But I'm not.
I haven't been.
Confronting this question has been terrifying. Because my God, I've been in college level education for 10 years now all leading up to this grand Ph.D. degree that is supposed to be the ticket to the career I can be happy in. But if I'm not happy now...what changes when I actually have the fancy Dr. in front of my name?
The increased salary (one hopes) should help ease some stress, but I'm not foolish enough to think money can buy my Happiness. And if I can't be happy doing this, then what!? And why have I wasted so much time in this futile Ph.D. effort?
And I started thinking that the key will be making the choice to be Happy. Clearly, changing my situation is not the key. Because I've changed it a few times in the past and even though I always think that change will lead to Happiness, it has not. The one change I need to make is in myself. Which, in a way is reassuring because it means I should be able to be Happy doing most anything. Which is slightly depressing given the amount of time I've been pursuing my current career path (to be a professor).
And then I was reading this blog. Her post about anxiety (Aug. 5). And it so rang true. I am a Worrier. In every possible way. I fear traffic accidents stealing my loved ones away. And now thanks to Colorado, I fear crazed gunman as well. I've always had this anxiety/fear - it's just been amplified since becoming a mother. I've addressed it a bit in Counseling - evidently it's part of being OCD. For realz. It. Sucks.
No two ways around it. But as I read her post it dawned on me - what if I've been choosing to be Unhappy, because it feels like then terrible things won't happen? I know it sounds crazy, but it feels True. Somewhere deep in my core I really believe that to be too happy, for too long, is inviting Terrible Things. And I'd rather be stressed out, anxious, and Unhappy but have my wonderful family than be Happy - so I continue to self-sabotage.
But in a moment of Self-Counseling, let's take a look. I've been Unhappy for at least 3 years now (probably more, but let's just go with 3). In the past 3 years I've lost a house to foreclosure (Terrible Thing - though not as Terrible as I feared before it happened and the pain/embarrassment is lessening with time), my mother has needed a hysterectomy - thankfully it wasn't cancer after all, my husband lost his job after being attacked and injured by a shoplifter, my father has had a stroke - albeit mild.
These are Terrible Things, though they all could have been worse. So I find myself thinking - See!? See!? They all could have been worse, but weren't. Why weren't they? Because of my self-sacrifice of Happiness. *smug look*
But I can hear my counselor telling me that I don't have control over any of these events - the foreclosure to some extent but I had no control over the events that ultimately made that the right decision for us. But the health problems? The shoplifter attack? Not in my control. Never were.
SO WHY DO I WANT TO TAKE THE BLAME?
Because I want, no desperately need, to feel like I am in control. Because if I'm not....
then I'm intensely vulnerable to all the things I fear most. Nearly to the point of debilitation.
But I can hear a small voice. Trying hard to help me see what I know my counselor would point out, with very sad eyes as she looked at me. First, none of this is within my control. But second, and more pressingly - what cost is this irrational fear and unreasonable need for control exacting on my life? On those I love?
I'm so stressed out and to the point of nearly have all out anxiety attacks when small things go wrong. Or when I even perceive something as going wrong. That's not healthy. That's not pleasant for my husband or son to live with. Wouldn't they rather have a Happy Wife, or Happy Mom who can embrace life with them?
I know so.
And maybe if I can phrase it that way - and focus on doing it for them, I'll be able to make the first steps. And then...hopefully, be able to do it for myself.