Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness

I've been feeling in a bit of a funk lately. Dealing with a lot of loneliness. I feel like such a recluse sometimes, holed up in my house(when I'm not at work) somewhat doing my studies, or when I do go out, always going, again, alone. Depressed at the fact that I haven't had a serious relationship(or for that matter, anything beyond a first date) since 2007. I look at those who have achieved goals I thought I would have accomplished by now, and it just adds to it.

And I realized that the minister's (paraphrased) prayer at church today hits it spot on: "Help me not to envy the talents and gifts of others, but to enjoy what I have been given." That's at the heart of it all, I suppose: I want what, at least at the moment, I can't have. I see my family pressuring me to get married and have kids, I see others enjoying their social lives while I'm still in school, I see myself in a job where there's no real room for creativity or growth, and I want to change it all. I want the wife, 2.5 kids and a picket fence, the job where I feel like I'm actually accomplishing something, and friends to go out with on payday, or to go hiking or swimming or kayaking with.

I try to reframe it. For the most part, life is actually going pretty good for the time being. Yes, I'm single. But when I do find the right person, I'll appreciate her that much more. Yes, I'm still in school, but when I am finished, it will qualify me for better jobs(hopefully) and further enable me to help the population I have chosen to work with. Yes, I'm in a dead-end job where supervisors try to belittle me and take advantage of me and disrespect me, but I'm also in an internship where, even after only being there for two weeks, I've managed to get them signed up to participate in a major local festival that's going on this month, that they had never even heard of prior to my mentioning it, and they're talking about the possibility of me being an intern again there next school year and making it a paid part-time position, with intent of going full-time after I graduate. So if things go well there, the light at the end of my bad-job-tunnel is that much closer. So why can't I be happy with my life as-is?

I guess it just takes time. I caught my first real glimpse of true inner happiness in undergrad, thanks to a couple of years' worth of therapy, a support group for adult children of dysfunctional families at a nearby church, and learning how to make real, meaningful friendships which helped me learn that I actually was capable of being a happy, functioning human being. I question my life now - have I really had such a dramatic and deep string of negative circumstances in the years following undergrad that I lost all of the progress I made in those years? As a mental health worker and aspiring therapist/social worker, a part of me wonders if we really truly "lose" such life lessons, or whether we just get "sidetracked" and have to figure out how those life lessons fit in to new circumstances and things that happen. Since I do my internship on Mondays and Tuesdays, and will probably be switching to Day shift at my paid job during my weekdays(since I'm part-time, I make up my own schedule - I have to keep my weekends Evening shift because of work and class, but I'll probably go Day shift on my weekdays, to keep a more consistent sleep/homework schedule during the week), I've been debating going to a local ACA group. ACA is Adult Children of Alcoholics. It's geared towards, obviously, adult children of alcoholics, but it also welcomes people from dysfunctional families in general, because while my parents weren't alcoholics, my mom was raised by alcoholics, and therefore the behavioral patterns are still there, even if the alcohol isn't(what one co-worker once referred to as a "dry drunk"). Maybe that will at least help me keep my own issues in check, because, if I can't sort out my own life, how can I really help others?


Angel said...

Just an alternate perspective to your morose mood: do you want to find someone to entertain you or to fill something inside you that feels empty?

I've learned as a married gnostic that it really gets in the way sometimes to my own personal growth. It's not out of selfishness that I say this, it's just a fact. I have this other person's needs and wants and constant demands(not the mention the two kids) eating up my brain power. They downright drain my batteries most days.

Society has commercialized the Utopian idea of the picket white fence, wife, and 2.5 kids scenario to make you feel deficient. I think it's working.

Rise above it, man!!!

Bridget's Fire said...

Chad, this came to me last week on a Goddess support group I was invited to join. I don't know who first wrote it, but I have been passing it on everywhere (I'll throw it on my blog one of these days. . .)

But here for you:

When You Feel Like You Don't Fit In:
Sometimes the world feels inhospitable. You feel all the ways that you and it don't fit. You see whats missing, and how it all could be different.

You see alone, it seems, as all the world keeps bustling in the status quo. Working, rushing onto trains, buying dinner groceries, saying goodnight.

And so you feel alone, as if you weren't meant for the world, or the world wasn't meant for you. You get timid. You feel lost in wasteful dreams.

You see the world as the way it is and your discomfort with it as a problem.

But what if this: You are meant to feel the world is inhospitable, unfriendly, off-track in just the particular ways that you do.

The world has a you-shaped hole in it. It is missing what you see. It lacks what you know.

And so you were called into being to see the gap you see, to feel the pain of it, and to fill it.

Filling it is speaking what is missing. Filling it is stepping into the center of the crowd, into a clearing, and saying, here, my friends, is the future. Filling it is being what is missing, becoming it.

You don't have to do it all, but you do have to speak it. You have to tell your slice of the truth. You do have to walk toward it with your choices, with your own being.

Then allies and energies will come to you like fireflies swirling around a light.

The roughness of the world, the off-track-ness, the folly that you see, these are the most precious gifts you will receive in this lifetime.

They are not here to distance you from the world, but to you guide you into your contribution to it.

The world was made with a you-shaped hole in it. In seeing that hole, yes, you are alone. But you are alone only until you begin speaking about it loudly, until you take the courageous step.

The world was made with a you-shaped hole in it. In that way you are important. In that way you are here to make the world. In that way you are called.