What if I’m incapable of being happy?

from Hyperbole and a Half

Do you ever sit back and try to remember where or when you were most happy, or last happy? And realize that no matter how hard you try nothing comes to mind. Like nothing. I realize now I can’t even quite remember what its like to feel happy, let alone the last time I actually was happy. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve ever really been happy. I can be excited and I can have fun for moments at a time, but “happy” isn’t quite the same thing.

Or… if you want to argue that “happy” is the momentary thing, then let’s switch to the word “content.” I can’t imagine what it’s like to feel content. Are there people who really feel that? I really want to know. I’m always tempted to ask my friends and family. Do you people really exist? Is it really possible to feel happy and/or content with your life? I mean, really?

I mean… I understand that life isn’t perfect for anyone. I understand that no one is happy all the time. I understand that everyone has ups and downs. I understand that Facebook statuses are filtered, curated, carefully chosen, exaggerated, sometimes completely made-up. I understand that.

But. BUT.

There do seem to be people, people I know, people I’ve seen, people I’ve heard of, who — despite the imperfections, the occasional sadness or difficult time — are by-and-large happy/content with their lives. They feel secure, they feel loved, they feel comfortable, they feel happy with their choices and their circumstances. They spout optimistic platitudes, they tout “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps” mentalities, they gush about “gifts of life,” the “wonders of God,” etc. THEY ARE HAPPY PEOPLE OVERALL CONTENT WITH WHERE THEIR LIVES HAVE GONE AND ARE GOING.

And I just can’t imagine it. Momentary joy just isn’t the same thing. And I cannot imagine what it must feel like to be truly content with the overall shape, and tone, and direction of one’s life. I begin to fear I never will. I begin to fear I am simply incapable of being happy. Of being content.

Which brings me back to my original dilemma, trying to think back to when I was happiest. I can think of small number of occasions and places where things seemed a tiny bit better. A week visiting one best friend in Delaware. A week traveling through Yellowstone National Park with my other best friend. Two weeks in D.C. with some family. But in all these cases it was the escape from the actual reality of my life that made these good times/places. Escape from my house, from my mother, from my work, from my responsibilities. And if I am only capable of being remotely happy when I am physically and mentally far away from MY OWN LIFE, than what in hell’s name does that say about my life, my choices, the path that has led me here? What does that say about ME?

I don’t have an answer. I’m afraid of what the answer is. I’m afraid the answer is: you’re screwed, tough shit, deal with it. I’m just afraid.

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