The pursuit of happiness

When I was looking for happiness and fulfillment outside of myself, I was unhappy. I couldn’t find real, deep, lasting joy in other people (husbands), my children, friends, or religion. This all began to change about a decade ago, when I started going to Alanon, in an attempt to save my marriage. A couple of years later I began discovering a different spiritual path which included meditation. Learning to explore the inner world rather than focusing on outer people, circumstances, and events changed everything.

The question came to me via the writing course I’m taking; what is missing from my life right now?  Hmm. Most of the time I don’t think anything is missing except for having an infinite passive source of money so I could quit working a job entirely.  I’d like to just explore my own interests and help people be well. I don’t want stuff. Stuff requires too much attention.  I have enough to live a good life.

A connected question: Do you feel like you are simply destined not to have some of the things you may want out of life?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!
We create our reality — but if you don’t realize or believe this is true, you won’t actively create. I can look back on my life, and now see that I was a participant in making it the way it was – and some of it wasn’t so great, but I learned from it.

Only other thing, and it’s not really missing because I’m working on it, is more friendships When you move to a new area, it takes time to find your tribe. I joined the UU church here, but hadn’t been a member that long when the pandemic showed up. We’ve just opened up again, I’m working on being more involved in some of the smaller groups. I’ve signed up for a couple of meetups, and, I have returned to work. I need people in my life.

I haven’t always felt connected to people and life, but of late I am more aware that sometimes my energy is open, and other times I seem to close myself off. And that it is ok.

I may have felt more connected to people, particularly other mothers, when I was having babies, was a La Leche League Leader, involved in the old church. But those are old interests. I was busy with children and trying to figure out life.

Another question: Do I hold the same values I was taught as a child? Another hmmm. Some of the values I was taught as I child are the same – although when I think about it, I don’t really feel that I was “taught” values. My parents’ life was the example to me of what I thought life looked like, or should look like – Husband went to work, provided a good living. Wife stayed home, took care of kids, shopped and cooked, sewed and pursued her own interests. Great camping vacations. Basically, be honest, work hard, take time off, retire early with lots of money. I started out my adult life with all that in mind, but found that my husband was not like my father at all. Turns out, I’m not like my mother in many ways either. So yeah – be honest, work hard — but I eventually divorced twice, went to work, and definitely will not “retire young with lots of money”!

I used to believe that each person has a path they have to find – a “right” path. Now I know that is hogwash!

We can be unhappy with our life and want something different, especially when we don’t feel fulfilled in any way. It doesn’t mean it is “wrong”, but it probably means it is time for a change.

Cheers!

I shared wine and pizza with my dear friend last night and it was like always – we picked up where we left off, no matter how long it had been since we saw each other. Pattye and I met 10 years ago, coworkers for the same hospice company, she a social worker and I a nurse. We discovered that we had a few other things in common – we had daughters the same age,  we both have December birthdays, and we shared a passion for the work of hospice. I became her boss for a while, but she didn’t let it ruin our friendship! Pattye was one of the first people in my life to show me what it means to be transparent and authentic, talking about her own life difficulties with a sometimes raw candor which at first startled me. Growing up, I was taught the importance of keeping my guard up and looking good to the world, keeping any pain or ugliness hidden inside. I was in a bad marriage, but denied it to myself  and absolutely didn’t want anyone else to know! From Pattye, I learned the value of  the girlfriend, and gradually opened up and have shared things with her that I’ve not mentioned to anyone else. The fact that I was in my 40’s and had not ever had a woman friend who stuck with me through thick and thin makes that a big deal.  I knew pretty quickly that Pattye and I would be friends for life, and when I was unfairly terminated from my management position after nearly 5 years of faithful service, she  immediately resigned her own job. Said she wouldn’t work for those kind of people. THAT is friendship at its best.

Now our daughters are 18, both going away to college. Hers is an only child,  mine the youngest of half a dozen plus one.  We are “older” parents, having birthed these girls in our late 30’s. We laugh and cry and drink wine as we share the emotion of our little birds leaving the nest. They’ve been on the edge for quite a while, now will fly off, as they should, bravely beginning the next chapter of their lives, and leaving us to do the same.  As for us? We continue the forward march, embracing  the uncertainty of aging bodies – lines in our faces and sagging breasts, doing the best we can to be healthy in a toxic world, and living today with the hope that we’ll be able to do all the things that we’ve put off for the joy of parenting. She plans to return to volunteering, and I – well that seems to always be a question mark lately!

I look back at the journey from where I am now, and am quite frankly amazed and very grateful for the women who have come into my life and become my companions and cheerleaders, and I theirs. I love my life, I love my friends, and I raise my glass to all of you.