I remember during one particularly hard year, I was attending a support group for people who had been affected by someone else’s drinking (Al-Anon). Although it’s been years since my mom passed away, I am still deeply affected. During this time, I walked around with a furrowed brow and was on the verge of tears every day. The pain and sadness were so heavy, I wore it on my face, and there was no hiding my feelings.
There was an older, gentle man in the support group, and one day, he followed me out of the meeting and started telling me that a piece of chocolate is a simple little joy in life and he loves having a little piece of joy like that in his day to help him. I remember thinking it would be nice if a little piece of chocolate could make me feel joyful, help me, or take my pain away. But to be honest, there was no amount of chocolate that was going to pull me out of that dark time. Looking back on it, it did help me realize that if someone else could find joy in a piece of chocolate, I needed to get help. Honestly, realizing I needed help was the hardest part. I thought, I’m fine, I can do this, but finally, I admitted to myself that I couldn’t. I had to acknowledge the pain, stop numbing it, ask for help, and seek wise advice from my counselor. She helped me lean into the pain, work through the pain, learn from the pain and surrender it to God. Only after I had a little relief from the pain (depression) could I understand how a piece of chocolate could bring joy. I always told myself that once I felt better, I would write more about that time to help others out there know they’re not alone.
So now that I’m feeling better, I’m learning “that a joyful life” (different for me than a perfect life, which is an important distinction I learned during that hard time) “is made up of joyful moments strung together”. Thank God I can experience joyful moments again- like a piece of chocolate, or a conversation, a sermon, a quote, an iced tea, a song, a call from a friend at just the right moment, the smell of my son’s skin after they’ve showered. Those things can overwhelm me with gratitude and joy, if I’m looking. That is not to say I don’t experience down/sad days. I still do, but these little jollies remind me that there is a God so much bigger out there, that delights in giving me a little joyful moment, a little treasure to enjoy during the day. A little wave to say, “Hi, I’m here”. I could easily miss them if I’m not looking for them or if I’m stuck in my own mess (which I easily get stuck in). Only now I understand why gratitude and perspective is so important.
If you are in a dark place, are spinning, can’t shake a feeling of sadness, or are suffering from a tragedy, you are not alone. I’ve been there. Really and truly been there in the depths of it. I know it well. It’s not pretty. I won’t tell you to enjoy the little things (I know it can feel like salt in the wound), but I will tell you what helped me most is getting help. I love you. God loves you, even if you can’t feel it. Don’t give up.
In celebration of being able to see these joyful moments again (I don’t take this for granted), I’m starting a new series called” little jollies.” I’ll be sharing life’s little jollies (beyond clothes) with you guys on C. Style! A big thank you to all of you over the years who have encouraged me with your comments, e-mails, and dm’s. I’m grateful for this community! Stay tuned for my next post, “Little Jollies!”