My Therapist Is Enabling Me

By which I mean she’s encouraging me to honestly assess what I want out of life and to pursue a life that gives me happiness and satisfaction.

And my poor brain just doesn’t know what to do with someone encouraging me to live my life in a way that makes me happy and so it’s sitting here screaming at me IT’S A TRAP.

I can hear and see all the people frowning and pontificating that it’s unrealistic to pursue happiness, that happiness is fleeting, etc. etc.

But I also know that none of those people want to live a life that’s stripped them of all happiness. Sure, no one can be happy all the time – but how can a life without happiness be an acceptable existence?

I still can’t remember what happiness felt like. I used to be able to pull memories into my mind of times when I knew I was happy, and I’d feel an echo of that happiness. By the time that last long bout of depression ended, that no longer worked. I’d pull those memories into mind and – they’d be blank, emotionally.

I can still find things funny and laugh. I can still have occasional moods where I’m feeling pretty content in the moment. But there was another feeling beyond those. A feeling that life was good and that it was good to be alive and that I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing.

I remember that feeling existed when we went on a church family camping trip and a couple of friends and I followed a stream to the lake, taking off our shoes to wade in the clear water. I remember it was there when J and I climbed halfway up a small mountain overlooking Glengarriff and Bantry Bay. I remember it was there when B, E and I would cart our computers to P’s house, network them and play Diablo 2 until 5AM. When I’d hang out with JB and D at Ihop or Denny’s. It was there when G, P and I would drive to St. Petersburg to take a nighttime stroll on the beach. I just can’t remember what it feels like.

It wasn’t there when I got married. Oh, I wasn’t unhappy that day – but I was getting married because M wanted to get married, not because I wanted to. It wasn’t there when I got pregnant. I felt sick, literally and figuratively, the day I realized the nausea and vomiting I’d experienced on my way to work probably meant that I was pregnant, not ill. It wasn’t there for any of the other pregnancies, either. It sure as hell wasn’t there for buying a house, and wouldn’t have been even if the housing market hadn’t crashed shortly after.

When I think back to my children’s infancy and toddler years, I have an echo of something – large amounts of stress and anxiety. I know I love them, and like them, and I often feel proud of them – but I can’t remember feeling happy because of them. That sounds like a terrible thing to say, doesn’t it? But it’s true. I haven’t felt happiness from their existence in my life, but I feel dread over the thought of losing them. I’ve literally counted down the years until the last one would turn 18 while knowing that if any of them do not make it to 18 it will be the most devastating thing I’ll ever experience.

I don’t know if a return to happiness is even possible at this point.

Okay, I know a return to happiness is not possible at this point. I have two things actively preventing my brain from fully healing and being able to produce the chemicals that cause that feeling of happiness. I’m still sleep deprived and I’m still existing in our filthy, cluttered trash panda palace.

But after we’ve relocated, when we begin our yearlong experiment to see how a full night’s sleep and an uncluttered environment impact me – if we’re successful, and by the end of that year I can wake up feeling rested, with energy, and not being actively stressed out by my surroundings – will I find a return to happiness possible then?

That’s the difficult thought to face. Because I know I might discover that M & I just can’t find a way to live life that makes it possible for both of us to feel some happiness. But if I alter the life I have now, will I ever be able to shape it into a life that gives me happiness and satisfaction again? Or is it too late for that?

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