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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A state of mind...

I've been spending a lot of time with my cousins lately. Over the past 20 years we haven’t had much contact. They are older than me and I think it was only natural that we distanced ourselves unintentionally. We became the relatives that we saw at weddings and funerals. Of course, we always said we’d stay in touch, but that seldom happened.

This reconnection began when one cousin called and said they would like to visit for a few days. I was so excited I coulda pee’d me pants. We had a wonderful visit and while he was here, he put me in touch with his sister. AWESOME!

Left to right: My older brother, My cousin who is holding Me; and her younger brother.
In one of our conversations the sister asked me “Are you happy?” She wondered
if after everything I've been, and am still, going through, could I still say I was happy in my life. I had to think about it for a minute or two.

Wikipedia defines happiness as: “Happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being defined by positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.”

I believe we all have the capacity to be happy even though we may feel sad, unsettled, disappointed, unloved, unappreciated or discontented. All of those feelings define each of us at various periods in our lives. But they don’t have to define our entire life.

I’m reminded of a time when a teenage boyfriend moved away and I knew in my heart I would never see him again. I was devastated, inconsolable, and knew I would just never be happy again. But shortly thereafter, I met a new potential boyfriend and the sun shone brightly upon me once again. Between the boyfriends, I grew to accept that Boyfriend A was in my past and that life was really not that bad. I started smiling and laughing and slowly I returned to a state of happiness. Once I reached the happiness state I was open to meeting Boyfriend B.

My point is that we go through things that are horribly painful at any moment in time. Sometimes those moments last for years, like the death of my son. It’s OK to feel that sadness, pain or whatever emotion that’s going on, but even inside that painful bubble, we can step aside and have moments of happiness. The more often we have the happy moments, the more we will want them and reach for them until they become a way of life once again. The sadness doesn’t go away, it just gets pushed aside.

In my current world, I pushed my former happily single life aside to become the caretaker of my estranged husband. Did my decision make me happy? Of course not, there wasn't any joy in taking care of a narcissistic, controlling, drunk while he is potty-ing in his pants, and being otherwise obnoxious. But it was a decision I made and had to learn how to prevent him from destroying my happiness. I had to learn to be happy in spite of the decision. And that’s what I did.

I compartmentalized my emotions concerning my husband and made sure I developed my own interests that created a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and/or contentedness. As I continued doing the things outside of my husband’s needs/wants, my happiness factor became larger and more clearly defined. I wasn't happy about caretaking my husband, but I was happy with the fact that it lead me to being happy in a different way. From the unhappiness, I became happy.

To answer my cousin’s question – YES. I am generally happy. I have a happy life that is often filled with emotional strife and stress.

Would I change anything in the past? – Probably. But, I can use the past to help me cope or create my future.

She asks how I got to be in a happy place? I told her I made a choice to be happy. If I had made any other choice, it would mean that grief, disillusionment, disappointment, anger, and a host of other emotions would win the constant battle that goes on inside everyone’s psyche. If I take down my shield and just let them all run roughshod over me, they win. Every bad thing that has ever happened to me wins and all the good is destroyed. I keep my “happiness army” strong by practicing happiness every day. It’s like an exercise. Even when I don’t really feel happy, I find something to be happy about and make that the focus of my day. The more I express happiness, the more I feel happiness.

This morning I was rudely awakened by my dog barking at the deer grazing in my back yard. I was irritated because it was only 4:00 a.m. I got up, made the coffee and grumbled about wishing I could sleep in on this Sunday. With my coffee in hand, I looked out the patio door and saw the MaMa and Baby deer. I’m happy I have a yard the deer like to visit. I’m happy my dog woke me up so I could enjoy watching them. I’m happy that waking up early gave me time to write this post.

I am a happy woman.


Leah Doherty said...

Your insight is always so honest and enlightening. Thank you!

A well Loved Home said...

I'm happy you wrote this lovely piece and double happy it had nothing to do with Mother 's Day .