Tag Archive | happiness

Clarity

This photograph popped up on my Facebook memories the other day.  It was taken at the St. Elmo Ghost Town in Colorado, in August 2015.  It was one of the last trips my ex-husband and I took before we separated about 6 months later.

That was not a good trip.  I mean, the trip itself was good, as I love traveling and seeing new places, and that vacation had a lot of new places to see!  But that trip was the end of my marriage.  I suppose anyone whose marriage has ended can probably point to the month, the day, or even the moment when they were done.  It might not mean that they marched down to the courthouse that afternoon, or even a month later, but in looking back, they knew.

My moment happened on the first day of that trip – at lunch at a Boulder brewery shortly after we flew into Denver that morning.  It was a big thing, one that I could never let go of, even after the initial incident settled down.  I told myself that I would see how things went for a little while, and see if I was satisfied with the response.  See if he followed through on the promises he made.  I’m sure you can guess that the response wasn’t good enough.  The trust was gone and with that, the marriage.

I don’t think I’m different than anyone else.  I never thought I was someone who would get divorced.  I probably stayed too long.  I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt; wanted to believe that things would change.  I weighed the pros and cons of upsetting the balance of my life.  I went through the self-doubt and the wondering if I would ever find anyone who loved me or even cared.  Maybe my marriage was enough.  Maybe you never got the fairy tale, and something less was enough.

I am no different than anybody else in that I sometimes don’t feel confident about who I am, what I have achieved, and where I’m going.  I know in reality that it is nonsense, but it’s tough not to compare yourself to others, to not assume that everybody else somehow has it all together so much more than you do, and to not be your own worst critic.  I’m not good enough, I don’t deserve to be happy, I don’t deserve the good fortune I have had. I ruminate more when I’m tired and stressed, and I’m trying to break myself of this insidious habit.

I had a beloved boss and mentor who used to say, “you work someplace as long as it works for you.”  I have always remembered that, and I use it myself now too.  It applies to work and career, but it also applies to our personal lives.  Dr. Phil is known for asking guests, “how’s that working for you?”  It is kind of the same question.  If you are still doing the same thing, and it isn’t making you happy, don’t you owe it to yourself to try something different?

They say that sometimes you have to lose what you thought you wanted in order to make room for something better.  That one door has to close before another will open.  And that you have to sit with yourself, and learn that you are enough, before you can see that someone else is not.  I see a lot of people get stuck in life, and we all do, but you have a choice of how you will deal with it.  Will you maintain the status quo, and keep making the same choices that aren’t serving you, or will you make a change?

I have never been someone who just goes rushing into things.  It isn’t my nature.  I’m not particularly adventurous, even though some people might think otherwise.  After all, I did decide to pack up my car and head off on a several month road trip, with no real plan and only a very loose itinerary.  But I don’t see myself that way.  The irony of this is that my cautious nature used to annoy my ex-husband to no end.  But he would circle round a topic in an endless loop, unhappy with the status quo, complaining, and yet unwilling to ever do anything to change it.  I’m sure he’s still circling round his endless loop.  It might take me a while to make up my mind, evaluating all my choices and the consequences, but once I do, I set the plan in motion and go for it.

I have known that I am happier without him, but it is hard to define why.  Our marriage wasn’t awful on a day to day basis.  It was just… Stagnant.  Lifeless.  Unfulfilling.  I see this picture now and I can see exactly why, in a way that I didn’t understand then.  The body language of the man in that photo says it all.  He didn’t love me.  He didn’t want to be with me.  Posing for that photo with me was a chore.  I get that some people just don’t like being in photos, but the body language in that photo was the way it had become for him with me.  He looked this way with me, whether it was recorded or not.  He was already done, before I ever got to that point.

I have had a lot of ups and downs since this photo was taken.  My divorce was ugly and messy.  My former job was ugly and messy.  Closing those doors meant that I could let those things go and allow the light to come back in through another door.  I didn’t want to be a victim, but sometimes I have felt like one.  However, there is no future in that – being the victim.  All that holds is blame and more stagnation.  I was able to learn to shine again, and find that inner strength – the strength that had been there all along, but is sometimes hard to see when you are weighed down by other people’s shit.

Is my new life perfect?  Nope – not on your life.  But it is a lot more even-keeled.  I’m content.  Comfortable in my own skin.  And happy.

“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” ― Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

 

Facebook Memories

Ah Facebook memories, you are a complicated bunch…

I have been on Facebook for a little more than 10 years now and have posted various photos and thoughts on life along the way.  As a result, most days, I get a Facebook memories post.  And that’s where it gets complicated.

I, like other people I’m sure, have a tendency to want to remember the happy times and not the bad memories.  Facebook, I’m sure, wants to remind you of those.  But not all of my memories are happy, and even some of those that were at one time have become tainted by what came later.

I see all those posts of my early marriage, when I thought I was going to have a genuinely happy union.  I was bright-eyed and fresh-faced and wanting to make it work.  But the posts later showed a person who was just pretending.  Keeping up the appearance of a happy marriage, while I felt like I was the only one trying in our relationship.

Me on the Mary’s Rock Trail

I planned vacations, only to hear complaints about how a drive was too long or a historic site too boring, or how we didn’t do what he wanted to do, even though he hadn’t given any input when asked.  I see the pictures of him hiking far in front of me, with no interest in interacting.  I see pictures of my food at dinner, or selfies at national parks, because there was no way he was going to agree to a picture with me.  I see what I call the mug shots; those times when I insisted on a photo, and he just tried to ruin it with a sour expression.  Those Facebook memories are complicated; I loved the places we went and the things we did, but I hated having to “manage” a person who was so often so focused on the negative.

But I also see the experiences that have come since then – the trips with girlfriends and by myself, the hikes, the happy hours, family times, the morning walks.  I see that I have found joy again, that cheerful face that shines through in photos.  I have grown immeasurably and become more comfortable in my own skin.  I have gotten older, and lost love ones along the way, but still see the happy times.  I have faced my share of adversity, and despite it, I enjoy the experience of living.  I enjoy my life!  Those Facebook memories are welcomed.  Places that I want to see again, and people that I love spending time with.

My Facebook memories currently include lots of photos of my trip last year – I love seeing them but it is making me nostalgic about being on the road again.  I think about all the places I visited, and all the ones I didn’t have time to make it to.  I long for that kind of freedom again, and I hope I get more opportunities to travel without so much of an agenda or a timeline.  I worried about that last year as my trip began; would I be too nervous if I didn’t have everything planned out?  Where would I stay each night?  What if I got bored?  What if I got lost?  But it was quite the opposite in fact – I came to enjoy not having a reservation to make it to each night.  I could stay longer if I wanted to or move on earlier.  Freedom.

Me on the bank of the Yellowstone River

For now, work is keeping me from being on the road.  So I focus on those memories, and knowing that I will be making more soon!