) to push on when I felt like giving up. Even still, every single day was a struggle. Though I was enrolled in community college, finishing up my basic requirements in business and unsure what to do after completing my associates degree. All I knew was that I did not want to wait tables or work retail forever. Slowly, I began making investments in myself. The only thing I knew was that I had to make some decisions about what I wanted out of life.
I discovered that the things I wanted really weren’t so far out of reach. What I wanted was the kind of life I had been denied during my rocky childhood years; I craved simplicity and stability. When I sat down with paper and pen it became apparent to me that I could achieve the things I wanted. First, I wanted to graduate from college with a degree that would help me land a good job. Next, I wanted to settle down and get married to someone who made me feel good about myself. Together, I wanted us to find a modest home and make it our own happy place. Additionally, I wanted that home to have a big yard where our future kid(s) and our animals could run around and play. While defining my goals was the first step to happiness, working to achieve them would take time.
Progress and Patience
In the spring of 2012, I completed my associate’s degree. I did a lot of research on job demand in my area and decided to pursue contract management. In the fall of 2012, I started back to school full-time as a student in the acquisition and contract management program at Athens State University. While being back in school full-time did keep me occupied and gave me a feeling of direction, I was still deeply depressed and unhappy with a lot of the things in my life. Patience has never been my strongest quality. However, I pressed on and slowly, my life began to improve.
Allen proposed and in the summer of 2013 we were married. We were struggling to find a house, so we moved in with my dad while we looked. There were good times and bad, but a lot of healing happened in those two years. My dad and I managed to build a relationship that we’d never had before. I am thankful everyday that my father and I finally have a strong bond. In those two years at my dad’s house, Allen and I worked toward our goals. It became obvious that he thing that caused me the most unhappiness was without a doubt my job. Waiting tables is hard, exhausting, thankless work. I knew I had to find something else.
So, I began applying for jobs. I applied for probably three dozen jobs, everything from accounting to counseling. Finally, in the summer of 2014, I got a call about a finance position at a large multi-national manufacturing company. Getting this job really helped to boost my confidence. The changes in my happiness levels were instant and obvious. I kept pushing towards finishing my bachelor’s degree, even though it was really difficult working full-time and going to school full-time. I would get stressed out and Allen and I would argue because I was jealous of his free time. Our conversations would go like this,
“Don’t even turn on Netflix around me! Can you not wait until I go to bed to flaunt your free time?”
Allen: “What do you want me to do?”
Me: “ACT BUSY!!! ARHGIOU#()^(*Y@Y(*&%UFJKN!!”
LOL… bless his heart. He really put up with a lot in those days. Looking back, I *almost* feel sorry for him. However, it looked like all our hard work was really starting to pay off. We were making progress towards the happy life I had envisioned. Then, there were a few major set-backs. In the fall of 2014, we still hadn’t found a house. We had put in offers on two houses with no success. We decided to start trying to grow our family in spite of the failures in house-hunting. Sure enough, we got pregnant on the first try. Then, the week of Thanksgiving, tragedy struck our little family and I lost the baby. I was absolutely inconsolable for the rest of the year. That holiday season was one of the toughest seasons of my life. By the New Year, I had vowed not to let this set back ruin all of our progress, so we decided to continue on our quest.
If at First You Don’t Succeed…
In March, with graduation just two months away, a whirlwind of good things began to happen. I found a little house on the internet and we went out to look at it. It was roughly 1,000 square feet, completely updated inside and out, had a HUGE yard with a fence and a playground, and was priced to sell. Three days after it went on the market, we went to view it and I put in an offer that very night. In April, we closed on our little house and were absolutely thrilled. Then, just a few days later, on April Fool’s day (of all days) I found out that I was pregnant again! I was terrified so we kept the pregnancy a secret.
In May, I graduated from Athens State University with a bachelors in acquisition and contract management. To my surprise, I had pulled off straight A’s every semester at Athens and graduated Suma Cum Laude- with highest honors. Getting to stand up with the other honor students that day was one of the proudest moments of my life. I cried happy tears throughout the entire ceremony. We took a little trip to Florida to celebrate all our happy successes. Even though I was sick EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. For nine solid months, and had a few scares throughout the pregnancy, being pregnant was one of the most serene times of my life.
While I am typically a little prone to getting worked up emotionally, during my pregnancy I felt so calm and even-tempered. I was blissfully happy. In November, our baby boy was born and my heart was filled with a love and happiness that I had never imagined could be possible. His bright little eyes remind me every day that I am truly, deeply blessed. His smile shows me that I am loved and needed. Even though I had achieved all of my original goals at this point, I knew I couldn’t sit back and be complacent. I knew that now, I needed to be an even better version of myself for my son.
Reasons to Smile!
Thanks for sticking this one out, if you read all the way to the end. If you are going through some difficult times, please believe me when I say that you can get through it. It was never easy but I made it out the other side. Invest in yourself. If you are unhappy, sit down and try to identify why. Then, think about the things you can do to achieve those goals. You will never be happy if you don’t do anything to try to change the things that are making you unhappy.
I hope you have a beautiful and blessed day! As always, thanks for reading!