Yesterday I wrote about being fat and happy. Or rather, I wrote about being fat because I am happy. And the strangest thing happened.
As I wrote the words I am happy I was overcome with guilt. I felt that I had no right to feel this way, and certainly not to write the words down or say them aloud. I worried that some people might actually take offence at my being happy, might think that it meant I no longer cared about them or what they were going through – I pondered whether we can actually be happy ourselves when we know that those we care for are not.
It’s a difficult question to answer, just as happiness is difficult to quantify. Of course I’ve been “happy” before in my life, enjoying a weekend with friends, a giggle with the girls, an evening with my brothers, a meal with my mum or a G&T with my parents… But I have never before felt this underlying lightness of being and complete sense of security. I have had relationships wherein being held provided the greatest of physical comfort when needed, whereby a touch could make troubles melt away. But never have I felt such an incredible sense of being safe permeating my every waking minute.
Over the last few months I have felt a sense of relief blended with joy that I’ve never previously experienced. Where before I have felt smothered, detached, I have recently felt cushioned, connected. Where I used to feel as if I strained to see the world through the smudged lenses of binoculars, everything has taken on a sharper and brighter focus. This feeling is a new experience, so calming an influence and so far removed from anything I have known. It is what I personally identify as happiness.
I think quite often we hold to a mistaken understanding in life that being happy means everything being jolly-joy and hunky-dory, which just isn’t true. Happiness doesn’t fix everything. But it does make it easier to cope with things that might otherwise topple us. My life is still a big ol’ mess of rushing about, fighting exhaustion, trying and failing and generally feeling like I’m letting myself and everyone around me down. Being happy doesn’t stop me from caring about these things, doesn’t give me an excess of energy, more hours to get stuff done, more willpower to keep on top of everything. It just ripples through the negativity, dilutes it somehow, externalises it so that, while I still blame myself for the things I can’t get right, I don’t hate myself for them. I don’t punish myself, I don’t lie awake in bed worrying about how I should have done things differently – I accept that I am human and humans always have and always will learn from the mistakes they will never stop making.
I can now unequivocally state that I am human. I am vulnerable. I am fallible. I am fat. I am far, far from perfect. But at least I am happy.