This I Believe

Leslea - Garnett, Kansas
Entered on August 27, 2007

I believe happiness is a quilt.

One year ago I became a marriage statistic; I became a single woman after 21 years of being someone’s wife. I began my journey into every emotion one can feel and every fear one can imagine. I felt as if I had been living in a purgatory between numbed pain and bitter disappointment. I didn’t like the address or the neighborhood and I decided to move.

At 19 I thought happy was being married. At 24 I thought happy was having a baby. At 30 I thought happy meant owning a house. At 40 I hoped happy would be ending a troubled marriage. My decision to divorce knocked the world I lived in off balance and turned it upside down for my kids, my husband, our friends, our families, and me. Could someone who had worked so hard at trying to make one thing the whole thing really find happiness after that one thing unraveled? My divorce was my decision to end a life full of a series of betrayals and secrets. Would divorce bring happiness? I wasn’t sure, but I knew living with someone I couldn’t trust wasn’t bringing it either.

During the divorce I realized that many of the things that had brought me joy and contentment while I was married still did. The beauty of a sunrise, an early morning walk, a good laugh with friends, hanging out with my two kids, a really great movie—these still put a smile on my face. Slowly I began to realize that happiness wasn’t one thing; it was a series of things, places, and events that eased my mind, made me laugh, and brought me joy. I also realized that the times I felt happy and joyful weren’t because of another person —they were because I was actively involved in a moment in my life. I wasn’t wishing or fantasizing about what could be; I was living in the present and experiencing life as it happened on my terms and for my reasons. My life quilt was taking form and it was made up of many shapes and colors.

Since my divorce I have found happiness in the familiar and in the new. I have found joy in rediscovering what that 19 year old girl might never have dreamed of doing. I have found happiness in learning who I am and what I want as a woman, a mom and a friend. And many of the discoveries have involved sadness and pain for the loss of a dream I held onto for dear life for twenty years. It has taken me a long time to realize that I didn’t divorce to be happy; I divorced to end one aspect of unhappiness in my life. Happiness is isn’t a blanket; it’s a quilt, and the quilt blocks of happiness in our lives are ours to put together and take apart. This I believe.