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Can We Be Joyful Despite Being Unhappy? 
Started by eKIM
24 Dec 2012, 8:36 PM

Can we be Joyful despite being unhappy?

The “holiday season” can be a season of sadness for many.  Whether it is the sight of a dysfunctional family under a “Seasons Greetings” magnifying glass, or our tender thoughts of loved-ones no longer here to celebrate with us; happiness disappears from the ‘holly days’ and instead we find sad days, under the tree.

I believe that happiness and joy are not synonyms. Happiness is a transient, fickle friend who comes and goes.  Joy is that true friend who is with us – always. 

I wrote this message to a friend today who lost her husband this year.  I thought that I would share the message with you:

Remember, despite the transient nature of our fickle friends, “Happiness” and her evil twin, “Unhappiness”, we must recognize these are but temporary states of being. They are with us to teach us lessons about ourselves.

It is our true friend, “Joy” who is permanently near us - never to be far from our presence.  “Joy” simply waits, patiently and lovingly, until we are ready to embrace her with all our might.  Once Joy is fully embedded in our heart, we will have Joy, forever as a part of our essential being. 

Cry, laugh, despair or dream, “Joy” will never, never let us down.  In the end she is our salvation as we learn to live with the gifts of “Joy, Love, Peace and Patience”, as we navigate our path of life.  These gifts I wish for you today, the New Year and for always.   

 – eKim

Ps  Joy reveals herself to us when we pause, hit the re-wind button of our life and look at all the beauty and wonder with which we have been blessed.  The overwhelming quantity of our blessings will help us get through our difficult times.

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Reply by Aphasia Sufferer's daughter
15 Feb 2014, 8:44 PM

CS  Lewis''s "Surprised by Joy" is an excellent source of thought about Joy.
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Reply by Aphasia Sufferer's daughter
16 Feb 2014, 7:19 PM

Throughout my adult life, every year on Valentines Day, I would visit my mother and father. The very few years that I couldn't make it on the day, I went on another day close by. I felt ripped off if I couldn't make it home even for a short visit. My mother and I would give each other those hot red candy hearts. She usually had them waiting for me on the hall table. That's the memory I have - Valentine's Day hearts sitting on the hall table in the home my father and mother built...waiting for me. This year I visited my daughter. She had a huge cupcake and tea waiting for me when I got there. Same tradition, different location - we bring our loved ones past and present into the present with us - somethings are forever.
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Reply by eKIM
17 Feb 2014, 2:49 AM

I love your cupcake story!  You have created your own joy.  You put a reality to what, below, are only pretty words.

Past joy reveals herself to us when we pause, hit the re-wind button of our life, and look at all the beauty and wonder with which we have been blessed. 

Present joy is with us - in the moment - when we use the pattern of our memories to create new memories.

Future joy becomes an integral part of our life’s journey as we share these moments and carry these new memories into the future.

-        eKim

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Reply by KathCull_admin
02 Mar 2014, 6:00 PM

What lovely words eKIM. I like the juxtaposition of your words and Aphasia Sufferer's Daughter's (Cathie's) story.

I have been thinking about you the last few days Cathie and so rather then just think I decided to put finger to keyboard and drop you a line. You, like eKIM, have a wonderful ability to describe events and feelings. I know on another thread you describe yourself as 'chatty' - that was my nickname in school 'chatty Kathy':) How have you been? I have missed your word pictures.

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Reply by Aphasia Sufferer's daughter
03 Mar 2014, 5:41 PM

My father visited for seven days last week - I only had enough money for food ( I gave my mother's brother $100 for Christmas and $100 for his birthday in the week at the end of January....so I had no savings left in Feb): but I managed to cook for him and introduced him to two friends in a neighbouring town (toured the friend's business and had lunch), had two other friends over for dinner with him, took him to London to visit my daughter (his grandaughter), see her genetics lab (she is doing her masters) and have lunch with her boyfriend and her thesis supervisor, went shopping at a Costco with him.... and accompanied him while he looked at buying a new car - which he did. My sister was vacationing in Florida for two weeks recovering from the stress of our mother's death. I think that's the fourth vacation she's had since September. I am bitter and collapsed inside.

So last week, my goal was to help launch my dad: have him live with me for a week (not be alone); just having a person beside you can be comforting and supportive. I also provided him with the nicest most positive people I have access to here in my new town. He bought a new car while he was here and is bolstered. He is going to drive to my town from Toronto in order to pick it up today and, get this, he wasn't planning on seeing me when he came into town. Was n't planning on dropping by to show me his new car.

Today, I am alone. I have a project going - changing and reorganizing my clothes and my linen storage areas. and throwing out throwing out throwing out. Yesterday I went to church and went to the Pancake Lunch after church. I don't know anyone really. I sat with a retarded resident who lives in L'Arche (he's in my bible study) and a nice lady who appears to lead a lot of stuff at the church. When it was over, I went into the kitchen and scrubbed pots and washed dishes from the lunch.

I hate living alone. I miss my ex husband who threw me away years ago. No one has asked me to come and stay with them for a couple of weeks - to take care of me.

No one wants to take care of me. 

I am alone. I feel that I must be a very very bad, vicious, unloving, unloveable
person to end up so alone when I have so little to bolster me up. Or maybe, unbeknownst to me, I am mentally deranged or lacking in some sort of capacity that marks me as an outsider.

I have been running from death all my life. Focussing on potential and community. And now I find that no one is prepared to go the distance with me.

I have lost my keys - alll of them. I'm searching my very clean house for them -three times so far. can't find them. While looking, I found a new sympathy card from my neighbours in my front mail box. They're on vacation.

So I am planning at the beginning of March to use all of my money to buy some sort of ticket to go to England and to go there and visit a friend (I can live there) and a cousin. Leaving the country seems very very long overdue.

I am not suffering flashbacks and anxiety attacks 24.7 as I was in the first three weeks after she died. I have a vivid memory and imagination - two weeks ago, I was alternating between dreams that made me feel loved (dreams of being able to put my head on my ex's shoulder) and dreams of profound rejection - sleep should be a place of respite but I began to be afraid to sleep. Last week, when my dad was here, I had very very fitful sleep, but did eventually sleep for a few hours at a stretch. Sleep has always been my refuge and now it isn't. After working so very very hard for the past nine months, I can no longer sleep in - I'm up with energy and no job to spend it on.

I hurt my shoulder last week - so even though I joined a gym to help me during this time, I can't go for another week - until I know that my shoulder has healed.

Last night, for the first time in over 30 years, I didn't watch the Oscars. I watched "Tudor Farm" and a series about the great gardens of the world --- They're BBC shows and I love them. The featured gardens were in Italy - for some reason I have wanted to go to Italy for about four years. So I guess that's where I will be headed when I figure out how to pay my bills while I am away. England and Italy. i will take my paints and my cellphone camera.
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Reply by eKIM
05 Mar 2014, 3:01 AM

Hi  Aphasia Sufferer's daughter

 I was thinking about you feeling unappreciated by your Dad.  I have felt the same way about my father all of my life.  It used to really bother me until I realize that it had nothing whatsoever to do with my worthiness or lovability.  It was entirely to do with his ability to show and give love.  People can only love you as much as they are able. 

 Knowing his background and how it affected him, allowed me to let go of my bitterness and embrace him with love and understanding, knowing full well that his attitude towards me probably would not change.  The forgiveness I gave was not for him.  It was for my peace of mind.  Anyway, it is much easier to live your live with a heart full of love instead of a heart full of hate.

 You mentioned that you went to church recently.  I consider myself to be spiritual, not religious.  I haven’t attended church in decades, however….  If I wanted to meet the nicest people in the world and have a feeling of acceptance, I would check out all of the church bulletins from all the churches within an hour’s drive and show up for a church supper - any church, maybe even them all. 

 Some of my happiest memories of when I did attend church are of washing dishes next to a virtual “snowstorm” of sweet grey-haired little church ladies.  Besides “Church People” will tell you that they have access to the source of unconditional and unlimited love.  If one was “looking for love”, it might be a pretty good place to start.

 The negative thought patterns that you describe are very familiar to me. Having survived not one, but two dysfunctional families, I learned, at a young age how to engage in negative “self-talk” and thoughts.  The more I thought these thoughts, the more I became like my thoughts – a bad negative spiral.  It wasn’t until decades later that I learned how to stop these destructive thoughts and replace them with healthy self-loving thoughts.  Once I learned how to fully love myself, it became possible to fully love others.  And the bonus?  It made me more lovable to others.

 I would never presume to advise you whether you should travel or not – that is a big decision, so please don’t take what I say as advice.  I will merely share a story with you: 

 I had a friend once whose life fell apart – I won’t go into the details.  I hated to see him in a rut – I really cared about him.  He finally snapped out of it.  He developed an attitude of:  “Life is an exciting adventure, or it is nothing.”  So what did he do?  Three things:  He “re-invented” himself, he travelled, and he met someone new.  He lived happily ever after.  I love those kind of stories.  I wish you all the best in the future. 

- eKim

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Reply by marstin
05 Mar 2014, 7:45 AM


I couldn't read this and not respond. My dad was not a nice man to me either. No matter how hard I tried and how much I did, it was never good enough. My brother was always the 'golden boy' even though he did so little for my parents. While my dad lay dying in the hospital, it was my mom and I that were by his side. My brother was off on one of his many vacations. I didn't shed too many tears when my dad did pass and the ones I cried were more for the years of pain I had endured and never managed to win his respect. It has been almost 6 years now and I still feel the rejection. Having had to deal with my brother the past year and a half taking care of my mom's estate, the pain has come back as my brother treats me with little respect and looks down on me too. The estate was wrapped up this past Friday and I felt elated for a couple of days and then I fell into a deep depression. I lost my brother because of ongoing issues with the estate and although I feel glad to not have him looking at me like I'm a loser, it is indeed another loss.

I guess that I am fortunate that I have my daughters living with me but it doesn't combat the need to have family and friends to lean on. Mine all deserted me too. It seems that in this day and age that people don't take a moment out to think of the ones that have suffered huge losses. They busy themselves with their own lives and can't seem to find a moment to make a call to see if you are alright. Not an easy thing to handle when you're already dealing with the pain of losing a loved one. Like eKim I am a spiritual person and have had to work hard to find a sense of calm and acceptance for how things are. It's not easy and I've had more time than you to find that peace with myself but I know that I'm not a bad person and neither are you. You have been hit very hard by losing your mom and the feelings of rejection that you have endured in the past and even now. Somehow the old wounds come to the surface when you are grieving.

A trip away might bring you some peace. A different environment could brighten your mood and if you are with other people it just might help you to share the load. I too am thinking of going away for awhile just to escape everything that has been hanging over me.

After working so hard to take care of your mom, you deserve to do something nice for yourself.

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Reply by Aphasia Sufferer's daughter
05 Mar 2014, 10:03 AM

Hi The one thing I did learn by the age of 30 was that I simply did not want to earn my dad's respect on his terms: I don't respect his terms. I can't live with myself when I fail at playing someone else's game. Inauthenticity kills me. I am heartbroken when I fail to realize one of my goals...but I can survive that. Part of the problem of caring for someone else is that the disease and the other person's needs have nothing to do with me, my skills, my needs, my point of view...a dying person's situation is a ruthless assault on my I. And the time spent accompanying him/her on her journey us time lost. It is a zero sum game. So I chose the I who can love the other. My game is accompanying my beloved to her death because she needed me. So in choosing her I chose me by choosing not me. It is a mystery that is still unfolding.  
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Reply by Aphasia Sufferer's daughter
09 Mar 2014, 5:45 PM

How I failed her: 
The day after she died I found her suitcase under her desk at home. It was full of photos of her favorite places and things, notes to herself, copies of emails. She had clearly been putting things in it from before they sold their house and moved to the apartment. My sister moved my mum to the seniors residence. I didn't know about the suitcase. I took over her photo albums. I took over her paintings. She sat alone for a few hours many months in the evenings. She had prepared for this but I didn't ever look at the small suitcase on the floor in her apartment. 
After a 9 day stay at my house over Christmas my mom fought to stay with me and not go back to the seniors residence:  kicking punching hitting swearing at me. I took her back. She died a month later, banished from friendship in their dining room by a bureaucrat who assigned her seating alone when she was at my place on vacation.
On the Thursday before she died, she was dressed and sitting up in her chair when I arrived. I had been there for a few days. I wanted to go home to Stratford. She said the room at the retirement home was too small. She had aphasia but she gave me a reason. I was overcome. I went and sat in the hall nearby for over an hour. I knew we were at a critical juncture. I went to her room to say goodbye.she was in the bathroom with her caregiver. I went home.
They didn't want to be there for her. I was too overwhelmed to keep fighting people to do right by her.
I saw a sign that there were Anglican services but they were on a day when I was working and couldn't get there. I didn't think to ask for visitation. I thought about it but didnt try to arrange it. She had stopped going to church many years ago and refused to start again. The church had wounded her, not helped her daughter, excluded abandoned women as "divorced". She never reestablished a connection. 
When my sister who doesn't go to church or talk to me ever about anything said at her because " If there was ever a time to pray it is now" I didn't have anything left in me to do that. I didnt have what it took to even bow my head. I briefly looked at my sister bowing her head then just went back to watching my mom,s face and looking at her hands. At one point she took my hand and put it on the sheet beside her. Then she let me go and put her hand on her stomach. She let me go. A few days before she died I sat with mum and she said "Talk." I knew that I had run out of words. Chatty Cathy with so much to say. We had silence. Then I just started another happy conversation. And I made her laugh. 

I have been busy moving furniture and tidying up at home. Trying to launch myself through this. So busy that I have had a bad migraine, and  injured my neck, shoulder and knee. I tjought I was having a heart attack. Put that worry to rest. No. My body can't help me with my grief. My grief is breaking my body.  I spent three days having my doc check out these consequences of over exertion.  I am sitting in a clean organized house, not lifting not going to the gym not skating not skiing I can walk the dog. If I weren't broke I would go buy books and shoes. If I werent hurtwould snow shoe into my cottage. Read paint burn a fire huddle by the electric heater look out the picture windows and listen to the wind. Instead I walk my dog careful to hold his leash with my good arm and careful not to let him pull. Heel boy. Heal me.

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