I don’t recognize myself. It’s been a long time since the person I am was the person I’ve been. Yet I am more myself than I’ve ever been.
The most unrecognizable part of me is my total happiness.
The Weather Inside
For as long as I remember, I was unhappy. Not that anyone knew. I don’t think I even knew; I smiled, I spoke positively, I encouraged people. My friends, however, figured it out.
Perhaps you understand what unhappy means: it was as though my internal weather was set to “Sad with chances of Happiness” by default. Things happened that made me smile. These things were momentary and they passed. The sadness would not pass.
I wasn’t one of those poor souls who believed the words “pursuit of happiness.” No, even then I knew that happiness is not something you pursue but rather something that you are….or are not.
When my children were born, things improved, but it was still there and I felt worse for it. It felt more threatening because I feared that unhappiness would affect them and become their own.
A kind stranger once asked me if it was “always winter, never Christmas.” It was a line he took from C.S. Lewis’s book The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. It describes the wintry pall that falls over Narnia while the White Witch ruled and Aslan was away.
That was precisely how my life felt. Now and again we would put tinsel up, but Christmas Day never came.
“The turning point…was in Phoenix, Arizona.”
I was lucky. I had a nice enough house in a nice enough neighborhood, I had two beautiful children, I lived as an artist and not many people are lucky enough to do that. But I was still unhappy.
Perhaps that was because there were a number of things that plagued my life that I didn’t feel capable of fixing. I had an unhappy marriage and felt alone. To blame my marriage would not have been fair because I had been unhappy before my marriage and it was no surprise that I was unhappy after it.
Now, in my unrecognizable happy life, I know that the change is not incidental. There are a number of specific things that I did that changed my life blueprint. It took time, it took failure, but they are precise. This is an article, not a book, so I’ll point back to what I see as the turning point. This turning point is a fundamental. It’s a belief that happy people possess, that unhappy people may not.
The turning point, as it were, was in Phoenix, Arizona.
I sat in the kitchen of a band mate. We always had deep discussions. When we’d get a break on tour we’d spend it together reflecting on life, music, religion, you name it. He marveled that I was now a parent and was impressed that I was on the road making music when many people quit once they’re married or have kids.
“I never wanted to be a parent,” he said, “They say that your kids teach you something and I always thought I sorta missed out on that—so tell me—what have your kids taught you?”
Then, he listened.
“I think you’d be better off asking someone who’s been at it a little longer—“
He waved his hand, “Nah, they have to have taught you something. What have your kids taught you? And don’t overthink it, man, it has to be on the tip of your tongue.”
I closed my eyes and the answer sprung into my mind. How can I tell you what I saw? When my sons were born, one of them had a horrible red rash that covered his small body. He became jaundiced and needed to receive special care. He was yellow and covered in angry red blotches. Erythema toxicum. Yet he was so beautiful, and so perfect that it made me weep the way you would imagine Muslims weep when first seeing Mecca, or Christians and Jews weep when they first see Jerusalem.
He was emotional. I could see it already. From the time I brought him home he had an expressive cry. He wouldn’t hesitate to let it be known if he were angered. Anger was his first response to everything. He also had a joyful, bubbling laugh, a sideways smile and an older-than-his-years way of looking at you that made you feel like you were the only one in the room. Strangers would turn to putty when he gave them that gaze.
From that timelessness in the kitchen, I looked up at my bandmate and I said in a clear voice:
“That there’s nothing wrong with me.”
My answer stunned me. I repeated those words again and again to myself, the revelation deepened with every repetition and image of my baby, every baby, every person that’s ever been a baby. We are born whole, flawed, imperfectly perfect.
“There’s nothing wrong with me.”
If you’ve ever read anything else I’ve written, you may know that I have a child with autism. He’s perfect. Gorgeous. Perfect. Lovely. Perfect. Don’t get me wrong, he gets into trouble, loses privileges, and has discovered lying. None of these things are a contradiction of his perfection. They are him figuring out life.
None of your “things” are a contradiction of your perfection or wholeness. Do you hear me? None of them.
Not your incomplete wardrobe.
Not your salary.
Not your drug habit.
Not your temper. Or your lack of “common sense.”
Not your struggling career (or lack thereof.)
Not your troubled skin.
Not your “extra” weight.
Not your privilege. Not your feelings that somehow everyone else has got it together and you are falling apart at the seams.
There are things that are wrong for you, but there is nothing wrong with you. You are not a blip, an oops, a mistake in quality control. I defy anything in your life that tells you or makes you feel otherwise.
See yourself as that baby. Not because this is an exercise in visualization but because you are one. You have been one. You came into this world a gem. You have not ceased to be that gem.
You, like the rest of us, are figuring out life. Your life. How to live it, how to be it, how to Be the Happy that You Are.
Take a little time today to see yourself as lacking nothing. It could be the clearest and most accurate view of yourself you have all day.
What happy epiphanies has life gifted you with? I’m listening…
Comment Policy: Mutual Respect. Positivity. Thoughtfulness. You can do this. (If not, we’ll save everyone’s mind space and delete delete delete.)
Melanie Stormm is a Love Maven, Marketing Writer, Musician, and Mother. She is a Merciless Feeder-of-Food and believes the world can be healed with tarot cards and cookies.
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