>Sevierville, Tennessee 1992
I guess I had been in a funk for quite a while. I know that I always felt out of sorts. I didn’t realize that everyone else could tell that I wasn’t me. It was relatively late. About 10pm. My husband at the time, frustrated, blurted out as we were getting ready for bed, “What is wrong with you??” I tried to explain. “I don’t know who I am. That girl that I used to be is fading. I’m losing sight of her. It’s like I live in this body of someone who used to be, but who no longer exists. I don’t know when I lost her. I don’t know where she went. But I don’t have fun anymore. I don’t even know how to have fun.” His irritation was clear as he rolled his eyes and said, “There is more to life than having fun.” Then he got in bed and went to sleep. That was it. Dismissed. Like losing who I was did not matter. It was an unimportant, insignificant event in our lives together. It mattered to me, though. I got in bed and in the darkness began to cry. Quietly, like I had been accustomed to doing. I learned to cry without nobody knowing it. This was the person that I was learning to become. The person who had forgotten how to have fun and who could cry herself to sleep at night without anyone knowing about it.
I have moved so far beyond that part of my life, but that flood of emotions came rushing back last week. At the request of my daughter, I began reading “Eat, Pray, Love.” Two chapters into the book, and I am engrossed in Elizabeth Gilbert’s words. She is in her bathroom sobbing on the floor while her husband peacefully sleeps in the next room. The hopelessness of her life and the misery in her marriage was more than I could take and I found myself crying quietly in bed again. It hit so close to home with me and I couldn’t stop reading. My husband was out of town on business and I took advantage of the time to myself to relish in her experience. To laugh. To cry. To know that I was not the only person in the world who had gone through a difficult time and picked herself up to find happiness. Our journeys were different, but I could relate to what she was going through.
God. I walked away from him. I became disillusioned with the concept of what God was. My upbringing made it difficult for me in those times of my marriage where I felt like I was falling apart. God would not approve of a divorce. My family would not approve of a divorce. I was stuck in the misery with no one and no where to turn. Over the years I have repaired that relationship with God. But it’s different now. It’s not the “well what if he does exist” fear-driven obedience and knowledge. It’s a more mature peaceful feeling that he exists and is a part of my life. It is a much less strained relationship. This is a different process than what Ms. Gilbert experienced. She turned toward God during that “sobbing on the bathroom floor” period of her life. I wish I’d had her insight of God back then. I believe it would have made the tough decisions more bearable. Her explanation:
“Culturally, though not theologically, I’m a Christian. I was born a Protestant of the white Anglo-Saxon persuasion. And while I do love that great teacher of peace who was called Jesus, and while I do reserve the right to ask myself in certain trying situations what indeed He would do, I can’t swallow that one fixed rule of Christianity insisting that Christ is the only path to God. …. I have always responded with breathless excitement to anyone who has ever said that God does not live in a dogmatic scripture or in a distant throne in the sky, but instead abides very close to us indeed – much closer than we can imagine, breathing right through our own hearts. I respond with gratitude to anyone who has ever voyaged to the center of that heart, and who has then returned to the world with a report for the rest of us that God is an experience of supreme love.”
In my own personal journey for happiness, I think that if I would have had that level of understanding of God I would have spared myself some deep seeded guilt. Guilt for the divorce. Guilt for not going to church. Guilt just for the sake of guilt. I feel that I have found happiness. I know who I am. As a wife. As a mother. As ME. Coming to terms with my own feelings towards God has given me the freedom to be happy with the path of life I have chosen. A path that is different from what my parents lined out for me. A path that is different than what my ex-husband had lined out for me. This is my path. It is my happiness. And I deserve to be happy. We all deserve to be happy.
“When you sense a faint potentiality for happiness after such dark times you must grab onto the ankles of that happiness and not let go until it drags you face-first out of the dirt – this is not selfishness, but obligation. You were given life; it is your duty (and also your entitlement as a human being) to find something beautiful within life, no matter how slight.”
My search for happiness will continue. Even though I am happy I know that it is a constant journey. If you stop seeking happiness it will dissipate. It is not a state of being. It is a journey. When the journey towards happiness ends. Happiness itself ends.
Next up: India
I have not read about India yet. I want to digest Italy first.