Don't go looking for happiness where you lost it
I saw this phrase on tumblr ten days or so ago, and loved it. Such good advice - and something I'd never considered before.
I've considered it since, multiple times, every day. This season of the year is fraught with emotional minefields for me, as every commercial and every store sells the idea of family togetherness. Many seasonal cards and even comments from well-meaning friends and colleagues take on the same approach - this is naturally a time of year for family, and everyone has one of those, right?
I long, as most everyone does, for that family togetherness, even though it's an impossibility for me (and for many other people, too). I feel moments of regret that I cannot go Christmas shopping with my mother, for example, or sadness that I cannot send a card that she can display on the mantle (because my father would go apeshit). I imagine being in England in this season. I second-guess my whole life and wonder if I'm doing the right thing, striking out alone, or whether I should have sucked up my misery and experiences and put family first. I know, intellectually, that the answer is 'no' to that and other, similar questions, but this is an emotional battle, a yearning for something that's presented all around me as elemental.
So to be able to say "Don't go looking for happiness where you lost it" has helped me so much. I still get the moments of regret, sadness, and second-guessing, but I can at least deploy this sage bit of advice against them. How can I be happy in the physical place where I lost my happiness? If I avoid the house in which I was abused, how happy can I be living in a hotel for Christmas, with my mother choosing my father first in everything? How can I find happiness in the well-worn mental spaces where I put family first for thirty years of my life and became as miserable as it's possible to be? I can't. And to have someone say 'here's why it's a bad idea to do what you're doing' with such simple kindness is transformative.
It takes a lot of mental energy to play this game day in, day out, which is no doubt part of the reason that, given the opportunity, I've been sleeping twelve hours a day. I'm sure for so many of you reading this, you'd sleep twelve hours a day, too, if you could. This time of year can be brutal. But that little phrase has given me a lot of hope, and maybe it'll help someone else out, too.
Love to everyone struggling with depression, anxiety, mental illness, loss, alienation, and loneliness this time of year. You're in my heart. ♥