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I have fought my whole life to find joy.
As a teenager in high school, I watched as the joyous strolled down the hallway in their new clothes floating in a cloud of self-riotous banter.
“Dumb D D Dumb D D,” that jingle was produced for me by one of the leaders of the joyous group. It would bounce off the metal lockers along with laughter.
I would usually be walking alone. But I do remember I would laugh along with them as if I was feeling the same jubilation from the tune.
At the end of the day with the exception of God, there was no one to hold me and tell me how important I was or lift me from the loneliness and rejection I felt.
Instead of going to the cafeteria where I was ashamed to use my free lunch ticket, I would hide out in the girl’s bathroom, where more than once, I was assaulted.
My ShopRite special sneakers, still on my feet, plunged into the toilet and held there while it was flushed. They left the bathroom elated while I stayed back trying to drain my sneakers later to leave soaked and slipping on the hallway tiles.
Through high school, I would just keep smiling and laughing so I wouldn’t interrupt the delight others felt from my pain.
Then, in 9th grade after my failed attempt to check out of life, I quit school.
There was no force in my home to lift me and encourage me to fight for my education. I always thought there was something wrong with my brain because I couldn’t concentrate. Now, I know it was most likely my dissociation, which played a huge role in my life.
I often wonder what I could have been if I were mentally and emotionally present in school.
There was no connection at school that made me feel like I belonged there. I drifted through the hallways like a piece of thrown-out homework getting stepped on and kicked around until I ended up near the double doors that lead to the parking lot, so I let the wind take me.
This is where I began my fight for joy.
I set off with no education, no emotional regulation. And at 16, I became a warrior.
My battles have been desperate, tear-drenched, and bloody. I’ve made colossal mistakes with love and money.
I’ve been lost and then found only to be lost again.
The one thing I can assure you is that through it all, joy has always been my driving force.
Every morning, I roll out my mat, light my candles, and find joy.
I pray that joy radiates around the world and finds those who need it most. I pray that compassion fills the air and finds its way to the lungs of those breathing in what feels like a worthless existence.
May it fill them with hope, love, and the happiness that is most certainly their birthright.
So it is and so it shall be.