Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Just be happy.
Sounds simple, right? I mean, I've always thought that if you do the things you love, surround yourself with people who are supportive of you, and just generally try to spread some good in the world, happiness will come.
Well, I'd like to think that I do all of those things...and happiness is still something I strive for.
I've always thought of myself as a pretty optimistic person. Even driving home from the hospital after my husband died I said to myself, "You will have a good life." I knew that it wouldn't happen right away, but still...hope and determination were already there. Part of that, for me, was making sure that my kids would be okay because happiness could never come if they weren't. And so I spent the following years, focusing on them and trying to be proactive in finding a little joy for myself. After all...if Mom isn't happy, no one is happy.
And I've had happy moments. I've made memories in this new life I was handed that make me laugh. I have made new friends in unexpected places who have brought joy to my life. I have embarked on a professional journey that years ago I only dreamed about, never thinking that it could actually happen to me.
But it has. And sometimes I still question if I'm actually happy.
Part of this has to do with a relationship that ended last fall, one that has had me completely paralyzed in embarking on something new. After all, if in the throes of anger you have someone say to you, "You will never be happy because you can't make someone else happy"...part of you brushes it off.
But then a little part of you believes it.
And then you start wondering if happiness is something you actually deserve.
It's strange to say that someone could be afraid of happiness...but sometimes I think I am. I don't think I used to be this way, but the person who emerged from that emotional wreckage was bruised with the knowledge that she might be incapable of making someone else happy.
So why even try?
I just realized this about myself recently. I thought that I had come out of what had happened a little weary, but okay for the most part. It has just been recently, when I've had the opportunity to go after something that might make me truly happy, that I realized a part of me thinks that I don't deserve it. That I might actually have a fear of happiness because now I'm always worried that the other shoe will drop.
It's strange to think that just the thought of being happy has scared me. That I allowed someone to have so much influence over me and let them convince me that I wasn't worthy of it...how could that have happened? How did I change from the woman who lost a husband but ran full-tilt toward an unknown life in an effort to make it better...to one who allowed someone to tell her that she just might not be worthy of the life she's been dreaming of?
I don't know.
Sometimes I feel like happiness is tapping me on the shoulder, only to have me look at it sheepishly and say, "Who me? Oh...you don't want me. I'm not good enough for you!" And convinced, it walks away to look for someone else who is ready for it. When what I wish I could do is give it a smile and say, "Where have you been? I've been waiting for you!" And allow it all in.
This is all a learning process. I think I have figured out more about myself in the last few months than I have in years. In many ways, it's about the fine art of letting go of what was so that I can possibly embrace what could be. Flushing out anger and resentment and replacing them with peace and happiness is no small thing. Right now, joy is a conscious effort that I hope will someday just become a habit.
Just be happy.
I'm working on it.
Widow Chick (aka, Catherine Tidd) is the author of the upcoming memoir Confessions of a Mediocre Widow (Jan. 2014). She is also a writer for The Denver Post's Mile High Mamas and a contributor to several books on grief and renewal.