All my life people talk about what makes you happy. The question comes often. When going through a hard time, or just going through life day-to-day, status quo, but feeling like something was missing, people would ask, “What makes you happy? Do what makes you happy?” That’s great if you know what that is.
Happiness is elusive. It is fluid. What makes you happy one day may not be what makes you happy the next day, week or year. Dreams change, goals change, priorities change. That is the difficult part. I have found through my years that I tend to get what I think makes me happy and that is fine for a bit, then I get restless. Bored or maybe I realize I am too comfortable. I see other people and what they have and wonder if that would work for me. Not in a jealous kind of way, just a curiosity about different things.
What we think we want and what we really want aren’t always the same. The challenge is to determine the difference. This challenge is universal. Few can figure it out and conquer it. It is one of life’s mystery.
For me, I have blazed a lot of trails. Some I followed to the end, some I jumped to a different path in midstream. Or jumping over the stream to get to the path that looked interesting. On this blazed trail, I have left broken promises and broken hearts. I have wounded souls, shattered trust, and lost some of the most valuable things in my life. None of the carnage was intentional. I don’t consider myself to be selfish, or even self-serving. I still struggle to determine what I actually consider happiness. I would think at this point in my life I should know.
I’ve been through a lot in my life that has been hard. A devastating house fire in my early high school years where everything was lost. It wasn’t the material loss, it was the loss of my family as we knew it. We were all safe, out of town at the time of the fire, but the impact it had on each family member was life-changing. A marriage that was what was expected of me. He was a good man but there were things that rendered me “unhappy”. The death of my father, exacerbated by alcohol and depression. My first pregnancy ended in a late-term miscarriage. My daughter was born a year later (best thing in my life) and when she was four, a divorce. A brutal rape that almost killed me, physically and emotionally. A relationship, finally giving me joy after years of sadness that offered the reality of one of my lifelong dreams, owning a farm. Everything seemed perfect. I was happy, I told myself. Finally happy. Then the relationship struggles of most, financial, employment, overwhelming things. The death of my 17-year-old niece. Then, the worst thing I could ever imagine, my daughter’s addiction to heroin. Heroin is the devil in chemical form. She and I worked hard to pull her through her two-year addiction to become a clean and healthy woman. But the damage was done. The relationship that was already fragile, ended in pain and sorrow and regret. Then the death of my second father, watching my mom go through being a widow again. Then the death of my second father, and watching my mom manage becoming a widow once again.
So I find myself alone with no one to lean on for the first time in my life since before the fire that changed my life at an early age. The journey has been long and difficult, to put it mildly. Once again, people ask me what my passions are, what makes me happy. I don’t know the answer to that question any more now then I did when I was asked before. It is heartbreaking to have no idea. It is devastating to have to force yourself to think of what makes you happy and try to determine what your passions are? Is it what truly makes you happy if you have to think about it. Is it truly a passion if you find yourself searching for it?
Passionless and sad seems a hard way to be. Every morning you decide to have a positive attitude and make it a good day. You don’t want to be sad and you fight the loneliness. You put on your mask and go through the days, weeks and months. You smile at work and join in conversations of weekend happenings and planned vacations. You make plans with friends and never let on that you fight every minute of getting ready because you just want to stay home. Home? Is it a home? You are alone. Your daughter is out-of-town, and your mother is close but just lost her husband and needs support, not to know her daughter is struggling. So you move along with your mask, just like the 15-year-old girl who watched her family fall apart after the fire. The difference is the 15-year-old girl had a purpose. Pull the family back together. Work to get the house back together and hope the family comes back together as well. The woman I am now has no purpose that supports others and saves others. She only sees a lonely life with no one to cuddle on the couch with and no one to call to let them know she is running late. No one to check and make sure the grill she put together by herself was assembled correctly and won’t blow up the first time she uses it. No one to help her hang pictures, move furniture or clean up a flooded basement.
Happy? Passions? I guess the search continues.