Happy Wife Happy Life
I recently heard a counselor say,
“You know it’s really true: a happy wife equals a happy life for the whole family.”
My immediate reaction was (of course) super skeptical. First of all, this isn’t fair. Why should I be carrying the weight of everyone else’s happiness? Secondly, there is already enough pressure as a mom + wife + artist + employee, and I can barely keep up with all the things. The problem is, I’ve been sitting on this phrase for a month since that appointment, and I’m starting to think she was right.
I don’t want the responsibility of my partner’s and my children’s happiness. However, I didn’t make the rules, and as much as I try to bend this one it won’t. When Mom is thriving everyone else seems to be happier, and the opposite seems to be true as well. By no means will I ever claim to be an expert on happiness, and I’m sure everyone has a different definition. My husband, Tripp, defines it as;
Happiness is being so content and confident that you have plenty of extra energy available to invest in the interests of others.
I love that he relates happiness to an energy that you can give back to people. It’s so true. In my most unhappy moments I had nothing to offer. Almost all of my energy goes towards surviving, suppressing, and defending. Being a support to someone else’s emotional needs was too exhausting much less enjoying a moment together. I have struggled a lot of my life with anxiety and contentment and it’s one of the things that I had to work the hardest at when I met Tripp… He was happy… and for the first time in my life I was in a relationship with someone who was something I wanted to be but didn’t actually know how.
Fast Forward through years of counseling and you guys, I got there. I can honestly say I am the happiest I have ever been. I know that I still have a ton of work to do and I have to check myself daily because overall happiness doesn’t come naturally. I am undoing so many old ways of thinking that I now realize contribute to my lack of peace. I’m having to reframe how I see some of my past. And often I’m having to stop in moments, recognize thoughts as untrue, and prevent myself from reacting in ways that aren’t helpful. It’s hard work, but it works. I’m happier. And my family happier. Remember, that’s how it works.
For me, anxiety is the opposite of happiness which is why I have spent a lot of time researching, reading books, and talking to experts about it. I’ve learned a lot, but so much remains a mystery … Did it come from my circumstances or was I born with it? Is it something I can get rid of or will I always have to fight it? Yes. All of those.
Anyway, I have now accepted that happiness is not only something I can pursue, but it’s something I should pursue. Because it’s not just about me enjoying my life. It’s about Tripp and my two children enjoying theirs. Long gone are the days that I could just sit and sulk in my own misery or dump it all on a friend (I still do that sometimes because I am human and I am female). I now feel more responsible for a quicker and more legitimate recovery.
Don’t get me wrong though. I am not saying that a person shouldn’t be sad or hurt. Life is full of hard truths, tragedies, confrontations, disappointments, and so on. In fact, facing those head on and allowing myself to accept them for just how bad or sad they are has been a big part of my recovery. Now I no longer sweep those feelings under the rug and pretend like I am okay when I am not, because doing so is actually what breeds anxiety. Turns out I can’t trick myself into being happy.
So if you care about your family, then you should care about your happiness. Maybe you need more you time. Maybe you need better friends. Maybe you need to have some hard conversations with your partner. Maybe you need counseling. Maybe you need medicine. Maybe you just need to go on a journey to figure out what makes you happy. I don’t know. I definitely don’t have all the answers, and I feel like I’m just getting started in many ways. In fact, right now I’m anxious, because I’m worried about getting this post done in time. Shoot. I gotta stop, so I’ll close with a line by my favorite poet from the 1980s:
Don’t worry. Be Happy.