I’m happy. This is a very strange feeling for me and one that was foreign. But I’d been noticing it of late: things don’t piss me off, my short fuse has gotten longer, and I generally approach things with equanimity. And people. I like people now. It was hard for me to identify this fact in me because I guess I’ve never been happy before; I’ve been content, no one has ever died on my lawn, but I’ve never had a sustained period where I’m just…happy.

So I stepped back to figure out what’s going on in my life that could possibly make me happy. My father is dying, I’m worried about money, finding a job (in three years), and failing law school. I’m stressed beyond belief and feel like my friends will think I’ve abandoned them because I don’t have time to talk to them (or blog to them). But somehow—still happy.

And then I realized: I’m living my life the way I want to. I’ve completely abandoned the desire to make my parents happy. I’ve allowed myself to do what I want to do. I’m in a relationship that supports me, I live with my best friend, I’m going to law school (which, entertainingly falls in both the “good” and “bad” categories when I quantify my life), and I’m in control.

In high school & college, I did what I did because I was supposed to. After college, I got a job that I didn’t like so that I could pay the bills and live with my boyfriend. Even though the last half of that sentence was what I wanted, it came at a high cost (plus my family went off the deep end about that). But now, I’m only doing what I want. And I never knew before this that I was unhappy.


  1. I think I understand what you’re saying here, xJane.

    I don’t know that I can say I’m happy, full stop, just now. But I’m a lot happier now than I’ve been in quite a while. I’m less stressed. I don’t freak out at small things nearly as easily as I did in the past. I can look at a problem and decide whether it’s something I need to worry about or whether I can just take the attitude that I don’t give a shit and whatever is going to happen will happen. Before, the freak-out would have been sort of my default reaction to almost everything.

    Now, there’s a bit of guilt attached to being this new, less-stressed Elaine, as I’ve reached this calmer, happier state of being since my mother died in December. This is so even though I know my mother’s passing is not the cause of my better state of emotional being. I know it has more to do with not having to be alert to her needs 24/7, with not being tied down to home most of the time, with being able to come and go as I please for the first time in several years. Taking care of her, even though I was glad to do it, was an extremely stressful way to live, and as much as I miss her, I don’t miss the stress at all.

    And so, I’m mostly happy now, too, and I’m not always quite sure what to do with that. But it’s a good feeling, and I’m working on making it a permanent thing.


  2. I started feeling the same thing once I stopped living my life for anyone else, and started living MY life. And as soon as I did that my parents, many members of extended family, many ex-friends and acquaintances also went of the deep end because I stopped pretending to be religious and straight. I was me, and that was enough. It was (and is) more important than having a good relationship with my parents, than having tons of friends, than being able to fit in in a culture I hate and reject. Life is good.

  3. It came as a great surprise to me just how happy taking charge of my own life made me. It took me a long time to grow up. It seems that many institutions in our culture try to delay that kind of independence.

  4. Thank you all for the positive feedback—I was afraid that this was going to come off as gloating; or as though I have no troubles at all in my life (especially during this time of strife for many). If I had known what a huge change making what seem like small changes in my life would make, I would have done it long ago. And now I’m going to tell everyone I know that they should live for themselves.

  5. Rich

    I’m glad to be reading this post, and I can relate. After my long and bitter divorce, and finding myself in an HEALTHY relationship, I too know what happiness (and control!) feels like and it’s wonderful. True, stress and problems aplenty (part of life, deal with it Rich), but happy, and happy for you!

  6. I know what you mean, especially about not realizing how unhappy you were before. I call it liberty. I never knew I was in bondage until I liberated myself.

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