A few months ago I was talking to a friend and asked her if there was something off between us that I had missed. She told me she just didn't feel as close to me any longer. I asked her why in hopes we could bridge the growing distance. She told me she felt my happiness was not authentic. I was genuinely surprised. As we talked things through she told me she felt like I wasn't vulnerable and that no one could be happy all the time.
I really took what she said to heart. Honestly, haven't stopped thinking about her words. Am I portraying an image of my life that isn't genuine? Do I hide the hard things from people? Is my joy inauthentic? After sitting with my thoughts and these questions for quite sometime, I believe I am being truthful when I say I am very real and open about what is hard in my life AND I choose joy everyday. I may not share the specifics publicly out of respect for the people I share these hard times with but I do honestly share that I am having a hard day or week. I ask for help, prayers, reiki and advice. I may not go into the details but I am honest that life is hard sometimes.
I also make a conscious choice to focus on peace and joy daily. Somedays I fail epically with the choice but most days I fall asleep with peace in my heart. I have a lot of healthy coping skills that I have learned over the years. In 2013 I was diagnosed with PTSD after being physically assaulted while my children were present. It was a very hard time where I felt scared and anxious all of the time. I dove deep into healing with a great therapist. Meditation, journaling and time in nature were my best medicine. They still are today. I didn't walk away from years of pain and suffering, to begin a new life with old ways of thinking. I am not powerless and joy is not circumstantial.
Joy is a practice that is cultivated just like a fitness routine. It has taken years of commitment to this practice to come to a place in my life where the hard stuff doesn't drag me under and drown me. Like the practice of exercise sheds physical weight from my body, the practice of joy sheds emotional weight from my heart and soul. I feel lighter and freer. Joy as a state of being keeps me afloat during the really hard days (and there are many of them). I am not living in service to myself or my creator when I am constantly suffering. One of the most self-honoring and spirit-honoring things I can do is wake each day with joy in my heart even if my soul is a little weary. Joy isn't about ignoring the problems, it is just a choice to face them with faith and love as our abiding companion.
So I come to all of this journaling today because a friend messaged me earlier to say that she loved seeing how happy I was. That little voice from a few months ago began whispering in my ear. I suddenly felt ashamed for being joyful, worried that she also might think my life was perfect when it is certainly not. I messaged her back and said I have to be honest that I am not always happy, that in fact this has been a really hard summer. She responded saying "I figured your summer has been hard. You lift my spirits by showing how you do find the joy in life." And with that I am reminded that we are all trying to find our way in this crazy life. I am inspired by so many beautiful people who shined their light so I can do the same...