Department of English

Spring 2012 Edition

Happily Ever After

Johna Andreason
Expressive 1010 2nd Place
Professor: Dr. Julie Simon

As a young girl growing up, I used to think that success meant finding Prince Charming, getting married, having a family, and simply living happily ever after. My ideas and dreams of a career, education, and even spirituality fell behind a fairytale illusion. I was married one year after high school and became the mother of three beautiful daughters. My husband had a good job and I was able to stay home with my children. My life was content, and for a while I had an overall feeling of fulfillment. My career was family, education was all around me, and God had given me the opportunity to raise three angels. It wasn’t until after I became a divorced single mother of three children that I realized I needed to reevaluate my idea of success.

I began my divorce with a positive attitude and was ready to work hard at being a single mother, but not prepared to listen to my inner-self. I thought I had a strong sense of will power and faith in myself to do what it took to be a successful single mom. I soon discovered how easily stress and negativity could take that away from me. I did well at being a single, working parent until I started letting the negativity of others affect me so greatly that I began to give up. I was criticized and accused of behaviors that were untrue. It seemed the people that knew me best, in fact didn’t know me at all, and had little faith in me. Instead of proving to them otherwise, I let this get me down. I started losing hope and doing nothing to fix it. I began adding to their negativity with my own negativity and what were once lies slowly began to become the truth. What started out to be positive determination was slowly turning into a pressure cooker about to explode. My life spiraled downward. I started to run away from the pain and pressure by making bad choices and justifying them. Unaware of my own denial at the time, I thought the justifications to be real and right.

I hit the bottom of darkness after finding myself in a dangerous relationship with a dangerous man which led to a dangerous drug addiction. This time of my life was the worst I have experienced. It felt like being tangled up in a cursed web of darkness. I thought I was stuck with no way out. I was scared of this man and let fear take over and gave him even more power. I was already emotionally unhealthy when he came into my life and it just got worse from there. I was being verbally, emotionally, and physically abused. Eventually, I believed his negativity towards me and agreed with him. I was nothing, I meant nothing, my children were better off without me, and he was justified if he felt as though he wanted to kill me. I blamed myself for everything. The disappointment in myself was almost unbearable. I was once a good mother with a positive outlook in life and a strong backbone, and now I was a battered, beaten down “nothing” who was a drug addict. I let my children stay with my family. I knew I was in no state of mind to be around them. This killed me inside. Yet I was the one keeping it that way and I couldn’t find a way to change that. I needed help.

One miraculous day, after being in this nightmare of a relationship for ten months, I finally had the strength to end it. After tolerating this pain, abuse, fear, and manipulation for far too long, I took a stand. I needed to get out, stay out, and get my life back in order. Though weary and uneasy, I was able to follow through this time and get a restraining order. By the grace of God, I was kept safe while doing so. I believe God had heard my prayers and the gospel songs I would sing when I would be so afraid. He took over and gave me the strength I needed.

The relationship was over but the drug addiction remained with the haunting memories of the abuse that left a huge hole in my soul. I tortured myself. I hated myself for the mother that I had let myself become. I kept trying on my own to get sober and do things right. I kept failing, so I would try again and find myself returning to my addiction. However, God had granted me a little faith in myself. I knew what I wanted on the inside; I just couldn’t match that on the outside. I started to pray more and put a little more faith in myself and others. I was once what I viewed as strong and I knew I could be again. I had been using for about a year and a half when I started to see the light.

With a heart full of faith and the willingness to change, I started attending an intensive outpatient treatment program in which I was fully committed to my recovery. I attended this program eagerly and gave all the effort I had to retain the information and put it to use in my life, as I knew this battle would be the most difficult one I had ever fought. Discovering I could not go on this journey alone, I shared my struggles with others in this group and learned from their experiences as well. Still committed to recovery, I am doing my best to maintain it. I let my Savior back in my life with a more faithful welcome than I ever had before. I am alive, sober, and safe. By remembering to remain courageous and determined to persevere, I am continuously making progress every day. This is more than enough confirmation that my Heavenly Father is there for me and was carrying me, watching over me, and guiding me; all I had to do is let him. The results from doing this have been outstanding. It saved my life. Instead of seeing myself as a failure I now know without a doubt that I am no failure at all. I was given an incredible opportunity to grow, to learn from my mistakes, and to reconnect with my spirituality. Through what I thought was failure I have been given strength, ability, peace, and love.

I now have a new vision of success. By persevering and maintaining a feeling of inner-peace within myself, I feel that I am being successful on all levels. Being committed to noticing my thoughts and behavior and striving for what I believe to be right and good helps me maintain this. The strong faith I have developed carries me through the hard times of doubt and struggle. I have found the person I used to be long ago before I stuffed my dreams under my once fantasized fairytale idea. The reconnection and my spirituality have formed me into a whole new person that I am proud to be. I am striving for progress to keep becoming closer and closer to who I want to be and know that I can achieve this as long as I believe in myself and let God be my guide.

I am now a full time college student, a dream that I thought had long passed; I had waved good bye to that sailing ship. The amount of gratitude I feel each day when my children and I are all getting ready for school together each morning floods my heart with joy. A world of opportunity has been opened to me. How blessed I am to have come out of the sad, dark, lonely world and to be living the dream that I am today. I enjoy my children more than ever before. I play with them, talk with them, connect with them, try to be an example and be their friend. I am able to take my children to church and teach them of Christ. These are all dreams come true. I still have struggles and make mistakes, but I know that if I stay on this path that I will continue to progress and grow beyond. I refuse to let my past drag me down. I’m grateful for my past mistakes and trials because without them, I would not have the perspective that I now have. The contentment within myself far precedes that of the past. The ability to show on the outside the person that I am on the inside has brought me great joy. By knowing myself, where I stand, what I believe, keeping faith, and loving myself and others to the fullest, I can make it through life’s trials. I believe that is my true success. I believe this is how I can live happily ever after.