I am happy

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.

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15 thoughts on “I am happy

  1. Guilt?! You silly thing!

    I, personally, think that it is absolutely incredibly wonderful that you are so happy. I also think it is long overdue, and that if anyone was due to have a bit of a break and get to feel securely safely happy in their life and their skin then it was you.

    There will always been friends and family having a hard time of it. Which is horrible, and which is of course the sort of thing that you will need to be there for them throughout. At the end of the day though, what should be of integral importance to you is.. well.. you!

    Be happy! xxx

  2. This is such a wonderful post to read, partly because I can remember times when you’ve been not-so-happy, and it’s so nice to see how things have turned around for you. Don’t waste even a second on feeling guilty! You deserve every bit of happiness you have 🙂

  3. I’m far from happy, having suffered a personal tragedy life is one being cycle of grief. However, I don’t begrudge anyone feeling / being happy. Your post yesterday made me smile. It was so refreshing to read about a woman feeling confident with her body. I nodded and smiled though the paragraphs. I do disagree with you on being fat; I’ve never once thought that about you from your pics.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your tragedy sharnek, and think it is rare and admirable that you are able to avoid begrudging happiness in others – certainly difficult in darker times.

      And thank you for the comment about not thinking of me as fat – I think I should probably have quantified “fat” as a personal feeling of carrying fat, rather than any other definition. x

  4. It’s so, so good to read this. Happiness can be so elusive, and it’s wonderful to know that you’re happy! I know what you mean about feeling guilty, though. But, the thing is – someone you care about is always going to be having a problem, so if you let that stop you from enjoying your happiness you’d never be happy. My mood has dipped a bit over the past week or so, but overall I am happy. Good friends are having hard times, bad stuff is happening at work, worse stuff is happening at home but I’m happy all the same. And I’m so glad you are too x

  5. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now. You comforted me as I went through my breast cancer and it was much appreciated. The fact that you’re happy filled my heart with joy, I couldn’t help but smile. I understand the guilt too. Only I am dealing with guilt of a completely different sort…survivor guilt. So many of the people I saw on my daily visits for treatment have passed. I wonder why was I spared? Then I also think about this second chance at life and feel guilty for not turning it into something world changing. But I am thankful that I have been given this chance and a clean bill of health. So if nothing else, remember that thousands of miles across the ocean, someone was touched because of your happiness!!

    • Lisa, although I appreciate all my commenters, there is something so very touching about being told that you’ve helped or comforted someone in some way. I think you’re brilliant, and the way you dealt with your cancer remains inspiring. Thank you so much for the compliment of letting me feel a part of your journey – even from thousands of miles across the ocean!

  6. Isn’t it sad that nowadays we feel guilty for feeling happy!

    I suffer from depression but when I have good days I still feel bad for being happy when so many in this world and close to me are struggling that it sends me down again.

    With all the things that are going on around us, recession, earthquakes, tsunamis etc… that maybe when we do have a ‘happy’ contented day we should embrace it and wallow in it, in this fast paced throw away world it doesn’t happen often enough.

    You my love are gorgeous both inside and out, and that should make you very happy indeed.

    xx

    • Tiigaan, thank you for the compliments – what a lovely comment to receive.

      I’m lucky in that, although I have suffered depression, my depression has always been “event-triggered” rather than chemical. This makes it easy to tackle through therapy and time, and gives it a neat “end date”. Therefore I know how very bad it can feel, but without understanding the full extent of an unhappiness that cannot be “fixed”.

      I do, however, understand the way in which guilt can pull you back into the depths on lighter days. With event triggers it’s a different guilt – a guilt for no longer feeling bad about something, or even for feeling ok when you know people are or have worried themselves silly over you – but it is very difficult to overcome.

      You’re quite right that we should embrace the contented days whenever they come along – even celebrate them (which I think is essentially what this blog post is all about for me) – even though it takes a huge amount of effort at first to do so!

      xxx

  7. Would you believe me if I told you I’m almost afraid of being too happy? It’s as if I’m tempting fate by admitting to myself that I’m happy. And I feel guilty too. What right do I have to be happy when people I love are facing problems, when there’re so many miserable people in the world etc. But then a friend made me see the error of my ways. Will bad things stop happening just because I worry about them? Will happiness be mine if I denied it the right to come into my life? Certainly not. So now I just cherish what I have, in this moment, right here, right now.

    So I wish you a lifetime of guilt-free happiness. I think we owe it to ourselves to feel happy unconditionally.

    • I know that feeling exactly – as I was typing parts of this I was almost afraid that in putting it in writing I was jinxing myself…

      One of my personal depression slumps a few years back was actually triggered, as my therapist told me, by my “caring too much”. I was a listening post for a lot of people at that time, and would spend literally hours every night on the phone to various different people – even to the point that I had to go to the doctor with bleeding ears! (No, seriously: my ear started to bleed.)

      I would listen to their misery and unhappiness and then take it to bed with me, lying awake worrying about how bad they would be feeling, utterly helpless because I couldn’t “fix” them. My therapist had to teach me (as cold as it sounds) to “listen and forget”, to be sympathetic and supportive but without taking on the responsibility for other people’s happiness – and in turn taking on responsibility for my own.

      It’s really tough, and as the guilt I mentioned here testifies, something I still struggle with. But it’s the only way to truly be happy. It is true that happiness has to be, in part, selfish.

      So I wish you the same guilt-free happiness you wish me – and applaud you for realising something I had to be told, and taught to implement. Well done you! 😀

  8. For the first time in my life, I feel happy too. And just like the reader above, when I have had dark times, the joy that you always see in life has encouraged me to see things differently. You do deserve this, and that makes me happy too. ❤

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