In Part 1, I reflected on my tendency to rationalize around my happiness. In Part 2, I talk about how I changed.
So after all of the reflection on my life, I realized that my happiness was my problem, and mine alone. I had to resolve to figure out how to make myself happy. I didn’t know what the hell it was that would make me happy, but I knew that only I could figure it out because I don’t think it’s acceptable to expect someone to give me something I can’t give myself. And frankly, I think it’s unfair to put the burden of my own happiness, mental health, etc. on another person.
What makes the difference in my happiness is my choice to make my life fulfilling for me, regardless of the different factors I faced on a day-to-day basis. I’ve always had a mix of the things I felt I needed to consider myself established, content, and even happy, albeit not always at the same time. However, until now, I didn’t stop to think critically about their purpose in the grand scheme of my life. I seriously think a switch was flipped and it was like “Look, you have what you say you want. Why isn’t it enough?” It was because I hadn’t consciously made a decision to reflect on what’s important to me and why. Why the hell does it matter?
Recently, I was having a conversation with someone about my family. In describing my parents, I referred to my biological father as my “real dad,” something I picked up as a kid when I became a part of a blended family. After using the term a couple of times, the person I was talking with stopped me and casually asked me to “please use biological.” I was caught off-guard and quickly apologized, realizing I could easily have offended them.
Externally, I just kept relaying my story with the appropriate term. Internally, it stopped me dead in my tracks. I was mortified. If I could have crawled under a rock, I would have. I felt so small and simple-minded in that moment and couldn’t believe that someone I respected quite a bit caught me in a moment of ignorance.
I consider myself a fairly progressive person. Perhaps because of my career field (student affairs), I am hyper-sensitive to issues of identity and inclusion and the language associated with them. So why, for nearly 30 years, had I thought that “real” was an appropriate way to describe a parent-child relationship? read more…
I think I’ve lived my entire life in the pursuit of happiness. I want to get to a place in my life where although everything isn’t perfect (because that doesn’t exist), I’m content and have genuine joy in my heart, not the feeling of obligatory gratefulness for having found a certain level of good fortune in life.
My relative sanity fluctuates greatly depending on a ridiculous amount of factors. My work life, my home life, my friendships, parenting experiences, finances, health, relationships, etc., all play into whether I wake up excited for to face the world or whether I stare at the ceiling while I coax myself up to deal with whatever I know is on my plate that day. But those are temporal. For me, there was something deeper, lurking beneath those stressors that changed how I looked at everything.
Picture it: You’re dating someone new. You’re waiting to feel the toxic stagnant codependency. Where is it? Months go by. Still nothing. At some point a corner of your brain dares register the thought: Could this be one of those? Could I actually be happy?
*looks around awkwardly* Is this lady watching my life unfold on a hidden camera? Maybe not, but it sure feels like it. I tend to steer clear of internet dating articles because they’re usually at odds with my sensibilities and experiences. But when I read “31 Ways To Know You’re In The Right Relationship,” I had to pause and reflect on my own situation. For once, I felt like the article spoke to my situation in a realistic, “not telling you what your lonely, bitter and/or hopeful/cautiously-optimistic self wants to hear” kind of way.
It was refreshing to see the tangible and intangible aspects of a relationship described and examined for what they can do to improve or weaken a budding or ongoing relationship. Frankly, it articulated things I couldn’t, and I appreciated it for allowing me to step back and ask myself “am I in the right relationship?” (Not that I question it … I’ve been through enough to have some idea of whether I’m on the right path).