I Can Finally Remember What It Feels Like To Be Happy
I have been on journey. That’s a really pleasant way of saying I have been to hell and back – and have found a reason to have hope again.
It took me two years to dive so deep into hell all I saw was black. I did not know where I was or more importantly where I was heading. My life was stuck and sinking fast. Black is the absence of color and that is where I toiled for three years. Two years on the journey downward where I isolated myself from everyone, made nominal efforts by day to build a consulting practice, spent my nights high to avoid the feeling of pain and failure, and languished under the covers of my oversized bed built for two but occupied by one. It was overwhelming. I finally sought help as I have shared many times before. The road to mental health recovery was long and lonely. No one could fight the fight but me. I had to believe in a tomorrow I could not see or want. But with the support of friends and family who would not give up on me, I fought the ghosts I did not want to confront. And as I was on the road out of hell back to life, I fought to see light again. It has now been a year of stability. And for the first time, in four years, I paused for a moment the other day and recognized a foreign feeling inside of me. I was happy.
Now this happiness was not euphoric, but it was more than contentment.
As I sit at my computer today, on December 23, 2021, I can believe that I will have a future where I am once again happy with myself, feel like I am making a positive contribution to the world, have something to offer to my kids, believe that I am loveable, and with the strength I do not yet have, wander into the world of dating so I do not have to live a life all alone.
That moment of happiness was gold. For those who have not experienced depression, it is impossible to understand the momentary pleasure of a happy heart. But I have not stopped thinking about that moment that occurred last week as I was driving home from my workout. It was so foreign, that I immediately called my best friend from the car to tell her. To say, “I feel happy!” To thank her for standing by my side the past four years through all the shitty days. She was genuinely happy for me, and I was able to feel it.
That night I also called my other best friend, the one I meet in recovery and told her I felt happy too. I had recently returned from spending a week with her in Green Bay for Thanksgiving. And I am pretty sure sitting in her chair, at her home, with her family, feeling love, was a large part of what created the final push from darkness into light.
So, as 2022 approaches I am looking forward to a momentous year. I am prepared to accept the difficulties that come with living a life recently unexplored. I will have to take chances and risks I have been avoiding for several years. I will have to rely on others more than I have in the past. I will have to accept that the life I had planned for myself is different than the one I have and is a causality of unattended misfortune.
But with that I enter 2022 walking tall and calling on my friends to walk with me. To help me create more moments of happiness. And if I am lucky, and work hard, just maybe I can string a few happy moments together and have a delightful day, or a joyous weekend, or even a vacation with no regrets only positive, forward leaning intentions.
My hope in the coming year is that I redefine my purpose. I leave behind the baggage that has clouded my ability to lift the vail of yesterday. I will march forward. I will have a new mantra because I always have a mantra. In 2002 my mantra is “Keep walking towards happiness.”
My hope for everyone is that we can all find that spark that propels us forward and keeps us believing that tomorrow can be better than today.