Happiness is a choice. That is something touted by mental health gurus across the net, in health books, at happiness seminars, yet I do not think such platitudes truly sink in unless they are absorbed, interpreted and then experienced on a personal level. As with everything in life, you have to go through it, to know it.
For a long time, like many people who walk the Earth today, I was not happy. In fact, “not happy” is putting it lightly: psychiatrists diagnosed me with clinical depression and started me on pills; my family members were tired of my very presence, with my constant screaming, abuse and tears; I destroyed relationships, existing and potential; I felt inferior to every human being that crossed my path, and had no self-esteem; I did not believe in my own writing; suicidal plans had been in the workings for months: I was, in short, absolutely miserable – and not only that, but I was lonely, tired, sickened by some nameless feeling to my core, wanting nothing more than to put a stop to the pain.
Much of this pain, in retrospect, I now attribute to being a highly sensitive and idiosyncratic young woman stuck in an environment, and amongst people, who were in-conducive to her proper flourishing and development. Anxiety, sensitivity, especially extreme interpersonal sensitivity, made navigating the hallways of highschool a living nightmare, a terrible dream which I had woken up to for years and years. At the time, when my misery reached a peak, I had finally reaching my “maximum” tolerance point; you cannot sustain such an extreme degree of stress, over a long period of time, without something breaking, or changing, something leaking out and running loose. And that something was, to the horror of my peers and family, me.
In most lives there are moments when you do not particularly want to go on living – when, if given the opportunity to blip painlessly out of existence, you would take the chance. Most of them have a tendency to spring upon you at night, when you are all alone in your bed, sick to your heart, unable to grasp…grasp what? All you know is that there is something to be grasped here, as a conscious creature, in this particular body, and you do not know what it is. So you clutch at empty air, repeatedly, and scream.
Those terrible nights, when you feel as if the very world were dismantling around you, crumbling like old walls, revealing an awful vacuity behind them, are the keystones to a spiritual awakening. Or, if you prefer to be more “scientific” about it, you are changing, your consciousness is growing, and you are coming to realise the flimsy nature of your old beliefs, the pieces of you shifting and interlocking and shifting again into new patterns.
They wake you up. And sometimes people, who have been sleeping very deeply, as I had been, need a good slap to the face to get the business done properly.
Oh, for years, long, long years, I had been living a life inauthentic to myself, ignoring my creative and literary urges out of self-doubt, trying to fit in with everyone else, trying, always Trying, my God, did I try. That was all I ever did: try and try to cram a square peg into a round hole, jamming it this way and that until my fingers hurt: craving approval, craving everything that meant nothing to me deep inside, not knowing why no-one liked me and I felt so out of place, not knowing what I was doing wrong, not knowing, especially, what was wrong with me.
See, there is the real You, the shining core, at your centre, which you operate from as a child; but as you grow up in society, absorbing the beliefs and opinions of those around you, that centre slowly shifts out of place, until it no longer is in alignment with the “glowing core” anymore, and you are living from a place of darkness and emptiness, rather than joy and light. Nothing, when you are in this state, comes to you easily, and nothing makes you happy; because you are denying yourself, blocking the expression of your true essence.
No-one can stay in that state for long, though I held on with tight fingertips for years, unwilling to let go. And, unbelievable as it sounds, I am of the opinion that the Universe finally intervened, by placing in my path someone who reflected back to me every single one of my flaws. To be around this person, for me, was like having a spotlight shining down on me, outlining, in stark whiteness, my every inadequacy. I was burned, dissolved, by the exposure. And I fled. I fled. I fled, away from that particular person, who was highly nonplussed at my odd behavior; I fled from my responsibilities; I fled, just like the Universe wanted me to, until there was only the darkness, and Me.
And there I stayed, for many long nights, for many long days. It was awful. Never in my life had I imagined such suffering was possible. Reality itself seemed to thin, the world become porous, more darkness rushing in through the holes of its moth-eaten substance. I did not see the point in living. I did not see, or understand, who I was. I did not see anything; I just stood, in an infinity of darkness, hurting.
Slowly, however, I began to think – and I mean, truly Think, about myself, the Universe, what it meant to be human, how to go about forming relationship with others. I realised the necessity of following your passions, rather than stifling any natural, creative urges. I realised the unity of all living things in the universe. I realised the power of my thoughts on my reality, the power of beliefs, of intention; and I realised, finally, that I, as a creature borne from the universe, who shall return to it when I die, that I, just like everyone else, was worthy.
It is difficult to condense the panoply of emotions that engulfed me over this period: I cried, I laughed, I cried some more, I loved myself, I was miserable, I was happy, I loathed myself, I wrote, I did not write; but throughout the entire period, I learned, I grew, and I began to understand, even if only a little, what this life was all about. My consciousness began to rise.
These realisations cannot be properly expressed in words without coming off as superficial and empty. Instead, you must experience them yourself (and, if you are not living an authentic life, your time will come, even if it is on you’re deathbed) in order to truly understand. However, let this be said:
Today, I am happy. I am happy. Today, I actually laughed, I ran and laughed in the sun, rejoicing in the feel of the sun on my cheeks, every snatch and glimpse of anything, be it a blade of grass, or a bird, engulfing me in joy. I do not fear death, as I know it to be an illusion; there is no “I”, we are all One, part of the great Cosmic Dance of the Universe. Likewise, I understand we should not harm other people or creatures, because they are Us, only we can but experience life one at a time, our bodies tiny, temporary peepholes with which to view the world through. I believe in forces greater than myself: Mysteries, Magic, Wonder. And I understand what a gift this is, this one, little life as a human being, in this particular time and place, and I intend to cherish it, and use it, to the best of my ability, to do as much as I can for others while I live, and to live each day in the present moment, happy, and alive, and laughing, as we all should.
I am choosing to be happy. Will you?