A couple of weeks ago I sat behind my parents in church. I saw my mother whisper something to my father. He smiled, she giggled, and I thought how glad I am to be their daughter.
And then I cried because I no longer feel even a tiny bit of resentment toward my mother. There is great relief when one can release resentment and anger.
I will never say that my experience with abuse has made me a better person. It hasn't. Nor has it made me a stronger person. It has complicated my life with coping mechanisms which harm me as much or more than the abuse. Abuse has crippled my ability to understand nuances within relationships, to believe that I can and should receive love and kindness, to think of myself as beautiful and delightful. Every day I work to separate what was said and done to me from what is true of me. And once I find that truth, the next task is learning to believe it. If I am a person who has goodness and strength, it is not because I am a survivor of abuse. It is because I chose to become that person.
However, I have also written of the positive things I received from my mother. For a long time I wished to disregard those, to paint her as completely evil. One day I realized that if I search for truth, I must embrace all of it. And when I looked more deeply, I recognized that my mother was not evil but someone reacting to a life she was ill-equipped to manage.
I believe it's important for me to draw this conclusion. For as long as I live, I carry a part of my mother with me. I choose to love that part of me--to believe I inherited the most beautiful parts of her.
During the past few years there has been a great deal of turmoil and stress in my life. My reactions have often been to seek sympathy and support rather than draw upon my own strength. Sometimes this was appropriate because when I became depleted emotionally, I needed help. But other times it just seemed easier when I measured that route against the effort necessary to establish equilibrium myself. I'm not proud of those moments but I have to admit to deep gratitude when I realize that even then I had people in my life who were willing to spend the time necessary to lend love and uplift me.
Recognizing that, ultimately, I am responsible for choosing joy over despair does not always make me happy. But just as I recognize bad and good within my mother, I also recognize it within my life. I've been feeling overwhelmed by the "bad" and refusing to see anything "good". I've allowed myself moments when I felt victimized by circumstances beyond my control. I've felt that I was too sad to find happiness.
Fortunately, finding happiness isn't really an option for me. If I wait long enough it eventually catches up with me. It is unavoidable.
Today I feel that happiness approaching. It's still far off. I've been running away from it for a long time and it won't overtake me right away, but I know it's coming. There are recent moments when I'm caught off-guard when I forget to be lonely and sad and overwhelmed. I find myself giggling at things no other sane person would find funny. I'm more interested in the people around me. Sometimes I find myself anticipating an upcoming event--even if it's something as mundane as dinner with my family. All of these are signs that I'm no longer avoiding the inevitable outcome and when I'm least expecting it, happiness will find me.
I believe I'll help it along a bit. It's time for me to look around more and see the Beautiful. I need to wake with a smile, grateful for another day and so glad to be Samantha. Soon I believe I'll love more, trust more, and share more of who I am and who I want to become with those who wish to be in my life.
The Happy is coming. I can feel it.