Sunday, October 09, 2005

Happiness is not a right.........

Among all of the regular craziness of life with two boys, two dogs, work, and a house to keep running, I've been battling internally.

I feel these days often the desire to be rebellious, I'm angry, I'm alternately depressed and then incredibly motivated in short bursts.

I was talking to one of my close friends in Iraq about this in the past week. Most of it I attribute to trying to do the 'responsible' thing in life at the moment, and in doing that, I have to chain the person I found underneath. I recently wrote this in a journal that I've been keeping:

I want to feel the fear
I want to feel the fight
At least then I would have something to rage against
Instead of this deathly silent wait

I've been working with people involved in life and death situations every moment of every day for the past year plus. I've felt gratified that I was allowed these opportunities more than once. But more than gratified, I realized that I was driven to make those opportunites without even realizing it, just by following my instincts and passions.

"I'm miserable!" I wailed to my friend. (Yes, I know, sounds rather insensitive for someone talking with someone in Iraq, doesn't it? But truly it is a testimony to the closeness of our friendship.) The response was, "well we aren't supposed to be happy all the time are we?"

I remember my system taking this sentence in like a shock wave. "But, but, but" I was thinking, "I want to be happy, I've experienced happiness, and why, why, why do I have to give it up"?

Two years ago I was in a completely different life situation. As a mother, I've always taken my responsibilities very seriously in that area. Maybe a bit too much, which led to my running just the other direction. Then I found myself with another family. One that seemed to understand me in a way that mine did not. I like to think that I'm a "gray" person. Meaning I can think more easily big picture, and medium tones than blacks and whites. And here I was thinking completely black and white. All or nothing. No balance. Keeping balance can be exhausting. I can compartmentalize well when it's work. But when it becomes emotional, that ability goes out the window for me. And when you have emotion of any sort involved in your work, it can do two things. It can skew your ability to do your job well, and it can inspire you to do things above and beyond anything you've ever done before.

But, the larger thing is that it reminded me of a conversation I've had with more than a few people. About America, and our culture. It used to be, that happiness was found in even the most mundane daily tasks. It used to be the pride of keeping your family fed and your kids clothed, and being involved in your community, and you WORKED FOR HAPPINESS. You worked for those fleeting moments, because they reminded you what all the work was for. You had pride because you worked.

What has happened to America that we all think we deserve happiness? The media says it is just there, constantly only just out of our grasp. I have been applauded more in the past year for my accomplishments by society than I can remember since I was in my early twenties. I was NEVER applauded by society for my choice to stay at home with my kids, sacrificing my own intellectual stimulation and drive, sacrificing material goods, financial security. But, leave my kids to go traveling all over the place? "Wow, you are amazing!" Amazing. All I was sacrificing then was what I swore I'd never to do to my kids the way it has been done to me. I sacrificed their well being and happiness every single day for my own. And I grew more and more confused. Why couldn't I have it all? Why couldn't I be happy?

Precisely because I was looking for just that. Having it all. And sometimes, you can't. And sometimes you make decisions at the wrong time in your life. And it sucks. And you pay for those mistakes. Yes, you pay. You have to make uncomfortable choices. And either way the choice hurts like hell. It's not supposed to be that way. It's supposed to be clear and simple. Right and wrong.

That's not real life. Real life is more complex. It's nice to know now that I picked the wrong time in life to do many things, that I knew more who I was and what I wanted to be in HIGH SCHOOL than as a twentysomething. But I did what I did. And I have to lie in that bed. I can make it as comfortable as possible. Or I can whine about it.

The pursuit of happiness is one thing. It is constant. The finding and keeping of it, the balancing your own happiness with that of the others in your life, is quite another.


Blogger Matthew said...

Hi Kerry,

Being a mommy or a daddy can be a very heavy burden. But it seems to me you have a lot to be happy about as well.

It's often hard to find balance, but once you get a tiny grip on some of the right levers, you can practice and make a habit of gradually increasing balance in your life. Before you even realize what's going on, making balanced choices becomes as much second nature as driving a car.

There are many people who have achieved balance in their lives who would envy you for some of the great blessings you appear to have. So once you are able to strike a better balance as well, I am quite sure you will be a very happy person indeed.

Peace, health, cheers, and love to you, my friend.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Kerry said...

Thanks Matthew....
To be sure, I've been blessed. And, overall, I'm a pretty happy person. A lot of what I was trying to say is that I was horrified at my own reaction when told I shouldn't be happy all the time. I agree with it, I know it, but I didn't want to hear it. And that really bothered me. It's going to lead to a follow up post eventually that is really more the root of the matter, what I call AADD (American attention deficit disorder). But for now, Iraq takes the front page until Constitutional referendum is over. Meantime, I'll keep working on that balance thing!

6:23 PM  
Anonymous About Medicine Blog said...

I was talking to one of my close friends in Iraq about this in the past week.

1:53 PM  

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