I want to tell you about the happiest time of my life. But before I do, I want to talk about perspective.
Life has crapped on me time and time and time again.
People have crapped on me time and time and time again.
And I often get asked how I stay so strong. How I get through it when the world falls down.
Happiness depends on how you look at life.
I’m a firm believer, that the less you have, the more you appreciate. And that those of us who have been in the gutter or been close to death, can develop a very powerful appreciation of life.
There are people who would say that I shouldn’t write this post, because it’s so personal, but I’m not ashamed.
The past few weeks have been very very difficult. Hell… the last YEAR has been very very difficult. I started last year with severe depression, which was followed by my husband losing his job. Which was followed by some deeply personal troubles, which I won’t blog about. That was followed by the end of my marriage. Then a new relationship, an unexpected pregnancy, and the crushing disappointment, panic and sick feeling, when I realised that man both betrayed me and abused me too. This was at the same time as eviction from my home. I was then bullied into leaving the job that I love. My working tax credits stopped. My child tax credits stopped. Everything stopped. I had zero wages. Zero anything. I was selling our old clothing to pay for food and bus travel. This week, was the low point. We had to make a choice between TV or lights in the evenings, to save electricity. We watched the last 30p on the meter run down. I couldn’t sell anything. The bank took out so much in charges, that I couldn’t borrow from anyone, or the bank would have just swallowed it straight back up. My phones and internet are due to be cut off. School lunches were getting “creative” to say the least. We only had a few days of food supplies left. And for one day, there was nobody to help. I’m not ashamed to admit this, because none of this, was our fault. This is not a usual week for us. This is not how we usually live. We just hit a long run of bad luck which culminated in this week. What I AM ashamed to admit, is that I spent one whole day crying. One whole day, where I could not hold back the tears.
And then… I decided I couldn’t ever do that again. I need to carry on being proactive. I need to keep normality in our lives, so that my children never know about this week. I don’t want my children to know the current struggles, as I’ve so far managed to hide them completely and make everything a game. I needed to continue that.
So I triggered the emergency electricity supply. We joined friends at a local community group that provides breakfast and drinks for free, as part of a community spirit initiative. I took the twins to twins club, who kindly said we could pay in a week or two. And then a friend stepped in. A friend I’ve known through blogging for a few years. An altruistic, pure spirited friend with a heart of gold. She met me at Citizens Advice, drove us to the food bank, carried all the food to the car and helped us unload it at my house. She also bought us a very generous supply of some of the things that the food bank don’t provide, because she understands that sometimes in life, we just need a little bit of help. She wanted nothing in return (but I will somehow find a way to thank her). I then went home and chased all the people who owe me money. I organised the things that needed organising. I bought us some more time on the overdue bills. I took a health assessment for my new job. I tidied the house. I carried on with some of the unpacking from the move.
I know that next week, won’t be like this week. I know that next week will be better. I know that in a few weeks time, things will be better still. I will be able to pay those bills, buy food and even donate food back to the food bank that helped me in my hour of need. I won’t have to watch the electric meter anymore and I will be able to find a way to thank that friend who was my guardian angel this week.
I restarted the act of writing down 3 things every day, which I was thankful for. And no matter how small or basic, they may have seemed to others, this coping strategy can work absolute wonders for mental health. It certainly does for me. A gratitude journal works the same way, but it’s so important to use perspective to find a way to be more content. A way to embrace happy, even in the darkest of times.
Right now, I feel so undeniably grateful. I feel grateful that we have a warm home. That we have food to eat. We have cosy warm beds. We have bus passes. We have incredible friends. We have family (even though they are far away). We have our health. Most importantly, we have each other.
And as I stood at the sink this morning, washing up (something I hate with a passion), a song came on the radio and it made me smile.
“People like us—we don’t Need that much, just some- One that starts, Starts the spark in our bonfire hearts”
Because you know what? My girls have no clue about any of the troubles on my mind. They have no clue about the money worries or the heartache I’ve been through. They are happy, healthy, well-fed, spirited little girls, with hobbies and school and nursery and friends and a Mummy who would go to the ends of the earth for them.
Despite everything… we are happy.
No matter how low we go, there will always be people worse off. I’ve been worse off before. When I was 21 I was homeless and penniless for three months. And even then, my perspective was that there were people worse off than me. There are people dying on the streets. There are people fighting in wars. There are people who are losing loved ones to terminal illness.
We are alive.
And that leads me onto the happiest moment of my life.
Was it my wedding day? Was it when I got my first car? When I graduated? When I gave birth? When I fell in love for the first time?
No. The happiest moment of my life, is one which happens every single evening at around 7-8pm.
It’s when my girls are snuggled in their pyjamas, cuddled up to me, telling me all the highlights of their day. It’s the excitement in their voices, as they talk about all the things they did and all the things they loved about their day. They surprise me on even the most mundane of days, with little things, like how baking cakes or a trip to the park, or even just sitting upstairs on the bus, fill them with such glee. I get to hear about the things they did at school or nursery, that I don’t know about. Their achievements and the things they’ve learnt. They tell me how excited they are for the next day and what they are looking forward to. We read stories, we drink milk and we cuddle until they are sleepy. They tell me how much they love me.
And my goodness, there is NOTHING in the world that can rival that kind of happiness or that amount of love. Those three beautiful girls light up my world.
Even when I have nothing, I feel like I still have everything.
I think they call that “perspective”.