“My sister’s getting divorced” a friend recently told me.
“Oh no” I replied, my heart breaking for the beautiful young sister and her two very young daughters.
“She hasn’t been happy for years. It’s better this way. She’s tried everything. He doesn’t want a divorce, but he’s not willing to do what it takes to make it work.”
I stayed quiet. Very quiet.
One more reason to release my book.
By then it’ll be too late for that family.
What is happiness, exactly?
Happiness: The state of being happy
Not much help. Let’s look at the definitions for happy.
1. Feeling or showing pleasure or contentment;
Synonyms: cheerful, merry, joyful, carefree, untroubled, delighted, content, satisfied, sunny!
2. Fortunate and convenient; I’ll let you come to your own conclusions about that one; and
3. Inclined to use a specified thing excessively or at random. i.e. We live in a divorce-happy society.
If you’re just meeting me today for the first time, my husband and I are approaching our 28th wedding anniversary and will have been together for 30 years this fall. Although we never actually separated, at least ten of those 28 years of marriage would have been classified as “nowhere near happy.”
During our marriage we survived an ectopic pregnancy, moving 5 times, raising a child, our parent’s illnesses and deaths and the death of my husband’s younger sister.
Unfortunately, with life there is also tragedy, loss, and depression. No one in “real” life is exempt from these experiences.
When someone is taken from us, we can choose to mourn or we can choose to honor. We can sink into a horrible depression, or we can take action and become involved in a worthy and meaningful cause.
Natural and normal events take us far and away from happiness. We’ve all heard expressions like:
1. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade;
2. Don’t let your struggle become your identity;
3. Just when the caterpillar thought his life was over, he became a butterfly;
4. Adversity is a fact of life. It can’t be controlled. What we can control is how we react to it;
When life handed me lemons, I wrote 10 original songs, a memoir, and started a movement to offer people an alternative to divorce.
It’s hard to say that my struggle has not become my identity since I’ve been “unstruggling” for 3 years. I’m unstruggling for a new more improved identity!
When I thought I’d be a 55 year old cast off wife I did many things to heal.
Kundalini Yoga helped me turn into a butterfly. In fact it’s the very thing we discussed on Day 1 of the 10-month Teacher Training Course I completed. This yoga practice helped me quickly shed those pesky habits I’ve been carrying around for years. You know the ones where you can’t even believe you’ve been holding onto for so long?
Kundalini Yoga also helps you achieve a more neutral mind wherein you remain calmer during adversity. It helps me stay patient and loving towards my son, in situations where I would normally get exasperated and angry.
My adult son was helping me put chaise lounge cushions back in the large plastic storage container with pieces that snap together. He pushed the lid too hard and the top snapped off on the right side. Then he tried to shove the cushions in and the door on the right side came out of its groove. It was dark out, it was late and we were both tired.
My son is very kind to me and is such a laid back person with naturally beautiful energy. If and when I get uptight and impatient with him, I see his face get worried and nervous. It’s too painful and unnecessary, but in the past I was too uptight to effect a different attitude towards him.
I patiently showed him where the lid fit into the groove on the top and he was able to snap it back. We giggled together over the mess we made trying to neatly stack the six floppy and cumbersome cushions. We couldn’t get the door lined up so it could fit in the grooves and decided to leave it till the morning.
Fitting the cushions that need to be replaced or at least washed, neatly into the storage unit is not a life or death situation. I was proud of myself that I didn’t loose control and instead made it a joyful, goofy experience.
What if some people can’t make lemonade, separate from the tragedy, find their butterfly wings, or take control of their lives? What happens to those people?
What if one of “those” people is the husband you love and the father of that kind, gentle, and beautiful child?
I can’t help but think back to the beginning of our marriage when all my husband wanted to do was make me happy.
I got clumsy, maybe too picky, held on to some of those odious habits I inherited from generations of grieving women in my life?
Is infidelity anyone’s fault? I would have to say it’s not that simple — probably a combined effort. But I do think it comes from somewhere in a person’s past experiences.
I must divert to Ester Perel, someone who studies this subject in depth. According to Ms. Perel, “even happy people cheat,” but I knew my husband was not cheerful, merry, joyful, or carefree. He certainly was not untroubled, content or satisfied, and he hadn’t been the least bit sunny for a very long time. No lemonade, unstruggling, butterfly wings, or control of his life.
After I too, “tried everything,” I found it was easier to absorb the mood of my sullen partner, than it was to raise myself up in hopes of lightening his moods. I went from a very cheery person to a little fly stuck in his melancholy web.
When I discovered my husband had been cheating on me for at least 2–1/2 years I understood why we hadn’t been happy.
Ms. Perel also says that when you lose someone you love, often people will go out and have an affair to recapture their youth, or to just get away from the pain they can’t handle.
My husband’s sister had taken very ill with cancer and finally, after several years of suffering, died. I knew in my heart, that he was as far away from happy as a person could possibly get.
“How about you walk in the March for Ovarian Cancer?” suggested our doctor to my husband. This would fall under getting involved in a worthy and meaningful cause.
“I don’t know. Maybe.” He replied, but never participated. The struggle was becoming his identity.
“He’s very closed up,” the doctor told me when we had a few moments alone. She wore one of those “good luck” faces, which didn’t give me much hope. No turning into a butterfly here.
“Some people never come back from losing a sibling,” said a friend from our church, who has a PhD in social work. No taking control.
His body language in talk therapy screamed, “Trespassers are not allowed.”
There I was, with every turn another roadblock. He was getting nastier and more emotionally abusive. Together, we were experiencing anti-happy. See below:
Happiness Antonyms: trouble, pain, depression, gloom, discouragement, misery, worry, melancholy, despair, woe, sorrow, dissatisfaction, displeasure.
Luckily, I have a high tolerance for pain.
The Constitution clearly states our “unalienable rights” given to all human beings as: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I was in Hot Pursuit!
I am so “happy” I embraced this horrible situation and took this opportunity to find myself. I mean truly, understand who and why I am the person I am. It’s a struggle, because it’s so easy to doubt everything!
Is he really happy we’re together?
Does he truly love me or is he just pretending?
I go through from time to time and the answers I come up, with help from friends I confide my fears in, are:
1. Find my own happiness. I’ve created an album and the memoir these last three years. I should be proud and happy that I’ve started a worthy and meaningful cause that will hopefully make a difference to a lot of beautiful people who can benefit from a different choice and extraordinary compassion and strength.
2. Disengage from him and focus on all the good I’m doing. Create my new identity in the face of adversity.
3. I need to learn to love myself. How can I expect him to love me, if I can’t even love me? Don those beautiful butterfly wings with pride!
4. Keep meditation and working on my neutral mind. I need to find out more about myself and what else I’m capable of in this life. I am a strong, loving, forgiving person. I’m just starting to know myself on a much deeper level. My energy went from nervous and neurotic to calmer and gentler. Take control!
Ours was a long road back to happiness, but we eventually got there, so hang in there and have faith.
Here’s to Life and all that comes along with it; Liberty, which I have found on the other side of fear; and the never-ending Pursuit of Happiness!
Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions!
@EvaGKane. Wife & mother. Singer/songwriter. Level 1 Certified Kundalini Yoga instructor.
NYU School of the Arts BFA in Acting from the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute.
New album KEEP YOU FOREVER on iTunes.
Vodcaster on YouTube @EvaGKane.
Author of It’s Not Too Late Baby, a Kundalini Love Story (coming soon).
#itsnottoolatebaby #kundaliniyoga #evagkane #keepyouforever
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