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Suspicious of Happiness

April 17, 2012

I’m suspicious of happiness. I find myself in a good mood and I greet it with trepidation. It tempts me with endorphins and feelings of well being and I wonder, Why am I feeling this way? Something must be wrong. I want to give in and enjoy it, but it frightens me. It’s just not right.

It’s the memory of the not-too-distant bad days that forms the basis of this distrust. Afterall, it was mere weeks ago that I was listing reasons why I should put off giving suicide some serious consideration. Maybe I wasn’t really suicidal. Maybe calling myself suicidal is melodramatic and an insult to the truly suicidal. Except that, I remember what it felt like in those moments, for those days. Pain. Extreme, deep pain. Being alive was hurtful and I wished I could end my state of being. I’m not sure I’d ever be brave enough to go through with it. I’m not sure how I would do it. Pills probably. But you have to be careful with pills. Too may and you throw them all up. Too few and you just sleep for a while. Anyway, in the end the mere existance of my children will (hopefully) be enough reason for me to never go from the thoughts to the planning. My death by suicide would irrecovably damage my children. Just look at how many children of suicide victims (is that an oxymoron?) turn to suicide themselves. Hemingway. Plath. Google it.

Having a reason to live is not the same thing as having the will to strive, the energy to get up, the hope that life will be good again. When that kind of pain has you in its grips, it seems like you’ll never escape it.

So, when I find myself walking down the street, a bounce in my step, noticing the beauty around me, feeling like a worthy person, with a future and value and hope…….my guard is up.

I used to have similar feelings when my husband and I were doing really well. When we were happy with each other, we were really happy. It was great. We were affectionate and loving. We laughed together, well, as much as I could ever get him to laugh. We ran errands together and shared meals and attended events and socialized. And the sex. Man, I miss the sex. My husband was my sex partner for the last 20+ years. He was only the second person I’ve ever had sex with. In the movies and on television the value of casual sex with multiple partners is extolled and glorified. I don’t know anything about that. That concept always seemed gross and scary to me. All I know is that having sex with the same man for decades can be amazing. We had our awkward years, our dry spells, especially in the beginning. But ever since I hit my 30s, my “dirty 30s,” as Liz Lemon called it, when my inhibitions and hang ups seemed to disappear overnight, it’s been fantastic. Adventurous. Fun. Playful. Loving. Giving. Never. Boring. Goddammit! I miss it. And when we were happy together, there was the great sex along with the talking and sharing and gossiping.

But I always had the lingering feeling that it wasn’t going to last and these happy times were experienced with my guard up. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I always knew it wouldn’t last for long. It was as cyclical as the phases of the moon without the predictablility. And when the tension returned, it was such a let down. It was like coming off the high of a really great drug, only to find the supply has tried up and the dealer is nowhere to be found. The spell was usually broken by some criticism or accusation. Something I did wrong. Some way I was wrong or not good enough. The criticism itself didn’t always break the spell. It was the feeling it left in my gut. He might have forgotten about it and returned to a state of bliss, or semi-bliss or pretend bliss. But it usually festered in me. I tried to let it go, swallow it. I told myself it wasn’t important…..not more important than him, than our happiness. But inevitably the sense of injustice, the dissatisfaction, the anger over some hypocrisy grew and ate away at me until I was left with an overwhemling feeling that I needed to say something. I just needed to tell him how I felt. Then he would understand and maybe show some compassion and try not to make me feel that way again. Silly girl. But his reaction was always the same. Anger. Blame. He would turn my complaint back around against me and by the time he was done, I would have a new list of sins on my soul. More charges added to my indictment. I would regret saying anything, though I knew I couldn’t have remained silent either. I couldn’t live with the feeling inside that something just wasn’t right. In the end, that’s what killed my marriage.

Now, I’m alone and the only relationship I’m left with is my fucked up brain and its off-balance chemistry. Depression is the spouse with which I now share a dysfunctional relationship. It’s not a new relationship. I’ve been flirting with it since my early 20s but it wasn’t until my mother’s death in 2005 that I began a serious, long-term affair with it. Now, it’s just the two of us.

So when I feel that high, that happy feeling that maybe life will be ok…..maybe I can make it on my own……..maybe I’ll get that job at the paper and excel at it. Maybe I can make a living on my own. I’ll make friends. I’m smart and pretty and this is going to work out for me……..those thoughts are met with a brick wall of cyncism. I know what can happen next. My brain can return to its dark place and remind me that I’m a failure…….that I’ve been rejected by the love of my life……that I’m a mediocre talent competing the market of geniuses……etc….etc….etc….

But for now, the sweet smell of gardenias and jasmine, the mulberries ripe for the picking on bushes all over downtown, the part time job that’s been giving me positive validation, if not decent pay and the interview that I think went really well are all beating Depression into submission. While my guard is up, I’m doing my best to greet my happiness with acceptance and let it inhabit my life for as long as it chooses to stay and when it leaves, hope it comes back soon.


From → Rantings

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