“You are responsible for your own happiness. If you expect others to make you happy, you will always be disappointed.”
I can be stubborn. So, it may seem like I enjoy the hard road when it comes to learning lessons about life…and myself. And…it takes me a while to figure things out…so I usually make the same mistake a time or two before it clicks. I’ve always been this way. It drove my parents insane. I’m sure my stubbornness drives my hubby insane. (sorry!) Figuring out this whole happiness thing…well that’s been one of those more challenging lessons for me to figure out.
As a kid, little things bring us joy and happiness. I was an only child, so it was rare that there were other children around to play with. But when there were other kids to play with…I was in my glory!! It made me so happy to sit and play Barbie’s with my cousins. (Except my cousin Joe…he had a tendency to rip off the heads of my Barbie’s then they ended up looking weird with their squished necks!) Or to play outside…exploring in the creek or playing in the dirt. Spending the night at my grandparents’ house always made me very happy, too! Grammy would let me drink super sweet coffee and eat ice cream for dinner! Who wouldn’t LOVE that?! But, when I think about my childhood…I sometimes have to look harder for the happy. Often the dark and gloomy spots over-shadow the good times. As kids, I think we tend to look to our parents for happiness (or at least an example of what happiness looks like) and if we don’t find it very easily…we end up blaming them for our problems later in life, or struggle trying to figure out how to overcome certain issues that keep us from being happy. (Therapy helps…a lot!)
As a teen, I looked to friends to figure out happiness. That was not my smartest move! That usually ended up getting me in trouble. Kissed a lot of boys, smoked a little pot…none of which made me very “happy” in the long run. And all of which landed me in some hot water both at home and at school. I dealt with bullying…and transferred schools. Which…to be honest…helped me get into even MORE trouble! Those “Christian” school kids are the worst!! NOW…let me say…not ALL of them were trouble…but a fair share of them knew how not to get caught! AND…guess which ones this girl hung out with?? You guessed it…the troublemakers…only I somehow managed to get caught!! I actually got suspended from school my senior year for “not maintaining Christian character”! SO…needless to say…I didn’t have the whole “happiness” thing figured out then either!
As an adult, I made a LOT of mistakes trying to figure out the key to “happiness”. A LOT! A failed marriage, drinking too much, eating my feelings, poor work choices, poor choices in men…I was just a total mess. A big, negative, scary event in my life (as a result of several of those bad choices) led me to therapy. I know not everyone “believes” in therapy, and that’s okay. I learned a lot about myself, sitting in a chair, talking to a stranger. Crying. Angry. Scared. Alone. I worked through issues that I had carried with me from my childhood. Issues from my failed marriage. Issues that resulted from my poor coping skills and choices. I came out of therapy smarter. I learned that even though life is messy and horrible things have happened to me…I don’t have to unpack my bags and live in that despair. I learned that not one single person was going to make ME happy. Not one single outside “thing” was going to make ME happy. Not booze. Not food (although…I do find joy in eating yummy food). Not a man. Not my parents. Not my friends. I learned that the only thing that can make ME happy…is ME!
So, how did I learn to make ME happy?! First of all, I had to forgive myself for my mistakes. I had to forgive others who have hurt me (even if they didn’t ask for it). I went back to my faith. I counted my blessings. I spent time doing things that I enjoyed. I focused on my son. I worked…hard. And you know what?! When I let go of all of that negative energy and crap I was holding onto…I found love and joy. I stopped being angry. I met the man of my dreams. Together we are building a life of love and happiness. I’m still figuring things out. Still learning and growing. But I believe that if I hadn’t figured out that my happiness doesn’t depend on others…I wouldn’t have the relationship I have today with my husband and our kids. I would still be angry and alone, and that’s no way to live life!