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No, REALLY, I’m happy.

Yesterday, I wrote about how, for the first time in a long time, I really do feel happy.

And with this cat on my head, how could I not be?

And with this cat on my head, how could I not be?

Funny, though, how the happier I get the more people insist that I’m not happy at all. 

I get that a lot. “You’ve become so miserable and bitter.”…”Ever since you left church [read: the fundamentalist church] you’ve just been miserable.”…”Remember when you loved Jesus and church and you were so happy?”…”You’ve just become an angry feminist! Can’t you just enjoy your life?”

Last year at this time I might not have had an answer to those statements. I was miserable. When I first began questioning my faith and became a feminist, I had to go through an agonizing period of detox (something that I plan on writing about in more detail another time). Such words might have tempted me to go back.

But I didn’t go back. I pushed through to freedom.

So now when someone tries to tell me that I’m miserable, the only way I can respond is, “No, I’m not.”

But I get this now and then. Sometimes from people who haven’t seen me in years and don’t really know me well enough to make such a comment, but usually from people close to me who really should know better.

I’ve been pondering reasons why this could be and have come up with a few possibilities.

1. Maybe the mask I used to wear really was that good. Maybe, back in my fundamentalist days when you had to be “in-right, out-right, up-right, down-right happy all the time” in order to be a good Christian, I just did that good of a job pretending I did have the “joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart (where?).”

I suppose it wouldn’t help to tell people that I cried on my bed every night asking God to save me over and over, just in case I didn’t do it “right,” because I was terrified of hell.

I guess it wouldn’t help to say that I was being abused by a Christian man and sexually harassed by a pastor’s son, but couldn’t tell anyone. That I had to stuff down all the hate I had toward those men, even after I escaped both situations, because I thought I had to “forgive them.”

I suppose it wouldn’t help to say that during my first two years of college (at a Christian school) I was addicted to self-injury.

People see what they want to see and remember what they want to remember. I had some happy moments “back then,” but “happy” wasn’t a word that would describe my everyday life.

2. Maybe some people equate my outspokenness against abuse as unhappiness. When I was a fundamentalist, it was a sign that you loved Jesus and were happy about what Jesus did for you (whatever that was) if you were loud and in-your-face about it. Every Facebook status had to be a Bible verse or some note of condemnation against the enemies of happiness (atheists, homosexuals, democrats, you know…).

Now, when I talk about the things that make me happy (feminism, Universalism, a belief in love and justice), or call out “enemies of happiness,” (abusers, misogynists, bigots), that’s equated with unhappiness.

I guess I can see that. My talking about the injustice that exists in the world doesn’t put a smile on my face, that’s for sure. But I’m happy, and I want everyone to be happy to. That’s hard when so much injustice exists. I could never truly find happiness until I started working against that injustice, calling it out, doing whatever small part I can to fight it.

3. Maybe I just can’t be happy (in their minds) because my happiness is too threatening. Growing up as a fundamentalist, I learned that anyone who was not a “Christian” (read: a personal-salvation-believing, KJV-only, Independent Fundamental Baptist) couldn’t sleep at night for fear of death and hell. I learned that everyone outside of the IFB church had a God-shaped hole in their heart that could never be filled until they trusted Jesus as their personal savior, burned their rock music, converted to Republicanism, and otherwise conformed to the IFB way of thinking.

We had to talk about those who left “the faith” as if they were miserable–like the prodigal son, friendless, starving, eating pig slop out of desperation. Even if they seemed happy, we had to imagine them crying into their pillow at night, or turning their hearts into stone.

We had to think like this, because if those “outside the faith” were truly, sustainably happy then our extremely exclusive religion fell apart. If other people could be happy, maybe we weren’t the only ones who were “right with God.” If other people could be happy, maybe other people could be “right with God.” Maybe other ways of living/seeing the world were viable.

That was just too much for me to accept, for years.

So, maybe those who deny my happiness have the same “house of cards” faith that I once did. Maybe my existence as a happy person is a threat to that.

Who knows? But the fact is, I’m happy. I may not convince everyone that this is true, but you know what? To hell with convincing people.

I’m happy. Others’ disbelief isn’t going to change that.


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I’m happy.

574540_10151403406112985_1087476981_nI’m happy.

It feels good to say that and really mean it. Life has been a struggle ever since I can remember–healing from abuse suffered as a child and as a teenager–and life is still a struggle.

But I feel like I’m winning.

For the first time in my life I feel like I’m winning. I am healing. I am at peace with who I am as a person and as a woman, thanks to feminism. I am at peace with my spirituality thanks to a few good churches and thanks to Universalism and feminist theology. I feel supported and loved thanks to a healthy, egalitarian relationship, and thanks to a vast number of friends (both “real-life” and online) that I can talk to and learn from.

I’m letting go of the fears that I’d learned from my old faith and from patriarchy. Fear of my body, fear of hell, fear of sexuality, fear of my own strength and intelligence, fear of information and education, fear of my emotions, fear of loving, fear of people who aren’t like me…

Those fears are dying away. Some of them are already dead and buried.

I still have depression, which flares up from time to time, but a year on anti-depressants made it much easier to manage. I still have times when I’m sad and afraid, but I’ve learned to let myself have those times–let myself mourn and grieve– rather than beat myself up for not already being “over it.”

Yeah, I’m happy. I can say that with some confidence.

Happy New Year, readers. Here’s to happiness. 

 


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I lost the game of Happiness

Apparently, money CAN buy happiness. It costs $1.91.

My boyfriend and I were perusing through a local thrift store when we came across an old board game called “Happiness.”

Did we buy it? Well, friends, are tribbles trouble? Of course we bought it! What better way to spend the evening than playing a board game called “Happiness?” So, we brought it home and played it.

And I lost.

The object of the game was this: collect the keys to happiness and use them to build a ladder to climb to the rainbow of happiness.

 The keys to happiness? Those are:

Prosperity gospel much?

 
–Faith (atheists would hate this game)
 
–Money (told you money could buy happiness)
 
–Knowledge (ignorance is not as bliss as you thought)
 
–Love (sorry, singles)
 
–Friendship (your happiness IS depedent on others)
 
–Health (and they’re pretty strict on this one. Bad teeth? Sorry, back to start)
 

You also have to be one of the vampires from Twilight

In order to get to your rainbow happiness, you have to gain ALL of these keys. Happiness is pretty elusive. And your journey to gain these keys is not eactly easy. I had to go back to start a few times- once because my faith had doubt. Another time because I got jealous for my true love. So, I lost the game of Happiness. I failed to reach my rainbow. 

Now, obviously, Happiness is just a game. It doesn’t mean anything. It was probably made in the 70s, and the people who made it were probably on hallucinogenic mushrooms. I mean, just look at this game board:

But, losing the game (by the way, I just lost THE game if you know what I’m talking about) made me think. Sometimes, I act like life is a board game (well…it is, but you know what I mean). Sometimes I think that I have to achieve certain things in order to reach a state of happiness.

If I had more money then I would have to worry and I could just be…

Or if I lived closer to all my friends I’d be…

Maybe this relationship will make me…

Or if I could just get over my depression and be healthy then I’d be…

I need to get my doctorate or I’ll never be…

Or if I found the right church, that would really make me…

Happy.

Happiness becomes an unachievable rainbow state of being. There are always rungs missing from the ladder. 

If happiness is a state that we have to climb to, if happiness can only be reached by gaining the right keys, then most of us will never get there.

Most of us will lose.

But I don’t think happiness is that at all. I don’t think happiness is a state of being. I think happiness is all around us. We don’t have to climb to it. We just have to notice it and appreciate it.

For me, happiness is holding a kitty.

Freddie Mercury’s voice.

Sunshine.

And Tim Horton’s iced cappuccinos.

Or listening to a Gershwin piece or a Beach Boys’ song and hearing a chord with harmonies that send chills down my spine.

Solving a puzzle in The Legend of Zelda and hearing that little tune that plays when I do something right.

That moment when you realize two seemingly unrelated things are connected.

Or the worshipful feeling I get when I’m jumping on my couch playing air guitar to a Five Iron Frenzy song.

The smell of an old book.

The feeling of piano keys beneath my fingers.

Or just playing a ridiculous thrift store board game with someone I love.

Happiness is less like a rainbow and more like chocolate chips in the cookie that is life.

It’s there. It’s all around us. Sometimes in moments so little that we miss them because we’re too busy trying to climb to a rainbow of Happiness that we’ll never actually reach.

So, let’s stop looking for the keys to happiness. Let’s stop trying to climb to it. Instead, let’s look around us and realize that it’s everywhere.

Are you missing out on happiness because you’re too busy trying to find the keys to it? What are some of the little things in life that make you happy?


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Sarah Moon and the Writer’s Block Redemption

Trapped by writer's block! AHH!

I wish they made ex-lax for your brain because I have writer’s block.

Yup. I’ve been trying to write something for days and…nothing. I’ve got nothing.

So, I’m going to write about my failure to write, and what I’m doing about it. We’ll see within the next few days whether or not my efforts pay off. If you see another blog post by me, that means they’ve worked and maybe they’ll work for you too!

I’m reading Rob Bell: Say what you want about Rob Bell, but the man is good at making you think. He’s vague and says things that are a little “out there” sometimes. And he leaves lots of blank space. And I don’t mean

This

Kind

Of

Blank

Space.

I mean, he asks questions and leaves you to ponder them. So I’m reading his writing and hoping I’ll be inspired to fill in some of the blanks.

 

I’m having adventures!: I have this bad habit – I like to live like a hermit. I like to lock myself in my room with my books and my internet. It’s peaceful and relaxing, and because I’m an extreme introvert, it’s where I feel most comfortable.

But it’s good to get out of my hobbit hole now and then. It’s good to have fun and go out and explore the world…or, explore small town Ohio at least!

I guarantee this game will be the subject of a blog post someday.

So, today, I went on a tour of an old prison (the one they filmed “The Shawshank Redemption” in). I went thrift store shopping, bought a random old board game (“The Game of Happiness”- you have to collect the keys to happiness -love, money, friendship, faith, knowledge, and health-, and use them to build a ladder to the rainbow of happiness. I couldn’t make this up, people). I went to a drive-in movie for the first time.

I didn’t have to travel to Mirkwood and slay goblins or anything. I just had to leave my house and try some new things. ‘Cause how can I expect to write about life if I’m not out there living it?

 

I’m writing anyway…damn it!: Over the past few days, I’ve started about 20 drafts. Some of them had titles but no body. Others had about two words. Some looked a bit like this:

“GAH! MUST…write things!!! Jaklsdfjaowie!”

But I wrote! I did it. And I’m going to keep writing if it kills me. Eventually something coherent is going to come out, right?

Oh, hey, look at that!

Insert "Shawshank Redemption" pose here