Monday, March 20, 2017

Happiness Is An Inside Job

Shortly after Dan died, someone told me I would never be as happy again as I was before he died (yes they really said that). Of course, I'm not the same happy as I was before he died (how could I be) but I am happy, it's just a different happy.

And just because I'm happy, that doesn't mean I'm not sad he's gone, that goes without saying.

But I'm far happier with myself as a person than I have ever been. The truth is, there were a lot of years when Dan was alive that I was desperately unhappy with myself.

For so many years, I struggled with feeling like I wasn't enough. I put so much pressure on myself to be the perfect military wife and mother. I spent so much time comparing myself to everyone else, and I always sold myself short.

They were so perfect, I was so far from perfect.

I wasn't thin enough or fit enough. I struggled with my weight for years after I had kids. I was so embarrassed by it that I hid behind big, baggy clothes. My kids barely recognize me in pictures from those years. I hardly recognize me, and not just because I was so much heavier (and frumpier) then, but because I was clearly so unhappy. Because I wasn't enough.

I wasn't organized enough. I was always behind on the laundry. I barely managed to plan meals day to day. And my house always seemed to be a disaster. Whenever my mother in law was coming to visit, I would spend the week before frantically cleaning and tidying because her house was always immaculate. I always worried it wasn't clean enough, never mind it was a 50-year-old PMQ with paint peeling off of the walls. Still not clean enough. I would drive myself and Dan crazy with it. And every time he would tell me. "It's not the Queen Mother coming to visit you know." Worse, it was his mother.

And I wasn't that mom. I wasn't the fun (though I am funny) mom. The one who organized all of the awesome play dates and parties. The kids birthdays would cause me massive amounts of stress every year (three birthdays in five weeks right after Christmas will do that to you). I hated birthday parties. I couldn't decorate a cake to save my soul. I made a Cookie Monster cake one year that looked so demonic I had nightmares for a week. And I didn't make amazing crafts and decorations for the kids' parties, they were lucky to get balloons and streamers from the dollar store. Thank the Dear Lord Pinterest and Instagram didn't exist in those days, or I would have driven myself right over the edge.  #isuckatcakedecoraing #ihatebirthdayparties  #pleaseshotmenow

And worst of all, I was just a stay at home mom. Just. We couldn't afford to buy a house or a second car. We didn't go on exotic vacations in Europe or the Caribbean. Our summer holidays were always spent visiting our families. There were many years we lived pay cheque to pay cheque.

Of course, while I was feeling like a failure for not having a career, many of my working mom friends were struggling with feelings of guilt for not being at home with their kids. The grass is always greener, but I couldn't see that at the time.

And they also were struggling with their own feelings of inadequacy. But I couldn't see that either.

I believed I wasn't enough.

And I was unhappy because of it.

It's taken me a lot of years, and Dan's death, to overcome my feelings of inadequacy. And to become truly happy with myself as a person.

Why is is we do that to ourselves? Why is it that we can't just be happy with who we are and what we have? Right now in this moment. Instead, it's: I'll be happy when_____.

Why is it that we think that in order to be happy we need more: a partner, a fancy car, an over-sized house in the trendiest neighbourhood? Or we need to be taller and thinner and more perfect as if there really is any such thing as perfect.

At the end of the day, none of those things will bring you real happiness, happiness has to come from within.

I will never bake fancy cakes. I don't live in a trendy neighbourhood, but it's lovely, albeit quiet. I don't really drive a fancy car but I love my Highlander. I might always be single (I'm not sure there is anyone out there who is brave enough to join this rodeo. Also, I do like to talk). I'm never (ever) going to talk less or not be an extrovert. I'm never going to be taller (damnit), and I might not lose any more weight. Someday I might learn to lead with my head and not with my heart, but I doubt it.

I am happy with who I am as a person. For the first time in my adult life, I can honestly say I am comfortable in my own skin; wrinkles, stretch marks, scars and all. I'm still not ready to embrace the grey hair yet though, give me time.

I love the me I have become and I am so proud of me. And I should be, I've worked damn hard to get here.

I am enough, in fact, I am more than enough.

I am perfectly imperfect.

And I am happy with who I am.

"Don't rely on someone else for your happiness and self-worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can't love and respect yourself-no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are- completely; the good and the bad- and make changes as YOU see fit- not because you think someone else wants you to be different."~Stacey Charter

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