Sunday, March 26, 2017

What Will It Take To Make Me Happy?

My therapist asked me this question the other day:  

"What will it take to make you happy?"

It was a good question.  It's been two years since I made the decision to leave my marriage and left.  I've been back and forth to the house physically over those two years  but not to the marriage. Tough. Up and down. Still sad.  And uncertain about what my "new normal" looks like  but over all, across many aspects, I'm living happier and feeling so much better.  

Now I'm spending my time, energy and finances (for the most part) 
on myself  a new experience. Totally new. My truth is that most of my life I made myself somewhat indispensable (or at least valuable) by taking care of things for others.  By doing that I got the attention I needed; the attention that wasn't available at home.  Good behavior got me attention (since second grade).  But that automatic-robo focus on the external (It's-all-his-fault) and lack of focus on my internal (What's my part in this?) in part created the unhappiness I found myself living in.  

From young adulthood on, my driven, commanding (ever-worried) behavior
 got me great jobs, made me great friends, paid our way (partially) through life (along with my persistent frugality).  But it wasn't all beneficial. Not for me or my relationships.  I trusted next to nothing.  If I wasn't hyper-vigilant, something bad was going to happen.  And a married a guy who virtually never worried (way before I came along) and thought about it even less after we married because mastermind-me was always on the job.  It was a vicious cycle.

We're both free of that now.  It's a better, easier, happier life
  but it came at a price. And now, moving forward means leaving behind the only male partner I've had for 36 years.  It doesn't come easy!  Hard to turn off the motor in my mind that still looks for the clothes I think he needs (in thrift stores, of course) or still wants to pass along info I think he could use, or still thinks about feeding him the leftovers I know he'd enjoy having.  But that coupled life is no longer my reality.  My reality is grieving the loss of the marriage and grieving the loss of couple-dom, and I need to sit with that.  Something I don't find easy to do.

My daughter is going through a break-up and she's decided to write about it, which is SO healthy.   And it reminded me how I've shirked writing about my own transition.  From where I sit, it seems too hard to categorize or define or even know what my life is day to day.  How to write about that?  

What's on the table for me right now is so uncertain, so nebulous, that I scarce wanna write about it  but writing about it is what helps.  At least for me.  And I'd guess for our daughter, too. [FYI, that was just a place of transition for me, choosing to write "our" instead of "my" daughter.]  Anyway, none of this territory is known to me.  

I make choices every day and only as they benefit me.  I don't really need to consider anyone else  or if I do, it's because I CHOOSE to.  It's such a relief  such a gift to just focus on what I want and not need to take anything else into consideration.  Amazingly freeing.

And yet I've had two health scares recently (urgent care/ER) and at least one will require surgery pretty immediately and being on your own makes you feel really vulnerable. All the progress you've made on feeling strong and being able to exist solo, fritters away when you're in the ER and someone is asking, "Emergency contact?"

It's hard to write about this stuff, this transition.  It's always shifting to me.  But writing about it (along with time spent in therapy) forces me to examine it and that helps me learn from it.  I've examined a lot in my life and in real depth  but not examined myself.  I haven't been in help-myself mode in, well, forever.  At least that's how it feels.  It's a frightening business  but it's a must.

One of these days, I'll get into a writing routine again; find some "new normal", but it's not right now.  

Bear with me it may take time, but I'm gonna figure out how to truly make myself happy. 


  1. Giving yourself time is key. Stay with the process. Thanks for your honesty.

  2. I'm in the same boat, experiencing the same thoughts and feelings. Struggling with what 'examining myself' really means. When you figure that out, would you let me know?!

    1. I'll try but you know we each have our own path, though I'm happy to hear of a sister-traveler on THIS road. I hope you get this reply to your comment but I'm not sure you will, unless you just keep checking back to this blog. If you'd like to be added to my list (I send an email alert when I post) just email me or perhaps if you "follow" me it might alert you when there's a new post. I just don't know...but I'm glad you wrote and I'm wishing both of us good luck and a happy journey!

  3. That was beautifully written and had me feeling the pain and raw emotion. I admire your journey!

    1. Thank you so much for your always-present support!

  4. Your courage and tenacity in navigating the terrifying terrain of the unknown parts of self inspire me immensely, and not just in this exquisitely written entry. Keep on keeping on, and remember that being on your own isn't the same thing as being alone.