Joy is something that we all experience in our lives at some point. It might be a gesture that someone does, it might be the name of a friend. It might even be a saying that we respond to because of the feeling that it brings. Complete and utter joy can be all around us if we let it.
In my own life, faith in God has given me joy. It’s also given me heartache. It’s made me feel emotions that have helped me to grow as a person both personally and professionally. As a child I found pure joy in reading. It allowed me to go to places in my mind that I wouldn’t have even thought existed. The joy of reading about fairy tales and magic only illuminated in my mind with dreams of the possible instead of the impossible.
When I learned that my parents were moving me to a different city at a young age, my heart ached. It ached for the friends I would leave behind and for the school that I loved. It ached for the magic that I had come to know and love and made me fearful that I would never experience the same magic and opportunities. Little did I know that the upcoming move would change my life in both wonderful and disappointing ways.
When we moved I was in the second grade. I loved the elementary school that I was in because I thrived. I made friends there, was fairly popular and accepted. Everything seemed to fall into place until I hit junior high. Oh boy, did my life change and not for the better. I began to feel like an outcast. I was treated like a nerd and it hurt. I used to wonder why I was always picked on when before I fit in. I should have turned to my faith more. Instead I went to church every Sunday out of obligation because I was a preacher’s daughter. At that point in my life, I had a foundation of faith built but I didn’t practice it.
As the years progressed, high school came upon me and my parents sent me to a private school. I didn’t come from money so the folks I went to school with had little to no use for me. I was perceived as a high school loser and felt that way most of the time. Boys didn’t notice me even though I liked them. My biggest joys came when I played music. It was my one safe haven.
College changed me. I had left home and was allowed to spread my wings and man did I spread them. I flew. I ran with a wild crowd, worked as the only female technician on the school’s technological department and fell in love with a man who was not only interracial, but a biker to boot. How dare I. We were in the heart of the south and it was really frowned upon there. The year was 1989. He got sick and I went to the doctor with him. The folks in the lobby of the doctors office talked about us shamelessly. I didn’t care. He was sick and needed help. Not long after we were together I found out I was pregnant. I was excited but scared. Then I went to the doctor. Imagine being 19, finding out that your baby is essentially brain dead and that you have less than a one percent chance of surving the delivery. I listened to the doctors. After all, they were the experts. I was young, scared, and naieve. Lots of tests have been improved since then. My joy turned into devastation. I have yet to fully recover from that pregnancy and know that it will haunt me until I die. What did I do to cause my baby so many problems? The doctors assured me I would be able to have more children and I took them at their word.
After that pregnancy, the baby’s father and I drifted apart. I suppose you could say that we dove into a relationship based off of physicality and not substance. We knew each other’s bodies intimately. We had no idea what we really were doing. The argument could be made that we were never truly in love with each other but we were definitely in lust with one another. I recently found out that he had died a few years ago. Hopefully, he is with our son. I will never know for sure until it’s my time to go.
Later on I met the man who would become my husband. That was a relationship spelled out in disaster from day one. The whole relationship was based on a lie. He is a master at showing a great first impression but when it comes to substance and dependability he doesn’t follow through. I can’t tell you how many times he told folks he would do things, including me, and never once followed through. If it is a part of his family, it’s treated like gold but if it’s someone who is supposedly important to him, he treated with very little to no respect. I can only hope he’s changed since then. He now has a daughter that I couldn’t give him. My body couldn’t handle a child and it couldn’t handle the psychological crap that he dished out repeatedly. I truly hope he’s happy because he will never understand the damage he did to me emotionally until his daughter breaks his heart.
There were a lot of times that I felt joy with him. We were friends before we ever got involved and I think in many ways that’s why we couldn’t end things. We didn’t want to lose what we had. Instead of relying on my faith, I relied on luck. I relied on feelings without praying. I guess you could say that I may have deserved some of the things that happened because I didn’t put my faith and trust in God. I forgot how important that was to me.
Not long before my husband and I split, I was desperate for a child. I wanted so badly to give him the baby that he wanted and I knew I was getting older. I got pregnant and was scared and elated at the same time. We told our families. They were ecstatic and then one night after fixing a frozen pizza, I threw up and started bleeding profusely. I told him we needed to go to the hospital and he kind of froze. All he said was “ok”. That was it. There was no movement. I had to call my folks to come get me to take me to the hospital. By the time I got there, my bleeding was so intense that my blood pressure was down to 57/42. In the next room was a woman giving birth that didn’t even know she was pregnant and here I was losing the child that I longed for. It took a long time to understand that I couldn’t have children because of severe fibroids. In fact, it’s only been the last couple of years that I found this out. I made the decision to end the pain. I talked with my doctor and underwent a full hysterectomy. It was the hardest and easiest decision I’ve ever made. I prayed a lot about it because in my dreams, I was shown the children I was to have had. I was very angry with God for allowing my exhusband to have a child when I couldn’t. I prayed that he would be as destroyed as I had been through his daughter because he didn’t love me the way he loved the woman he was with now. In time, I asked for forgiveness for those thoughts and prayers but my ex had destroyed my faith along with the inability to carry a child.
I may have fallen for another man but I didn’t pursue anything while I was married. I couldn’t. It went against everything I stood for. Imagine how I felt when I found out from several other parties that my ex had been unfaithful to me throughout our relationship. That really stung. Whether he did or not is irrelevant. Only he and God know the truth. What I do know is that it made me understand that I could never trust that our relationship ever meant a damn thing to him. The other man fell very ill and to this day won’t let anyone help him. He’s becoming a bitter old man who will more than likely be alone because of his actions.
It took even longer in my life for me to see that professionally and personally I am worth it. I am worth the communication, the opportunities, the experiences, and the joy that life has to offer. I am no different than anyone else. I think that’s why I love the arts so much. I saw a man in Walgreens yesterday who was trans and I applaud him. I can’t rock lingerie like he did in public but he wore it proudly in public. While there is always going to be people who push the bar, I think that it’s a good thing because it shows that we can’t be comfortable all the time. We have to be willing to open ourselves up to joys and heartaches.
I may never have the man or baby but I have a life. I have people who I love in my life and vice versa. I have a job and dreams. I have a roof over my head and transportation and that’s more than many people have. And even if I didn’t have a damn thing in this world, I have God. Faith is the one thing that has been keeping me going. It’s given me hope and structure when everything was falling apart. When I decided to start letting God into my life, doors opened. I’m not saying that God is what anyone should or shouldn’t believe in. I just know that in my life, God is helping me get through those dark and dreary days and allowing me to see the sun shine in.
There’s so many things that I have joy in my life over now. I don’t look at life through the lenses that I once did but just know if you are experiencing anything like what I’ve been through you aren’t alone. It’s okay to reach out for help. It’s really okay to know yourself well enough to know that you aren’t perfect. You can constantly strive for perfection but there will always be a flaw somewhere. You just have to be willing to accept some of those flaws and shine with joy. Heartaches will always come but the real joy is life. Live it. Love it. Embrace it and you will begin to see life in a lot of different views.