This week was a good week for us. Despite a few run ins that upon reflection seem more normal than not, I think we had a good week. We had fun. We laughed. We did high school orientation. We managed Yappy, who has managed to break out of every containment system I have dreamt up for him; he’s a little Houdini. We’ve had a good week.
So I wasn’t ready for yesterday, which was my own fault.
Hope said how depressed she was, how things seemed despairing, how having hope and a positive outlook was not a useful endeavor because happiness was fleeting. Hope is happy to have been adopted, and she loves me and our little family, but this is probably the last great thing that will happen to her and it’s already happened. The adoption is in the past and now we’re just living, so the happy event passed and while it created a permanent situation, the happy surrounding it is not sustainable and in fact, it also has passed.
And just like that I was forced to pick apart the real meaning of happiness. I mean, I had to think about what it meant to me and what I want it to mean for Hope.
I have to regularly sit down, take a moment and consider my own happiness. Am I happy? Some hours of each day I am happy. Some days of each month I am happy. Some months of each year I am happy, and some years in each decade I am happy.
I would like to think I am more happy than not.
I do take a few breaths these days and ask am I happy. I have just about everything I ever thought I wanted. I have nice list of accomplishments professionally and academically. I have great friends and family. I am a mom. I have someone in my life who loves me and whom I love very much. I’m comfortable, even with the challenges. Yeah, I’m happy.
But you know when you’re slugging through heavy stuff, you know during the thick of it, it’s easy to say you’re not happy and you maybe really aren’t happy. And with good reason.
But you still tend to have hope that happy comes back right?
Apparently Hope doesn’t have hope that happy comes back.
To hear her tell it, she has tried that brand of hope and “maybe next time it will be different,” but for so many next times it wasn’t different. Bad things happened and more bad things followed. Imagining it sounds so spirit crushing to know that there is no faith there. I’m not even talking about churchy faith, but just faith that there’s something different out there.
It’s also hard hearing that having permanence hasn’t challenged that thinking at all. More good things than bad things have happened in the last year. But there’s 12 years of crap to contend with; 12 years of data that show it doesn’t pay to have hope that happy will show up.
It’s going to take a long, long time to help her learn to create happy. I tried to explain that considering happy as things always go well, that you always get your way or whatever you want will not get you there. It’s the collection of experiences, memories, and the value that you assign them in the grand scheme of things that help you reframe and refocus on happy. It’s not easy to learn that.
I am afraid that I will fail to teach her, but I can’t imagine a life without hope that happy is within striking distance.
Despite the fear of failure, I see her setting goals. I see her caring. I see her enjoying things. I know that happy is right there if she chooses to see it and chooses to grab it.