Welcome to the chronicles of my life as I navigate through parenthood, chronic illness, staying clean, and life with an ostomy.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Happy Place

The happiness theme continues...

A few weeks ago, I went to Book Club. The topic was Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. After discussing the book itself, the question was posed, “What was the happiest time of your life.” As I listened to the responses, I started feeling more and more different, envious of the focused pasts that these women and men shared. I wish I could have answered that “now” was my happiest as a few others did. It is my goal to have that self-acceptance and serenity that makes the present most blissful. I get happy moments and Isaac is a great joy, and recovery around food is bringing some inner peace, but discontent with relationships and my household are definite downers. When I look at my past, well, there is mostly delusional and counterfeit happiness produced by my inebriated imagination. My early 20s may have included pursuing higher education, but only second, or even third, to my pursuit of intoxication and fantasy. Now that I am not in the moment and not in the presence of my fellow readers, I can look at my past as alternative or artistic, even. Cloak it in the same romantic light that I did at the time. But while I was sitting in my friend's living room, all I could think of was the self-destruction and waste. I do know that it took what it took for me to get where I am today, and that recovery is my greatest gift. Without it, I probably would not even be here, and neither would Ike. But even at 14 years clean and after going through the steps a few times, I still mourn all those missed and sabotaged opportunities.

So, what did I answer? There was a fairly long period of happiness in Santa Cruz, and I spoke of the time right before Josh and I got together: I had a few years clean, I was abstinent, I was pursuing things I enjoyed: dancing, writing; I was doing service; I was starting a new career; I felt creative and healthy. Everything was fresh and well, what a cliché, full of possibilities. I felt ready for a relationship and along came Josh.

There was another “happy” time as well that surfaced while I was journaling about this last night. After the two-month stay in the hospital and the few months of recovery at home, when I was allowed to eat again and gained some acceptance around my ostomy and illness, I was so grateful for being alive and for all the support of the people in my life that I felt full of love and spirit. Once again remembering that gratitude is a the key to happiness. When I am focusing on the blessings, then acceptance and serenity come more easily.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy Confidence

Woke up early due to a bag leak; as I was trying to fall back asleep I started thinking about my childhood. I don’t know exactly how I got there. It may have to do with finally going to a meeting, or the book I am reading, or just generally questioning my own parenting skills, but I found myself trying to quantify my happiness as a child. Was I a happy child? Did I have a happy childhood? I had some happy moments, but I don’t think I ever felt that safe or listened to. As for my disposition…I don’t remember feeling full of joy. I was in my own little world most of the time, cautious and fearful of the world around me. Not sure of how I fit in and without much guidance, I tried to learn how to be by observing. I had friends, a great imagination, but I did not have much confidence and did not know how to ask for help. The other day at my son’s preschool, a boy I don’t remember ever meeting asked me to help him zip up his jacket on his way outside to play.  I don’t think I would have ever done that. I would have probably waited until the teacher noticed that my jacket was unzipped if I couldn’t figure it out myself, or would have stayed inside.

I hope fear or lack of confidence won’t ever stop Ike from doing whatever he really wants to do. I learned too late that courage is not the absence of fear or even about “overcoming” the fear, but doing in spite of it. I want Ike to be able to ask for help when he needs it and to say no to what he doesn’t need. I want him to feel listened to and safe. I know he is a happy child, I don’t need to wonder about that, and I hope I never dampen his spirit. As long as I am in recovery, I won’t need to.