Keepabuzz
I am just over 4 years past d-day. My wife never violated any of my boundaries after her confession on d-day. She didn’t do everything right, but she did give her all, and hasn’t stopped. I have done all I know to do to heal, and have come a very long way. I don’t have bad days very often. I’m certainly not healed though. 

I also don’t have many great days. If not for my wife’s affair, I feel I would be extremely happy. She is “now” a great wife and mother. I have a good job that I enjoy. I make good a very good income. I have lots of nice “things”, i.e home, pool, vehicles, etc. Honestly I have a very nice life. That fact is not lost on me. 

My biggest hurdle now is that I just can’t be as happy as I was before all this. It’s like my capacity for feeling or being happy has been reduced. I have talked to my wife about this recently. It was on a very bad day for me. She apologized again, cried with remorse that she has done this to me. All the right things, right?  She said she sees me happy at times. For example with our friend’s small children. We have 4, 3 are out of the house and 1 is in high school. Our friend’s children are all under 5. She said “I see you playing with that little girl in the pool and I see nothing but joy on your face. I see you teaching those little boys how to swim, and I see nothing but joy on your face. I see you just hanging out with their father and having a great time. I see happy. But I never see you that level of happy, or joy with me.”  

That struck a cord with me. As I was seeing it as overall. I don’t feel overall happy, most of the time I feel like I’m going through the motions. She said “you have these emotional walls up that you won’t take down, and I can’t get over. You won’t let me in. You never tell me what is going through your head, how you’re feeling, unless it’s a really bad day. I never really know where you’re at.” 

As I thought about it, she’s right. I keep her at arms length emotionally. I do have walls up. I don’t think there is anything more than she is already doing that she could do. I don’t know how to take these walls down. I don’t know how to let her back in. I don’t know how to open up. I just swallow it all, as I see not point in letting any of it out. 

No idea where to go from here.......
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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Experiencethedevine29
Keepabuzz wrote:
I am just over 4 years past d-day. My wife never violated any of my boundaries after her confession on d-day. She didn’t do everything right, but she did give her all, and hasn’t stopped. I have done all I know to do to heal, and have come a very long way. I don’t have bad days very often. I’m certainly not healed though. 

I also don’t have many great days. If not for my wife’s affair, I feel I would be extremely happy. She is “now” a great wife and mother. I have a good job that I enjoy. I make good a very good income. I have lots of nice “things”, i.e home, pool, vehicles, etc. Honestly I have a very nice life. That fact is not lost on me. 

My biggest hurdle now is that I just can’t be as happy as I was before all this. It’s like my capacity for feeling or being happy has been reduced. I have talked to my wife about this recently. It was on a very bad day for me. She apologized again, cried with remorse that she has done this to me. All the right things, right?  She said she sees me happy at times. For example with our friend’s small children. We have 4, 3 are out of the house and 1 is in high school. Our friend’s children are all under 5. She said “I see you playing with that little girl in the pool and I see nothing but joy on your face. I see you teaching those little boys how to swim, and I see nothing but joy on your face. I see you just hanging out with their father and having a great time. I see happy. But I never see you that level of happy, or joy with me.”  

That struck a cord with me. As I was seeing it as overall. I don’t feel overall happy, most of the time I feel like I’m going through the motions. She said “you have these emotional walls up that you won’t take down, and I can’t get over. You won’t let me in. You never tell me what is going through your head, how you’re feeling, unless it’s a really bad day. I never really know where you’re at.” 

As I thought about it, she’s right. I keep her at arms length emotionally. I do have walls up. I don’t think there is anything more than she is already doing that she could do. I don’t know how to take these walls down. I don’t know how to let her back in. I don’t know how to open up. I just swallow it all, as I see not point in letting any of it out. 

No idea where to go from here.......


i just want you to know you’re not alone feeling the blight of an existence that’s tinted with and incapacitated by damage so deep that in spite of having a very lovely life the very real and tangible threat is to a heart that doesn’t beat with the same rhythm, and a fear that it probably never will....it’s quite a shadow to follow you around isn’t it?

i think the reality is that the damage is so extensive that we are simple unable to make our hearts so vulnerable again. The fear of that kind of complete exposure seems to put up protective barriers. The problem is we don’t allow the true contentment in ‘giving’ ourselves again to that level.  I find my joy in my children and grandchildren, and thank God everyday for the life I have. I’ll settle with that and bollocks to the rest.

chin up keep 

ETD 🌻
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Keepabuzz


i just want you to know you’re not alone feeling the blight of an existence that’s tinted with and incapacitated by damage so deep that in spite of having a very lovely life the very real and tangible threat is to a heart that doesn’t beat with the same rhythm, and a fear that it probably never will....it’s quite a shadow to follow you around isn’t it?

i think the reality is that the damage is so extensive that we are simple unable to make our hearts so vulnerable again. The fear of that kind of complete exposure seems to put up protective barriers. The problem is we don’t allow the true contentment in ‘giving’ ourselves again to that level.  I find my joy in my children and grandchildren, and thank God everyday for the life I have. I’ll settle with that and bollocks to the rest.

chin up keep 

ETD 🌻


That is where I’m at too..
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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Skelling
I am nowhere near where you are. 1 year out next month and I dreading that day, the whole month actually. I do know the feeling of putting up walls. We just talked about that in our therapy session this week. I told him that with each argument, I feel like I am adding another brick to the wall and grow more indifferent to the hurt I feel. In those moments I question and doubt and ask myself why I am putting myself through this. In those moments I ask myself, if I will ever be truly happy again. 

There are sooooo many days still that I get reminded of  what he did to me, to us and to our family. On those days I cannot pitty her, I cannot emphasize or try to understand her or him on those days I just hurt and I hate and resent her with every oz of me. But I did enjoy moments of pure happiness with him throughout the past year as well. Not very many but they were untainted and pure. I had moments, where I genuinely was able to look at him an feel deeply connected and an unconditional and pure love, no buts or maybe just very certain: I do truly love this man. Not even with the thought despite what he did....just I love him.

I wish they would last longer and the intrusive thoughts would stay away but I am not there yet. Working towards it though. And there was one thing that our therapist told us, which stuck with me. He said one that the sadness and hurt won't magically go away, if we call it quits and second that we now have a chance to buil something really great because now we don't assume an image of the other one. We really know them with all the ugly, we know what they are capeable off an we get to build a relationship and love the true them and not the perfected version of them. Its like the beautification filter has come off and we still want to be with them and share life.

This is the point, where I want to get to. I know it take a lot of work on both our sides. It takes vulnerability for both, guts and patience and willingness to take the walls down brick by brick, accepting that I will get hurt along the way BUT not intentionally anymore but because they have work to do too and it takes time for them as well to figure things out, to learn and grow. This is probably the hardest job, i will ever have to do but I am confident, I will find something very beautiful at the other side. 

Keep I really hope you will find your happiness again and will be able to slowly let down those walls and discover that you are safe again with your wife.
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Sadie
I am there too.   I call it gray.   I am gray.  I see gray, I feel gray.    I have never liked gray.    I am a vibrant color kind of girl.
    Someday, maybe, I will see those vibrant colors again.   I refuse to give up hope.
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Keepabuzz
Skelling wrote:
I am nowhere near where you are. 1 year out next month and I dreading that day, the whole month actually. I do know the feeling of putting up walls. We just talked about that in our therapy session this week. I told him that with each argument, I feel like I am adding another brick to the wall and grow more indifferent to the hurt I feel. In those moments I question and doubt and ask myself why I am putting myself through this. In those moments I ask myself, if I will ever be truly happy again. 

There are sooooo many days still that I get reminded of  what he did to me, to us and to our family. On those days I cannot pitty her, I cannot emphasize or try to understand her or him on those days I just hurt and I hate and resent her with every oz of me. But I did enjoy moments of pure happiness with him throughout the past year as well. Not very many but they were untainted and pure. I had moments, where I genuinely was able to look at him an feel deeply connected and an unconditional and pure love, no buts or maybe just very certain: I do truly love this man. Not even with the thought despite what he did....just I love him.

I wish they would last longer and the intrusive thoughts would stay away but I am not there yet. Working towards it though. And there was one thing that our therapist told us, which stuck with me. He said one that the sadness and hurt won't magically go away, if we call it quits and second that we now have a chance to buil something really great because now we don't assume an image of the other one. We really know them with all the ugly, we know what they are capeable off an we get to build a relationship and love the true them and not the perfected version of them. Its like the beautification filter has come off and we still want to be with them and share life.

This is the point, where I want to get to. I know it take a lot of work on both our sides. It takes vulnerability for both, guts and patience and willingness to take the walls down brick by brick, accepting that I will get hurt along the way BUT not intentionally anymore but because they have work to do too and it takes time for them as well to figure things out, to learn and grow. This is probably the hardest job, i will ever have to do but I am confident, I will find something very beautiful at the other side. 

Keep I really hope you will find your happiness again and will be able to slowly let down those walls and discover that you are safe again with your wife.


I haven’t been able to look at her one time in the 4 years since d-day without seeing what she did.  
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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Keepabuzz
Sadie wrote:
I am there too.   I call it gray.   I am gray.  I see gray, I feel gray.    I have never liked gray.    I am a vibrant color kind of girl.
    Someday, maybe, I will see those vibrant colors again.   I refuse to give up hope.



Yes. That is good description, very grey.  I used to be very outgoing, life of the party. That guy is long gone. 
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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Sadie
Keepabuzz, I really wish I had more for you than commiseration.   I wish I have found my way out of the gray..even a little bit , So I could attempt to provide you with some insight.    Actually, I found a nugget of hope from you, since you at least are able to find joy when playing with kids.  I have a ton of nieces and nephews and love playing with them, but I always feel the background gray.
    You talk about how you feel when you look at your wife.   I am similar.   I look at him and see a man who has a bottomless pit of selfishness.   Yes, he is trying to change.   But will my view of him ever change?   I am scared that it wont.   
      Every day, I wake up hopeful, then the gray sets in.   I am pretty sure that it is because this was inflicted upon me out of the blue.   That the person I trusted most could attempt to bring me to my knees.   That is just a pretty skewed way of showing love and respect.   
      
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Damaged
Keep, I’m almost 3 years out from D day 1. Before D day, I was the happiest I had ever been, was madly in love with H, thought we were soulmates. After D day 1 I was still 110 percent all in, wanted to renew vows. 6 months after D day 1 came D day 2. I put a strong solid wall up. I became despondent. I looked at my H and felt nothing. I felt nothing about everything in my life except my kids and my job. I quit a sport that I was passionate about. Gave up learning another language. Lost my passion for life. I have read this is called “ The lethal plane of flatness “. I pretended that everything was ok with our M. Didn’t think H knew. Several months ago H came to me with concerns about the M. He knew. He talked about how if things didn’t change he would likely have a breakdown. I really wanted to make our M work so I knew that I had to take that wall down. I’m not sure how I did it but I knew I had to. I just made the decision to love my H again. It’s not all the way down, but I don’t think it ever will be. Probably our brains trying to protect us from that kind of pain again.              I would say I’m happy now. I doubt I’ll ever be as happy as I was before D day. H has done everything possible since D day 2. 
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Phoenix
Hi Keep,
One of the people on this forum who gave me so much hope was you. You encouraged me to keep trying, to keep going, to understand my BS, to be patient, and many other things. 
You were cut and dry sometimes and that's how I am going to be now. 
You say every time you see your WS you see what she did. Is she what she did? What I am understanding is that you don't feel safe. You have said it may times and you said it on this post that she has worked really hard to do everything right, to change, and to be the wife you always wanted. She is not what she did, she is now a loving, caring, dedicated, respectful and safe wife. Who worked tirelessly to save your marriage, to change her flaws, to show you how much she wanted it. 
I understand that we are the perpetrators of this heinous act and we are the ones who have to work tirelessly to repair the damage. I believe she has demonstrated that that is what she has done. 
I don't know all about all of the repair work you have done. I believe I have read that you did therapy for a while, she did therapy for a long time and that you did therapy together for a bit also. Maybe its time to revisit that but this time to regain those feelings of excitement, love and safeness when you look at her. If you know that when you look at her you see what she did why not change the pattern and when those thoughts are going through your head think about all the good she has done to.
I know that in the beginning you stayed for the kids but eventually you stayed for you, for her, and for your marriage. I don't believe you stayed because it was cheaper to keep her. You made a choice to stay. 
Keep, She has been fighting very long and hard, I think its now time for you to start fighting next to her. 
There are so many resources out there for you to regain that happiness and you have the means.  
I don't want to think that my BS will always see me as the act that I committed. I want to think that one day he will look at and think "she really loves me, she did everything she could to save our marriage, to make me feel safe, and regain my confidence in our relationship." 
You deserve to feel complete in your marriage and your love. Fight for it. 
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JORGE
My wife and I are leaders in a church ministry. Our pastor attended one of our monthly meetings and discussed the topic of "joy" and being "happy" with us. In fact, I'm on this site to learn from others, as well as share my own experience with infidelity, so that I can help and support others in the church community. My pastors distinguished the two words from a biblical sense that may apply to your situation to some degree. He said, as faithful Christians, one of the benefits of such faith and belief is the constant feeling of "Joy", which is an eternal state and disposition, contingent upon the deepness and commitment of one's faith. With the joy, also comes peacefulness, as a byproduct. 

Whereas, being "happy" is more so, a temporary state where one is in the moment (happenstance) happy, and that moment is triggered by various external circumstances such as people, activity, discussions, etc. However without those external components,  you may have not experienced the happiness your wife found you in while in the pool. So, in the scenario you describe, the day where you're in the pool, with kids and friends, etc.,  you experienced happiness at that moment which is a temporary escape from the subconscious thoughts of your wife's infidelity that linger. 

However, if you were sitting at poolside by yourself with no one else, it's possible feelings of unhappiness would consume you, as your wife's infidelity is not distracted or blocked by external events, such as kids in the pool having fun with you. Conversely, it's possible the idle moment would have been a joyous one had your wife not committed infidelity, as relaxing and savoring the beauty of the moment of pool side lounging is quite satisfying, with birds chirping in the background, the crickets and stillness of mind and body. 

Actually, affairs are often built upon a wayward seeking to escape reality by allowing outside forces to help make them happy, which in this case are the affair partners and the activities that come with it. All, short lived fantasy. Happiness is present, but joy isn't as once the affair is over, the WS seeks the next fulfillment of happiness. Conceivably, had that person (WS) been filled with internal joy, external forces would have limited to no impact on the spouses general overall ability to sustain happiness (joy) hence would less likely enter into an affair.

I'm not making any rigid philosophical or religious claims here, but just sharing with you some insight that was shared with me, that enabled  distinctions to be made that may apply to your situation buzz,  and by distinguishing words, Happy" (temporary) and "Joy" (permanent in nature) you may be able to conclude some things or at least get your arms around it a little better. So, in summary it's possible your wife may have misread your happy moment for joy, which is understandable if one doesn't make the distinction, and use both words synonymous.  
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ThrivenotSurvive

Forgive me – this will be a long post because there are, in my opinion, no easy answers here.  And, Keep, I am not going to direct my reply specifically to you because I think that there are many here facing this crisis and each will likely have to find their own path.  I wish there was a solution we could all use that worked – but it really doesn’t seem that way. 

This is, to me, the final, and most important, barrier to the “better” marriage.  The deeply satisfying one that gives far more than it takes. 

First, there are so many hurdles to clear before you face this one.  So much work, thought and decisions to be made before you get here – before you even SHOULD get here.  I would never recommend to someone that they open their heart fully to someone that hasn’t done the work to recognize and change the part of them that was capable of hurting their partner in such a deep way.  It would be – at best, reckless – at worst, cruel – to open them to the very real potential of being hurt again.

But that level of change and learning new habits takes time for our spouses… and in the mean time we HAVE to protect our hearts.  We don’t know which way they will turn.  We don’t know if it will stick, if the change is real or temporary.  And so even those of us who loved wide open, with nothing held back before, learn to brick a part of us away in an effort to safeguard ourselves from what feels like the inevitable other shoe dropping.

In our case, I’d say my husband (and I) are still learning and growing.  Hopefully, it will be a lifelong process.  But there had been enough demonstrated change and self-reflection between 12-18 months that I began to be more comfortable to stick my head (or really my heart) out of the little armored castle I had built.

This was so critical for me, because it has always been the crux, the bottom line in my head of whether I could stay long term.  While I can be very realistic and practical in many areas of my life… my heart is not one of them.  I have always desired, sought – and given – what I call BIG LOVE.  It’s that love that leaves little held back, that isn’t reasonable, or sensible, but flings itself ALL IN.  For me, it is one of the key ingredients for a good life.  When I am on my deathbed, it will be one of my markers for a life well-lived. 

So if I could not get back there with my husband, I knew I’d be dissatisfied in the long haul.  That I’d end up leaving, not specifically from the infidelity, but from the fact that I couldn’t regain a part of myself with him that meant a great deal to me.  A part of me I loved and was unwilling to lose – even for him.

Please understand that I know many people who are deeply loving, that just don’t work this way – or even want to.  I don’t think they are any LESS loving, and I in no way mean to imply that it is.  Or that my idea of BIG LOVE is better… frankly, I’ve questioned its veracity many times and wondered if I would be better off changing to a more tempered approach.  But I always end up in the same place… it is the way I am built.  And I like myself.

So… I did what I always do when faced with an internal crisis.  I began reading and studying about vulnerability.  About being able to love whole-heartedly. 

And slowly, over the last two years, more and more parts of me came back online.  It was definitely NOT a quick flip of a switch.  It was more like a slow drip into a big bucket.  I think several things played into filling my bucket back up:

  • The internal work I was doing of reacquainting myself with ME and falling back in love with myself. The stronger and more happy in MYSELF I felt, the more safe I felt to be vulnerable.  It was if I’d found a tiny island in me that no one could touch.  And knowing that my safe little island was there, allowed me to be more free and open with the outside world because I knew my retreat existed.  I have no idea if this makes the slightest bit of sense to anyone else, but it is how it FEELS.
  • My husband’s work. At times it has seemed that we are in a bit of a lockstep.  He progresses in his understanding and in his ability to be emotionally vulnerable and transparent with me… and a part of me responds in kind. 
  • My own strong desire to be able to reclaim this level of feeling for myself. A willingness to walk away if I couldn’t achieve it with him.  Once the trauma healing was done… I immediately moved to looking for every tool in reclaiming my joy and capacity to live and love wholeheartedly.  I have probably listened to Brene Brown’s book the Power of Vulnerability 10… maybe 12 times?  Braving the Wilderness… several more times.  The book I often recommend, “How to Live and Love after Intimate Betrayal” helped me find the ways to focus on my own values – and one of them was continuing to be soft and vulnerable – even in a sometimes cruel world. 

I really, really, really wish I had better, more concrete actionable steps.  If I could figure out how to help others find this within themselves, I’d turn myself inside out to do it.  To me, stealing someone’s joy and ability to love freely, is as cruel as stealing their arms or legs. 

But so much of this process was internal that I don’t know how to break it down for others.  It was reflection, reading, meditating, journaling, talking to others, talking to my husband about our respective fears, helping others…  each took a tiny piece of my wall down. 

All I know is that at a little over 3 years from DD, I honestly feel like myself again.  The pain, shame, shock, trauma and heartache are experiences that will always be a part of my story – and therefore a part of me.  But they only feel like a part of me the way having shingles years ago does.  I can remember the unrelenting pain and fear that I might have nerve pain for the remainder of my life.  But then it healed – and now I don’t think about it until something triggers it or I am using that experience to help someone else.

I have been able to reclaim myself, and later, my deep love for my husband.  I actually think I may love him more deeply now because I respect how hard it was to do the internal work to save himself and us.  He faced parts of himself he’d spent a lifetime trying to bury.  But hurting me and our daughter made him face the fact that he could bury them no longer.  I see people chose to continue their patterns at other’s expense rather than have the bravery to face themselves EVERY day.  So I can respect any WS who does that work, including my own.

I also think that like Skelling mentioned – we know each other far more deeply at this point.  Neither one of us loves a mirage, or carefully crafted image.  We love a living, breathing person warts and all.  It’s a more mature love, but one that can squeeze my heart at times so tight from its intensity that it makes me want to cry – from gratitude rather than sadness.

I think I would have found this level of happiness and peace one way or the other – with or without my husband.  In fact, I recognized that at some point I might have to conclude that he was the last thing standing in my way if he didn’t change.  But I was committed to still being able to see and live in technicolor and was BULL HEADED about the idea that someone could take it from me.  I re-read some of Viktor Frankl’s work and reminded myself that if there were Jews in concentration camps who could hold on to their kindness, compassion and humanity in THAT horrible place, I could sure as hell find my way back from this trauma (that’s not a ding on anyone suffering – just the thoughts that I used to rally myself when it was hard to put one foot in front of the other.)

But I do feel fortunate that it was a journey that my husband was able to join me on.  If he had not, we would have parted ways, which would have been very sad.  But I was not willing to exchange my capacity for joy or love for him.  He had to grow to someone that could support me in feeling those things (make me feel safe and valued), or leave my life.

Sorry this is so long and doesn’t really give any real “steps” to breaking down the walls.  But I wanted to share my experience of this important topic. 

BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
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ThrivenotSurvive
JORGE wrote:

I'm not making any rigid philosophical or religious claims here, but just sharing with you some insight that was shared with me, that enabled  distinctions to be made that may apply to your situation buzz,  and by distinguishing words, Happy" (temporary) and "Joy" (permanent in nature) you may be able to conclude some things or at least get your arms around it a little better. So, in summary it's possible your wife may have misread your happy moment for joy, which is understandable if one doesn't make the distinction, and use both words synonymous.  


Jorge,

You just described my internal island that I was talking about.  I think it is my source of JOY and PEACE.  While I do not follow any specific religion, I have tried to incorporate what feels like universal truths from them all.  So I would consider myself a spiritual person.  And that internal island is my connection to myself - and my source (whatever that source is - some call it God, some nature, some the Universe... I don't know so I just call it source.)

Refinding it and using mediation to spend time there, has allowed me to heal and grow.  I also think it was key to opening myself to deep love again.  Thank you for putting it so eloquently into words.  

PS - I've bought a book about trying to write more concisely.  Hopefully over the next few weeks we will see a shortening of my posts! 
BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
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Skelling
A couple of quotes that someone shared in my support group and that really spoke to me. Especially the second one really rang true for me. It helped me understand that maybe sometimes I am still very much like : "I want it all and I want it now". I have never been a patient girl but recognizing the small moments for what they are, even if they are ever so tiny, it gives me hope that its not really as dull, as I was painting it. It always is harder, when one is right in the middle of it and I am sure there will be days, where I will read my reply and think I must have been mad but today I am hopeful for us both.


“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Brené Brown

“Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy. Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments.
Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down extraordinary moments. Other times we’re so afraid of the dark that we don’t dare let ourselves enjoy the light.
A joyful life is not a floodlight of joy. That would eventually become unbearable.
I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith.”
~ Brené Brown
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JORGE
Quote:
I think it is my source of JOY and PEACE.  While I do not follow any specific religion, I have tried to incorporate what feels like universal truths from them all.  So I would consider myself a spiritual person.  And that internal island is my connection to myself - and my source (whatever that source is - some call it God, some nature, some the Universe... I don't know so I just call it source.)

Nailed it. 100% ..... This IS the source of joy. It's from within. It can take a while to get to where you're at, but once there ...... you know it and feel it.  Thank you for sharing. 
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