My struggle to seek joy

I don’t know why, but this time of year has been hard for me in the last few years.  You’d think I’d be more prone to depression during winter – and in Chicago it was indeed harder to pull myself out of the dumps during winter.  But it was down in the dumps in Chicago, not depression.  I guess it’s because every year I’m reminded that yet another year has passed without so many things that I thought would be our lives by now.  No children, still living in central Alabama, still living in an apartment.  I start dreaming – where we will move next, what our children will look like and how we will raise them, how much it would cost to convert a small passenger bus into a mobile home.  Have I ever mentioned that my brain sometimes won’t stop running?  Usually at around 100 mph.

Our fertility problems are something I’ve talked quite a bit about on this blog over the last few years, but if you’re new to the blog and are unfamiliar with infertility let me just say this.  It is devastating.  You think that is a melodramatic choice of words?  Then you really have no idea what it’s like, because I can assure you, it’s a mild choice of word.  I think one of the hardest parts about it for me has been the sentiment that our lifestyle really doesn’t lend itself to children, so it’s probably better we don’t have them anyway.  Not to point fingers, but there is a certain woman who means the world to me that has been totally dismissive about the entire situation, as if either it isn’t happening or – to my brain occasionally – as if I am unworthy of being a parent anyway.  I’m sure she’d be appalled if I ever told her straight out that it is how I feel (or at least I hope she would), but feeling like I didn’t have her support through this has, honestly, been one of the reasons I haven’t sought harder for a solution to our fertility issues.  But none of that stops the ache in my heart and my arms for the children that I dream of and long for.

We live in a fabulous town right now.  I honestly, absolutely love our town.  It’s a small town (population 6,452) with all the charm and quirkiness of a small, southern town.  We also have a small university that focuses on the arts.  I really do love this town.  But it’s not where I want to be. For one thing, it doesn’t really snow here.  Oh, it’s snowed twice in the last three years, but anyone who lives where it snows can understand where I’m coming from here.  It has only snowed TWICE, two days, in the last three years.  I love snow.  Granted, with our current transportation, yes it’s better not to get snowed on.  I. Don’t. Care.  I miss the snow.  For another thing, I want to live in the mountains.  No, I don’t care to hear any of your reasons that I should be content to stay where I am.  Have you ever felt homesickness?  Maybe when you were a kid away at summer camp?  It’s that soul deep, near-pain in your heart to be home.  That’s what I’ve got.  The problem is, I’ve not found home yet.  Don’t misunderstand, my home is where my husband is.  Period.  But he and I both agree that we haven’t found the place that feels like home.  Even my hometown of Hattiesburg, where I was born and spent the first 23 years of my life, never felt right.  I had a great childhood and I wouldn’t choose for it to have happened anywhere else in the world.  Hattiesburg will always hold a place in my heart.  But I was 13 when I told my Momma that I wouldn’t live there forever.  And if you’re wondering – yes, I am terrified that I will never find a place that feels like home.  Again, if you’ve never had to search to find home, then there is no way for me to put into words that will make you understand.  And if you have, then there is no need for me to.

And, finally, I HATE LIVING IN AN APARTMENT.  The first place I lived after moving out of my parents’ house just before my 20th birthday was a 2 bedroom house.  There were so many problems with that place, so much that happened while we lived there that wasn’t good.  But I think it was the best place we’ve ever lived.  Of course, it will always hold a special place in my heart because it’s where I met my beloved Joshwa.  Quite literally, the first time I laid eyes on Sir Joshimus was when a high school friend of mine brought him by my house.  That first night we sat on my back porch and talked forever, even while my guests were inside hanging out.  But back to the point, it was a house, with a yard.  No, I didn’t plant anything or grow anything, but I could have if I’d been in the mind to try it back then.  And I was able to have a pet – and I so dearly miss the companionship of a furry child.  No, I couldn’t walk outside naked or anything, since we lived in town, but I didn’t have to worry about anyone but my roommate banging on a wall/floor/ceiling.  I hate apartments.  But more, I want a home with privacy, with space.  I want to be able to walk outside naked.  I don’t think I actually would, but I want to be able to. I want space to breath.  I want a yard for goats and maybe chickens or ducks, I want a garden.  I don’t want to have to be cooped up inside my house to be alone.

These are the things that have been weighing me down lately.  And, honestly, they are the recurring theme in my life since we left Chicago.  Occasionally there are others – being able to travel (the need to settle/need to travel dichotomy that is so much a part of me is something I plan on talking about sometime later), being able to see our family and friends more, for example – but those are the main three that weigh on me when things get rough.

But what is the point of talking about it?  For one thing, it makes me feel better to put into words the things that are so heavy for me to carry, and it makes it easier when I can put out for someone else to see, someone who can see it and don’t feel as if they must carry it on their shoulders, like with Joshimus Rex.  For another, so that maybe when I tell you to seek the joy in your life, you can understand that, yes, I do know how hard it is to do.  Especially if you’re fighting depression.  And I spent the better part of a year failing miserably at finding my joy, letting these things weigh me down and darken my world.  But this time when I felt them weighing me down, Joshimus and I jumped on the bike and rode.  Because of the time that I’ve spent lately putting so much focus on the joy riding brings me, taking the time to acknowledge it and put it into words, it was easier for me to let go of the worries and the sadness and embrace the joy when it whispered at the corner of my mind.  I know that riding isn’t an option for everyone – nor is it the answer for everyone.  But everyone has one thing that is simple, that they can do just about any time, that brings them joy.  When you figure out what that is for you, write it down.  Write it out.  Explain to yourself why it brings you joy and do your best to put into words what that joy looks like, feels like, smells like, sounds like, whatever.  That way when you feel it get hard to find that joy again, you can pull out what you’ve written to remind yourself of that joy.  Then go do what it is that brings you joy.

Now here’s the hard part.  Let yourself feel the joy.  More, release the sorrow or anger or whatever is holding you back and grab that joy with both hands and refuse to let go.  I don’t know if you’re anything like I am, but I’m very good at holding on to things – usually unhealthy things like anger or sorrow, but I’ve found that if I let myself be happy and quit being a pain in the ass, I can be pretty damned stubborn about holding on to my joy and refusing to let it go.  Be that determined.  Sometimes it feels good to feel like shit, as counter-intuitive as that seems – and is, really.  We get mad at our friends or our significant other or our families and we refuse to let it go because it feels good to have that anger burning within us – we feel righteous.  And sometimes we really do have every right to be angry and hold a grudge.  But a hard lesson I’ve had to learn is that no matter how right you might be, no matter how good it might feel at the moment, your life is always better when you let go of the bad and grab on to the good.  Oh, that doesn’t mean you have to dive right back into being buddy buddy with someone or that you have to take your significant other back or that you have to surround yourself with the family that has hurt you.  It means that you make the decision on how to deal with them and then let go of the anger or the sorrow and find your joy away from them.  But find your joy.  THAT is the important part.  Always seek your joy, over your rage, over your sorrow, over your jealousy or grief or pain.  Let yourself be happy, be joyful despite those things in your life that would bring you down.


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