“I have a complicated relationship with happiness.”
I’ve been ruminating on this post by Emily Maynard, “Happiness is a Virtue,” for a couple of weeks now.
Somewhere along the way, I determined that happiness was meant for everyone else but me. Furthermore, that happiness was dependent on others – on what I was worth in their eyes. Or on what I’d accomplished or on what I could do for others. And happiness would come later – when I was thinner, attached, or had more money.
In other words, happiness is for the perfect.
Luckily for me, the last couple of months have put a direct hit in that theory.
You see, it’s been a long time since I’ve been this happy, this content with my life. And things are soooooooooo far from perfect.
Everyday I make mistakes. Everyday I feel a bit overwhelmed. Everyday I feel challenged. And nearly every evening I am excited enough to want to do it all over again the next day.
It’s weird. It’s so weird that I keep waiting for it to end.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed that there’s a part of me that is constantly on alert, telling me that it’s all far too good to be true – that it’ll end at any moment.
And I am terrified that that part of me is right.
So I put all of my energy into desperately clinging on to this happiness, joy and sense of belonging that I haven’t felt in a long time. And with every twinge of anxiety, every conversation with a colleague and every assignment, I’m waiting to be rejected. Everything is a test. I’m waiting to find out it’s not real, for the truth that I’m not worthy of this career, these people and this life. Because that’s what I fully expect. Deep down, it’s what I believe to be the truth.
It’s exhausting, this waiting to fail. To be rejected.
Part of this is the lies that anxiety tells me, and other parts are just my own visions of self-worth. But I’m trying to let this go.
This morning I finished Glennon Doyle Melton’s “Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed.” She talks about us having two voices: fear and love. How fear always yells and wishes to be heard. And how love, if we would let it speak to us, would say:
Stop grabbing, sweetheart. Stop holding your breath. Breathe. There is enough. I’ve created an abundance of acceptance, attention, recognition, joy, peace, money, energy, clothes, food. I will never leave you without enough. And there is nothing to be afraid of. No feeling, no circumstance, no person. These things come and they go, and you can live through them, without running, hiding, numbing, or hurting another of my children. And did you know this, my angel? There has never been anything wrong with you – not one day in your life. You are exactly who you were meant to be, right now, as you are. You are not to be ashamed. You punish yourself, but you have no reason to be punished. You have done just fine. No one want you punished. You can stop that now. You are free.
I am trying to stop grabbing. To stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. To be free.
I’m learning how to be happy. It’s a work in progress.