It’s Friday and we had what may be, dare I even say it, the finest walk of our lives. It’s in the 60s, humidity gone, the air was crisp and the world felt freshly plucked. I left at 6am versus the usual 5:30 and the edges of the horizon were the color of ripe cantaloupe that eventually faded to wispy pinks and blues. The owls were hooting as we walked down our street and as we turned the corner, I could hear the rooster doing his thing. Apparently he felt this was a fine day as well, because he was still at it on our way home, that’s 40 minutes of cock-a-doodle-doing, or rather overdoing as I’m sure the neighbors must think…
Yesterday in therapy, we talked about something that I am working on and I can’t help but think others may be as well, so here we go…
I don’t trust happiness. I’ve not trusted it most of life.
I’m a big fan of moments of happiness or contentment and I can find those pretty easily. I’ve always benefited from that part of myself, the ability to find joy in the little things. The ability to appreciate the taste of fresh strawberries or my pussy cat’s purr or the undulating skies of a sunrise. YES. I can bask in those things, absorb their essence. But we’re talking about moments, nothing lasting.
I don’t think I’ve ever believed happiness can last, I feel like it’s this elusive creature that comes and stays for awhile but then gets scared away from me. Like I run it off, it figures out who I am and leaves abruptly. Maybe because I don’t know what the care and maintenance is for happiness, because it feels like something you have to nurture to coax it into living with you. Staying with you.
And by no means have I ever allowed happiness to be my true North and guide me in my professional endeavors. I’ve allowed practicality and the ideal of working for the sake of working to be my compass. If I’m good at it, I remain there, working at it. There are aspects of all the things I’ve done in my working career that I enjoyed, but I can’t say I’ve ever been happy. Happy in moments or when I’ve cleared obstacles, I have felt accomplished. In short durations.
In fact, I’ve always felt there is something I’m missing, but couldn’t quite name it. And I know I’m not alone in this, because I’ve known many and heard many people discuss their lack of fulfillment in their job, even after years of college to chase a profession, we arrive to the destination and it may be alright, it’s a good job, it’s a good income, you are responsible, but you still yearn. It’s like eating but the food never tastes like you imagined, can you ever be truly satiated that way?
This little blog has opened an interesting door for me because I had forgotten how much I loved to write, and that I could. I remembered it, but dismissed it as a foolish use of time. But I love how when I walk away after I post I feel like I did something for me that day. It makes me happy. So happy. But the idea of crafting it or the fitness/yoga/health stuff into a job is terrifying to me. And there’s a lot of dialogue out in the world about this idea, the whole following your bliss thing. Follow your dreams, your passion, your heart blah blah blah. It’s an idea that is equally praised and ridiculed by many as chasing rainbows. Are we just complicating life believing there is true fulfillment versus a good life waiting for us? Am I just tormenting myself when my life is fine? Am I fine with this here and now?
I can’t help but think that my feelings about how happiness doesn’t want to live with me or rather I don’t deserve it is once again influenced by what I learned in childhood. I was a happy kid, my parents divorce taught me that happiness would not stay. It was devastating, but then I readjusted to a different happiness when my mom remarried. That lasted about 4 1/2 years. I was alright till 12-13ish, and then so many awful things happened at once and I wasn’t happy anymore. I changed, I didn’t recover and I lived wounded, without healing.
I lost my best friend at 16, and was alone. There were people around me, I had friends but I was alone and could not reach out. And I just didn’t seem to understand that happiness could still be found or that I even deserved it, much less trust it to guide me. I think I’ve remained just like that girl all my life, but thru therapy I have recurrently begun to remember that I was once different. I have begun to explore the possibility that I could be different here and now.
Think of all the emotions that we allow to make choices for us. The emotions that we allow to guide our behaviors. The ones that we rather foolishly let drive the vehicle of decision making while we ride shotgun. I’ve let anger, sadness, fear, jealousy, broken heartedness, emptiness and insecurities of all sizes take the wheel, but never happiness. I’m beginning to think I’ve had happiness stashed in the trunk for years like a mafia victim, bound and gagged but still alive and hoping for freedom. Hoping I will have a change of heart and let it live.
It’s taken me awhile to figure this out, because one of the great things about therapy is it’s a sort of path, and one discovery leads to the next, because you can’t figure out the universe all at once, can you? It’s the layers that Shrek was talking about, how humans are like onions, lots of layers. Well, we’ve reached the real eye burning layer now haven’t we?
And let me add a weird note on that, I tend to cry when I think of happiness. I will cry when I am happy. I always have and felt weird about it, but I think this is why. Because I’ve denied it any real stake in my life. Because it is foreign to me. The question now is, what am I going to do about all of this, am I going to try and grow a life where happiness could be a navigational tool or do I just continue on my current trajectory because it appears to most people that I have it all together, or so I’m told. Can I learn to embrace happiness for more than mere moments? If I open the door and let it in, or maybe it’s letting it out, I’m not sure yet, but can it be trusted?