With the launch of my new blog/design, I thought this would be a good opportunity to tell my story. The new blog name has a double significance. It not only reflects the main theme of my blog posts -- shiny and happy -- but it also reflects a brand new, shiny happiness that I've just recently acquired. Here is the story of my journey to The Shiny Happy.
Sometimes you reach a point in your life where there’s so much to say. I’m there.
Where exactly do you start telling a story that has been unfolding for years? Should you be completely transparent with your feelings and risk the vulnerability? I sit at the crossroads.
One path seems safe. A road where I “beat around the bush” and offer vague answers to all the questions being tossed my way. The other takes me on a journey of openness and honesty, being real & hoping it can help someone else in a similar situation.
I know to expect criticism. While my intentions are not to “air out dirty laundry”, I realize that some may see it that way.
But I have to realize that this is my story, too.
My ex-husband and I met on a bus headed to church camp when we were both just 9 years old. Fast forward 10 years later and we were going on our first date on a hot, summer night in July. We were engaged in October and got married in March.
Life began just as it usually does for most newlyweds. We skipped through without a care in the world. Life was perfect and we were young, dumb and living on love.
When you’re that young, you typically ignore warning signs in relationships; especially in marriage. Your mother can make comments about things that “don’t sit well with her”, but you ignore it. At that age, your rose-colored glasses portray such a foggy depiction of what’s real.
It's truly a life-changing day when you finally realize your worth.
As much as I hate to admit it, it took me a little longer than most to come to this realization. I've been known to be a people-pleaser. My tendencies to take flight from confrontation transferred into friendships and even marriage. I lived in constant fear of someone not "liking me" as if it would be detrimental to my livelihood. Thoughts about my own feelings or needs were consistently placed on the back-burner in order to keep others content. And honestly, I was quite comfortable with life. My belief was that by making everyone else happy, that I had found true happiness.
Boy, was I wrong.
A little over a two years ago, the happy little world that I had built up came crashing down all around me. Oddly enough, I was shocked as I scrolled through emails and instant messages on my husband’s laptop. If I'm really being honest with myself, I saw it coming many months before. His disinterest in me practically announced itself on a daily basis. But again, I was a pro at avoiding confrontation...believing foolishly that if I ignored it, those red flags would just go away. Never leaving his phone lying around. Coming home late. The box of condoms found under the car seat. But now, emails with names and dates going back two years made everything almost tangible.
Nonetheless, I felt completely blindsided by my situation. My first reaction was to withdraw myself. Once a social butterfly, my days now consisted of coming straight home from work and just sitting in the same chair everyday. I had no desire to talk about it. No desire to even be around anyone. I was tired of pretending that I was alright. Tired of being strong. My mind was locked away in a prison of "what if" questions whose answers I was terrified to know. I could leave, but “what if” he doesn’t care enough to come for me? The fact that I even had to ask that question should’ve said it all.
Despite the train wreck that was now my marriage, I chose to stay and attempt to work things out. As if it was even possible for things to get worse, they found their way to accomplish that. Instead of improvement, communication had shut down completely. Requests to attend marriage counseling were repeatedly shot down. Next, his Facebook marital status was deleted, along with every picture of me on his profile. The man who I lived with and shared a bed with was deleting me from his life.
Had it not been for amazing leadership in my life, I could have lost myself during that time. Their phone calls and encouragement helped me keep my head. I'm so thankful for their hands in my life.
It was one of those phone calls that sparked something in me one Saturday night. I answered and heard the voice on the other end ::
"Amber, I need you to get up, get dressed and get out of the house today."
As much as I hated to, I did.
I spent the night surrounded by my amazing friends. Maybe I wasn't as talkative as usual, but I was doing a lot of thinking. However, it was one pressing thought that would not leave:
"What makes me feel as if I don't deserve to be happy?"
As much as I wanted to convince myself that I wasn't miserable, I just couldn't. I knew that what I needed was not unreasonable. I needed to feel loved.
If that was the case, then why didn't I feel like I was WORTH the effort?
It was then I realized that I DID believe I was worth it. I was. I still am.
But to make the necessary changes to find that, was what hurt the most. I found that sometimes in order to gain what you're worth, you have to be willing to take a risk. And so, I did.
If I'm being completely honest, I didn't get the answer I expected. As a matter of fact, it's not at all like I thought it would end up. The last effort was one sentence. “Either we go to counseling, or I think I need to leave.” The reply also came back as one sentence. “I think that would be good.” I flew home to Texas and he didn’t call.
Even after facing my fear and confronting him, I instantly began reflecting on my worth again. My brief moment of courage had quickly dwindled and sent me spiraling into an abyss of self-consciousness. My mind wavered to the point where the only thing I felt was uncertainty. But again, my amazing leadership took their time to counsel me throughout my confusion and I began to realize that I was worth so much more. I realized that I deserved better.
I'm amazed at the transformation that I've seen in myself since coming to this realization. I’m also amazed at how God truly worked things out. I have been so blessed to have a man come into my life, which truly loves me and shows me that on a daily basis. I am blessed to have a love that I thought only existed in the movies and fairytales. I never knew what I was truly missing until now.
And even more, do you really want to know how God has His hand on our lives? Eight years ago, I lost a child to miscarriage. My husband and I were never able to conceive after that. Fast forward to today. I marry my amazing husband and become a stepmother to his beautiful daughter. 8 years old. Born in the same month that my child would have born.
God is truly amazing. I am humbled that He cares enough for me, despite my inconsistencies, to continually pour out His blessings in my life. Even when I feel as my life is a shattered mess, He sees me as something of worth.
While I still struggle with self-consciousness, I find myself stronger than before. It’s easy to allow intimidation and fear to keep us in a prison of unhappiness. The thing to remember is, the minute you negotiate your self worth and accept less, you say to the world that you are not worthy of anything else.
But for me? Never again. I may have been knocked down time and time again, but yet, I rise.
I deserve more than I've allowed myself to receive. I deserve happiness. I hope that I can encourage others to rise from their situation and accept the good that He has prepared for them.
I’m so thankful that I now understand that I deserve to be loved. And for the first time, I truly am.
“Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to his good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself.” – Ephesians 1:9