How am I happy?

My life is pretty difficult right now – across  the board – and yet I am pretty happy. It makes no sense to me. There are two realms of my life where I really feel emotionally depleted and experience bursts of anger, but that is because they are both situations where I feel stifled. So that is good to know. Otherwise, I really feel good which is surprising to me.

A few areas of growth:

  • I have a friend who has a life situation that is similar to mine. It is quite wild to me that this is the case and that we realized it! We meet regularly and literally swap tools on how to deal with it. We could not be more different. She is a tough business woman and always talks about putting her foot down, drawing lines in the sand and having no patience for BS. The first few times she expressed this response, I was floored. I physically recoiled. And then I realized it is a healthy, socially acceptable approach that wouldn’t lead to the terrible and uncomfortable situations I assumed it would. I thought it would lead to tension, and that long conversation would not. I figured I would try it her way. I drew and expressed clear boundaries in one area of my life and it worked. So I did it in almost every area of my life. I feel free. Maybe because I made decisions? Maybe because by drawing a line in the sand I feel the freedom to walk away, and that coming up with a solution is no longer on my shoulder? Maybe because I have actually seen results? Regardless, so far this is a win.
  • I went home to visit my family without Elliot for the first time in almost 4 years. It was so healthy for me. I was able to explore and reflect on my past without distractions or the need to take care of another party. Sadly, per usual, many tough situations presented themselves. From breakdown comes breakthrough. I was able to actually shift many dynamics, at least temporarily. I was also able to see how I developed the responses I have which made me feel free to change.
  • I took a two classes this past week which actually relates to both my goals. One was part of my ‘relaxation project’ since it was a paint night. I hated it. I really had these terrible flashes to being a student. I am sure that a lot of these feelings have been stirring within me subconsciously and are standing in my way of enrolling in grad school. So you know the point of a paint night? They select a painting and a teacher guides you through painting it. Simple. I arrived, realized I didn’t like the selection and felt frustrated. What will I do with a painting of a bunch of wine bottles? Seriously. I tried to shift my attitude but really couldn’t. I really didn’t want to paint bottles. I decided to try. The class was for women only and my frustration grew. I struggle with girl culture. Everyone puts themselves down (‘my painting will totally suck’, ‘I am sure you are a better artists than I am’, etc.), compliments everyone else, giggles, becomes shrill and then begs for attention from the teacher while never listening when the teacher is speaking. I had zero patience for it. I longed for my apartment where I could put on music, pick my own brushes, paint what I wanted, pull up some youtube videos and learn painting skills. Instead, the teacher very slowly just told you where to draw lines in order to stencil the images. I found no creativity in it, got upset that I wasn’t learning any new techniques and did not like the teacher’s attitude. I feel torn about what I did next. I ran outside to get cell reception, googled ‘simple paint night pieces’ and picked a piece of two birds on a branch…and painted it. It isn’t great and I am trying really hard not to be attached to that fact. By the end of the night I didn’t learn how to paint or gain new skills (the teacher really ignored me the whole night but gave others feedback and tips) but I did learn about myself. There was a lot about how I showed up in this class and as a student that I am very excited to explore. I think it will help me better reflect on how I experienced school as a kid and how I feel about going back to school.
  • The hubs and I also joined a Project Management course. From PSP to PMP. I can’t tell you how hard it was for me to read the textbook. I zoned out after every single paragraph and retained nothing. I reread things repeatedly, tried to summarize them, wrote notes. Nothing happened. I had massive flashes to how I experience school (from age 6-22). School was such a struggle. I loved to learn but it never felt like it mattered. I did run half the programs and committees in my HS school but that never made me feel good about myself nor did I get any praise or attention for it. I frowned in these terrible feelings. I was always mad that I didn’t understand the material and that I had trouble focusing. During the PMP class there were long periods of time I actually felt like people were speaking Chinese. I didn’t understand what the class was talking about. As I reflect back on a life where everyone around me was on an Ivy League track working towards making their first million before they turn 35, I understand how I came up with so many negative feelings about myself. I felt inferior, incapable, useless and stupid. From there, I kept seeking out information that supported that theory. It wasn’t until recently (past 1.5 years) that I felt I had something to contribute in a work environment…or a social one…or anything, really.
  • Attending these classes the week after I visit my family was really fitting. With enough time having past, I can now begin to image what it was like for me as a child growing up in my family. I always looked at my childhood as being so blessed and feeling so guilty that I wasn’t living up to it and how poorly I navigated it. Now I can see how hard and confusing it must have been for me growing up with my immediate family. From that place, I must have developed some very unhealthy coping and defense mechanisms. One top of that, school was a daily struggle for me…and the rest of life, which is hard enough for any kid. It feels good to be able to look back on mini-me with some clarity and figure out how my life played out.
  •  That being said, I feel most energized and excited in social and EQ-oriented environments. I am committed to taking a life coaching course (probably at Columbia University) and seeing where that takes me. The Teacher’s College has a really amazing Social-Organizational Psychology program.

I know that was long but it’s been a crazy week. That honestly was the short version.



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