Hello everyone and happy Monday, wherever you are in the world! Today I’m continuing to share with you my personal struggle with mental illness–and triumph over it–in the blog series called A Light in Darkness.
What is A Light in Darkness all about? It’s where I share the highs and lows, the tears and scars, and the joy and spark and love that has ultimately gotten me to this wonderful point of my life. My path, my beautiful life. I hope that by telling my story, I can inspire others to keep going with their lives and feel wonderful.
I am by NO means a trained counsellor. I cannot offer you professional advice. I do hope that my words help, and it will be wonderful if they do. My only training comes from life itself, and I’m still learning! You can read my first posts in the series here.
The topic of this post is allowing ourselves to feel happiness when it’s abound. This is something I have struggled with in my adult life, often refusing to do things that would make me happy, or resisting it and trying to throw it away once it did pour in. I was a firm follower of the old phrases “don’t get your hopes up too much” and “don’t count your chickens before they hatch”. I was paranoid, also damaged by the years of abuse and isolation to where I thought I was absolutely not worthy of happiness, that I was extremely selfish if I chose a happy life. I thought that any happiness in my life would be stripped from me when I least expected it. I built a brittle shield around my heart, one that got stronger and thicker to protect myself from being battered, bruised, disappointed.
These self-defense mechanisms were created by my mind in severe depression, and they can cruelly be precursors for the darkness creeping in. I kept my true self from others, the wild gypsy girl who wore all colours under the sun and laughed at stupid things and who created nonstop and took joy in the simple things. I kept myself to myself. I didn’t reach out to others when I should have, even though I was quite capable of doing so.
And it’s not easy, when battling severe depression, to see joy at all. It’s something I’ve had to learn to see, to recognize and to grab hold of. I finally learned that if my life was going to be the way I wanted, I had to take a deep breath and plunge into unknown territory, and that was terrifying. And it CAN be scary, especially when you’re used to shutting joy away from your heart and mind. Some people and professionals think it’s so easy to accept. But it took me many years to do so.
And I can’t imagine being back in that place where I had that iron shield around my heart.
Some people think true happiness can only be reserved for folks who have corporate careers, own fancy houses and cars, have families. They think there is no other way, that anything else is just frivolous and something to be scorned. But I have found that the most important thing is living a life that makes YOU happy, not anyone else!! I know people who are happy in many different life situations, and there’s not a thing wrong with any of them. Career people, family people, asexual people, people who backpack across the globe, people who thrive without children, people who work with animals, stay-at-home moms, creators, artists, and people who chose to push aside fear and start their own businesses. They have chosen to let joy in, without fear, and are living lives that they enjoy.
I believe in being happy, in doing whatever it is that gives you joy (unless it’s, you know, illegal!!). I believe in being your own best friend, in celebrating yourself, in knowing you ARE worth happiness. Don’t diminish your joy in order to appease others or make others like you. SCREW ‘EM. Being happy doesn’t make you selfish. OWN IT! Don’t concern yourself with how long the joy will last — just embrace it wholly and enjoy it for what it is.
Crap happens in life. It’s never perfect, or harmonized, or happy all the time. But when we do our best to roll with the punches and are unafraid of letting joy in when it’s abound, our lives become so much more enriched.
Shout it from the rooftops! What are you going to do this week to let joy in?
Is letting yourself be happy something you currently struggle with, or have struggled with in the past?