Key to Happiness – Lower Your Expectations

I have been in a funk. It has been for a while now and seems to be getting worse instead of getting better. And I just can’t figure out why exactly. I mean, I have some basic and daily struggles, but overall life is actually pretty good. I have no real reason to feel as low and sad and … empty … as I have been feeling.  Honestly, looking back over the last year and a half … these last few weeks I have been just about as low as I have been during any of that time. The problem with manic depression is that you can fall into these pits and not really be able to identify what pushed you there. So dealing with that while also having a touch of OCD and perfectionism … that’s a bad cocktail of feels.  I feel 100% empty and alone and I don’t know why, which makes me kind of angry, so that layers on top of it. It’s a big ball of ugly that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I have always said the biggest hurdle to dealing with and living with and managing mental illness is acceptance and understanding. Both for myself and anyone I let into my life. I accept and understand what I deal with and what I need to do to get by on bad days. And I now only let people in my life that also are able to understand and accept this. So, I fully realized that I was spiraling and needed to do something about it before I hit the bleak, dark bottom. It became time to step back and evaluate what the hell my brain was trying to do to myself. Luckily … part of my spiral always includes the fun addition of crippling insomnia into my daily schedule. So bonus – plenty of time to think. It became a matter of constantly re-focusing my brain to something productive and not self-defeating. As I was reading through some affirmations and articles and trying to drill down to what had triggered this mess I realized that it is all me. It is all my own brain self-sabatoging. that pesky brain. At it again.

See … I made a very major change in my life not coming up on almost a year ago. I decided I had enough of being as unhappy as I was in a situation that, realistically, was not going to change. I spent a good couple of years working through all of it before deciding on the change that I made. And I was instantly happier and lighter and … better. I was me again. 100% me. Able to live my life as me and not as someone wanted me to appear to be to everyone else. No more guilt. No more censoring. Just me. And in doing that … my brain got greedy. It decided to start setting some expectations for my life that, honestly, are just not really possible. I mean, they may be at some point, but not right this second. Which is what my brain wanted. It wanted everying it wanted and it wanted it NOW. My brain is Veruca Salt.

 

My problem is I have some unrealistic expectations and a brain that doesn’t want to wait on anything. And let me tell you … it is true … all of those quotes. Expectations can really fuck things up.

Now. Now I get to try to self-talk my brain off the Great Expectations ledge. Convince it that my life is just fine like it is.

Hey Veruca: All those things you think you need for happiness … you really don’t. You don’t need a prince on a white horse to make you happy or take care of you. Take care of yourself for crying out loud. Prince Charming doesn’t exist Veruca. Everyone has issues and they don’t need your stupid issues on top of theirs. The key is working around both sets of issues without throwing temper tantrums because you didn’t get enough attention. Shut up Veruca. You are just fine. Take your neediness and lack of patience and go sit in a corner until you can use your indoor voice. You have a life that is just fine. A little hardship and growing isn’t going to hurt you at all. Suck it up lady. I know you got a taste of the potential your life holds and you’ll get there. Just be patient. I know you want the Golden Goose. You want the happiness and harmony, and you’ll get it. Eventually. And maybe you’ll learn a few things about yourself on the way. Knock off the temper tantrums. Quit kicking your own ass in the dirt. Get over yourself … and get back to yourself. You have you and you are pretty awesome. You don’t need a bunch of things or people or stuff to make you happy. Focus your expectations on yourself and what you can control. Stop setting us up for disappointment for crying out loud. It really sucks when life doesn’t deliver the rediculous things you demand. And I’m getting tired of feeling like this.  So for the love of all that is holy Veruca, lower that bar a bit and enjoy the life you have.

180 in 365

* NaBloPoMo: Day 17 *

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Looking back to one year from today, I still find it kind of surreal, the life I’m currently living. A lot has happened. A whole lot. Some really shitty stuff and some really great stuff and a crap ton of just general life stuff in between. My life right now is good. It’s not perfect. It’s not amazing. In some ways it’s better than it was a year ago. In some ways it is really, really, really bad. I have amazing days and I have horrible days. However, the one thing that is different from the amazing and horrible days I have now, compared to the amazing and horrible days I had then is this: I like myself and where I am going.

A year ago I was not in a great place. I was probably the unhappiest I have ever been in my life and at that point had been pretty damn unhappy for a very long time. I was at potentially the lowest point I have ever experienced it took me getting there to finally grow the balls to say to myself: “Hey dumbass … you don’t have to continue to live like this.” Now, this was a conversation I’d been having with myself for a long while. And I knew that at some point, I would make this change and do the thing that needed to be done for my own sanity. But I continued to put it off. Mostly out of fear. Fear of how I’d manage it. Fear of what everyone else would think about me. Fear of what my kids would think. A whole fucking truck load of fear my friends. It was holding me back and keeping me in a sad and unhappy and very ugly place. I was becoming withdrawn (more than my normal low swings) and just plain angry. I didn’t like my life and I certainly didn’t like myself. I was living in that space that many people live in, the whole “sticking it out for the kids” thing that we tell ourselves is the right thing to do. But there came a point where I was noticing reactions in my kids that indicated their own personal unhappiness with life in the current situation. And the day that I saw that reaction from my son was the day I decided that shit needed to change. My Mama Bear instinct kicked in at the first sign of unhappiness and displeasure in my youngest. I could rationalize keeping myself in a bad situation, but I could not fathom keeping my kid in a place that made him look at me and react that way. That was my trigger. After that switch was flipped, I realized that the “staying for the kids” mentality is really kind of bonkers. I found a great quote:

“Divorce isn’t such a tragedy. A tragedy is staying in an unhappy marriage, teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce.”  ~ Jennifer Weiner

And it’s true and it’s what I told my son when I sat him down to tell him what was happening. The situation we had was not good for anyone and was NOT a good example of what a healthy relationship should look like. I owed him much, much better than that. And as unhappy as I was, that was my main reason for finally doing something about it.

And now, here we are. I’m 8-ish months out from being on my own again, for the first time in 20 or so years. It’s scary as hell and some weeks I’m not sure how I”m going to make it, but so far I’m 100% on surviving my days, so I’ll just keep at it. It’s not easy, but it is better. Now, when I feel lonely, it’s because I’m actually and literally alone in my house. And being lonely still makes me very sad, but somehow it’s a much better sad than a year ago. If a better sad is a thing. By and far though, the best thing to come of this is that I have come to like myself. And I’ve started to accept myself for who I am. And most importantly, I’m learning to not give a rat’s ass what anyone else thinks about that. The only people right now I worry about accepting me are my kids. As long as they are cool with me … I’m golden. And I ask them. All the time. My son, the non-confrontational, non-decision making, emotion hiding teenager that he is probably hates me for it. But I ask him if I’m doing okay by him. He always says yes, which is his way, so I try to watch for signs. So far I think I’m doing pretty okay at all of this.

Life is different than it was a year ago. We live with less, but we laugh a whole lot more. The time we have together is precious and I treat it as such. Life is different. But life is good.

 

Holiday Spirit

* NaBloPoMo: Day 14 *

As we get closer to the holiday season (I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is next freaking week. WTF. How has this year gone so quickly), I find myself being a little more contemplative than normal about this time of year. The holidays are gonna be a little weird this year, and I’ve gone back and forth between being sad about it and being fine with it. I find myself settling on the “being fine” side of things.

My sadness, quite honestly, mostly has to do with the fact that I can’t financially provide the kind of Christmas I really want to for my kids. That is really bumming me out right now and 98% of my sadness about the next couple of months is totally based on the money. But … the more I think about it … the more I realize that my kids could give two shits about that, which makes it easier to take. Still not super excited about that aspect of it … but I’m getting there.

At first I was a little sad about sharing their time, but I got over that pretty quickly. I have never been one who was stuck on the aspect that Thanksgiving and Christmas are one day. You can celebrate what those days are about pretty much whenever you want to, so that part isn’t really an issue either. With the recent passing of their grandmother, they need to be with my ex this year and I’m 100% cool with that. I lost my dad during the holidays and it sucked a lot and he wasn’t even much into the whole holiday thing. Their Nana lived and breathed the holidays with the family, so I know how hard this year is going to be. They need to be with him and his family as much as necessary.

So, as I work through all of this, I find that for the first time in a couple of years I am actually, honestly, kind of ready for the holiday season. The last few years I haven’t had much desire to decorate or be festive. I was so consumed with my general unhappiness (in particular last year) that I just didn’t have any “holiday” in me. But this year I find myself actually looking forward to getting the tree up. I’m not dreading the onslaught of Christmas music like last year (although I will NOT listen to it until after Thanksgiving thank you very much and I will always and forever do my very best to make it through the season without hearing
that piece of shit “Christmas Shoes.” Barf).

So bring on the lights and the decorations and the music. Please don’t bring on the snow because I fucking hate snow. Also – don’t get too cold because cold weather makes me stabby. But I’m totally ready for the rest of it. My holidays this year may be meager and simple … but they will be happy. And that is really what it is all about after all.

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Previous Life

So, anyone who reads this blog, should know I’ve had others before it. One of them, in particular is pretty dear to my heart. It was my place that I did a lot of journaling type blogging during the rough times at the end of last year and beginning of this one. It was called “Dreams Of A New Life” and it is quite special to me.

NOTE: The stuff over there is highly personal. It was a private place that I basically bared my soul when I needed an outlet. Some posts were thought out. Some were just basic brain dumps. All of them are honest and raw and 100% me. So welcome to it.

I’m sharing here because over there I had a few followers that were going through similar things and we did a bit of supporting of each other. Now that I’m primarily writing here, I thought I’d, at the very least, link back to where I came from.

Thanks to anyone reading this. I appreciate you!

To anyone finding there way here from Dreams of A New Life – welcome!

 

It’s All About Me For Once

This subject has been kind of danced around for several months now, both here and IRL, but I think it’s high time I just get it out there. I’m weary of being careful and censoring myself. I’ve discovered a few things about myself during all of what has gone down, and one of those things is that it’s okay to be me, honest and unadulterated. To say, think, feel, and do what I want. Being myself – is 100% okay.

At the end of April this year, I left my husband. We were together for 20 years, married for 17, and it was a very difficult and terrifying thing to do, but I did it. I’ll say this right up front. Ending this relationship was 100% my idea. I had been unhappy for a very, very long time. The issues were the same issues that were issues the entire time. I honestly and very seriously could not see anything changing and I decided that I needed to end things. I truly believe it is the best for me and for him and for the kids. I’m not going to get into gory details or any nasty anything. I have zero desire to do anything like that. I wasn’t angry, I was sad and so very tired. I didn’t have animosity, I had apathy. It was time. The relationship had devolved to, well, to nothing really. Not anything real or meaningful anyway. And when the kids started seeing things, I knew it was time to make the change. I considered “sticking it out for the kids” but ultimately decided that we were not setting an example of a good relationship for them. And we weren’t being very good parents in that environment. At least not as good as we could have been. It’s better for them to see us happy apart than miserable together. A happy person is a better person, and a happy parent is a better parent.

Now, I know that with this being my idea, that other people don’t understand or see or accept it. And I get that. I really do. But at the end of the day I needed to do what was best for me and for my kids. My ex isn’t a bad person, he’s really a great person, and he’s a great dad. But we weren’t working anymore.

Because of this split, I have done a lot of trying to figure out who I am, me on my own, just me. Who am I. I felt like at the end I wasn’t living a life of my own really. I had my things that I did and whatever, but I was living as “the wife” or “the mom” and really felt like I didn’t have my own anything. I was sad most of the time, depressed a lot, and soul crushingly lonely. The feeling of being alone was the worst I think. And it is very, very, very likely that a lot of that was self-created. I’ll own that. I can admit that I have always had issues with not feeling worthy and always feeling guilty and it is quite likely that I created some of my own sadness. But my surroundings were certainly not helping.

As soon as I made the decision and began taking over my own life again, once I realized that I could live for myself, take care of my kids, but also take care of me, I started to change. The switch in how I started to thing about things, and think about myself, was, in comparison to how long I had felt like my wants and needs were insignificant, was seemingly instantaneous. I found this quote, when reading about healing after a split like this:

“When you start recovering … you will change. You will become a different person. Recovery makes you self-empowered. It brings you into yourself. It allows you to find your voice. You start making your own decisions, sharing your own opinions, setting up boundaries. You become more assertive and confident.”

Believe it or not … all of what I just typed, about the change being seemingly instant, and how I’m feeling better about myself … I just came to the realization that this has happened … today. It’s been nearly six months since I moved out, and while I’ve been changing and generally feeling better about myself and my life, today was the first time I realized that it’s actually happening. I don’t know if I got caught up in the day to day of trying to make this new life work or what. But I look back at the last year of my life and I really feel like a totally different person. I’ve lost weight. I’m happy. I’m enjoying my life with my kids even more. I’m relaxed and at ease and I don’t feel guilty all the time. As I sit here and think back … I’m kind of amazed.

So to anyone reading this that has been a part of the collective “we” over these last 20 years, who maybe doesn’t understand why I did this, or agree with my doing this, or whatever. All I say is this: I’m sorry if I disappointed you. I’m sorry if I didn’t do what you thought I should have to make it work. But the feeling I have about myself, and my life, right this second, makes all of that meaningless to me. Not that I don’t value your opinion or what you think of me, because I do, to an extent. But when it comes right down to it, this is my life. Mine. The most important opinions to me are mine and those of my two kids. You are entitled to your opinion and maybe someday you will understand me. Maybe not. Maybe someday you can understand that a drastic change is needed to find the happiness you have been looking for. Happiness that isn’t found in what others think, or how others feel, or the stuff you have, or your reputation. It’s the happiness that is inside of you, that allows you to look in the mirror and say that you really, truly like the person looking back at you.

For the first time in as long as I can remember, I actually like the person looking back at me. It’s an amazing feeling. And I can not wait to see what she does next.