For most of my adult life, I’ve viewed happiness as some phantom alien-like emotion that, someday, I’ll experience. Like once x happens, then y.
I’ve used so many excuses, the precursors that need to happen in order to Be Happy:
When I’m thinner, richer, have a better car, when I finally get to travel, someday I’ll have The Job, once I exercise regularly, maybe when I find the right combination of meds, when I’m no longer in pain, once I finally get over The Past, when my credit is golden, once I have enough money not to live paycheck to paycheck, someday when I own my own house, when I find the Perfect Boyfriend, once my daughter is well adjusted, as soon as that huge princess cut Tiffany’s diamond is on my finger, once I have the picket fence and the dog, after I go back to school.
THEN I’ll be happy.
I’m realizing more and more that I don’t need to constantly look at it as a “someday…” thing. I find myself rushing through here and now with, well, everything. I have to hurry up and do this this and this and so maybe then I can be happy!
My boyfriend and I recently came off a 2 month “break”. In December, I was miserable. Christmas was fast approaching and, having a 14 year old daughter, the no money situation was agonizing. And I know, I know – Christmas isn’t about money and presents and blahblahblah but every parent wants to be able to see the face of their elated child on Christmas morning, having picked out AT LEAST that one perfect “thing they always wanted”. I’m not going to lie – I got my daughter’s very few Christmas presents at the Sharing Center in our town – 2nd hand stuff for free. Granted, there was a couple really cute things I received from them, and thank God they exist at all because think of all the children and families that would go completely without (not just at Christmas time but year round…) By the way, included amongst these free things was a Kate Spade purse and a Guess zebra print shirt (which was the FIRST thing my daughter chose to wear out of all the amazing clothes she got from everyone).
But I digress.
In December I was coming up on 2 years of not working. New Years was fast approaching and, as far as I could tell, that only meant another year of complete despair and struggle and depression. In 2 weeks it will have been a year since my spinal surgery, the pain from which is still present daily, and also the impossible-to-cover-up scar on my neck is a daily reminder of why I had a herniated disc and years of excruciating pain to begin with.
December was a bad month for me is all I’m saying.
My boyfriend, who I am not even beginning to claim is perfect, was not only the recipient of much of my unhappiness, but in my own twisted way of thinking, became the REASON for it. In general, I am a master at bottling shit up. As a close friend or family member, you might be able to tell I’m sad, but you’ll have no clue the extent of it (and usually by the time people can tell something’s wrong – something’s REALLY wrong.) He’s different though – I’m able to be myself with him, and I can’t hide when something’s up like I can with everyone else. So when you take an already unhappy and now extremely volatile person, and you give them free reign to sort of sound off on you – eventually it can get, old? I became too reliant on using him as my sounding board, and as my soft place to fall, and as my person who I can vent all my frustrations about everything and he got…distant.
The more he pulled back, the more I forced myself on him. If he wasn’t there for me regarding whatever it was I felt he should be, well then he was an asshole and didn’t deserve me.
Because of all my unhappiness with myself and my situation, I grew increasingly bitter and resentful that he was not in a position to help us move forward. Money in the music business is, at best, sporadic. His side jobs weren’t enough to allow us to be able to live together in bliss, free from worry.
I became impatient and angry that saving me was not first on his priority list. God, that was hard to type.
So I started to nitpick everything. Suddenly he could do NOTHING right. Every little gesture, every single thing he said or did, was scrutinized and judged. I looked for reasons to be mad at him. Because I was so bored with my life, I would literally look for things to argue about or be upset over.
This is not to say I didn’t sometimes have very legitimate things to be upset about – don’t get me wrong, but I would look for problems where there were none. 95% of the time, he and I are best friends and never have even the slightest of disagreements (at least not unfriendly ones). We constantly laugh and genuinely enjoy each others’ company, there is no adult on this earth I’d rather spend time with than him. He is, by far, the smartest man I have ever known and that is wicked sexy to me. You give me someone with more intelligence and useless knowledge than I have floating around in my ADHD brain and, well, you may as well be a greek god in my opinion.
Add to this that he’s a musician? Fuggetaboutit.
So after a series of events that I’m sure someday I’ll delve farther into, I blamed him for everything that was wrong in my and our lives and I ended things with him. But, oh no – I didn’t actually END things – I blew him off. After almost 2 years together I literally just stopped talking to him. After his family took me in to their home last March thru June when I had no where else to go and was on 3 months of bedrest for spinal surgery, him waiting on me hand and foot 24/7 and providing 100% of my care in every aspect – I just stopped returning his calls. No explanation, no official “we’re over” speech, nothing. And I don’t care if you do have a hand in the “who’s right, who’s wrong” in a relationship, no one deserves to be treated that way, least of all him.
In the 2 months that followed, not only did I find that things did not magically get better (whaaaat?), I discovered that I was actually more miserable, quite a bit more. I still had all the same unhappiness I’d had previously, only now I also missed him horribly – every minute of every day. It was as though I was walking around with my right arm missing. I did a lot of soul searching – was I just lonely and bored or did I miss him? Was what I was feeling normal for going thru a breakup or was there a reason I seemed unable to get past it? I stayed home, I went out, I read a ton of books, I searched hungrily for a job, I went out on a couple dates, I met new people, I tried to allow myself to become interested in someone else, I considered a couple men that were interested in me that I hadn’t previously considered, I stayed sober and I got completely hammered, I took a week long tax class and became a certified tax preparer. I gained weight (ack.) I surrounded myself with my very entertaining friends as much as I could.
I tried everything I could think of not only to not think about him, but to get over him. Nothing worked.
Yes, I found an amazing job. Yes, I read some great books and had some awesome times with friends and family. But the ache for him never once subsided, even a tiny bit.
Happiness…yes, that’s what got this started….
It took some doing but, ultimately he made a choice to forgive me for going about our break up the way I did. He’s worried that I’ll run again at the first sight of trouble, and I can’t blame him. He’s afraid I won’t have the cojones to come to him if confronted with the soul sucking unhappiness again, or that I’ll blame him and take off. And there’s nothing that I can do to ease those concerns and trust issues, other than relay to him what I’ve learned and hope he sees my sincerity:
My rather long winded point is this – happiness really does come from WITHIN. You can’t rely on the economy or your job, on your weight or your “stuff”, on your friends or your partner, you most certainly cannot make your happiness someone else’s responsibility (biggest lesson I learned) – it lies solely on you. And, yeah, that really sucks sometimes. But once you realize that your heart wants what it wants, and you take control over those things, and you learn to accept the things you have to and change those things you don’t – suddenly you’ll find yourself happy. Once you’re true to yourself, you’ve fought most of the battle.