Home > Uncategorized > I’ve got a smile on my face and I’ve got four walls around me

I’ve got a smile on my face and I’ve got four walls around me

I can’t believe how time is flying… today I have been preparing for my last midterm tomorrow night, thursday is my last class and the following Tuesday is my final exam. I have always been told that summer courses are intense -but I never realized exactly HOW intense they are. My life has been mostly studying and sleeping lately. My psych textbook seems to be a permanent fixture that goes anywhere I go, and if I leave it behind I go a bit crazy as if I didn’t know what to do without the textbook constantly at my side! In my last post, I talked about how I am trying to create balance and I feel like the past few days have been much better on those terms.

I have also have had some good and long study periods. I remember my first few years of undergraduate studies. The abuse was still going on and I was increasingly needing to get away from the unpredictability of home life. I would stay at the university longer, stay at friends’ houses when it was exam time. I was also working and had lots of family responsibility during those years. So unsurprisingly, my first few years were not much fun. While I was well prepared to write papers, I was not prepared to enter into a science stream with multiple choice exams. Coming from a strict Christian background, evolutionary theory was never taught and so first year biology was not only overwhelming, but I went into the course with the prejudice that everything I was about to learn was obviously false – hard to do well in a course that you think is completely bogus. I struggled those first few years for so many reasons – and those struggles resulted in marks that only reinforced the messages that I believed about myself – that I was stupid, unworthy and a complete failure.

When I moved from home, self-sustainability was the primary focus and so school was put on hold. I worked as a veterinary assistant with a wonderful team of people. School wasn’t an option in those days for obvious reasons plus the fear that came with the shortened proximaty to my dad’s workplace – For many years I stayed clear of the university and the area around his workplace for fear that I would bump into him. I’m not sure what I expected to happen, but I figured it wouldn’t be pleasant.

Then eventually, I decided that I was going to go back to school. This was in the months leading up to the trial. And being the stubborn person that I am, I did not listen to the advice of my mentors when it came to course selection. I had decided to switch from philosophy to science and try to shoot for medicine – only not only was I going to take science courses, but I was going to take intense science courses to which I didn’t have the appropriate background. My mind was divided between abuse stuff and school, and my grades plummetted. My conclusion was that I really am not capable of science and should just return to philosophy and theology, the two areas of study that I know how to succeed in. Partly due to the ongoing court drama, those last couple of years were full of ups and downs, starts and stops, until finally, I graduated in Fall 2011. I originally wasn’t even going to go to my graduation – I thought the degree didn’t mean much to me, it was such a horrible experience, my mother (who I desparately wanted to be there) would not be present for convocation – so I thought: what’s the point? But as the day drew closer, I began to realize that this degree was not a culmination of many failures and disappointments. Rather, it was an accomplishment – when you look back over those 9 years and see all that I accomplished and conquered and had to deal with at the time, it really is a huge accomplishment. Yes, many of my peers took the typical 4 years or perhaps 5 at the most. But when you look at what was happening in my life, the fact that I persisted is quite incredible and the fact that I accomplished this degree in spite of everything is also incredible. So I graduated and celebrated it with people who are close to me. And I closed that chapter of my life.

Or so I thought.

I began to have a growing hatred towards undergrad studies, and my studies in particular. The thought of undergrad made me shudder and cringe.

And then I had my epiphany that I wrote about a couple of months ago – that with God, the whole world is full of possibilities that are open to me. I am now a second year psychology (science!) student. And wow – this is a completely different experience than being an undergraduate before. This relatively newfound freedom from the abuse has enabled me to dive into courses without the memories and pain that dominated my first degree. There are so many exciting opportunities available to me that I can participate in. Over and over, I feel like God has given me such a beautiful and wonderful opportunity to redeem yet another thing in my life. I love every moment of studying. I am fascinated by the studies, the research design, the concepts that I am learning and I am making connections to other things I have studied or read. I am going to take full advantage of this opportunity! And it is going to be beautiful.

Once I am done my course, I am going to see if I can volunteer in a research lab to gain vital experience that will not only help me get into grad school, but will give me a taste for psychological research. I am going to join an intramurals soccer team – this decision I think is worth elaborating on. In the past, so many of my decisions in life and reasoning behind my behaviours has either reflected the notion that I do not deserve better, or has been for the bettering of another even at the cost to myself. Academically and career-wise, most of my decisions have revolved around what would look good on a resume. But playing soccer is purely something to do for fun, something that I love, something to do for me. Period. There is no reason. No superior purpose.

I’ve been trying to decide what I will minor in. I will have a few electives and have decided that I want to choose carefully as I already have a degree and my course selection needs to reflect what I want to do with my life. Increasingly, I have become attracted to this idea of doing work on trauma-informed care in an African context. Well, there is an african studies course…. with african drumming (I love african drumming!!!), learning swahili and learning the culture and structures. How cool is that?

And then there are opportunities to be involved in research studies, in community development, and in work overseas. Do you know how amazing it is to be given a second chance with a heart full of joy, peace, love and freedom and to be able to pursue it with all your heart, soul and mind?

Ultimately I think this new phase of my life is due to an absolute assurance that I am loved by God. I remember meeting with a pastor awhile ago and in an email exchange he said that I will know God’s love in a deeper way than most. Let’s forget the “than most” part for a moment – the love that I feel and the security that I feel in this love is far greater than anything I imagined was possible. The ups and downs I experience along with the frustrations and anxieties all seem to be normal. And I am being completely honest when I say peace and joy and contentment and hope and strength and courage and love are the dominant feelings that possess my heart.

To reach this point of healing – and yes, there is more work to be done – is such an incredible blessing. I never thought this was possible – I often thought my toil and struggle was for nothing. But I was wrong – all that struggle and pain was totally worth it now that I have come through it and experience this incredible amount of love and joy. Some days I wish I knew how to do cartwheels. I never knew that I could ever be “happy”. But I can be – and I am – happy.

I’ve been listening to an awesome song lately that a good friend introduced to me by the group Great Big Sea: Ordinary Day

I’ve got a smile on my face, I’ve got four walls around me
The sun in the sky, the water surrounds me
I’ll win now but sometimes I’ll lose
I’ve been battered, but I’ll never bruise, it’s not so bad

And I say way-hey-hey, it’s just an ordinary day
and it’s all your state of mind
At the end of the day, you’ve just got to say,
it’s all right.

Janie sings on the corner, what keeps her from dying?
Let them say what they want, she won’t stop trying
She might stumble, if they push her ’round
She might fall, but she’ll never lie down


In this beautiful life, but there’s always some sorrow
It’s a double-edged knife, but there’s always tomorrow
It’s up to you now if you sink or swim,
Keep the faith and your ship will come in.
It’s not so bad

And I say way-hey-hey, it’s just an ordinary day
And it’s all your state of mind
At the end of the day, you’ve just got to say
I say way-hey-hey, it’s just an ordinary day
And it’s all your state of mind
At the end of the day, you’ve just got to say
it’s alright

‘Cause it’s alright, it’s alright
‘Cause I’ve got a smile on my face and I’ve got four walls around me


Yes… It’s alright, it’s alright. I’ve got a smile on my face and four walls around me

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