The most arrogant thought I’ve ever had is that there is no God. See, I’m a cynic by nature and at times painfully sarcastic. I used to get kicks out of telling my elderly, Mississippi born and raised, God-fearing grandmother, that there is no God. Not only was there no God, but I would show up at her house for the weekend without any clothes for church, a fact I would conveniently not reveal until Sunday morning.
Boy, did her blood boil.
Between that and my other comments about never wanting to learn how to cook because my future husband will cook for me, she disapproved of my ideology, to say the least.
When I was 8 years old, my mother died of breast cancer.
After her passing, I moved in with my father and step-mother. We loved each other, but somehow the love got lost in translation. Strict rules for a defiant pre-teen, mixed with hurtful words such as “You’re not my mother!”, led to pain for all. I was already a quiet girl, and the loss of my mom led me to talk even less. I was taken to therapy but I just didn’t want to discuss the elephant in the room. I buried feelings of sadness for years and years to come.
I became pregnant with my daughter at the age of 21, which lead to more
turbulence on the home front. I was politely asked to go reside where the baby
was conceived. The relationship with my daughter’s father, as well as with
subsequent men, was nothing short of something very appropriate for a young
girl stumbling around, without having learned how to handle her trauma, and
thus causing more.
In my mid-20s I dated a guy and I could have guessed that he wasn’t “The One” if I was being honest with myself, but I wasn’t too invested in authenticity those days. At first, things were different, which meant that things were great. Wow, I thought, I can talk to this guy for hours! We laughed and taught and learned from one another. He was the first man I dated, who I also considered a friend. The relationship, albeit refreshingly unique compared to those before it, was still riddled with deceit and disappointment.
We first met and connected at work but after he started a new job, we began to only see each other monthly, despite living less than an hour away from one another. He would flake on plans, not call back, and not show up. A few years into our relationship, it became clear to him that I was taking things more seriously than he was and it became clear to me that his disruptive behavior was a reflection of his own dissatisfaction with life, which had very little to do with me.
As I began to Google “How to be Happy”, “Tricks for Happiness”, “Helping loved ones Through Depression”, he began to end things with me. I dived into a search for happiness in order to teach him, not even knowing that I was really teaching myself nor how valuable these lessons would soon be. The break up was tough.
The collapse of ideas I had longed for, brought me into the darkest days I’ll ever know. Suicide ideation, prescription drug abuse and self-neglect took over for far too long. Until July 16th, 2014, when I saw the snail. Walking past a Brooklyn bush, there slugged a snail. Small and almost unnoticeable, yet it caught my eye. I snapped a pic and posted it onto Instagram with a caption that came to me as my fingers swiped along, “A snail! I declare this a sign of excellent health, prosperity and good fortune because that’s the type of stuff one declares when choosing happiness! Happy Wednesday Y’all,” I didn’t know I had chosen happiness until the decision was made. And as sneakily as depression cloaked my life, it had been lifted up by this arbitrary symbol of everything I needed. A symbol sent from God, fortified by all I had learned while trying to help my ex. I do not believe in coincidences. Each person in my life is here for a reason, even when I can’t see what that reason is. Every heartache has taught me as much as I was willing to learn.
Meeting a man, who I loved and thought I could save from depression, in turn, saved me from my own hidden depression. I began practicing the things I was intending to teach him. I wrote my Happy Lists. I asked myself what did I enjoy about my day, every day and then I made sure to do those things more often. I complained less and showed gratitude for every. little. thing. Forcefully at first, but then it came as a new way of being.
Afterward, I began proudly calling God by name because I was truly beginning to feel his grace and it was hard to keep in. When I say “Praise God!”, please believe that I am on my knees giving thanks. When I say “Look at God!”, I am truly marveling at his miracles. With God’s help, I can now see blessings that have always been there. With God’s help, I can now see beauty in things and in people where I once saw none. With God’s help, I see that there is God in me and that I have a purpose and a calling and gifts to share with the world. With God’s help, my eyes, ears, and heart stay open to the testimonies of all God’s children, because you never know who will share a word that will change your life. I will not say that God has completely taken depression from my life. Some days are easier to see light than on others, but through God, I don’t miss a single lesson, which gives my pain a purpose. I’m grateful for the storms I’ve endured because they make the sunlight that much more divine and through the grace of God, I am walking on sunshine.
Holder is a native New Yorker where she currently resides with her
daughter, Jayda, and fiance Richardo. Laura is a Birth Doula and a novice
blogger. You can read more of her work here: lauramax.net
<http://lauramax.net> or check her out on IG @laura.max_ or @lmh_flix for photography. *