48: Happiness Found

48: Happiness Found

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness

Happiness Found

Writing is both mask and unveiling.

~E.B. White

I don’t remember a lot about my childhood. I choose not to, no matter what my therapist says to the contrary. I believe there are some things that should be forgotten. The mind sometimes gives you selective amnesia for a reason.

For most of my twenties, people thought I was a strong confident woman who had all the answers. I was a fine actress. Judging by the way people treated me, I should have won an Oscar. Even though people came to me for advice all the time and I counseled people the best that I could, I didn’t realize how people perceived me, until one day my younger sister-in-law said something that surprised me. She said that she wished she was as self-confident as I was.

Here was this really beautiful young woman, who was athletic and funny and seemed to have everything going for her, not only admitting to me that she felt like she didn’t have any self-confidence, but that she thought that I did. How did that happen? When did that happen? So I took a step back and looked at my life.

I was twenty-seven years old. I had been married to an abusive man, but I divorced him, took my young son, and in time married an incredibly gorgeous man. I had a job as a manager at a beautiful apartment community with a staff of about ten people and various contractors that I had to oversee on a daily basis. I still couldn’t believe that the really beautiful, nice man had married me. I wasn’t sure why. Truthfully I didn’t think it would last. Surely he would see the real me soon enough, although we had dated for a year before we married.

We were married about two years when he went to Seattle to visit my brother and his wife when he was on a vacation. The two of them got along great and seemed as if they could be real brothers. When he came back, he made a casual comment to me that shook my world.

He relayed to me that my brother had told him about the time I was a little girl and had to go live with our “hillbilly” cousins in East Texas. My husband had always thought I was sophisticated, so he thought it was funny that I had family like that.

I felt like I had been dropped from a thirty-story building. We didn’t really talk about it, but soon memories started coming back to me. Nightmares and memories about that horrible time in my life. As the youngest of six children, I was sent away — alone — to live with those people. I never told anyone of the abuse and torture I suffered there. No one ever asked. My mother was hospitalized and the older kids were all in school, so my dad sent me to stay with his cousins. I was about four when they took me away, I don’t know for how long. No one will tell me.

I began having problems at my job. And then panic attacks — this was before anyone really knew what that term meant. I thought I was going crazy and hid it the best I could.

Over the next ten years, I lost job after job. I got fired because of anxiety and panic attacks. Finally I had to tell my husband about them. I tried going to doctors. We lost our nice cars and then our home. I couldn’t keep a job. I was worried to death that our children would suffer, that my husband would leave me. My physical health started to deteriorate.

I had always been a voracious reader. One day I decided to sit down and try writing for myself. It just came flowing out of me. I was in my forties and it had never occurred to me to try to write. Suddenly I felt a little better. This was fun — it felt great. I got other people to read some of my writing and they seemed to love it. So I wrote a whole manuscript. Even the people I thought would be my harshest critics said they loved it. It made me feel good about myself. It made me happy.

So now I’ve written three manuscripts and over 100 articles. I have found me again. My husband and I are about to have our twenty-fourth wedding anniversary. He still loves me. He knows the real me; I guess he always did. Our kids, now young men, love me tremendously. How happy can one girl be? Just ask me!

~KT Banks

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