“Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.” ~Alice Walker
I remember the day I decided to be happy…not because I saw a rainbow or won the lottery or fell in love.
The day I decided to be happy, I was living in a house that was falling apart. I was ill with a debilitating disease that no one knew how to treat, I’d had two pregnancy losses in less than a year, the cracks in my marriage were revealing themselves, and I was deeply in debt.
On that day I stood in my living room, looked skyward, and shook my fist at the heavens. “Watch me, God! I’m going to be happy no matter what!”
I’m sure God had a good laugh over that one. “Good,” I can imagine Him saying. “She’ll think it’s her idea.”
Of course, then the question was, “Now what?” I wasn’t going to fake happiness. I wanted the real deal. What did that mean, and how could I get there?
It didn’t happen overnight. It also didn’t mean that I was happy every moment of every day. But every time I started to fall into the well of despair, I reminded myself of the promise I made. I will be happy, no matter what.
The day I decided to be happy was the day I started to trust myself. I could find a way out of all my troubles. I could make a good life.
It meant examining that life and making hard choices. The house that was falling down around me stood on land that had some value. We sold it and paid off debts. My husband and I tried another year with the marriage, because we wanted to see how life was together when we didn’t have the financial burdens hanging over our heads. Turns out we could not reconcile, so we wished each other well and parted in respect and friendship.
I wrote a book for grieving grandparents that gave sense to the senselessness of my grief. It honored the children who were never meant to be. The day I held that book in my hands for the first time, I knew I had found a way to voice my pain, to turn it into art, and that would change me forever. Writing healed me. Writing brought me to the innate wholeness that exists in all of us. Writing brought me home.
Eventually that heady run of tough times passed, as tough times always do. More will come, but I’m ready this time. I know now I can be happy no matter what.