Hubby and I went through a very rough patch a couple years ago. VERY rough. We came about as close as you can come to a divorce without actually saying the "D" word as a couple can get. Through the help of our incredibly wonderful and supportive friends, a marriage counselor, and an endless stack of self help books we made it through. And we are in a much better place now than we have ever been. We've reclaimed our marriage and I can now say that I'm more in love with my husband today than I was 13 years ago when we got married. I'm truly blessed. The troubles we went through somehow made us stronger.
The reasons for our crumbling marriage were aplenty but one of the main sources of our problems was my unhappiness. My inability to find my own happiness. We had somehow become roommates instead of husband and wife. And I was looking for him to make me happy. I'm not saying this to dismiss my hubby from his own roll in our troubles....eh-hem....he reads my blog....gotta make sure I make that point.....but MY unhappiness played a HUGE roll.
How did I become so unhappy? I had a wonderful and supportive husband, 3 beautiful and healthy children, a very spoiled, cushy, and financially stable life and yet I was miserable....unfulfilled.....bored.....and down right unhappy. I made the decision to be a SAHM who worked an occasional weekend day and was very happy in the beginning in that roll. I LOVED that I had that option. I LOVED being a full time mom. I can't pinpoint when that changed but sometime after my daughter was born I started feeling restless. My kids were growing up and starting school and becoming more independent every day and I found myself twiddling my thumbs in self pity.
Now what? Is this all there is to life....changing diapers, cleaning house, doing laundry, cooking dinner, playing chauffeur, and.....and what? That's it? Seriously? No goals...no rewards...no payments for my sacrifice?....and don't give me the "your reward is your kids' awesome report cards or your kids' good-behavior in public or your happy husband" speech....I wanted more....I expected more. Maybe it would be different if I were one of these women who love to clean or find enjoyment in cooking but I'm just not one of those women. And I'm not saying that in a condescending voice.... I TRULY wish I were one of those women....I envy those women.
In my passionate search to finding happiness in my marriage I read more marriage self help books than I care to remember...... and consider myself a self proclaimed expert on the topic.
Kelly, stop laughing at me!
And in my readings I learned and identified with the fact that if you can't find happiness within your marriage (with the exception of extreme cases where mental and physical abuse are a factor) then you won't find happiness outside of your marriage. Separating and divorcing will not help the "happiness" factor. We need to find that happiness within ourselves and quit relying on our spouses to "make" us happy.
So why am I telling you all this? One of my dearest friends for almost 25 years is going through a horrible time. Her husband, also a dear friend since high school, is going through a horrible time. Their marriage is not in a good place. They are going through the exact same thing me and hubby went through 2 years ago and it's breaking my heart. These 2 people are like family to us and I'm losing sleep over this and shedding tears because I'm feeling their pain. I just want to fix it for them. Make this unhappiness go away.
Then I read blog posts like Classy Chaos' where a seemingly perfect and blessed mother of 3 expresses her own unhappiness, unfulfillment, and depression.
Then I think about my own immediate family and their struggles with severe depression.
And I think about that crazy lunatic who tried to run me off the road a couple weeks ago.
And then I think of that man that is dying of pancreatic cancer, has 2 beautiful children that he's about to leave behind and how unbelievably happy and content he is with his life. He's dying and he's happy.
There are people out there losing jobs....living in debt....losing loved ones....living in a constant state of chaos.....and they still live in a blissful state of happiness. I've been on a passionate quest for the past couple years to find out what the difference is between those happy people and those who are unhappy with their flawless and blessed lives.
Which brings me to the point of this post....and there is a point....please bear with me as I always tend to take the scenic route to my point...I'm not the most articulate person in the world....thoughts tend to spew from my fingertips in a most unorganized manner.
I can't fix other people's unhappiness...I can't change other people's brain chemistry...and make them un-depressed. But while lying awake in bed last night wondering how I could help I decided to start a "Happiness Now" challenge....I was brainstorming ways I could turn this blog into a "finding happiness" resource. I want to somehow share some of the "ah-ha" moments that helped me get past my funk....or maybe start a challenge where other people could share their own "ah-ha" moments....or maybe the challenge could be "how did you find happiness this week" or "what did you do for yourself this week" or......I don't know...I'm still brainstorming....Please help me brainstorm. What are your thoughts and ideas? So this challenge will be a work in progress and evolve over time....I need a title...
Or maybe a blog challenge like that already exists...in which case, please point me in the direction because I would really like to participate. I just know that the Tackle it Tuesdays and the Works for me or Wordless Wednesdays and Flashback Fridays keep me focused and accountable to getting things done and getting events documented....so why not a happiness post to keep us women (and men) on track to the path of happiness and fulfillment. Let's make ourselves accountable for our OWN happiness.
Here are some of my own "ah-ha" moments.
1) While reading "Eat, Pray, Love" I was reminded that happiness is a choice. We can CHOOSE to be unhappy or we can CHOOSE to be happy.
My teenage years were spent carrying a HUGE chip on my shoulder (maybe that's why I have such a bad back these days...har-har). I had a huge attitude problem and walked around thinking that the world owed me something. Like I had been wronged. I spent most of my teenage years making myself miserable with self pity. "Why me" syndrome. "My life sucks" syndrome. I remember waking up one day....or maybe it was the middle of the day...I don't know....but the point is I remember having a very conscious discussion with myself. I said to myself ...
"This is ridiculous...I'm making myself miserable in my own self pity. Dwelling on the could've beens and should've beens in life instead of focusing on the what is. I spend every conscious waking moment feeling sorry for myself for the hand life dealt me...my father's death....instead of being happy. My father's death is something that canNOT be changed no matter how sorry I feel for myself".
It was that moment that changed me and my way of thinking. I made a conscious decision at that point in my life to stop dwelling on it. To stop thinking about it. When negative thoughts started entering my brain I'd shake my head and dispose of it or try to redirect my thinking. That's not to say that I didn't still miss him or that I didn't still have bad days where the thoughts were stronger than the urge to shake it but I was certainly more conscious of the negativity and how it effected my entire demeanor and outlook on life.
How does my story relate? Again, happiness HAS to be a conscious decision! Instead of waking up feeling pity for ourselves for whatever we're going through....and instead of dwelling on the "what ifs" and challenges in life.... we have to consciously take a walk outside (of ourselves).... close our eyes.... point our faces up to the sun.... and smile.
I know this post is ridiculously long and I hope you'll forgive me for my rant. I thought about splitting this post up and dividing my thoughts into the next several days but I can't. I.need.sleep!
so....ah-ha moment #2....
The book "Happiness Now" by Robert Holden is a phenomenal book. I read this book "Oprah style" with my highlighter pen and post it notes and the book is now glowing in neon pink highlighter marks. It was just one "ah-ha" moment after another. And I HAVE to share some excerpts from this book.
OK, after looking through the book there's just no way I can put all the excerpts I want into this post. So I've changed my mind....I've decided to share one excerpt each day for the next several days or however many days it takes. But I do want to share one thing today...
The author held a clinic and gave the participants a "creative growth game for homework called "Happy Days"....
HEY! Maybe that could be the title of my weekly challenge..."Happy Days Monday"....
the challenge was to dedicate one day a month to one's own "personal nourishment, well-being, and happiness" (pg. 89 if you're wondering). He wanted the participants to use this time to be kind to themselves, to rest, to have an adventure, to try something new, or simply to practice gratitude. One month later when he asked them to share their experiences not one participant had participated. They "didn't have time".
So he said...OK, forget taking a whole day each month...lets try making it a "Happy Hour" each week..."nourish yourselves with love, treats, and kindness." The next week he found that, again, no one had participated. No one had time they said.
So he said....OK, forget that. Lets try to make it an "ecstatic 60 seconds" each day...."the challenge of this game is to give yourself one minute a day to stop everything and simply be happy."
"What can you do in just one minute?" someone asked.
"You can smell a flower, smile for no reason, say thank you for something, breathe in peace, recite a favorite prayer, say an affirmation like 'I accept happiness easily, effortlessly, and naturally,' massage your head, whatever you like" ....and again....no one participated and the author then came to the conclusion that....
"Lack of time is never a real obstacle to happiness"
Which brings me back to my challenge....should it be a "happy day", a "happy hour" or a "happy minute" challenge....where everyone posts what they did for themselves in that time....or maybe just an "ah-ha" moment challenge where everyone posts their "ah-ha" moment of the week....or ....or both....I don't know...help me out here.....I'm still brainstorming....and I still need some education on Mr linkys and link buttons for this...(edited to add ....I think I may have it figured out)...
I realize I probably lost half the audience about 5 pages ago but I just couldn't help myself today. My brain is on overload and I need to make room! Any and all comments are appreciated. I just want to know if there is an interest. If there's no comments I'll assume there's no interest and I'll just continue with my own rants and forget the community challenge part. I just figured out the Mr Linky thing...so share your own ah-ha moment....or share what you did for yourself this week...or ....I don't know....this challenge is a work in progress...and still doesn't have a name...any suggestions?
I think over time we, as parents, lose ourselves. And as busy parents we lose our ability (or simply forget over time) how to connect with our spouses and ourselves. We get so busy with the every day monotony of parenthood that we forget who we are....or who we were before being a parent. Our whole identity becomes "parent". And that's not healthy.