I’ve been thinking about happiness a LOT lately and wondering how to write about it because I don’t feel like I’ve got it remotely figured out. I started to do a little research today by reviewing some Gretchen Rubin podcasts but I’m not getting anywhere, not feeling some sudden blob of confidence that I know what I’m talking about. When it comes to being happy I’m about as naive as a first grader. It befuddles and confounds me.
But, when it comes to happiness there are three things that I do know for sure.
1. I’m happy.
2. I’ve been happy in the past.
3. I’ve been unhappy in the past.
One way I’ve been trying to figure out this happiness stuff is by examining the unhappy years. I truly was unhappy for years and years.
I was unhappy because I lived with a very manipulative man who negated my opinions and squashed my self-confidence. I didn’t know this for a long, long time because he was THAT good. He won every argument, trumped every difference of opinion and it left me feeling stupid, incompetent and unimportant. On screen this doesn’t look very severe, but living under this oppression year after year has turned me into a tearful, skittish woman. My first instinct is still to assume that I’m in the wrong, that it (whatever ‘it’ happens to be) is my fault.
I was unhappy because I was lonely. My ex was up and leaving for work at 5:30 am and home anywhere between 6:00-7:00 in the evening. He would come home and greet me, open the mail and then shut himself away, either in our room watching TV or in the living room in front of the Playstation.
I was unhappy because my main role in life, being a mommy, was changing and my kids didn’t need me so much anymore. They had their pals, girlfriends, jobs, cars, homework I didn’t understand. Very little that needed my attention. Gone were the days when they ran to me with boo boo’s and to tell on each other. No more cutting crusts off sandwiches and waffles into tiny squares. I was losing my identity and had no confidence that I could possibly be useful for anything.
I was unhappy because I wasn’t in love with my husband, and never had been, and knew I was missing out on something wonderful. I always told myself that it didn’t really matter, that feelings of romantic love wain and the important thing was that we care about each other and respect each other. But I will tell you with all the conviction I have inside of me… being IN LOVE matters. I had my reasons for getting married, but none of them were because of love. That’s a whole other story, but for now, let’s just say that I did my best. I carried on and honored my commitment for a very long time, despite my feelings.
But now there is so much to be happy about. I’m with a man who not only asks me what my opinion is but actually get’s annoyed when I don’t offer it up. It’s not his goal for me to submit and say, “I’m sorry. You were right.” Our arguments actually carry on much longer than the ones between my ex and me, because he isn’t satisfied with me throwing up my hands and admitting defeat.
And then there’s the news of the century…I’m in love! I never knew this feeling before, never looked at someone and felt my whole heart melt into a big glowing mess. I’ve had experience at practical love, at the day-to-day choices you make for someone you’re committed to. I’ve put others first and served and sacrificed, but I have never, EVER, felt this kind of emotional love before. I. Am. Happy.
I’m still working through the mommy stuff, still stumbling through some kind of funky transition. My daughter found this really weird bug in the ground when she was a toddler that was in mid-metamorphosis and completely unrecognizable. Couldn’t tell what it used to be and had no idea what it was going to turn out to be. It was just a weird, rather formless THING. I feel a lot like that bug when it comes to being a mom. I think my therapist has her work cut out for her.
For all that I don’t understand about happiness, one thing I do now believe with 100% conviction is that IT MATTERS. I spent 18 years thinking that my happiness didn’t matter, that commitment was more important than my feelings. What I now believe is that I should’ve kicked and screamed and carried on till I woke the neighbors fighting for my happiness.
I have so much to learn.