Wednesday, November 14, 2012
It Takes a While ......
...... before happiness can be a choice.
Last week I wrote a post about a powerful fortune that I found in my cookie at a Chinese restaurant.
It was about looking for my happiness in front of me, not in my past.
Those words stunned and overwhelmed me, but not as they would have stunned and overwhelmed me in my first 2-3 years on this "path".
Because now, at almost the 5 year mark, I have the ability to choose to be happy.
Most of the time.
Way more often than I did in those first few years.
I wrote that post as encouragement to those of you who are behind me on this path .... and who have yet to be able to choose happiness. Or sadness. Or what's for dinner. It's difficult to make almost any choice in the beginning. I get that.
I remember that.
But in writing that post, I think I unknowingly put pressure on some of you who aren't there yet. Those of you who don't have the ability to choose ...... yet.
And who can't even imagine EVER being happy again .... by choice or otherwise.
And for that, I apologize.
I hope that you now are familiar with me enough that you know I would never intentionally cause any of you pain. Or sorrow, or grief, or pressure.
My goal is to let you know that you're not crazy, that you're perfectly normal in a perfectly abnormal situation, and that your timing is the perfect timing .... for you. No matter what your friends or family members might say.
My goal is to let you know that you're not alone and that there is no ONE right way to grieve.
My goal is to give you hope.
So while I wrote about choosing happiness ....... I should have made it more clear that I was writing about me, and only me, being able to choose happiness now.
It's taken almost 5 years, and The Happiness Project, to show me that.
But just because I'm at a point in my life where I can choose to be happy (most of the time) doesn't mean that I don't remember, with every fiber of my being, those first few years when happiness was not a choice I had.
In fact, there were very few choices that I had.
Grief ruled over me with an iron fist.
He was a very cruel and a very stealthy ruler.
I never knew when he was going to show up .... which was often at the most inopportune moments. He would pour his hot, horrendous pain all over my body, but with particular preciseness .... he'd slice it straight into my heart.
And it didn't matter where I was ..... at home alone, sitting in church, driving down the freeway, or in a business meeting. He'd show up and leave me in a mess of tears and sorrow and pain.
Sometimes I knew when to expect him.
Interestingly enough, the pain at those times wasn't as bad as I had anticipated.
But there were far more times when he would descend upon me out of nowhere. I'd never see him coming, never hear a warning bell, never be able to prepare myself for his onslaught. Those times required a longer recovery period. They left me emotionally and physically drained. I often wondered how much more I could take.
And how many tears I could possibly physically make. I never understood why I wasn't constantly dehydrated from all of the tears I seemed to constantly shed.
Yes, I remember those days. We all remember those days. Which makes me all the more passionate about sharing hope with you.
I didn't know many widowed people in my early days out here.
I didn't know of any websites where I could find encouragement and support from people who understood, mostly, what I was going through.
I wish I had.
Maybe my dark, dark days wouldn't have lasted so long.
Maybe my darkness wouldn't have continued to grow so dark that the only escape I thought I had was death.
The "maybes" don't matter so much to me anymore.
What matters is that I'm still here.
I am a survivor.
I have experienced the worst thing that I can ever face (in my opinion).
And I'm standing. Tall.
Well, as tall as a person who's 5'3" can stand.
And that's a lot taller than you think so don't even ponder making a short joke!!
I have been through "THE Valley".
It was a very long, very hard, very painful and very exhausting trip.
I thought I'd never get out.
But I did.
One day I looked around and found that I was climbing upward, approaching the lip of THE Valley. And someone ahead of me was there to reach down, grab my hand and help me climb over the top.
I made it out.
But I still didn't have the ability to choose happiness.
That didn't come until a year or so later.
It just kind of snuck up on me ..... like almost everything else on this path.
So what was the point of this very long, very boring description of my time on this path?
My point, or rather, half of my point, is this: to tell you that I get it. I remember. I will never forget the days, weeks, months, years that all I could see in front of me was cold, dark blackness. No future. No joy. No happiness.
And no choice.
And the other half?
To tell you that you won't always see only cold, dark blackness in front of you. You won't always despair at having a future. You won't always believe that you'll never be happy again.
And you will one day be blessed with the ability to make a choice.
I can't tell you when.
I can't give you any short cuts. Because there aren't any.
I can't walk through this Valley for you, though there are many, many times when I wish I could.
You will get to the other side when you get there.
Don't measure your progress against anyone else's.
No two journeys are the same.
You will walk through the whole Valley. One step at a time.
Some days you'll just sit, too exhausted to take a step. And that's ok.
But you will get through it.
You have to.
Because that's what you'd want for your loved one ..... if he/she had been the one left behind.
And it's what we do ...... fight to survive.
And it's a fight, believe me.
So many of you, right now, can't imagine happiness. You can't imagine a future any longer, because the future you looked to so very often, will never exist.
And again, that's ok.
You don't have to imagine it.
I will imagine it for you.
Others who are further along than you are will join me in imagining it for you.
We will keep hope alive for you.
Because we can.
Just as you, too, one day will do for the person behind you.
So for today ...... for right now ....... if you can't believe that you have happiness in front of you, let go of that.
And just believe that I do.
I have a lot of happiness before me.
I believe it so much that I know it's certain.
Because, though you aren't aware of it, though you can't feel it, as you believe me ...... belief in yourself will be planted within you. It grows slowly, so you won't notice it for a while. But it will grow.
It will grow into Hope.
And once Hope arrives, fully formed ..... Happiness comes soon after.
And just breathe.
One breath at a time.
I'll do the believing for you.