Tag Archives: if only

If Only

6 Oct

I hate that I always take on the emotional struggles of others. I can’t help it—there’s this insane need inside me to chase away the burdens of those whom I love. If only (fill in the blank) or (fill in another blank) then all would be right in the universe, and then I could take a deep breath and finally relax. You’d think at sixty, I might have figured out that this is NEVER going to happen.

We are taught to believe that in order to have a fulfilled life, we must be content at all times. Like most people, I’ve been striving for happiness since I was a young girl, creating so many “if only” scenarios in my mind that I learned to ignore the little miracles that take place in front of me on a daily basis. How can I possibly look out the window to notice the changing leaves of the Liquid Ambar trees when I’m worried that my children are unfulfilled in their careers? How can I feel comfortable in my home when all I notice is that the walls need painting, or that the termites are silently eating away the insides of my house? How can I sit and drink that second cup of coffee when I should be out taking a five-mile walk? What if my daughter doesn’t get into the college of her dreams? How can I prevent her from feeling hurt and disappointed should that comes to pass?

I remember thinking years ago that “if only” I published a novel, all would be right in my world.  I would finally feel accomplished, and experience that sense of worthiness I’ve been longing for my entire life. Yeah, right.  Sure, I wrote a book, and sure, there were some really wonderful moments, but eventually my life went back to the way it was before. Now I find myself again at square one, worrying how I’m going to find the motivation to work on that second book.

Ugh. Carrying all this angst is overwhelming. And yet, how effortlessly I throw it over my shoulders every morning. How easily I tighten the straps as the day progresses. For years, I’ve shouted to the heavens and beyond that we cannot control everything that happens to us—that we just don’t have that kind of power. That it’s not about the end result—but it’s about the process? Intellectually, I understand all of this. Yet my heart will not listen.

One moment, one hour, one day at a time.

One word, one sentence, one chapter at a time.

Process equals joy.

Say it with me.

Happy

3 Jan

 

img_3936I’ve spent much of my life waiting for something to make me happy. If only ________ (fill in the blank) would happen, I’d be happy. If only I had________, everything would be all right. If only I could do _________I’d be fulfilled forever.

IF ONLY, IF ONLY, IF ONLY!

If and when the IF ONLY finally comes to pass (and it does happen occasionally) I’m content for a nanosecond. Then I’m right back to where I was before, hoping and wishing and dreaming of something better.

The other day my husband, René and I were driving somewhere together I must have let out a sigh. He turned to me and said, “You know, Jess—trying to be happy all the time is unrealistic. We may strive to find happiness—we may even have joyful moments here and there, but most of the time, every single one of us is struggling. And it’s okay to be sad. It’s human nature.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what he said, particularly because it’s frequently an internal battle for me to find constant happiness. Because I have so much to be grateful for, I feel guilty if I’m not blissful.

Of course I blame my parents. During my loosey-goosey 1970’s childhood, their philosophy was to promote an unrealistic idea of constant sweetness and light—no negativity allowed whatsoever. Happiness was a must—even if we had to fake it. All the while my poor, depressed father drank himself into oblivion every night.

Looking back on his short life (he died at 53) I understand now that he was faking it as well. While struggling daily with his ADHD and severe depression, he tamped down his creative side, trading it in for familial responsibility. I’m sure I’ve inherited some of my melancholy from him, although I’ve been lucky enough to also inherit some of his creativity. Even with all of the childhood angst I experienced, I’m grateful to him and my mother for giving me a life of privilege. I’m thankful I’ve been able to pass that good life down to my own children.

My goal for the coming year is to let go of this unrealistic idea that I must be happy all of the time. I’m going to allow myself to feel sad sometimes. Perhaps this will allow me to truly enjoy those moments of happiness that do come my way. And when they appear, I won’t have to fake it. I’ll allow the happiness fill my soul to the brim.

And when it’s full, I’ll let it spill out into the world.

Happy New Year, my dear readers. You indeed make me happy.

I thank you for that.

img_3974

This is me, not faking it.