What I learned when my dad died

From an early age I was taught that putting my feelings and opinions ahead of others was selfish. If I voiced a differing opinion within my family, I was told I was spoiled and a bitch. I learned quickly to stay quiet and put others first. I stopped voicing my opinions and views and kept my head down keeping everyone else 'happy'. I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought I was being who I was supposed to be. I did the best I could every day.

I always dealt with depression off an on but thought that was just how life is. I really didn't know anything else. I've always considering myself a spiritual person...whatever that means. I always felt like I was putting God first. Yet I never felt like I was living the life God had planned for me....if there even was a plan.

When my dad died suddenly last year I was devastated. He was one of my best friends. At 45, I was still his 'baby'. I'm thankful every day that we had such a close relationship and still do in some ways.

When he passed, I yet again went into 'Jen' mode and did my very best to make sure everyone was 'happy'. This time was different though because after all these years I finally realized that, in fact, nobody was happy. I was running myself ragged back and forth between houses, jobs and family members....but not one person was happy. Especially me. How the hell did this happen? I thought I was doing everything right. Yet everything seemed far from right...

That's when I finally understood what so many people have said... I can't make anyone else happy. I can only be happy myself. F***. I just lived so many years not doing the only thing I can actually do-be happy.

I'd like to say that I started putting myself first and everything has been perfect ever since. I love to say I realized putting myself first is putting God first and therefore I do that. Fairy tale ending. The truth is, though, I realized all of these things.... And still fall into the same pattern I always have. I still put my parents and others first and I still try to do things to make them happy. I struggle daily doing what brings me joy and not feeling guilty about being selfish.

That being said, I do my best now to snap out of the old patterns when I'm dragged down by them. I do my best to say how I really feel and voice my opinions even if others disagree. More and more, I do what makes my soul happier and when I do that, it seems to help others that struggle with the same things.

I'm certainly not the picture of perfection and I'm certain I never will be....but I know I will always be myself and always be learning to a happier, healthier version of Jen.

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