“Every Friday I post a list of five things for which I’m grateful. I try to sit in silence for a half hour a night. I’m focused on my creative projects. I’m managing my time better and I realize that the things I’ve given up in the last year have improved my life tremendously. So…why is happiness such a fleeting thing?”
She looked at me and said, “I think everyone asks themselves that very same thing.”
I nodded. “I get that humans aren’t meant to be happy all the time, but isn’t it supposed to last for more than a few minutes at a time?”
She pursed her lips and said, “I’m not sure.”
She’s not a spiritual leader. She’s just a human, fallible like the rest of us, but I look up to her and the realization that perhaps no one really knows the answer made me sad. “I’m doing everything that should be making me happy. I’m making better choices. I love the hell out of someone and they love me with hardly any conditions. I’ve grown so much in the last year. I always thought, foolishly, that if I were thin, it would solve all of my problems. Now I’m there, and I’m even more screwed up than I used to be.”
“I don’t think that’s true.”
I pulled at my right eye. “Look at this! I’ve been researching Juvederm injections to get rid of these hollows under my eyes. I’ve been searching for a plastic surgeon to suck this fat out of my face and give me back the puffy lips I used to have.”
“That’s just the body dysmorphia talking. There’s nothing wrong with you.”
Except that my brain doesn’t work the way it should. The positive reinforcement isn’t doing much in the way of creating new neuropathways the way that the research suggests. I’m happy. For the most part. I want to think I’ve grown immeasurably in the last year but there are days when I feel like I’ve slid a million miles backwards.
Back to the homeless girl with big, brown eyes. Back to the 17-year old IBM employee struggling to get through a day’s worth of help desk calls. Back to the typist. Back to the high school dropout. That chip on my shoulder feels so difficult to carry some days; others, it’s what pushes me to do even better.
I have a fabulous life. I have the kind of life I never imagined was possible for me. I was supposed to be a Lifetime movie; a cautionary tale. But I’m not. I’m a successful, independent, creative force to be reckoned with. And I know it.
I just sometimes forget.