My personal journey to happiness continues with the story of my first marriage. In case you missed the first part of this series, you can click here to read Part 1.

Three Six Packs a Night & I Said Goodbye

I had to finish college so my first husband and I lived apart the first few months while he was “drying out” with his parents. He felt no such desire to dry out around me. As soon as we moved in together he began drinking every night. Up to three six packs a night was his habitual routine. I was a nervous wreck.

Finally, after developing an ulcerative stomach problem – every day I spent hours being sick – I realized I couldn’t stay with him. I wasn’t happy. The praying wasn’t working and it was time for me to move on, move out, and find a better way.  He couldn’t have been happy either, it seemed.

I don’t know what drove him to drink such massive quantities each day. He wasn’t sober long enough to talk about the causative factors and, as for me, I wasn’t as savvy as I am now on the happiness front.

After being yelled at while shoes and a hair dryer were lobbed at me, I made an easy decision…until I told my mother.

 The First One in My Family…and It Hurt

I have the distinction of being the first person in my family to get a divorce (not the last, mind you…I have been the divorce attorney of choice for many Daniels that followed me).   Perhaps she felt I hadn’t prayed steadfastly enough.  She was worried about what people would think of me.   For years I received my home church bulletin in my married name.

A few years later I was visiting with a boyfriend who had a child from a previous marriage. My grandmother, who was living with my parents, seemed to believe the child in question was mine.   After asking my mom about it she said, “She won’t know the difference and I don’t want to tell her your divorced.”

 Trading Judgement for Compassion

You can imagine how this made me feel. It’s one of the reasons I have made it absolutely clear to the people in my office I am not going to judge them.

The clients searching for happiness often think they are stuck between making themselves happy by leaving their marriage and making their family, children, friends, or whoever else they deem to be important in their lives by staying married.

Seeing how the “D word” was received in my own family has helped me be more compassionate when dealing with this fear. But maybe, just maybe, the happiness that seems to elude them is not something they are going to find either by leaving or by staying.

Where is the room without a roof? It’s when they stop looking at either solution to find their happiness. Ultimately, it’s when they find it in themselves.

 Deciding to Stop Searching and Start Being … Happy

When I came across this simple yet stunningly difficult realization I didn’t waste any time. It was during my training at Mike Dooley’s Train the Trainer conference when, while half listening, I heard him say something like this, “You can continue to try to figure out why you aren’t happy. Or you can just turn the page and decide to be… ”

I got up from the table that afternoon and made my way to my room where I had been hiding from all the crazy happy people at the conference. I laid down and couldn’t stay still. It made such sense.  I was going to decide to be happy.

My happiness didn’t depend on my partner or my family or my friends or what was going on in my life. It depended solely on me. It was my decision and my choice to live in a way that made me feel good. It’s taken a while for me to assimilate what I learned from Mike into what I speak to my clients about.

In all honesty, I am not sure how to let the cat out of the bag. Leaving their spouse may not be the answer after all. Or, if it is, it’s a temporary fix. If you don’t leave happy, before you know it you’ll be right back where you started.

Where Do You Go From Here?

Project Positive Change is a place where change seekers can go to find Changemakers who will help them move toward the life they’ve always wanted.

Maybe you’re like me and you’ve wrestled with broken relationships. You seem to always end up with someone who struggles with addiction or takes their frustration out on you. Maybe you have issues with addiction yourself or you don’t feel supported by your family.  Or maybe you, too, are struggling to break free of a bad relationship.

The PPC community is here to help you, not to judge you. Our community is a place where you can transform past hurts into a positive future. You don’t have to be limited by what happened to you in the past. You can change. Click here to find out more.

Love, Light, and Positive Change! 

Leigh Daniel
Leigh Daniel is the co-owner and founder of Project Positive Change (PPC), as well as a a successful speaker, facilitator and certified Infinite Possibilities Trainer. She also the owner of a real estate investment company and international franchise. Plus, a successful and formidable divorce and family law litigator - who loves animals!