My Journey to Happiness has been a Challenge

Angela Chapes

I am a blossoming flower.

By Angela Chapes

My childhood had many challenges and I wasn’t the happiest person. I wasn’t always kind or nice.

Fortunately, I had great influences in my life like my mom and my grandmother. They had such sunshiny personalities; I have worked to become that way too, by emulating my mother and grandmother and wanting to set an example to the people around me.

Moreover, I have developed my own characteristics, even if life threw me the challenges of autism, depression, OCD and anxiety. I continue to face these challenges. Depression was especially, difficult because it made me feel so down, sad and like I was in a black hole.

Now, I am surprising myself and the people around me by what I can accomplish. I have learned to love myself and see myself as important. I am more confident and I have become a responsible, compassionate and empathic person. Never-the-less, I am capable of much more.

What I have learned and how I carry myself will define me. I have learned to understand myself and control my behavior and emotions.

However, I do get angry and I am working hard to overcome this obstacle in the future. Situations work out for the better and I am a better person when I express anger appropriately and maturely.
I have not been depressed for a long time because I remained determined to be positive. I choose to be happy. I continue to be optimistic and I can bounce back from whatever bothers me or gets me down. Joy, love, caring, cheerfulness, gratefulness, appreciativeness, thankfulness and encouragement to people are now part of my disposition.

I work hard, do my best and forgive. Sometimes is hard to forget. My goal is to be there for people and not be judgmental; people are who they want to be and person’s beauty comes from within.
My goal is to start my day with a grateful heart and love, and with the intent of keeping my promises. I say my prayers and show grace. As a part of my continued growth, I want to learn to laugh at jokes. This is hard because most of the time I don’t really understand them. I don’t joke very much or at all.

When I’m talking to people or friends and I find that they often need someone to listen to them.

On an “off” day, I might not express that I’m not in the best of moods or I don’t feel well. This is because I want to focus on the other person’s issues and to get them to open up. When people or friends are experiencing trials and difficulties I would like to change things for them but I can’t. I can listen and be there for them as my mom was there for me. Although telling the truth is the best way to go, on rare occasions you need to fudge your comments so that you can help the other person. I have a lot of hope in people and I believe people see hope in me. I aspire to inspire people and be a bright spot in their lives.

Through my life I have increased my self-expectations. I don’t smoke, drink, do drugs, hang out with the wrong people or do bad things.

However, I don’t impose my values on others. Nobody comes to me if they feel like they need money, drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes. My friends can do what they want and they are still my friends. They also don’t have to tell me what they are doing because I am not in charge of them. I am not their boss or mother. It may bring me pain inside because I do want to help them but I won’t cross their boundaries. If they ask I will help them. I care about my friends a great deal. I always try to be a great friend because people are great friends to me. Loyalty is important to me because I will try to always be there for my friends in good and bad times. However, if they try to get me to go against my own values then we have a problem.

I am on my own prescribed medication and I take it. It’s because I want to be functional and have a productive and meaningful life. I want to go out and reach for the stars and not be held back by not taking care of myself. Self-care is very important. Getting a natural high from the things that bring me satisfaction is also important. I have healthy living skills and it is a day-to-day process.

I treat people they way they want to be treated because that is the way I want to be treated. Even if somebody gets mad at me, yells at me or treats me badly I still treat them kindly. I choose to treat them like a person. It may hurt me but I feel like that is what is best for the other person. It shows what kind of person I am. Because I was not always like this, I was a bully and I bullied people.

When I was younger I would bully my brothers. When they made artwork I would love to ruin it; which hurt both of them. If I thought my brothers were going to ruin my stuff I would scream and cry. I had meltdowns and pulled out my hair.

Once, when we were on vacation my brothers, my mother, and I went to a cousin’s farm, we got to ride in a carriage. I was bullying my middle brother to jump out while the carriage was moving. He wouldn’t do it so I decided to push him. Somehow he got stuck on the wheels but thankfully he was not hurt. I got in a lot of trouble.

I would pick fights with my brothers and we would have screaming matches.

One time, my brothers would not wait for me while we were walking in our neighborhood. I was mad about it and when I got home I pushed my middle brother over in his chair. I am glad he did not get hurt. I would break my brothers’ toys. There was one time my middle brother and I got into a physical fight. I lost that fight. I used my nails. I scratched up my brother’s face and my mom made my cut my nails.

My behavior was unacceptable. It took me a long time to reconcile my behavior. Thank goodness, I did.

Fortunately, my baby brother forgave me. But to this day, my middle brother and I have issues and he will not talk to me. Although, I have reached out and I have apologized, we still have a ways to go to complete reconciliation. I thought last Christmas we were beginning to make progress but he is still resentful. It is a work in progress.

My journey to happiness has been a challenge.

I once had a chaotic job where I was bullied. I think the universe had me switch places so I would feel what my brothers felt when I was mean and a bully. I was made to feel like incompetent and I was yelled at. I was made to feel like I was strange, weird, and not normal. I felt bad and people were angry with me because, I said the wrong things and I acted the wrong way.

Frankly, I was not a pleasant person to be around. My mom had helped me improve my disposition but this environment caused me to regress. I was a mess. I cried a lot and I don’t want to ever go through that again.

What I did to my brothers as a child and what I experienced in that very chaotic job taught me a lot. My mom taught me too. These experiences have changed my disposition and to work to not bully others or make fun of other’s. It is wrong. I did it. I have been through it.

I don’t want others to feel how I felt when I was bullied. I felt like trash and I didn’t want to be me.

You lose your humanity when you bully others. The person being bullied may be deeply psychologically affected. They may be affected for a long time. I learned my lesson and I choose to be a better person.

I don’t like gossip. I’m not perfect, but I’ve realized that gossip hurts other people. For all the great things my current job has done for me and other people we have a, gossiping problem in our workplace.

I have been hurt from gossiping and I am working hard to not do it.

It is hard because of other’s behavior. They justify it by saying it is a part of life. Nevertheless, I have made it a point to try to not gossip. It just hurts other people and I don’t want that.
In spite of the gossiping issue, part of my success is from having a job that encourages me. I’ve had many opportunities and I am continually challenged.

Many things are hard for me to do. However, I keep a good attitude and I keep chugging along. I strive to do better and do more things. All this makes me happy and I continue to be positive.

Part of my success is because I have surrounded myself with good people that make me happy. I have a loving family. I also have a stable environment. I have lived in the same apartment for ten years and I am very happy living there. I love flowers and I have pictures of flowers all over my walls.

My apartment is safe and I feel comfortable there. I have a cat who brings joy into my life. Lastly my car is now fully paid for. This not only alleviates that monthly payment stress, it is a big accomplishment.

I am branching out and challenging myself. I work to see the positives around me and try not to focus on the negatives. This includes trying new things and making new friends.

The experiences that I had have made me the person I am today. My attitude will influence who I will become in the future and I choose to keep growing.

I may fail at times, but I will get up and try again. I want to keep learning and helping others with autism.

My current goal is to use my experiences in peer support. I have started doing other trainings and am learning to share my story thru writing, speaking, and advocacy.

It makes me happy to see others happy as well and the good that comes from that.

I am a blossoming flower.

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