I am not happy. I am not entirely miserable –there are absolutely aspects of my life that I am happy about. But, in general, I am not happy, and I have been unhappy for a long time. I am tired of being unhappy, but mostly, I’m tired of feeling guilty about being unhappy. I have been trying to convince myself most of my adult life that I have too much to be grateful for – I am too privileged to be allowed to be unhappy. I have too much going for me – too many opportunities and too much goodness in my life compared to so many others. I shouldn’t be unhappy. It could be soooooo much worse, so how dare I feel unhappy?
So I convince myself that I am not unhappy. I tell myself lies that I eventually believe, until I no longer feel the acute sadness in my heart and in the pit of my stomach that tell me otherwise – that tell me there is something wrong with the way I am living my life. I tell myself that I will be happier when I finally get organized; get a job I am passionate about; when I finally pay off that last dollar of debt, or when we own a vacation house in Vermont… and on and on and on. And yes – I bet I will be happier if any of those things actually ever happen. But those things are never going to happen if I don’t figure out what I am unhappy about in the first place, because I have been disorganized; miserable in my career; in debt and houseless (I rent – I am not homeless) for over twenty years. Nothing I mentioned above is a difficult goal to achieve, and yet, I have found it utterly impossible to achieve any of them.
I collect quotes for inspiration. I try to be grateful every day for the things I do have. I have tried therapy, prayer, meditation, yoga and exercise - all things that, on some level, have made me a happier person for at least moments or short periods of time. I am aware of the data that show that meditation and yoga and exercise all positively affect you on a physiological level – by lowering blood pressure and cortisol levels or by increasing endorphins – which make you less stressed and happier. I get it all.
But maybe… just maybe I’m not unhappy because I am 70 pounds overweight and don’t release enough endorphins due to a lack of exercise. I have been much thinner and in much better shape in the past, but I was still unhappy – even then! Maybe…just maybe, it’s me.
Not that I am meant to be unhappy – like it’s some affliction I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. I am unhappy – not clinically depressed. But maybe, just maybe, I am actually supposed to be unhappy – maybe I’m supposed to feel all these feelings of sadness and misery and fear (sooooo much fear) that I have been eating and otherwise stuffing down and trying to convince myself don’t exist, because then I can figure out what’s really been bothering me; process it and move on. Crazy concept, right? I know!
So, nothing here will be terribly original or exciting or anything other than what I am feeling. It will be just me. Just only me. And to be honest, I don’t even really know who “me” is. I have been shutting myself down for so long, I don’t really know who I am. But for once, instead of giving in to or trying to shut out the voices in my head that say, “Nothing you say or feel or write matters… nothing you think or do matters… if you try, you will fail… no one will read this… no one cares…”, I am going to let the voices talk; I am going to feel my feelings and not push them down or make them disappear or convince myself I don’t feel them, and I am going to write anyway… and I am going to share anyway. Will it make me happier? More productive? More focused? I have no idea. But I know the old way doesn’t work. It’s taken me over twenty years to realize that, and yes – I want to crawl into a ball and cry and beat myself up over the fact that it’s taken me so long to realize something so ridiculously simple. But I won’t. I’ll come back to this computer over and over, and I will feel and think and write and whatever happens… happens.