I am a happy person. And I am optimistic. I guess they are two different things. I am enjoying life now and have great hopes for the future. I like being that way. I have been in a different way. Did not like that so much. But as with most trials in life, when they are behind you, it is easy to see how they have helped you get to a new place. Usually a better place.
When I was growing up, I thought I was pretty average. My parents bought the house my mom grew up in, in their hometown. I had relatives all around, and grew up with lots of cousins, most older, some to be afraid of and some to worship. We had family activities for holidays and birthdays, always having 4th of July and Christmas at our house. My parents had some great friends that had children my age, and we got together often for games and sleepovers. I have one brother, Bill, who is four years older, who picked on me, but would not let anyone else give me grief. And our family had some really fabulous traditions that I treasure, and have tried to incorporate some of them today in my family. Life was pretty good. I was a generally happy kid.
I graduated from the same high school my family went to. I started college and finished three years (I am going to finish - really! - as soon as I know what I want to study). Darren and I got married, worked, bought a house and had a baby. And that is where things started to get different.
Just after Alex was born, I started having scary thoughts about dying. It was as if, now that I was a mom and had this little tiny person relying on me, I could see how fragile life was. And not only did I lose sleep over this (literally), I had no concept of what would become of me when I did die. I just had no idea. This went on for months. Hero tried to help, but he could not give me what I needed. And so I decided to see a therapist.
Just sitting in her office, I felt like I at last had some control over what was going on in my world. But here was part of the problem. While I was gaining some control and getting things straightened out in my mind, I was quickly learning that it was the fact that I did not have control over everything (and could not) that was causing my problems.
As many people do, I had some unresolved issues to untangle pertaining to my relationships as a child. While on one level I felt loved and safe growing up, on another level that I knew things were not as they should be. My mom, who has been sober for more than 25 years, is a recovering alcoholic. Because of this disease, life was often chaotic and uncertain. I remember being afraid to be in the car with her after a long visit with family, but of course I had to go with her. Because of my mom's lack of control in her addiction, it seemed that she tried to have extra control in other things in her life, including me. My impression of motherhood meant that the mom controlled everything. When I became a mom myself, it was my turn to take control of everything. But I felt desperate that I could not control this one aspect of life - dying.
Confronting the past to make the future good was a huge step in overcoming the depression I was suffering. But a miracle happened while I was in therapy. I had a miscarriage. The loss of that child was awful and very difficult to understand and is not miraculous at all. But, what I found because of it was very much a divine wonder. I know that Heavenly Father uses each of to help each other, to be in each other's lives when we need to be there. And the one that God used to help me had only been in my life a short time when it was time for her to get to work.
Her husband and Hero worked together at a job they both had as a second job. We would see each other occasionally, as this company encouraged spouse participation. We had some things in common, but really bonded (as will happen) when we both got pregnant about the same time. Sadly, both of our pregnancies ended in miscarriage. In sharing our experiences and feelings, there was a profound difference in our understanding of life and death. Where I was seriously lacking information, she had a calm knowledge that I envied. And when I asked her how she knew what she knew, she not only shared, she invited others to share what they knew about the Plan of Salvation with Hero and I, which contains the truths regarding everything before and after this life, as well as the plan for this life on Earth. What a relief to know these things! After the missionaries taught us about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and do still consider it a miracle that we found the answers we were looking for.
By this point, with help from my therapist, I had resolved a lot of the issues from the past that I needed to, was striving for a healthier relationship with my mom, and feeling much more confident as a new mom. The last visit with my therapist was pretty uneventful, as I honestly did not have anything to talk to her about. After about eight months, with new skills and a testimony of God's plan, I was good to go. I was empowered. I was informed. I was secure.
Depression can be so lonely. What was going on in my head was beyond what I could handle, and sent me spiraling down in a cycle that fed on itself and grew terribly out of control. My search for answers took me on a journey that I could not take by myself, and the Lord put those who could help right in my path. Horray for that plan! Although I did not love the experience that I went through so long ago (Alex is now 20!), I am so very happy that it brought me to a humble place where I was ready to be taught and to learn. It is so good to be happy and optimistic. But it is also good to have opposition in things, to know the sad from the happy, to appreciate all the more the good place I am in right now, and have been for a long time.
So, I am happy today and have great hopes for the future, whatever comes my way. I hope I have learned that Heavenly Father has it all worked out, that the hard, scary, dark places have their purpose, and they will take me to a better me.