...to be happy.
"Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it..." Elizabeth Gilbert, "Eat, Pray, Love"
I know a little bit about this. Throughout the course of my life, I have received much feedback--some good and some not-so-good--about my outlook on life. I have actually offended a few people with my level of happiness.
And I feel a need to speak to this for all the resistance I have ever received when I can find a silver lining amid black storm clouds or when I experience joy in the mundane.
SO--the thing is?
This is really me, authentic and pure.
It's SO not a front--I really love life and living and I reap so much joy from the process of it all and even in those moments when I am on my knees with my body bowed in submission, I know the light follows and I abide the darkness with grace.
But here's the other 'thing'--I have fought HARD for my happiness, bared myself to the bone for it, settled for nothing less than it and pulled my body, wracked in grief, to the summit of the happiness I know I deserve.
Granted, when I was younger it was more of a front for me, I'm sure. I'd dare to say it was a survival mechanism.
If I kept on my happy face, no one would know my grandfather was touching and penetrating my young body with a suffocating frequency and more than that, they would never find out it was my fault--that I had planted this seed of sickness inside of him. I say that from my four year old self--the little girl who was convinced by this man that she had started something he could not stop.
If I pretended to be free and wild, no one would ever find out that my mother used her hands and her words to reduce me--that I was unworthy of love and inadequate and longing with a blazing passion to be loved...by anyone.
If I pretended to be confident and sure, no one would ever find out that I was starving myself to emaciation because the body I saw in the mirror was inflated by my own self-loathing imagination, a self-loathing birthed and nurtured by my mother's scathing commentary on my body and overall existence.
If I pretended to be carefree, no one would know that I was longing for my father's attention and not just when I fucked up.
I would not break, I would not shake or tremble--not me. You wouldn't make me cry--no. I would hold up my front like a fortress.
Fortunately, that 'front' began to crumble and behind her was a freshly budding, soft and fragile, courage, still pink from birth. Somehow, after all the messages to the contrary, I loved myself--I think I had to, for most of my young life, I was my only source of nurturing.
Somehow, at my core, I really liked me, really. And I admired how hard I had fought for my autonomy, for my voice to prevail those other voices before and around me, whirling like a soul-sucking cyclone.
Somehow, I knew I was unique in my ability to continue holding my head up with so many people and forces in my life hellbent to take me down. I was already keenly aware of my determination and trusted myself above ALL others.
Somehow...I made it.
Over time, the end result is me. Right where I am. Precisely who I am--a warrior willing and determined and able to fight for her right to be happy because I know nothing else, because I crave the breath within me and I anticipate the next, because I have seen the dark and much prefer the light, because I have hit the bottom and clawed my way to the top.
I marinated in unhappiness most of my young life but I always held on.
I held on to love.
I held on for love.
...all for the hope of love.
"We must get our hearts broken sometimes...it means we have tried for something." Eat, Pray, Love
Life is ephemeral and because every moment counts so much, count me in--I want to try for something.
We should never, ever, ever, force explanation or shame from another for the light they have inside. We don't need to. If you stand close enough, you will find enough light to borrow until you kindle your own again because the light returns.
I know this much is true...
...the light returns.