Before I began the divorce process, I downloaded the song “Because I’m Happy” on my ringtone. Growing up my dad used to (and still does) sing the song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” Happiness has kinda been the soundtrack of my life. It’s how I strive to live and how I want others to think of me.
I am the type of person who believes that your happiness is dependent on you, not on other people. I have zero tolerance for people who blame their disappointments in life on other people or their circumstances. However, I have learned that when you are married to someone that is NOT happy, it does become a part of your world whether you choose it or not. I thought for a long time my happiness wasn’t dependent on someone else. And for every other relationship in my life, that was the truth. Except for my marriage. I just don’t believe that you can separate your life from your spouse when you are married. If one person isn’t happy, you can’t be a happy couple…no matter how hard you try, wish, or want it to be. You can pretend. You can live in denial. You can do the best you can with what you have. But you can’t be happy together no matter what you tell yourself. And while I may have chosen to live with someone who wasn’t happy, at some point I decided it wasn’t fair to my children….and ultimately it wasn’t fair to me. So I left.
I had a really nice dinner out tonight with an old running friend. She and I bonded years ago when we were in the same running group and training for a marathon together. When you spend long hours on a Saturday with someone, you become really close. The shared experience of running a marathon forms a special bond. Even though we usually only see each other once a year, it is just like Saturday morning runs when we get together. At the end of our dinner, she looked at me and said, “Be happy. Wait, you are happy. Just continue to be happy because that is who you are.” That spoke volumes to me, happiness isn’t something I am trying to be…it is just who I am. Being happy isn’t something that I take for granted, it is something I cherish. This is especially true during the hard times.
This week was a week of breakthroughs. After some really rough breakdowns, we finally had a breakthrough. The other night it was really late, way past a reasonable time for the kids to be up on a school night. My daughter was washing her face in my bathroom and grabbed my fancy towel to dry off. I wanted to yell, “Don’t use that towel, get a different one.” But I stopped myself and thought, “It’s a towel. You can wash it. Does it really matter?” A few minutes later, both she and my son crawled into bed with me and we played a picture app on my phone. We laughed, hugged and the kids were so cute with each other. This was different. This was the family time I wanted. It wasn’t forced, it was just like, this is what we do. Yelling about the towel could have stifled the love and joy that followed. I am so glad I decided not to yell.
And one other breakthrough. My son and his friend wanted to go to the movies; they are 14. So I parked the car, walked in the movies and paid for them. I handed them their tickets so they could go to the show and told them I would pick them up when it was over. Then the most amazing thing happened. My son turned around hugged me and kissed me and said “Thanks, Mom.” There were people, lots of people waiting in line and trying to move past us. It was crowded. There could have been kids from his school. He could have just kept walking. But that it not what happened. And he did it because he was happy. It was a natural expression of his happiness.
I am taking it a day at a time. But when I look back, I see something happening with our happiness factor in this house. I can feel it. It is like the cloud is lifting. We are getting into a groove. We are finding ways to connect with one another that we haven’t been able to in the past. We are enjoying the small moments which I can’t remember having recently. It has been a really rough couple of years, and we have all suffered as a result. But we are healing. I can feel it. I am not just happy, we are becoming happy. And it’s real. Not fake happy, but happy-happy.