I woke up one morning when I was six years old and a sadness swept through me like a tidal wave.
I was crushed and taken away.
I will never know who or what that little girl could have been.
In a pink and white striped diary with a golden lock and bear on the front, in my elementary handwriting, I would write I HATE ME, no words a child should think, much less write.
I would find that diary over two decades later and quickly discard it, needing no further baggage or reminders of the sadness that still, even now consumes me.
For years I chased happiness, wondering how it was that so many people appeared to hold onto it so steadfastly while it slipped and slithered through my fingers like water, like air.
And maybe that’s where we get lost, this idea of happiness that is fed to us. This narrative of those who are quote-unquote normal, happy, and the rest of us. But after years of moving and changing paths, of introspection and therapy I finally get it.
Happiness is not a constant.
Happiness is moments. That is why it is fleeting. It is my mother’s warm embrace. It is holding my best friends’ babies for the first time. It is adventuring all on my own to places unknown.
But it is also in the smallest of moments that I realize happiness also lurks. It is the moment I give myself the grace to sit and read and enjoy a book. It is cooking a Sunday meal for myself after a long and stressful week. It is talking with my sister on the phone about nothing and everything.
That is also my happiness presenting itself. It does not stay though. Because it can’t.
So I do not seek happiness any longer, it is not something to be sought.
What I seek is to recognize it even when I am at my lowest.
What I seek ultimately is contentment.
I want to be content.
I long to be content.
I want to wake up in the morning and not wish I could close my eyes and sleep forever and ever, to drift and fade into the void.
I have made progress this past year and a half. Of course, I could have made more but there’s the rub, my mind always wanting a reason to dwell on my failings.
As I have moved through these past 18 months a particular year of my life kept coming back to me. I yearned to be back there, to recreate my life at that time. Because when I look back on that particular year even with its setbacks and ups and downs, it was a year of my life where I was utterly content. There were so many moments of happiness. The sadness still hovered but it did not consume.
I recall listening to myself. Not the voice that tells me I’m not good enough, or to just stay in bed because what does it matter. No not those. What I listened to were my deepest desires. The ones so soft I could barely hear them over the rest of the noise. I listened to that inner thrumming inside of me and slowly but surely I naturally created an existence that was productive and restful all at once.
The memory of that year now keeps me grounded at times when I truly feel myself coming apart at the seams. It is my lifeline.
Proof that at one point I had been content that I had kinda sorta figured out. That I existed within the rhythm of my sadness and move fluidly with myself, rather than against. Proof that regardless of my depression peace and solace are out there even when I can’t see it or feel it. But knowing that now, that it does exist, the reminder of that year, it’s enough.
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