This Is My Happiness “You are worthless.” “You are ugly.” “You are a shame.” “You will never get anywhere.” I grew up hearing these words daily, for nearly 20 years. What if, instead of feeling humiliated by my past, I embraced it? I grew up in a not-so-typical childhood and nearly invisible to those around me. My mother died by suicide when I was nine years old, and my father abused me in too many ways. Until one day, I embraced the person that I wanted to be and I ran towards it. I often daydreamed about a healthy life—to feel loved, to be wanted, to feel happiness surrounding me. It wasn’t until I was 20 that I realized, given my past, I too, could choose that life. So, I ran. I literally ran away. I celebrate my day of freedom on a yearly basis. I celebrate the fact that I can choose, for myself, how I would like to feel. Thus far, I’ve had six wonderful years of choosing my happiness. The road to where I’m at now has been difficult—in fact, I wouldn’t say that I am even close to being “there.” I learn from myself and others every day. After all, there’s no such thing as perfection. Being diagnosed with depression, anxiety and PTSD following my escape opened up a world of fear. I was ashamed of what my past had assembled and I felt condemned to have a negative life moving on. I knew that the depressive symptoms were just in my head, and rationally, I knew that they were not words that were true. I fought, oh, I fought that battle daily. Somehow, I found the resilience and the strength to keep moving on, to embrace the negative, and to turn it to a positive. A year and a half after leaving my home, I graduated with my Bachelors in Social Work. Two and half years after leaving my home, I graduated with my Masters in Social Work. I don’t think it was random that I chose this field. It was not random that I gravitated towards people in need—after all, they were all strong, all unique, all fighters. Just like me. What would happen if we could all embrace negative qualities and use them to fight our way out? What would happen if we could choose positivity over negativity? What would happen if we stopped attacking and ostracizing ourselves for feeling a certain way? I think we would grow. You have to learn to fight and always look to the good in your life. One thing that I needed to hear, but didn’t was: you are not weak. I am nowhere close to the end of my journey, because finding happiness doesn’t end when you get it—it’s a lifelong path of finding what you enjoy to become who you want to be. I have beautiful days and I have dark days. It is those dark days, however, that I grasp onto, and that I use to propel me onward through whatever emotions I am feeling. I embrace the night, because without it, morning would never rise. Not every day is filled with complete happiness, but every day is filled with moments of hope, love and possibilities. Every day is filled with resiliency and strength—and that, is my happiness. Share your story, message, poem, quote, photo or video of hope, struggle or recovery. By sharing your experience, you can let others know that they are not alone.