As a child, I moved back and forth between foster homes and living with various biological family members. I never questioned why my grandmother allowed such a chaotic life for me to live because I believed that she was doing the best she could for me. My father (in nicer terms) was using illegal substances and my mother has schizophrenia. At times, I wondered if it was a test to my faith or maybe I was cursed with bad luck! I just could not make sense of why my life was not normal.
Sometimes after reunification with my grandmother for the 100th time, she would take me to Toys r Us. As I picked out the most appealing baby doll to a 7 year old, I would envy those children walking around with both parents. I would have dreams of what it would be like to live in a stable, two parent household. As time went on, I grew accustomed to our ritual and the fact that I would soon be temporarily heading back to a foster home. Little did I know, temporarily turned into a permanent living situation in foster care. I would often visit my biological family on weekends and holidays, but I never felt the sense that I belonged to my own family.
As I grew older, I longed to belong by placing myself in a permanent spot in someone’s life. My dissatisfaction with life distorted the perception of those who truly cared for me because I believed that “nothing lasts forever”. There was a constant battle between my heart and mind.
Quite often, I would quickly fall madly in love with every guy that shown me affection. I needed to fill a void. The ability to be informally adopted to someone’s family and spend holidays with them grew old and was not enough for me. I felt that if I could find a partner that would be interested in investing his future with me, I would belong to a family.
My happiness became dependent on the affection from the opposite sex. When things turned sour, I became very depressed and filled my head with negative thoughts of not being adequate to be loved. “What is wrong with me?” I thought. I began to fix the superficial things about myself by changing my hair, buying new clothes, and wearing makeup to attract more attention. All I wanted was another temporary fix to my problems because I just knew he would leave just like everyone else in due time.
After years of going through the same cycle, my life was spiraling downhill and an intervention needed to happen. I downloaded books on my Kindle about how to find love and how to be happy–funny right! In every book, it emphasized one message, “In order to find happiness, you have to learn to love yourself”. As simple as it sounds, it was one of the hardest things to learn.
Initially, I believed that culprit of my unhappiness was due to not feeling that my biological family was my own, but in fact the problem lies in my inability to accept the past and feel that I am worth being loved. I went on a journey to find happiness, which helped me to learn the following lessons:
- Make peace with the past and forgive those who hurt you
- Appreciate those who display acts of kindness and generosity
- Eliminate regrets from your life story
- Find the positives out of every situation
- If you don’t love yourself, nobody else can
- Focus on you and everything else will come after
What lessons has your life taught you about happiness?
Photo by Tess Mayer