Out of the blue this week, I had an epiphany. You know the ones, where you least expect it, they slap you upside the head and you’re standing (or sitting, lying – whatever) there and you say something like “Ahhhh, why did I not see that before?” Then you have to look back over your life and start fitting those ragged puzzle pieces together. You’ve been trying to make them fit for weeks, months or maybe years but they never quite snap together. Pushing down on them to force them into place, doesn’t work, they just bend, pissing you off even more. When you look at the puzzle, you can’t tell what the hell it is still. Is it a New England fall landscape? A photo of the beach? A farm scene? Argh! Why doesn’t this work? So utterly frustrating. You’re right there, right at the break though and yet it is being stubborn.
Until finally that key piece does snap in and you exclaim, Aha! It’s a house. But not any house, it’s the one you always wanted, maybe scaled down a bit from your younger dreams of Italian marble floors and sweeping 1980’s over the top luxury (because you happened to grow up in the decadent 80’s where everyone seemed to aspire to be ghastly rich) but your today version of your dream house. The more practical one since you won’t have your own staff like Fresh Prince of Bel Air to take care of it for you. For years you’ve lived in a nice home, in town, the one you bought cheap and fixed up over the last fifteen years. The mortgage is less than rent payment and you have enough in savings to pay it off if you so choose or need to. It is the safe bet. Financially safe.
Except you don’t realize you aren’t really happy there. Oh you tell yourself you are, you’re all squeezed in a bunch, your husband has to park outside and scrape his car at 4 a.m., the neighbors all stare at you when you sit outside and the dogs in the neighborhood all bark in some sort of telegraph system that drives you mad. You grew up in the country and you’ve wanted to go back for years, substituting camping and other vacations for the same feelings of quiet and peace by choosing the most remote places you can find. But this house, it’s so reasonable, the payments so cheap and look we’ve done all the heavy and expensive work on it. It doesn’t matter that memories of a bad second marriage haunt you there, or that you can’t work in the yard without crying because it reminds you of your mom since she either bought you, gave to your or was with you when you brought plants home to fill your gardens.
Then your husband pushes you to move, he sees how miserable you are, feels that we all need a fresh start, a bigger house, more room and to be away from people. Plus finding you had not put the snow scraper in your truck and it’s the middle of February, sent him over the edge. He was done fighting the snow when he works so hard to afford the nice things in life. Finally you move, kicking and screaming a bit, a lot of tears leading up to the day you leave and then you spend your first night in the house, then the first few weeks. Then you realize you’re elated at being out in the country or BFE (bumfuk egypt – where did that saying ever come from?). It’s like being on vacation every day and you can’t wait to get home. Sure our house payment is much more but not anything we can’t afford. Yes, we have to eat out less and spend a lot less frivolously. But it is so worth this peace. We don’t want to be out running away to find peace and quiet because now we have it at home.
So the epiphany hit me as I stood at the dryer folding clothes and staring out the window into our back yard. The window of my old house looked out over the alley and the neighbor’s house. Now I saw nothing but a field and woods. I could be standing there naked doing laundry and no one would care or see. I felt strangely giddy and free. Numerous times, I had found myself feeling like a kid again, the one who spent many days running free on her grandparents’ dairy farm in Missouri. It really wasn’t a big farm but when you are a kid, it seemed to encompass your whole world. I walked out to the end of my long driveway to get the mail and an old farmer driving by on a tractor going to his next field waved at me. I smiled big and waved back. But while I was doing laundry I thought why did I wait so long? Why did I have to be drug out kicking and screaming? Because I was playing it safe, afraid to go into the debt it would require to own my dream house.
That caused me to think about what else I have dug my heels in about that made me miserable. My first thought was the first two marriages I had bear through much longer than I should have. Actually the second one should have never happened. That was a case of well “I should” marry him since we all live together and it’s not setting a proper example for the kids. Well that’s what I kept being told but in hindsight, I should have kicked him out years before and believed in myself that I deserved better. From age 19 to age 38, bad marriages made me extremely unhappy. The thing with that was I chose them and chose to stay in them so hence I made myself unhappy though I was apt to whine to my Mom and my friends about how I was the victim of a horrible man. Hello, I had the choice to leave. And people rarely change much. Actually, they rarely change I found.
Then there are the small things I do to make myself unhappy. Putting unreasonable and unfounded expectations on myself, not saying “No” when I don’t want to (and have a choice) do something, pushing myself toward goals that aren’t truly mine but for some reason I thought I “should” do this or that. The list is exhaustible. Not taking care of myself or listening to my body, I just keep pushing or ignoring. Until I am thoroughly and completely miserable and left wondering “Why am I so unhappy?” Because I make myself unhappy. There are always things in this life you have no control of like the death of a loved one, but we have a great many choices and directions in life we can go to improve our lives and happiness. We just have to open our mind and look outside of the box or the safety net, etc.
As it often does with me, it takes me some time to open my mind and look at a different angle, or take a risk etc. I like safety after years of dysfunctional family life before my second divorce. It is so easy to get stuck into a rut and you don’t even realize you are stuck. So I am keeping a journal which I deemed the “Equinox Experiment” only because it sounds a bit cool and I started it on the day of the fall equinox. Each day I write down what I did to make myself happy, when I stood up for my boundaries and wants/needs, my mood, etc. Whatever strikes me as important at the moment. The purpose of the journal is to catch myself making me unhappy since I am the biggest culprit. It is to keep me true to my goal of happiness, contentment and stop beating my own ass all the time which I am greatly fond of for whatever reason.
So you might find me out in my back yard, in nothing more than my nightgown howling at the full moon just because I can and I am a complete goofball. But it will be a moment of sheer joy for me because it makes me feel like a kid again. And what else do you do when there is a full moon?
What is your bliss and what is holding you back? How are you making yourself unhappy? What can you do to change that? Even if it’s a hard and difficult decision? Don’t be afraid, like me. Buck up and see how happy you really can be.