For the past two years or so, I wrote about “choosing happy.” This grammatically incorrect phrase peppered Instagram photos, blog posts on the old blog, and was one that many of my friends would quote back to me via texts on some of their tougher days. But today… I’ll finally be honest with you… it was something I readily had to choose back then. That wording was frankly spot on -in that I had to consciously make a choice to feel happy in years or days past.
It was a struggle. Being happy was a choice because I didn’t love myself, I didn’t think there was great worth in my life other than my job of being a mother. I vividly remember thinking “is this it? Is this the great life I’ll have? Because frankly I’m not happy and I don’t feel loved. I don’t feel the love from any direction.”
Sharing myself on tumblr was the closest I had to connecting with how I wanted to feel every day. The love that would pour in from writing something made me connect to a purpose. Yet I wasn’t honest on The Southard Diaries. I wrapped up posts in a neat and clean bow because sharing the mess… was terrifying. Opening pandora’s box of pain… terrifying. I wasn’t willing to be vulnerable to anyone, so my being happy was rare. If I was only being honest with myself 50% of the time, I was certainly not honest with my mother, my best friends/sisters, or anyone. So, yes, it was a forced choice some days to “choose happy.”
When your heart is broken by other people’s choices- parents, spouse, even friends- how do you find happy again? Especially if you are born with your heart outside your body like I was. I was sensitive, felt everything, loved everyone and wanted to be loved in return. Adulthood was HARD. Of course there were and are wildly happy moments between a parent and child. I think of countless days Landon filled my heart to the brim- so much so that I thought it might burst wide open with love. But when she’d go to bed, when she’d be at school, a dark cloud emerged. There are others’ actions that affected this unhappiness, sure. But I allowed their choices to rob me of my self love.
I read a quote the other day-
“Relationships are a mirror to show you if you are high or low on self love.”
And what struck me is that I stayed with the pain, I stayed with unhappiness because until this year I didn’t ever love myself enough to believe I deserved more. For a solid month after I moved into my “divorce camp” apartment, I had to begin this journey of rebuilding my relationship with myself. There were many yoga sessions that have ended in a puddle of tears. Many drives I had to pull over to focus on simply breathing. Many days I stood on Sullivan’s Island beach and yelled at the ocean. All in the effort of loving myself again. Of saying, you know what, I have this one life and I am worthy of finding love.
Finding love and happiness MUST and will only start from within. Those moments of loneliness, of doubting my choices are fewer and never last long because I now know I’m worthy of someone’s love. I’m worthy of being happy. And now I trust in love again. I trust that happiness is not fleeting.
That light to me is having a meaningful relationship with oneself. Of accepting we’re going to make mistakes. Of accepting that we aren’t ever going to be a perfect parent. No such thing exists. Of allowing ourselves the room to stumble and pick ourselves back up again. This is why I have never doubted that my decision to move forward and onward was the best thing for me AND for Landon. She will see a woman loving herself, then loving her and loving others. She will know that love isn’t a choice anymore. Finding happiness is a journey we are all on and it first includes oneself.
Finding love in my heart for myself has led to more love and happiness now than I’ve ever known. My head and heart feel reborn. Those pieces of my soul that no one ever clapped for? I appreciate them and am proud to share who I am. This is not a path that will be walked in a short period of time. This relationship I have with myself will last a lifetime.
Every day I am learning to trust myself. I trust that I am enough. Enough for someone else to love. Enough for Landon. I’m learning to trust my intuition. To trust that I’ve been with me from the beginning and know myself. To trust that I am doing just fine. That I deserve someone else’s love. And now I feel I know better how to love.
I invite you wonderful friends to trust in loving yourselves. Find your happy. Because YOU are pretty amazing.