Tuesday, July 7

not happiness

I'm a great believer of the silver lining, that all will be well, that we create our lives, acceptance, making lemonade out of lemons, embracing challenges, being grateful, looking at the bright side, laughing at mishaps, going with the flow, appreciating what I have that so many don't have......

Somewhere along the journey, this desire to flow with life and to be grateful became ensnarled with something sinister. Something that twisted its way around my soul.

Accepting what I cannot change, became accepting the status quo. Somehow, in my desire to not be ungrateful for my privildeged Western life, to be thankful I wasn't abused as a child, to appreciate all my opportunities and freedoms, perhaps even with influences from a predominantly Christian culture that tells me I should be Thankful and Grateful.... somehow I accepted less and less and less.

Even me. Yes. Strong me, occassionally formidable me, life-embracing me.

And every time I accepted less for myself, I became less. My soul seemed to shrink. The less I allowed for myself, the less I, subconsciously, valued myself. And it became a viscious circle. Accept less, become less. Become less, accept less.

I allowed myself to become a garden plant. One that required a gardener to water and feed it. I had been a wind walker, a cheeky breeze, a shiver of storm. I soothed brows and stirred up excitement. Now I wilted.

I have strived my entire life for one thing - authenticity. An authentic life, however that was translated. And yet, I have been drowning in inauthenticity, although I have also been clawing my way out. But clawing is not flying.

My current keen thoughtfulness on this has sensed others' stories. I see so many who have settled, in various areas of life, for so much less. For safety, because they don't believe they deserve more, they don't believe there is more, they have forgotten how to give themselves more.....

There is an undercurrent of..... I don't know.... not happiness. Yes, not unhappiness exactly, although there are moments of that, but mostly really just, not happiness.

But there is worse than this. I have seen those who have discarded their own plant pot and reached for the moon be ridiculed.

Who does she think she is?
His expectations are too high!
You just have to settle in this life.
You can't just have everything you want!
But you're wasting your talents!
You have to make the best of things.

This is fear. Fear that we may have to admit that we have settled ourselves. Fear that in doing so we are forced face-to-face with our own Not Happiness.... and may have to do something about it. Or simply, fear that the facade cracks and instead of a numb existence, or stoic denial, we will shed tears, scream, tremble, make waves. Fear of admitting a mistake, fear of change. So many scents of fear.

And although I see it in both men and women, women seem to excel at accepting less. It is a great violence in our societies that even strong, confident, intelligent women fall into this trap.
Jenell mentioned in a recent comment how settling is different to compromise. The former passive, the latter active. Oh yes indeed. One is an embittering resignation, the other is a peaceful acceptance.

We allow others to water us. Our brilliance becomes a reflection of someone else's needs, or wishes for us.

So we bob up and down in the same spot in the middle of the stagnant lake. Because it's safe. Or because we have forgotten that we are strong and natural swimmers, and that we can move elsewhere.

pic: hickerphoto.com

But now...

I swam out from the middle.

I'm about knee-deep in a gushing river, feeling the soil between my toes giving way.
I'm raising my long hair to the winds, like a sail, feeling the force unsteady me, raise me.

It's frightening, it's anything but safe. But I'm feeling my soul re-awaken.


  1. You are a beautiful writer. You've captured the feeling of quiet desperation mingled with a conflicting resignation. I hope one day I can move on to where you have moved. I am happy for another woman to have found her footing and her strength.

  2. you go girl.
    and where you go, your footsteps shine like a lamp for the rest of us to follow.

  3. SwedishJenn07 July, 2009

    I actually had the read the comments to really "get it" to "get" what your post was conveying. And I must admit, I had to read your post a few times before it all hit. The "less and less" conundrum. Boy am I in agreement. I have been feeling this more and more myself. Accepting less, trying to be grateful for the less I have and sacrificing my needs and wants to fulfill the needs of those closest to me. I am going with the flow, but more or less against my will. However, I wonder if my "will" is weak. What happens if I get what I want but long for the return of what I had? I'm not sure what it is I want but I'm certain it's not the life I'm blindly living. I'm so wrapped up in "If I work hard enough, sacrifice enough, love enough", what I think I want will come knocking on the door and free me from this lifestyle. What if I'm doing all of these things and what I think I want still eludes me? Though the same unsettling but rooted thought permeates me to the core, "You can't have it all". This stops me, confuses me and leads me to a place of despair. Time to take stock...
    As for your situtation, well I consider you a friend. And with my "traditional" friendships, friends will come to me or vice versa with "this and this happened and I feel this way about it". You have thrown me for a loop my dear. I'm a bit awe-struck at how you can so eloquently convey your darkest struggles without actually naming said struggle. But yet, somehow, I realize it doesn't need a name, does it? I do know that you are brave.

  4. Although the struggle and fear is clearly there, this is exhilarating to read Mon. So easily we settle, (and yes, I agree especially women) for all sorts of things that diminish us and our power; things that are not compromises, (although at times we may persuade ourselves that they are), but that are in fact acts of fear and paralysing passivity in which we lose ourselves.

    Ever since I decided to pull down my pants and slide on the ice, (erm...so to speak), I've been struggling with a fair bit of criticism directed at me. Exactly as you say, the "who does she think she is", and "she's wasting her talents", (giving up my crap job and becoming a homeschool "nutter" heheh). But I can sometimes find it tempting to listen to those voices, and find myself slipping back into an inconspicuous passivity, that dimming (and dumbing down) of the light within. The temptation to settle is not an obvious one, it can creep up on me - in so many areas of my life.

    May those rushing waters buoy you up, and may you walk the winds and sail the storms again. And know that there can be loving hands to steady you along the way if needed.

  5. So beautifully written. Your thoughts speak for so many. I love the line, "we allow others to water us". I think I just float on the surface of my life most of the time. Routine and others' expectations dictate most of my day. I want the authentic life. I need to carve out some time to pursue what makes me feel whole. As a mom, I put myself to the side. Thanks for the thought provoking post. Well done.

  6. Wow.....I really don't know what to say....(ha! as if..!!)

    Thank you - first - for sharing this...it's a powerful place you walk and it takes more courage than can be imagined to share in your experience. I applaud your strength and your resolve....it's inspiring...

    I look back sometimes, to the time in my life when there was much Not Happiness -- and how I was back then. I was much stronger, I *did* things, I was fierce and determined....but now..what am I? Complacent, maybe. Soft, retiring, surrendering.....

    You raise a very interesting point -- that of going with the flow in a peaceful, accepting manner and the distinct difference that is settling for less. I often struggle with the *flow*...sometimes I think its my personality -- I'm Mars ruled and not so comfy in the water, I suppose *grin*....but now I wonder if my discomfort comes from the fact that I'm not truly going with *my* flow..perhaps I've been trying to fit myself in someone elses' idea of what my flow should be.....

    Yikes...between you and docwitch, I've had quite the slap in the head this morning...;)

    Thank you again, for walking out into the current.....I have lovely vision of you, arms outstretched, hair whipping in the wind...embracing what comes...

  7. This will rattle around in me for a while...thank you for working to put all of these familiar feelings and struggles into such eloquent words...

  8. There's a poem by Hafiz, 14th century Persian poet (my favorite) that comes to mind...

    A Barroom View of Love

    I would not want all my words
    To parade around this world
    In pretty costumes,

    So I will tell you something
    Of the Barroom view of Love.

    Love is grabbing hold of the Great Lion's mane
    And wrestling and rolling deep into Existence

    While the Beloved gets rough
    And begins to maul you alive.

    True Love, my dear,
    Is putting an ironclad grip upon

    The sore, swollen balls
    Of a Divine Rougue Elephant

    Not having the good fortune to Die!

    and one more, a softer one, and one of my very favorites, also seems related...

    You Better Start Kissing Me

    Throw away
    All your begging bowls at Gods door,

    For I have heard the Beloved
    Prefers sweet threatening shouts,

    Something on the order of:

    "Hey, Beloved,
    My heart is a raging volcano
    Of love for you!

    You better start kissing me--
    Or Else!"

    Here's too the Divine Rogue
    and shouting for kisses.

  9. bah! to, not too. psh.

  10. Mon, that is beautiful. Life-giving. I'm a fiery person, generally not one for resignation. I like to think of myself as more of a resister. Maybe that's just another swing of the pendulum, tho', because I am just as susceptible to "not happiness", to not really living. I think about this a lot, this modern malady, and wonder....

    I, too, want to suck the marrow from life and be wrung dry--and do it again the next day. Deep down, don't we all?! (Great poems, Stephanie!)What is stopping us?

  11. WOW! This post totally speaks to me. I get that garden plant feeling! I am in the process of re-awakening myself. I am not chasing after a dream anymore, but I need to realize that I don't have to diminish myself in the process. I am completely letting go...but letting my roots grow as far as they need. Thank you for this today. Also, glad you left that comment on my Zen In You blog...your blog is wonderful!!!

  12. oh mon, this is wonderful~ i can very much relate to what you've written here and i think it's so healthy that you wrote all this out! i think it's important and healthy to be able to make lemonade out of lemons. but it's also important and healthy, maybe even moreso, to just look at the lemons and consider them for what they are when we have them. it's not wallowing. it's facing reality. sometimes i think if we focus too much on making the lemonade, we're minimizing and shoving off our feelings into some faraway corner, and then eventually what we have is a lot of buried valid feelings, not knowing they are valid. and we are left feeling small, displaced and confused, wondering why we don't feel good even though supposedly "we have it so good". yay for letting your hair down and wading deep into the stream. i'm sending love and a big hug your way!

  13. Yes, because if we are a pool of stagnant water then nothing comes in AND nothing goes out. And rarely do you find anything living in a stagnant pond.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As always, I need to mull them over some more. :)

  14. Wow - I came here from Mel's blog. You also are wise beyond your years. I can relate to everything you have said. And you do write so well.
    I also will think this through - lots!

  15. Fantastic post, Mon! Thank you for writing so beautifully on this very common and aptly hidden undercurrent that flows beneath so many of our lives.

    I have been pondering an idea similar to yours, and the part you wrote about being slammed back down when we get too big for our britches (my interpretation of your words) really spoke to me.

    This is how it has cycled for me: First I think I'm small, with nothing to offer. It feels awful. Then I begin to catch glimpses of my power and talent, and I begin to share it. I feel great. Those around me feel great. Then I begin to doubt the truth of my gifts and my power. What if it's all in my head? What if I'm making it up and I'm really not x, y, z? I begin to shrink a bit, and then the cycle repeats.

    Except after I actually examined the cycle, I realized that it doesn't matter if it's all in my head, because no matter what, it's ALL in my head: my smallness or my greatness. Did I actually think I would hedge my bets by pointing out my own smallness before others could do it for me? How does that help me? It doesn't - at all.

    And so, I try to remind myself that no matter what I choose to believe, it's all in my head. Therefore, I can choose what feels good, and let go of the rest. I've heard this so many times before in one form or another, but for some reason, it only recently made deep, pure, unadulterated sense to me.

    I send you blessings, strength and love as you swim back up to the surface and then powerfully take off into the beautiful sky, soaring where you belong. I believe in your gifts, too.


  16. i think we're all on the same page these days. i have been feeling that same inauthenticity. it's unsettling to not know what is the authentic me anymore. i know what i like and don't like but i can't say who i am or am not. it seems this time of year always brings about spiritual stirrings. whispers throughout the day that make me question, ponder, dream or seek. most definitely seek. i've been doing a lot of that lately. and i've been finding more authenticity and more frustrations. it's as if the deeper i dig, the deeper i need to dig. whatever i'm searching for is sinking further and further in for no other reason that to force me to dive head first. but to dive head first means to leave a lot nelgcted while i go swimming thru a mystery and i tell myself i don't have the luxury to really sink in like i'd like to. i'm trying to find some balance but i'm not sure how successful that will be.


  17. Tara, I just checked back in to read more comments on this post, and I just loved what you wrote here! I so get what you are saying about diving headfirst, but wondering about all that could get neglected if we really dove in completely.

    You’re right that so many of us are struggling with this very thing lately. And isn’t that a beautiful and magical realization? I can talk about this growing shift in consciousness, but a part of me wonders if, like I mentioned in my own comment, it’s all in my head. And then you write something that reminds me that it’s truly not all in my head, or if it is, it’s in a lot of other people’s heads, too.

    I feel that same somewhat sadistic pull to keep peeling off the layers, faster and faster, uncovering still more layers as I go deeper and deeper. It’s challenging, painful, and exhilarating at the same time. Like a treasure hunt, maybe I’m getting closer to the treasure, or “truth,” whatever that will reveal itself to be, or maybe I’m just learning to enjoy the thrill of discovery.

    What makes it exciting and not downright depressing is the sisterhood of powerful women I’ve discovered who are all on the same treasure hunt.

    As for the balance, well, good luck to all of us on that one. I know sometimes I check out for a while, lost in my search even while playing with my son. He brings me back, though, when I’ve been “away” too long. Driving is a time when I love to just let my mind wander through all those pathways of connection. My journal is another tool for swimming through the layers, and I write in it (mostly) nightly. And yet, I still crave a week's (month's?) getaway retreat in which I could do nothing other than this diving. Maybe I think it would hurry the process along. Maybe the pace we're each setting right now, in the midst of our busy lives, is perfect, after all.

    Thanks, everyone (especially Mon!) for your inspiration.


  18. "I stand above the parapet, strong and loud
    My hair blows wild, it makes me proud
    I touch the winds, they do their will
    and despite the cold, I feel no ill"

    A poem I came up with, as a result of this thread.........

    I have wild hair....it is my touchstone and my flag...............!

  19. Tea/wine and cookies/pizza - yes please! And likewise if you are ever in this neck of the woods. Please do, please do. We do a great pizza on the outdoor little round plated bbq in summer.
    Such an exciting place to be where you are right now. It's all within your grasp and you know it. This is powerful, it is the what to do with it that can be puzzling for me, esp. because I'm quite passive. But I need to change this behaviour to become more authentic in my life.
    I often think most people stay in fear and try as hard as they can to be in the comfort zone and thus avoid authenticity as a result. Taking responsibility a big part of it. Maybe all of it.
    There is so much strength in your post. Strength is in us just as much as fear is. It's what we choose to embrace I suppose. I loved the way you described the cycle of accepting less, being less - so easy isn't it? Without going into feminist theory, why oh why is this the way for so many women.
    I find simply 'doing' art and branching into new territory with simple things like using new materials really is a lesson in fearlessness for me. Am loving it! Hard when you're a woman and juggling it all with children, relationships, keeping it together for the family, everything else etc. How to balance it to keep your deep sense of self.
    I think once we get over the fear of flying and practice this more and more, it helps for authentic/conscious/self-care etc to permeate all aspects of our life...slowly...
    These times are good aren't they - such the silver lining all this. Brilliant post! (^_^)

  20. Wishing you peace on your journey. Fly high, friend!!

  21. All your words, thoughts, and insights are a delight to read. They have given me more to ponder on.

    I wish Blogger had wordpress' threaded discussion so I could reply more directly.

  22. I can see you there in those rushing waters, standing strong... your beautiful hair blowing. Yes, I can see you.

    Your words speak to me Mon. Thank you. xx

  23. Big, thought-provoking stuff Mon. Thank you for sharing. You've had so many wonderful comments here, what a community you are a part of. xx

  24. I have spent my whole life playing it safe...the one at the back of the room...the quiet one...the over protecting one...super organized...need I say more. Time for me to jump in and start paddling.

  25. Just rejoining Cyberspace and really liked this post...do you think it's related to motherhood? I have seen this same thing so often in women, and yes not all are mothers, but it does seem to happen to us more often once we are mothers...maybe the sacrificing in the name of our children can quietly slip into this...

  26. I wanted to share my experience, but couldn't sum it up in a short comment, so I wrote an entire post about it on my blog!

  27. Beautifully written and very thought provoking, mirroring much of what I've been feeling lately. May you soon find yourself back on your path, strong and at peace.

  28. I found a link here at Docwitch's blog, and wow. This is amazing.

  29. Thank you so much for this post! You have managed to put into words so much of what I feel about my life. I recently started reading "Women who Run with Wolves" and your post ties in wonderfully.


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