Thursday, August 13, 2015

on happiness and wholeness

"To be fully human- to be 'normal'- is to be occasionally engulfed by waves of grief or sadness, and stymied by feelings of despair, doubt or disappointment. Wthout all that, we'll never know what happiness is."- Hugh Mackay

It's Friday, Josh just left for work, the girls are stil sleeping, and I'm sitting outside enjoying these quiet and peaceful moments early in the morning to write and read and think. I saw Marcia the other day and as we were catching up I caught myself telling her that I haven't really had much anxiety at all for the last few months, but that I know it's just a matter of time before it makes its entrance in my life. I think these last few months of not experiencing the anxiety that weaves in and out of my life has to do with how lately life has just been busy and fun and good with summer getaways and spending time outside with the girls and doing a lot of thinking about what's next- dreaming of adding on to our house or toying with the idea of maybe someday buying a house that's a little bigger to accommodate our family and needs better, trying to decide if I should work now along with finishing up school, thinking about the pros and cons of possibly going on for my Master's degree, beginning to seriously think about going through adoption again- all of which are huge life events but also exciting to think about. 

It has all got me thinking about anxiety and those moments of feeling "off" and about happiness and excitement and about how I told Marcia it was just a matter of time before anxiety creeps back into my life and tries to torture me for a week or so before it quietly leaves again. 

She will be the first to remind me that in order to experience wholeness we must have moments of not only happiness and joy, but also those other feelings that we tend to do anything we can to push away (like guilt or sadness or anxiety). Where have we learned that feeling pure happiness 100% of the time is what we should feel? Where have we learned that any anxiety, sadness, guilt, or any other emotion we believe to be negative is necessarily a bad thing? I am slowly beginning to see how those moments, as shitty as they may feel at the time, help me to really appreciate the good. 

The other morning it was raining when we woke up and Kennadie must have been feeling a little off herself. She was emotional and down and not her "happy" little self. I immediately wanted to fix it for her- I never want my kids to feel or experience anything but "happiness" at all times. I hugged her and told her that it's okay and we all feel off sometimes and that whatever it was that she was feeling wouldn't last forever. 

The thing is do I really want my kids to grow up thinking they are supposed to feel nothing but happiness and good? To feel nothing but joy and pleasure? Sure, as a mom I want to protect them from anything "negative" or unpleasant but this is not possible and it's unrealistic of me to think I can save them from living a life that is completely free from sadness, having a bad day, anxieties, stress, or any emotion that we have been programmed to believe is "negative". 

This quote at the top is a good reminder that wholeness is what we are supposed to strive for, not just pure happiness every moment of every day. As I think back I think it all started when I unexpectedly began experiencing postpartum anxiety and OCD. Since then I haven't really been able to accept and let myself fully feel anything but the good or happiness. Somewhere along that road I learned that if a negative feeling ever hits me I need to do whatever I can to get rid of it as fast as I can. 

I have learned, though on that road of healing from postpartum anxiety and OCD that it is those uncomfortable moments and those times that test us  where we grow and learn and become better. I'm still learning to become more comfortable with the uncomfortable and it's definitely not always easy but I do believe it is when we can let ourselves fully feel all of it- the good and bad- is when we can truly experience wholeness.  

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