A friend and I had a conversation a few months ago where she was telling me about transferring universities and moving to another state. The part that struck me was she said, “maybe I’ll finally be happy”. I came back with, “you have to make your happiness portable and carry it with you wherever you go”.
People will often ask how I can maintain a positive attitude and stay in gratitude when I’ve had a lot of horrible things happen. For me, it feels the only way now. I grew up with enough misery, so why would I want to continue to perpetuate it upon myself now that I’m an adult and have choice and free will to live as I choose?
In the past 18 months, I dealt with homelessness, being physically sicker than sick, more family trauma than I’ve cared to admit to most, friends departing as I couldn’t care for them anymore, loneliness, grief…, but I always maintained knowing that I had dreams and goals worthy of coming true and that kept me peaceful. I kept my happiness with me.
People will often ask what my secret is to being so peaceful and content. I will tell you that getting sick has been a gift. I took my 18 months to be forced to know myself and appreciate who I am, and realize I’m more than a person who does for others, I’m a person who can do for me.
In 18 months, I had to be alone. Sure, I screamed, cried, grieved, felt “why me?”, but I also took the time to evaluate my life and the goals I had when I was little. I’m certainly not going back to a job in counseling, but my goals and aspirations I have been able to focus on these past 18 months are coming true.
I signed a freelance writing contract last week and sold the above art piece within an hour of posting it publicly. I was forced to slow down–a lot. The past few days, I’ve been lying in a dark room in what felt like unbearable pain, barely able to move, but I stayed in the present moment enjoying my solitude to meditate, think about how I can continue to meet my goals and constantly stayed in my own joy and gratitude that I am still breathing and know that life will continue to move upwards (with plenty of dips to make it interesting). I also did a whole lot of thanking my body for working so hard to maintain as best it can instead of hating it for what I’m no longer able to do. I even managed a bit of writing and a touch of reading.
So feeling miserable and depressed? My best advice is to spend time alone, lots of it if you can. If you are forced into loneliness as I was, take the time to dream and set goals, even if you’re lying in a dark room trying to block out the light and noise to heal a bit. And I did get up again today to enjoy a fun picnic with my son.
I’m not the person I was a few years ago when I had a full time job and security. I wouldn’t even want to be her. I’m simply happy being, no matter what comes or goes.
Isolation isn’t scary. Sickness isn’t so bad. Appreciate what you’ve been given and it doesn’t seem to matter anymore.