The pursuit of happiness……

There has been a gap in my writing as I devoured what books lay around, wrote poetry, lyrics, and sat silently with a loud mind. The past two weeks were filled from morning until night with an even keeled mentally, the ups and downs, or waves, subsided to find calm waters enough for me to review carefully how I wanted my writing and life to continue. A Friend described my thoughts as a Zen like reviewing of life and after reading some Buddhist studies and quotes I feel as if I have figured out some things that have really transformed the way I go about each day, my thought process, and any future that I would attempt to negotiate.

“A person following the desires and wants of their mind is a person trapped inside themselves. To be free, one must achieve a neutral mind free from all want and desire.”

The above quote really stood out to me. Over the course of the past two plus years since she left I have been tied up within myself and my desires to feel “normal” again. This normality that I sought, however, was a past normality not a comfort in current normality. My pursuit to “figure this out” led me down some very dark paths, on the edge of suicide, alcoholism, and consumed by a cloud of depression that made it so no matter what was happening I could not find peace in anything. This searching for answers stopped me from sitting back and reviewing if I was asking the correct questions. While I feel this isn’t abnormal for someone who has been left for another as it feels a very personal attack on who you are as an individual this can be dangerous as I have described above. The answers sought will never be found; especially if the person who did the leaving cannot or simply will not answer them. While I used to think that I deserved the answers to these questions I no longer feel that way. They are questions and not every one has an answer. I am not religious (even thought I used a Buddhist quote above) so I cannot look up to the heavens and ask a god what their plans are for me, I cannot go under the assumption that there is a plan, I cannot seek to place this information anywhere else than quite simply, in the past.

The desires that the above quotes speaks of, as they relate to me, were a sense of belonging, a sense of being needed, and a sense of happiness. I have spent many hours diving deep into these ideas and how they will design the outcome of my future.

A Sense of belonging

For years, almost 20, I spent my life with my sense of belonging tied up into the family that I was a part of. Being a father and a husband consumed me every day and what was left over was spent working on being a good friend to those around me. This is where I belonged, this is what I was put on this Earth to do and who I was supposed to be around. My days were driven to be the best at all of those things. Whether exhausted from a days work I would be with my kids until they went to bed, whether exhausted I would make sure that my wife got the attention that I thought she deserved, and whether exhausted if a friend needed me I would be there without thought. When she left I was still a father, when I moved I was still a father, however, there was a distance now that made it different. I didn’t think I belonged here in Maine and spent many nights hating the idea that I was here, while prior (between the time she left and the time she moved) feeling like I didn’t belong in Vermont either. With such a dismal few months in Vermont I placed blame on an entire state for making me feel as if it didn’t want me there, therefore making me feel as if I didn’t belong. For a long while, I felt I didn’t belong anywhere, like it was the locations choice. I had allowed a point on a map to make me feel out of place.

How I stand up now and stare down these notions are quite simple in my eyes, I am where I am because it IS where I am. There isn’t “not belonging” and there isn’t “belonging” there is just where I am at this current point. Why fight it, why worry about it, if this is where I am meant to be then I will be here, if it isn’t then I will be where I am meant to be at that moment and so on and so forth.   The worry that I had with how I fit or where I belonged was a fictional idea that fated me to feel that there was a possibility the earth didn’t want me on it. The empowerment came with knowing that the Earth doesn’t really have a choice (outside of an earth quake and other natural disasters I suppose but we are splitting hairs here), I am here until I am not.

Sense of being needed

If I don’t hear from my kids daily, then they don’t need me anymore.

If I don’t hear from my friends regularly, then they don’t need me anymore.

If no woman on some ridiculous website didn’t respond or “like” me back, then the female gender didn’t need me anymore.

My wife, didn’t need me anymore.

My job didn’t need me anymore.

These were my thoughts. These were how I felt. I was left, I was fired, I was, was, was……

“Was” is past tense. “Don’t” has a negative connotation to it. “Need” is a word filled with desperation.

I used to feel like I needed my wife in my life. Even after she left, I felt like if I could just be friends with her still then that would satisfy my “need”. I loved her. I still have love for her but I do not “need” her in my life. Now on the other hand, would I like her to be a part of my life still, no matter how different, sure, but I don’t need her to be.

My boys are teenagers and in my moments of self doubt when they wouldn’t respond to a text or call me when they said they would, my “need” would outweigh my rational thought process in the fact that, they ARE teenagers, one will be off to college, one is getting close. Do they need me? Maybe not like they used to, do they want me in their lives, yes they do.

I guess what I am trying to get across is that I don’t worry about being needed, when someone wants me or “needs” me around I will be there as I always have, when I am looking for someone they have been there when I would like them to be and if for some reason they cannot be, then the recognition is that they just cannot be and it surely doesn’t factor into anything personal. When you are hurting everything seems personal when you are rational and of even mind things feel far less. If there is no significant other in my life, to me it has nothing to do with need, and far more to do with timing. The right situation will present itself when I am ready and when they are ready and I am perfectly fine with that.

A Sense of Happiness

This one was big for me. This is really when I started to break down the walls that had built up in my head. I “deserved to be happy” that is what others told me, that is how I started to believe I needed to be. It got to the point that when I couldn’t be happy for an extended amount of time I became depressed, really depressed. I couldn’t figure out why I could not get over her, I could not figure out why I could be happy with my new job, with the multiple promotions they were offering me after only a few months, and why none of this had an effect on my emotional well being. The realization that my “pursuit of happiness” was actually making me more and more depressed and less and less a part of my own life (going through the motions). Then the word or idea of “deserve” entered my head, do I deserve happiness?

What does one do to deserve happiness?

Does anyone actually “deserve” anything?

The more I thought about it, the more I looked back and thought forward the clearer and clearer it became, no one “deserves” happiness. You can attain it, you can feel it, you can do a million things with happiness, but you cannot deserve it. It is something that you can be given but it is also something that can be taken away. It can be something you would like to have just as much as it is something that some avoid. What I have discovered more for myself lately is whether or not I am at peace with my situation. Am I happy? No I am not. Am I sad? No I am not. I am at peace with where my life is right now. That is how I have made my decisions lately. If I can be at peace with an outcome then I will be okay. Not if it will make me happy (which it may) and not to avoid sadness (which it also may). Placing an unnecessary emotion on any decision making process may make you avoid doing things that would provide you an experience like no other and that could in fact lead to the feeling of happiness but the expectation that IT WILL lead to happiness is out of your control. There are often circumstances where people will place an outcome of happiness on only to find utter disappointment. I have been weighing possibilities and determining if I can find peace with either outcome, If I can, I go for it, if I cannot not, then maybe it should be something I avoid for now. Either way the expectation of happiness is not placed on an item, experience, or any individual. I am not avoiding being happy or avoiding the recognition of when something makes me happy, I am simply not making decisions based upon an emotion that may not come with the eventual conclusion of my choice. This make me aware of what makes me feel good and what doesn’t that much more because it is a result not an expectation.

This thought process may not be of use to anyone else, this may be of no use to anyone other than myself but it has aided me greatly. It allows me to sit here at this computer and type these words once again, I am at peace.

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