When one door of happiness closes, another opens,

The rose is fairest when 't is budding new, and hope is brightest when it dawns from fears.

Surely there is something in the unruffled calm of nature that overawes our little anxieties and doubts

People are like stained-glass windows.

You’ve Made Such A Difference In My Life

You’ve Made Such A Difference In My Life

Sometimes I wonder if you’ll ever know what a difference 
you’ve made in my life.

I guess I could have made it on my own if I’d never met you,
but it would’ve been like stumbling through the night,

Never really knowing where I was headed or which way to turn.
But then you came along..

You took me by the hand and showed me where to walk…

You brought light to my path and gave me confidence…

You helped to believe in myself.. You helped me to love.

No one has ever given me a greater gift…

No one has ever cared more than you…..

The grass on the other side always looks greener

A truly Inspirational Story must read it :

There was a farmer in Africa who was happy and content. He was happy because he was content. He was content because he was happy. One day a wise man came to him and told him about the glory of diamonds and
the power that goes along with them. The wise man said, “If you had a diamond the size of your thumb, you could have your own city. If you had a diamond the size of your fist, you could probably own your own country.” And then he went away.

That night the farmer couldn’t sleep. He was unhappy and he was discontent. He was unhappy because he was discontent and discontent because he was unhappy. The next morning he made arrangements to sell off his farm, took care of his family and went in search of diamonds.
He looked all over Africa and couldn’t find any. He looked all through Europe and couldn’t find any. When he got to Spain, he was emotionally, physically and financially broke. He got so disheartened that he threw himself into the Barcelona River and committed suicide.
Back home, the person who had bought his farm was watering the camels at a stream that ran through the farm. Across the stream, the rays of the morning sun hit a stone and made it sparkle like a rainbow. He thought it would look good on the mantle piece. He picked up the stone and put it in the living room. That afternoon the wise man came and saw the stone sparkling. He asked, “Is Hafiz back?” The new owner said, “No, why do you ask?” The wise man said, “Because that is a diamond. I recognize one when I see one.”
The man said, no, that’s just a stone I picked up from the stream. Come, I’ll show you. There are many more.” They went and picked some samples and sent them for analysis. Sure enough, the stones were diamonds. They found that the farm was indeed covered with acres and acres of diamonds.

 There are five morals in this Story  :

1.                     1.        When our attitude is right, we realize that we are all walking 
                 on acres and acres  of diamonds. Opportunity is always under 
                 our feet. We don’t have to go anywhere. All we need to do is
                 recognize it.
      2.   The grass on the other side always looks greener.
      3.   While we are dyeing the grass on the other side, there are others
            who are  dyeing the grass on our side. They would be happy to
            trade places with us.
      4.  When people don’t know how to recognize opportunity, they
            complain of  noise when it knocks.
      5.   The same opportunity never knocks twice. The next one may be

            better or worse,  but it is never the same one.

The miracle of Pure Selfless Helping Heart

The miracle of Pure Selfless Helping Heart 

Tess was a precocious eight year old when she heard her Mom and Dad talking about her little brother, Andrew. All she knew was that he was very sick and they were completely out of money. They were moving to an apartment complex next month because Daddy did n’t have the money for the doctor bills and our house.
Only a very costly surgery could save him now and it was looking like there was no-one to loan them the money. She heard Daddy say to her tearful Mother with whispered desperation, “Only a miracle can save him now.”
Tess went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet. She poured all the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times, even. The total had to be exactly perfect. No chance here for mistakes.Carefully placing the coins back in the jar and twisting on the cap, she slipped out the back door and made her way 6 blocks to Rexall’s Drug Store with the big red Indian Chief sign above the door.
She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention but he was too busy at this moment. Tess twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise. Nothing. She cleared her throat with the most disgusting sound she could muster. No good.
Finally she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That did it!
“And what do you want?” the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice. “I’m talking to my brother from Chicago whom I haven’t seen in ages,” he said without waiting for a reply to his question.
“Well, I want to talk to you about my brother,” Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. “He’s really, really sick and I want to buy a miracle.”
“I beg your pardon?” said the pharmacist.
“His name is Andrew and he has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So how much does a miracle cost?”
“We don’t sell miracles here, little girl. I’m sorry but I can’t help you,” the pharmacist said, softening a little. “Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn’t enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how much it costs.”
The pharmacist’s brother was a well dressed man. He stooped down and asked the little girl, “What kind of a miracle does you brother need?”
“I don’t know,” Tess replied with her eyes welling up. “I just know he’s really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation. But my Daddy can’t pay for it, so I want to use my money.”
“How much do you have?” asked the man from Chicago. “One dollar and eleven cents,” Tess answered barely audibly. “And it’s all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to.
“Well, what a coincidence,” smiled the man. “A dollar and eleven cents – the exact price of a miracle for little brothers.” He took her money in one hand and with the other hand he grasped her mitten and said, “Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let’s see if I have the kind of miracle you need.”
That well dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon, specialising in neuro-surgery. The operation was completed without charge and it was n’t long until Andrew was home again and doing well. Mom and Dad were happily talking about the chain of events that had led them to this place.
“That surgery,” her Mom whispered. “was a real miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost?”
Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle cost… one dollar and eleven cents …plus the faith of a little child.
Claimed to be a true story ~ Author Unknown
Your faith, your love, your beauty, your truth is a hundred times more powerful than doubt. Have faith in yourself and be kind hearted. It helps.

Great thoughts By Chankya…

Great thoughts By Chankya…

“ Learn from the mistakes of others… you can’t live long enough to 
   make  them all  yourselves!!”

” A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and
  Honest people are screwed first.”

” Even if a snake is not poisonous, itshould pretend to be venomous.”    

” There is some self-interest behind every friendship. There is 
   no friendship without self-interests. This is a bitter truth.”

” Before you start some work, always ask yourself three questions -
   Why am I doing it, What the results might be and Will I be successful.
   Only when you think deeply and  find satisfactory answers to these
   questions, go ahead.”

" Once you start a working on something, don’t be afraid of failure 
   and don’t abandon it. People who work sincerely are the happiest.”

” The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. 
   But the goodness  of a person spreads in all direction.”

” God is not present in idols. Your feelings are your god. 
   The soul is  your temple."

“ A man is great by deeds, not by birth.”

“ Never make friends with people  who are above or below you in status." 

“ Treat your kid like a darling for the first five years. For the next 
   five years, scold them.  By the time they turn sixteen, treat them like 
   a  friend.Your grown up children are your  best friends.friendships will 
   never give you any happiness.”

“ Education is the best friend. An educated person is respected
   everywhere. Education   beats the beauty and the youth." ~ Chankya

How to Connect With Humanity When You Feel All Alone

How  to  Connect  With  Humanity When  

You Feel All Alone

“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” - Eric Fromm

The recent death of my Aunt put me in a state of mind that I think we all go through at different times in our lives: the feeling of utter isolation, of complete loneliness.

There are times when we feel that even if we are surrounded by other people in our lives, we are alone. We must go through this difficult journey called life by ourselves, no matter if we’re married or if we have children or close friends. And that’s a very lonesome prospect.

How do we overcome these feelings of loneliness and despair? While common, these feelings can be dangerous if we let them go too far — they can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, or just a slump in our lives.

The answer is in connecting with other human beings.

When we connect with other humans, we are no longer alone. We share our suffering, our experiences, our common trials. The misery we face is no longer insurmountable when we have someone to face it with us.

But making that leap from being alone to making a connection can be a difficult one. One reader who contacted me recently, for example, has a form of social anxiety that stops him from talking to people in social situations. That’s a tough obstacle to overcome, but it can be done.

While I’m not an expert in social anxiety or in relationships, I have overcome my share of social anxiety, overcome my share of depression, and found ways to forge human connections in my years as a son, brother, husband, father, co-worker, boss and friend.

Here are some tips for connecting with humanity when you’re feeling alone:

Do some kind of activity with others.
If you don’t immediately have someone to connect with — such as a spouse, kids, or other close family or friends — make an effort to get out of your house and to meet up with others. If you’re afraid of meeting strangers, it helps to find places where you’re comfortable — for example, in a college class, for some people, at a bar you’re familiar with, for others. But failing that, try some kind of group activity — a reading group, a running group, a support group, a volunteer group. The activity greases the social wheels.

Ask for a hug.
If you do have easy access to a loved one, don’t be afraid to ask for a hug — it’s one of the best medicines. That might sound corny, but it’s true. Human contact is something we all need, especially in times of need, and it is a very good way to connect with others.

Visit family and friends.
If you have loved ones you don’t see every day, get out of your house and go visit them. Just being in their presence, making the effort to connect with them, that’ll go a long way to making human connections. Talk with them, share, bond. When my Auntie Kerry died, my family here on Guam immediately got together, and just being in each other’s company in such a time not only brought us closer together, and gave us that release of emotions we needed, but made us feel better during our time of grief.

Nix the TV and movies.
Many times people spend time together watching TV and movies. While that’s OK some of the time, it isn’t the best way to connect with others. The problem with such passive entertainment is that it separates us, even if we’re close together. We end up not talking, but watching. Instead, play sports, play a board game, have coffee or tea, have a picnic — anything that you do together, where you can talk and connect, is a good thing.

Find commonalities.
If you don’t have easy access to loved ones, and need to make new friends and connect with new people, it’s best to start by trying to find common ground. What shared interests do you have? Have you lived in the same place, gone to the same school, worked in the same place? Do you have similar hobbies or passions? When you find that common ground, you can connect.

Open up.
Once you’ve found common ground, and gotten comfortable with a person, don’t be afraid to open up a little. Of course, you don’t pour out all of your innermost secrets the first time you meet someone — it has to be a gradual opening up. But if you never open up, you will never make a real, deep connection. It’ll just be something on the surface. It’s when people share something real, and personal, that these real connections are made.

Practice, and get comfortable.
Often we are shy or socially anxious when we are in uncomfortable situations. The remedy for this is to get comfortable, and the only way to do that is to keep doing it, keep practicing, until you’re better at it. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll get.

Do it in small doses.
If the above tip sounds like too much for you — you have a hard time even contemplating practicing social situations until you’re comfortable — then it’s best to do it in small doses. Start with somewhere you’re fairly comfortable, and just try talking to someone you know a little. Then try someone you don’t know, but in a comfortable situation. Do it one dose at a time, celebrate your success, and then give it another try on another day. You don’t have to make huge connections all at once.

Groom yourself.
This might sound obvious, but it’s amazing how big of a difference this can make. First, being well-groomed makes a good impression on others you don’t know well, and helps them to react more positively to you. But second, and more importantly, being well-groomed helps you to be more confident with yourself, and that makes all the difference in the world.

Learn to be a good listener.
A very important point, but it’s incredible how many people ignore this fundamental skill. I’ve talked to so many people who I can tell are really good people, but who I tire of talking to simply because they don’t seem to hear anything I say. I listen to them, but they don’t return the favor, and as a result, it’s a one-sided conversation. No one likes that kind of conversation (except the person doing all the talking). If you want to make a connection with another person, you have to begin by listening. Learn to ask questions to gt the other person talking about herself — that’s everyone’s favorite subject. And when they do start talking, learn to actually listen. Don’t just stare with a blank look, and think about what you want to talk about. Hear what they’re saying, respond with appropriate words and sounds and facial expressions, ask follow up questions. If you can learn to listen, you’ll go a long way in making connections with anyone.

Help those in need.
Aside from just meeting new people, another great way to connect with other human beings is to help them when they need help. Volunteering to help the homeless and the hungry, for example, is a great way to meet new people, to do something positive, to make a difference in the lives of others, and to connect with people in ways that just aren’t otherwise possible.

Find ways to express your love.
Whether you’re connecting with loved ones, with new people, or with those in need … the ultimate connection is always through love. And the way to make this kind of connection is by first expressing your love — without expecting it to be returned — in any way you can. How can you express your love? That’s up to you — you have to find ways that are appropriate to the situation, the relationship, and to you as a person — but some ideas: hugs, an affectionate smile, a nice letter, doing something considerate for the person, just spending time with them, telling them you love them, listing the reasons you love them … I’m sure you can think of many more. :)

On a related note:
Thank you to everyone on this blog who has comforted me during my time of grieving over my family, through your kind words, through sharing your stories of loss and suffering, through sharing my pain, through your prayers and wishes and thoughts and positive energy. You’ve shown me, in a thousand ways, that connections can be made over great distances, between relative strangers, in a way that really does make a lasting difference on your life. So thank you, thank you.

“Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.” - Michael Leunig

How to Inspire Other People

How  to  Inspire  Other  Peoples  :

Have you ever looked up to someone or admired something about another person that really inspired you?  Well, there are certain qualities about a person’s character that enable them to inspire others, and there are steps you can take to awaken these same qualities in yourself.  Here’s how:

Stick With What You Love
Inspiring others isn’t easy.  The success rate of those who attempt to inspire is incredibly low when the measurement of success is based on the percentage inspired as opposed to the actual number inspired.  Huge motivational seminars with thousands of attendees typically make a real lasting impact in only a few people’s lives.  If you look at those same odds for yourself, you might easily be discouraged if you hope to inspire others by doing something you don’t truly love to do.

If, however, you do love something dearly, you won’t care how successful you are at inspiring others and you will continue to persevere (on many levels) no matter how many times you fail.  When people doubt you, and when people laugh at your failures, you will continue to do what you love because you love it.  So having that depth, that love and passion for something, will protect you from all potential failures.

Will you make the most of failures and continue to drive your passions?  Will you inspire others even when you don’t succeed at first?  What do you love?

Think Big and Noble
Once you establish a foundation for which you have great passion, start thinking big.  How many people could you potentially inspire based on your niche of expertise?  Are there ways you can expand your impact?  Don’t look to inspire one person, look to inspire hundreds!  Remember, this goes back to the low success rate percentages, as you will likely not succeed with working to inspire at a very small level.  You need to think big and have many people available to inspire.  Fifty people out of a thousand is only five percent, but it’s still fifty people.  Share your ideas with as many people as possible and allow them grow your influence beyond your initial ideas for inspiration.

Thinking big is not only about inspiring more people, but also about the impact you have on each person.  Don’t settle on making minor changes in a person’s life if they need a total makeover.  Instead, aim to change everything.  Look to inspire in many areas instead of just one.  Think big about the positive impact you might have and this will give you a much better chance of leaving some kind of impression.  If you promote a hundred ways for someone to change or heal and they take on just one, you have still helped them!

Another useful way to inspire others is to support an established noble cause or practice, such as saving the environment or feeding the poor.  It’s much easier to gain attention, followers, and support for noble causes than it is for individual gain or what some might think are more selfish reasons.  An offer to change something that has a positive impact on the global society is far more attractive to onlookers than some short lived, localized venture.  So keep those areas of influence as big as possible!

Be Expressive
Passion is something you must have and be willing to express it if you really want to inspire others.  You can gain a lot of influence just by publically expressing that you are excited and passionate about a topic.  You make it much harder to inspire others if you are boring an unenthusiastic.  Expressive passion is contagious because of the curiosity it stirs in others.  You’ll get people wondering why you love what you love so much.  Naturally, some of them will take the time necessary to understand what it is about the topic that moves you.

Practice What You Preach
You need to remain actively involved in the field in which you intend to inspire others.  It’s the age old saying of “practice what you preach,” and it holds true for anyone trying to inspire others.  Ultimately, if you really want to inspire others to do something then this ‘something’ should be a big part of your life.  You don’t necessarily need to be an expert at it, but you do need to be passionately involved.

Keep an Open Door
You must always maintain an open invitation to everyone you encounter.  Personally welcome others, and listen to their needs.  Once you are involved with them, keep it personal and always maintain a healthy line of communication.

Offer a Guiding Hand
The best part of inspiring others is to have interest in not only what you do, but to also recognize your followers and have an opportunity to see them grow and change as well.  Offer to share your personal stories, teach them things you’ve learned along the way, talk about your failures and achievements, and ask them questions about their own progress.  Help them avoid the mistakes you’ve made in the past, and always maintain a positive outlook on their forward progress.

Be Consistent
Consistency in actions, information, and moral standards is also extremely important.  If you constantly change your methods, your interests, and the field in which you hope to inspire others, you will have little success.  People want to see and associate your ideas with a reliable plan that they can follow.  You need to demonstrate this consistency through your actions, but you can also compliment your actions with inspirational story telling.  Story telling allows you to reproduce important past experiences as a means to guide and inspire others.  Make sure use stories that embrace the consistency of your actions.

Stay Positive
The process of inspiring others comes with no shortage challenges and negative naysayers.  To get past this, you must stay positive, work past failures, and present optimism openly to others no matter what the circumstances are.  Doubt is a very contagious disease, and if you show any of it, you can easily destroy any positive influence you might have instilled in a person.

And there you have it: My thoughts on how to inspire others.  I’d love to hear your feedback, thoughts and comments on the subject.  Which of these points have the biggest impact to you?  Have I left something out?  Do you have any personal experiences or inspirational stories to share?

Things I Have Learned and lot to Learn

Things  I Have Learned and Lots to Learn 

'I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it 

seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the 

way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost 

luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. 

I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your 

parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life. 

I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as 

making a life. 

I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. 

I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a 

catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to 

throw something back. 

I've learned that whenever I decide something with an 

open heart, I usually make the right decision. 

I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have 

to be one. 

I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch 

someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on 

the back. 

I've learned that I still have a lot to learn. 

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will 

forget what you did, but people will never forget how you 

made them feel.'

Surrender - Inspiring Story

Surrender - Inspiring Story  by K.B. Quinn

There is no need to run outside for better seeing…Rather abide at the center of your being…Search your heart and see…  -Lao-tzu

I woke with a start, realizing my husband’s side of the bed was empty. He had been on his way home when he’d called — hours ago. Did he stop at his brother’s? Or worse?
I got that familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach. He’d promised. How flatly that loaded word fell. Ben had taught me that promises were just more lines from Cinderella. Once upon a time I had believed in fairy tales — before I learned that promises could be used as weapons in the arsenal of love.

The slight slur and smoky rattle in Ben’s voice on the phone had told me that he’d been drinking. I’d asked, as I always did, and got the “just tired” response, mixed with a healthy dose of indignation for good measure. I loved him. I wanted to believe him. This was the tug-of-war that made my self-doubt grow like weeds among his lies. My logic knew what my heart wouldn’t accept. A mix of fear and anger flooded through me like adrenaline as I searched the house for any signs that he’d come home — a snore from another room, the light from a TV, recently smoked cigarettes. There was nothing but the emptiness that is three a.m.

Through the window, my eye caught the flash from a sliver of moon, reflecting off Ben’s SUV parked in the driveway. I could see swirls of exhaust blowing cold smoke into the night air. Did he just pull in? I waited to hear the sound of the downstairs door as he made his entry, trying to decide how to posture myself in defense. Silence. I tied my terry-cloth robe tightly around me, bracing for the night air’s change in temperature as I ran barefoot to his car.

The motor was running, and so was my heart. He was stretched unnaturally across the bench front seat, lying atop a pile of newspapers and a greasy McDonald’s bag. I pounded on the window, yelling “Ben. BEN.”

He did not even stir. Was he breathing? I pounded hard on the window, using my fingernails, clicking, anything to get his attention. I kicked the side of his door painfully with my frozen bare toes. Was the poison exhaust getting in the car? A long, gray ash hung from the nub of a burned-down cigarette between his fingers. A tiny crescent of half-dried blood crusted on his upper lip where his teeth had bitten through the skin. He breathed in, heavily, and the ash fell to the floor.

I had been placed in gifted programs throughout my schooling. I was the student who had gotten straight “A’s,” even from the toughest teachers. I was the child who had carried a picture of clouds forming the shape of Jesus to Sunday school, eager to share my wide-eyed belief. I was the one my sister nicknamed “Fluffy” because she said I was soft and downy inside like a marshmallow. I was always able to drive and make events happen, to use my will to overcome circumstances. But not now.

I couldn’t show Ben that he was sick and needed help to stop his drinking. I couldn’t prove to him that I loved him enough for him to stop drinking. He didn’t love me enough to try to stop. I imagined running down the beach and into the ocean waves. I wanted to be like James Mason’s character in “A Star is Born.” It was a relief to think of giving up. My heart was in danger of frosting over, justified with anger and evidence. I was tired and worn through in spots, like my terry robe. I was lost, and I was only twenty-four years old.

It was the bad boy in Ben that had attracted me. He had his own unshaven style, donned by a baseball cap with bandannas tucked into his jean pockets and rugged work boots that screamed “man” I thought that meant he was strong.

My own father left our family when my sister and I were girls. We saw him sporadically for afternoons at the movies. My mother tried her best to support us alone. She was a frightened, damaged woman-child, unprepared for the task. She turned to wine, and I turned my childhood into a blur of distractions designed to keep me from her dark home and her self-pity. I left home at eighteen and ran across the country to New York City to follow a family tradition of acting. I thought anything was better than going back to the tears and screaming of my past.

Ben hired me to work on his maintenance team at a trendy restaurant chain in the city. I showed up to the interview in my audition outfit, a silk blouse and linen pants. Later I learned they’d made fun of me, but they thought I was cute, so they hired me. It was the highest paying job listed in the want ads. I lied about my experience.

Before long, my free place to stay in the city fell apart and I had nowhere to go, except home. Ben found me in a back room at work, teary-faced, frightened, and trapped. He squeezed my wrenched shoulders just right, encouraging me to release my worries into his strong touch.

“I will take care of you. I have a great couch. You’ll see, everything will be alright. … string-free,” he added, giving me a twinkling smile to break the flow of my tears. He feather-touched my cheek and shivers went up my spine. I had never felt a sweeter touch. No one had ever promised to take care of me.

I had seen Ben drink at work; the late nights and the party atmosphere made it easy. I even saw him sneak shots before breakfast, his favorite scotch leaving a sour stench around him all day. My hairs stood up like red flags. I knew. I told myself this was not permanent.

“Be careful,” a visiting friend said to me after Ben had gotten so drunk that he actually fell in a gutter. I assured her that the relationship wasn’t serious. I was only having fun. But it soon became easy to rely on him, to love him even, but keep the deepest part of me walled off. I kept this distance protected. As long as I did, I felt secure in Ben’s apartment, and he welcomed me into his world. Soon, I met his family.

As we drove through the wooded lane leading to his family’s huge old farmhouse in the country, I could feel my walled, protected self begin to unfold. Ben’s father was a doctor. His mother greeted me with two Bingo cards as she rushed to seat me at the kitchen table. His grandmother was in the kitchen, cooking, with a tub of Crisco out on the countertop. There was activity everywhere. It was a hive of happiness, protected all around by a German shepherd named Greta who patrolled the property. It was warm and it smelled good. It was a womb.

Every chance I got, I pushed Ben to bring me to his home. I grew close to his family and ignored his drinking. I let down my wall in order to grow up inside his family. I let his relatives nurture me. I thought I could pay the price for this treasure. I convinced myself that I could love him enough to make him stop drinking.

At the wedding, my father walked me down to Ben and kissed him. “Now I don’t have to worry about her anymore.” Angry and embarrassed, I watched the stranger I called my father walk back to his place in line. Since when did you worry about me? I thought to myself. I had asked him to give me away to show Ben’s family that I belonged. I was pretending.

I thought that being married would change Ben. I thought a wedding ring would make him come home when he said he would. I thought a poem about love would keep him from lying. I thought a prayer could heal him. I thought he would know that other things were more important than drinking, now that we were building our own family. “I am what I am: green eggs and ham,” he said to me. I didn’t believe him.

Our fights became like a broken record, the same lines repeated. The anger and resentment built up like storms against a dam. I closed my eyes and lived for the time spent on the farmhouse, safe in that womb where decorations for each holiday lay safely boxed in the attic, orderly and predictable. His family grew as attached to me as I was to them. We fit together. All I had to do was brave the time between visits.

Someone suggested Al-Anon meetings, where I heard messages about turning my will and my life over to a higher power.” The serenity they promised washed over me like the promise of a warm spring rain. I listened and watched, but I was waiting for a recipe to make Ben stop drinking. I believed that was what I needed for serenity. I continued to search outside myself for an ever-elusive peace while my resentment grew like a tumor. Why wouldn’t God make Ben stop drinking?

I quit working for Ben. I had put together a system for him to organize his projects and budgets at the restaurant. He referred to it as that “cute little book.” He said he was kidding, but his belittlement stuck me like pins. I felt proud when a visiting architect saw it and asked who had created it. Ben pointed distractedly over at me. The architect handed me his card and said, “If you ever want a job…”

I quit acting, too. A friend that had known me since grade school said, “It must be hard for you. You are so used to succeeding at everything you do.” I felt no control over my future. I needed to do something that made me feel better about myself. I needed validation; I needed to feel that I was good at something. I decided to go to college. Ben’s career was going well. I talked with him about school and went and registered full-time. It wasn’t long before it was brought up in every fight. He worked harder; he made more money. I never bought anything. My underwear and socks had holes in them; I gained twenty-five pounds. But I kept going to school and earning my A’s.

The years were blurs of holidays and term papers. Ben and I moved to a house in the suburbs. It was framed by tall pines and sat on the edge of a lake. When I saw the large stone hearth, I knew I needed to live there. I imagined long days spent floating on the water, embraced by the warm air. Ben wanted a child. I convinced myself that he would change when he became a father. I was almost finished with school; I had one last semester to go. It became a good idea.

The nights spent making love to create life became science for me. The right timing, the right position. It became an assignment to get an “A” on, as the sour smell of scotch seeping through his skin repulsed me. I started smelling it on my clothes and on the curtains in the house. I focused on having a child, on believing that I could be happy when I had another life to love. I kept doing and thinking to avoid feeling. I repeated all the lessons I had learned from my childhood: move and do to stop the feelings from flooding up like bile. The happiest moment for me was telling his family about our baby; it fueled a big celebration coupled with the 4th of July. At the end of the long weekend of celebration, there was blood on my underwear. I cried myself to sleep alone.

I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a double major. I finished school despite constant barbs and needles about my schoolwork in psychology being “psychobabble bullshit.” I got a job as a therapist in a nearby hospital. Ben told me I wasn’t qualified. His rancor was growing, and I spent my emotional energy thinking of ways to rehabilitate him. What could I do to make him stop? If he only stopped drinking, I knew we could be happy. We could enjoy our beautiful house and create our family.

But he came home less and less. I never relented trying to find ways to show him how he was hurting himself and me. I was terrified of losing him; at the same time, I nearly hated him. Our relationship became a dance, balancing the love that remained with the acid frustration and anger we both felt. On the nights he was late, I would fantasize that he might have an accident on his way home, leaving me our home and insurance money. I would drown in guilt and relief when the door slammed announcing his presence.

Now, in the driveway under the sliver of moon, I watched Ben, breathing in sync with the rhythm of the car’s motor, comfortable in his own mess. I searched my mind for something new to say to him, some emotion I hadn’t tried, some trick he hadn’t seen. Instead, my mind drew an image of myself holding a baby in this night air as I pounded on the car window, the baby screaming in confusion and bewilderment. I pictured the child waiting patiently for her daddy to come home — he had promised. I saw her grow up wondering what she could do that would make him stop, that would make him love her enough. I saw her choose a husband who needed her to heal his wounds.

How could I do this to another innocent child? All of my illusions slipped away and the cold reality slapped me hard, knocking the breath from my body. How had I lost myself along the way? How had I become so afraid? A faint voice inside me whispered, “Turn your fear into faith.” A voice from all of those Al-Anon meetings I had attended and saved like a bank account to draw from, sitting in the hard metal chairs, cursing the smoky surroundings and the chocolate chip cookies that I ate but didn’t enjoy.

Faith. I remembered all the moments I had been somewhere at exactly the right time, all the people that had been in my path with the right words and the right touch. I remembered warm hands reaching out to guide me across icy roads. I remembered all the moments where the universe had embraced and protected me, and I knew that I would be carried when I didn’t have the strength to carry myself. Hiding is only a temporary harbor. No matter how deep you crawl into your hiding space, the light will find you, even as it does at the depths of the deepest waters. I was exposed, and I couldn’t hide anymore. Sometimes just a glimmer of the burning, unshielded sun is enough to blind you. I surrendered.

The dim light from the quarter moon illuminated Ben’s sleeping body, sprawled over the front seat. I could see my breath in the night. The anger was gone.

I would not run or think away my feelings. I was ready to pull the fragments of myself back together. I had built my own prison. No one had helped me. Only I had the keys. It wouldn’t be easy. Ben’s family would call me cold and harsh. They would not understand my disloyalty. My family would cry for my loss of security. No more house, no more lake. I hugged myself and like the little blue engine, I knew I could do this. My heartbeat slowed to the pace of the thick night. I tasted serenity float in on the salt air. I felt my power grow as I walked back into the house.

I coached myself like a loving parent through the fear. I reminded myself of my successes at work and of the friendships I had nurtured as I packed my suitcase. I imagined living in my own space, truly safe for the first time in my life. I thought of curling into an overstuffed couch, pulling the covers over my cold, naked feet while a fire burned in the hearth. I needed a place in which to unlock my secrets and come out of hiding.

I would get help. I would get a counselor. I knew I was sick. I had been infected in childhood and had never been cured, but I could heal. I would plug myself back into the universe and rekindle the fires of my faith. I got my car keys and my uncashed paycheck and walked out. I would not look back.

K.B. Quinn benefited from many years of therapy.  She also continued her schooling while working and earned a masters degree in business. She is now a vice president at a Fortune 50 company. She shares her success with her three sons and her second husband, who live with her happily in their home in the Midwest.