There was a time, not so long ago now, where I believed firmly that I didn’t get to be happy, per se. I could have moments of happiness, sure, and events or circumstances could make me happy, but long term, sustainable happiness as a baseline was an impossibility.
This, I suspect, would shock a lot of people who know me. I am, after all, a mostly upbeat, optimistic person who seems happy almost all the time. People have commented on that to me, more than once; that I appeared to be happy and upbeat no matter what was going on around (and to) me. So, if that’s how I presented to the world, the idea that I didn’t think that I “got” to be happy feels like a significant disconnect.
The trick was that I just didn’t believe in optimism for me. The rest of the world deserved the best, I wholeheartedly and fervently thought, but not me. It was this strange, inexplicable (Well, almost) idea that I was special because I alone was a failure, a bad person, someone who didn’t amount to anything worthwhile deep down. I know some reasons why I thought this, and they’re no longer present in my day-to-day life, but where this attitude came from originally remains a mystery. That part’s important; because I couldn’t explain it entirely, I decided on some level that it just had to be true on a cosmic level.
My therapist, whom I adore for numerous reasons not least of which being her bluntness, repeatedly talks about the session where I told her that perhaps I “deserved” to be happy as the breakthrough session, the one where everything changed. And that might be true; it definitely happened during a time where a lot of my assumptions were being questioned for a number of reasons, changing how I thought about myself and how I fit into the world.
What followed my saying that was a reassessment of my life and who I was and who I wanted to be. A reassessment of priorities and a rediscovery of the importance of kindness and vulnerability and actually feeling things — that part, I’m still working on — and all the messiness surrounding it. At one point, I asked my therapist, “Is this just a midlife crisis? Am I just being a cliche?” and she said, basically, it’s not and even if it was, midlife crises aren’t automatically invalid in and of themselves.
Now, I feel like I… am happy…? It’s not permanent or complete because, well, shit happens and moods change as a result. But I’m happier, and that feels like something, considering that felt completely impossible just months ago. My therapist describes me as being “more buoyant,” and then laughs at how ridiculous the phrase sounds. Another reason why I appreciate her.