86: A New Best Friend

86: A New Best Friend

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness

A New Best Friend

Cheerfulness is what greases the axles of the world. Don’t go through life creaking.

~H.W. Byles

Thirty years ago I’d wake up all too often engulfed in raw, jagged emotions. My life was so full of unhappiness and yet I was only thirty. I hated my job, I couldn’t get out of debt, I didn’t care much for a lot of the people I called friends, and half my family had just died in a car accident.

The only ray of sunshine on a dark horizon was my relationship with Tom, and as much as I loved him, I needed more than love to lift me out of my depression.

As I sat home, my leg in a cast after I broke my ankle, smoking a pack of cigarettes a day and watching repeats of old TV shows, I wondered how I’d ever gotten to this point. “I need to change my entire life,” I said to Tom over dinner.


I stared at him. “Can’t you see I’m in a rut so deep that if it rains I’m going to drown?”

He nodded. “That is an awfully extreme way of looking at it, but yes, you have been sad since the accident.”

Sad? I wanted to scream, sad is how you feel when you lose a contest or your puppy runs away. This is so much more than sad. “I’m despondent!”

He nodded. “What can we do about it? Want to go away for the weekend?”

I always wanted to go away, but this time I knew that leaving wasn’t the answer. I couldn’t run away from myself. “We can go to the shore after I get the cast off in two weeks but for now, whatever my problem is, I have to figure it out myself.”

The two weeks came and went and I was cast-free and back to work but still unhappy. As the months passed, I got a grip on my mourning and was able to accept the deaths of my brother and sister-in-law.

When summer arrived I had two and a half months off. Away from the teaching job I hated more than anything, I decided to take stock of my life. Sure I’d had some really harsh breaks, starting most recently with my broken ankle. It had been my own fault playing kickball with my students in three-inch heels and I was stuck with a bum ankle that wasn’t healing well. I was still missing my family members who were gone. My pay was so low I was broke and in debt, never quite able to pay off my credit cards. Most of all I hated my life and I guess that meant I wasn’t too fond of myself.

But there was also some good in my life. Tom was always there for me. He loved me and supported me even though I was such a downer to be around. I was lucky to have a job and although the pay was considerably less than the other area school districts, it still paid for my car and apartment and my occasional trips to the shore. I still had my parents, my sister and my nephew.

“If I’m ever going to be happy, it will be up to me,” I said to myself in total disgust. “I’m going to change my life because no one is going to charge up on that white steed and do it for me.”

Yes, the job made me unhappy, but I was just going to have to deal with that. It was only a job. It didn’t have to come home at night and I really did enjoy working with my students. I forced myself to detach from the problems of a corrupt urban school district and inept administration. With Tom’s help, I stopped constantly talking about the events that were so disruptive to my existence.

Slowly, I began relating the things that happened at work as humorous stories. Sure, I embellished a bit here and there, but I started making the people around me laugh, including my students and co-workers. Then I started laughing as well, looking forward to the evenings to share my day with Tom. I began writing stories, in the beginning thinly veiled tales from work, but soon I didn’t need that any more. I had found a way to tolerate and even sort of enjoy going into work every day. As time went on, I married Tom, left the horrid job and had my own children who supplied me with so many stories, I just had to keep writing and actually ended up penning a column about my family for nine years.

As I changed my life, cleared out the people who weren’t good for me to have around and tried to surround myself with real friends and things that made me happy, I also changed myself. It was a long, difficult process but throughout it all, I learned how to be happier, even though bad things still happen in life. Best of all, I really learned to like myself in the process.

Life is a series of bad and good, but it can be easier when you face it with a good friend you can always depend upon, especially if that good friend is yourself.

~Dina A. Leacock

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