Monday, April 12, 2010

Battling happiness

I've been feeling happy the last several days and that's a real problem. I'm not one who is accustomed to happiness. Buddhists encourage us to accept and acknowledge the impermanence of things, that all objects, relationships, sensations will pass away, if not soon, then at the time of our death.

I have no difficulty believing this. Growing up with a mother whose moods were quixotic, I learned you don't trust anything to stick around very long, not joy, not peace, not calm. The only stable force is self-imposed misery, because you can control that. It is always possible to make yourself miserable.

For more decades than I like to count, I lived under the shadow of self-imposed misery. I had several long-running, emotionally abusive relationships in my younger days, full of jealousy and drama. They provided lots of misery. Then I moved fully into my life as a practicing alcoholic. While many good things happened to me during those years, everything was overshadowed by my guilt and shame at being a drunk.

Then in 1989, I went to treatment and got sober. I lived on the pink cloud of happiness for a few weeks, so much relief at not being sick and at not being ashamed and for a number of years, I refused to see that my eating was out of control. But the last 10 years of yoyo dieting and struggle and fears about my health and hating the way I looked, wow, that's self-imposed misery in spades.

Now I don't do any of that shaming or guilt-ridden stuff. And with that freedom comes occasional bursts of good feeling, just out of the blue. It takes me a while to recognize them and I find myself suspicious. What's wrong with me that I feel so good? The irony of all this does not escape me.

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