Wednesday, April 11, 2012

how to let yourself be happy.

It's harder than it sounds, letting yourself be happy. Especially for someone like me. Sometimes I think I get off on living in the shadows and clawing around like a feral animal. Maybe because it's easier. Maybe because wrapping my arms around my vices and holding them hard, closer to myself than any one actual person, is enough of a risk without exposing myself. Even for one second. One camera flash in the dark would still paint a perfect picture of all the things I work so hard to keep in dim light.
But this isn't really about my affinity for finding myself a crater and springing into it head first as far as my mind will take me into the realm of doom and gloom. No, this is about something entirely different. It's about letting myself be happy.  Maybe it is kind of about both.
You see, despite a happy childhood, I've grown into an adult with a perpetual chip on my shoulder toward the world. I don't want to be that guy, not really.
Sometimes I still give myself the old pass card, explain my misery as cynicism that I've somehow earned, allow myself to believe that anyone less miserable shows a remarkable lack of depth. DO YOU SEE WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE WORLD? WIPE THAT SMILE OFF YOUR STUPID FACE.  I actually let myself believe that I'm smart and everyone happy doesn't get it. You know what? That's just fucking embarrassing.  This really isn't about depth, is it? It's just as shallow to believe that my snotty bad attitude makes me somehow better, superior.
The more I think about it, the more I'd like to be a shard of sunshine on a hardwood floor that the dog sprawls his body asleep across in the afternoon. That feeling in your guts when a letter appears out of nowhere from a long lost friend. Something shiny. The tickle on your nose from the bubbles coming off a freshly poured glass of champagne. A reason to be brighter, stand up straighter.
And I mean, I'm not a terrible person to be around. I laugh. I joke. I smile at strangers. But man, my mind is a different story.
A solid and familiar state of misery is the hardest addiction I've ever had to tackle. Sometimes even on good days I can sense a landslide coming and three hours later I'm still trying to get myself lost on roads that I already know better than the backs of my hands. I never really end up getting anywhere, literally or figuratively.
I was reading a novel recently and the characters are arguing and something comes up along the lines of:  We are humans! We are not the weather! And that's true, we're not the weather. We have some sense of control over our actions. We don't have to unleash cold rain on someones peaceful easy feeling. But just because I don't do something that causes another person pain doesn't mean that just under that surface there isn't a storm raking through my entire being.
And even though March was phenomenal and my life is going in a direction that feels right and promising, I still feel this intense urge to sabotage it. To crumble it up into a ball, all of it, and just throw it into a fire. Gather the ashes and scatter them around haphazardly as I dance around on the hot coals, burning my feet, But at least giving myself a reason for cry.
How can this be real, do you see? I'll rub my nose in it after I'm through, just to make sure I'm thoroughly punished for my negligence.
You know, sometimes I go to the park for hours and read, an activity that I love. But I'll do it until my eyes hurt so bad that I can hardly keep them open when I get home. Part of me thinks it's because I'd rather be lost in a world of strangers that are indifferent to my existence and living their lives fully independently of what I would do to them than home with a real living person that actually adores me, who I'm bound to disappoint. Who is willing to take all the things terrible and wonderful that I have to offer and believes fully that the return is always greater than the cost no matter what. It's so much messier to actively participate.
And I mean, as terrible as that is to say, how can I not say it?
I blame myself for not falling on my knees in joy for all the Universe has offered up to me freely. What reason do I have to be unhappy? How do I dare perpetuate this negativity? And then guilt. And crippling anxiety. And more misery. Because nothing is anything if not a cycle.
And so I struggle. I struggle for the place where despite the fact that I'm drawn like a magpie to fastest route toward poking the tender places until I'm in too much pain to even move, that instead I reach desperately for a gritty happiness of my own. No, it's probably not sugarcoated and covered in glitter and shiny with perfectly dusted surfaces and organized drawers. But you know, it's light. Naturally lit with gaping open windows that look like mouths inhaling and exhaling in the breeze.. There's music playing, but not too loud because I want to hear everything under it too. The signs of life. There's a worn couch and my feet are tucked under the person that I share my heart with, and he's keeping them warm. We hold hands while we watch Parks and Rec. Sometimes we laugh at the same parts, and sometimes different ones.  And our dog is actually lying at our feet calmly. Sometimes we wink at each other, just to make sure we're both paying attention to this perfect moment. And I remind myself that it is enough. Of course it is.
So this is how I let myself be happy. Or at least this is how I grab my machete and blaze a small and inconsequential path through a place that all at once terrifies and lures me. Here is how I go out the other side instead of straight to the middle, into the thick of it.
I make mistakes. I do what feels good. I sing along to the radio sometimes just to drown out my thoughts. I give entire life stories to the people I see in stores and various other places I happen to be. I surprise Matt with gifts just for the hell of it, because he won't know what to say. Because it will make him happy. I read. I write about how tempting it is to get stuck in the middle of something dark, because it forces me to admit that I can't rationalize throwing away everything I've been given. I laugh at how much it hurts to be human. And then I cry about how wonderful it is to have access to all the emotions and thoughts that we do. The spectrum. And I realize that I'll never be bored, that even when I thought I was, for all that time, I was really just resisting the fight.
And so it's a fight, despite how the title of this post may deceive. If it were as easy as letting myself be happy, I would. But for me, it's not. So every day that I feel strong enough, I fight.

No comments:

Post a Comment