Sunday, October 21, 2012

Climbing out

In the spring of 2007, I filed for divorce from my marriage of 20 years. Life felt heavy and I wore it heavily.

During this season, I spent a great deal of time at Radnor Lake, the remarkable nature preserve just a few miles from my home. One clear, sunny day that spring, I sat on a bench beside the lake. Sitting quietly for some time I slowly began to notice some movement in the Tulip Poplar branches spread above me. Glancing up, I found hundreds of tiny gray and yellow birds, each no bigger than a ping pong ball, hopping about. Together, these tinies filled that vast tree with their cheerful activity.

As I watched in wonder, I noted an odd bubbly sensation in my chest. It felt good to me, pleasant, and yet strange because it was so unfamiliar.

When I next saw my therapist, I described the moment to her and she said, “that is joy, Janet.”

For much of my life I have been a stranger to joy. As a child, I experienced some fairly severe trauma. I coped in adolescence and early adulthood, but by my mid-thirties those coping skills failed me and I fell into a fairly severe depression.

This depression was such a gift in my life because it plunged me into enough pain that I had to ask for help. Despite quite significant opposition to my seeking out help, I was steely in my determination to get better. So, I began a long road, addressing old wounds and learning to care, at last, for myself.

Here I am, years later, full of deep gratitude, knowing profound contentment, and daily acquainted with joy. Along the way I have ended a marriage and lost friends. Yet, life is abundant for me now in ways that I couldn’t imagine before.

Here is what I want to say to you, in a most heartfelt way: if you are struggling, you do not have to live that way. Whatever challenges, opposition, or difficult choices may lie in your path, you do not have to live in pain. There are many, many people equipped to help and who want to help.

In my deepest heart I believe we are meant to take pleasure in this life, in the living of it. Most of us have painful experiences that keep us from the joy we are created to embrace. But pain does not have the last word here. Joy does.

If are hurting and need help finding a way forward, please email me if you think I can be of assistance to you. You’ll find an email link to the right of this page. Just as we were made for joy, we were made to find our way forward in community, with help from others. And you deserve it.


  1. Heading out to Radnor this afternoon to breathe in some of that joy, my friend. Beautiful piece!

  2. It's so interesting that I describe my joy as bubbles too. I used to feel bubbly inside on a regular basis. I haven't felt very bubbly in the past 18 months, but I am working on it!