“Are you happy?”
That’s the question my husband asked me tonight. The problem is – I don’t have a clue.
I want to be happy. And I want him and the others around me to be happy. But that is so broad. What does that even mean?
Do I really mope around all the time? Am I really a miserable person? Maybe. I’m not unhappy. At least I don’t think I am. My life is pretty good, with the exception of my illness. But, maybe that’s a big exception.
What makes me happy? I am happy when things are settled. When the house is clean, the cabinets are stocked, the yard is trimmed and the flowers are blooming. I like beauty – so beautiful surroundings make me happy.
My children make me happy, but they also can make me unhappy. They are chaos defined, and that naturally is unsettling. I like knowing that the kids are happy and well cared for and doing what they should be doing – but actually being around them – honestly isn’t at the top of my happy list. That sounds horrible! Does that make me a bad mom?
Let me state it another way. I mean, I love my children dearly – I think about them night and day. I just feel more content when they are happily playing outside, or are studying hard at school, or having fun at soccer practice, than I do when they are underfoot and creating messes at home and yelling and screaming at each other. So – my kids make me happy – but from a distance!
Food makes me happy – sometimes. I’m not one to have a daily binge, but occasionally, a delicious home cooked meal or a decadent desert really makes me happy. It doesn’t even have to be indulgent. Filling my kitchen with organic fruits and veggies from Central Market is a dream for me.
Shopping – does NOT make me happy. But, then again, it can. I hate shopping in a way, because I have some twisted issues with money and shopping that stem from my childhood. Shopping stresses me and makes me depressed. But, if I have money and time and no pressure – and I find what I’m looking for – it’s blissful. It’s a fine line.
Planning makes me happy. Probably more than anything. Planning? Yeah. I don’t know why, but if I get inspired to do something, the process of planning and research is like a drug to me. I spend days, even weeks planning a vacation. I’ll research every restaurant and tourist stop. I’ll read the reviews on every hotel and find the best deals. The anticipation is so much more fun to me than the actual trip could ever be. I do the same for home decorating, buying a car – you name it. I obsess! I have no idea why I’m like this.
My husband? Does he make me happy? I’m not sure. I think the idea of him makes me happy. The security makes me happy. I love knowing that he is there – that he will come running if I am hurt, that the bills are paid, that I have someone to go to the movies with, that I have someone with whom to share this adventure of life.
But does actually being with him make me happy? Sometimes. Honestly, sometimes I just want him to go away. Some days, nothing he does is right. His yelling at the television, the way he scolds the children, his hair in the bathroom, even the food he eats just pisses me off. But, there are times when I want nothing more than to be near him. Sitting with him in his chair, or listening to him talk about work, or just smelling him make me want to melt. I just wish the good days were more frequent than the bad.
I don’t want to feel the negativity that I feel. I don’t want to harbor any ill feelings toward him. I want to WANT to grow old in wedded bliss. I just feel angry so often, and I’m not sure if he is making me angry, or if my anger is misdirected at him.
I know that there are things I want from him that he doesn’t give – or he gives in a way that I don’t like. Foremost is the fact that I wish he were more romantic. My husband is very playful – some might find it endearing – but it really irritates the heck out of me. He shows affection by tickling, or wrestling, or giving wet willies. That just makes me angry. I want him to caress me, whisper kind words in my ear, and give me light kisses on the neck. We seem to have such a gulf between us in this area and I don’t know if it can be fixed. I know that many nights consist of him coming up and licking my face like a dog, then I pull away, then he gets put off, then I withdraw emotionally and physically, and then we both spend the evening angry and alone. I’m not blaming only him – my reaction is a major cause as well.
I also know that I can truly be a bitch. I know that there are times when he does do the right thing and I ruin it. When he bought me a new washer and dryer, I (jokingly) asked him if he bought it because he was cheating on me. I was referring to all the famous men who buy their wives new diamonds when they cheat. I meant it to be a joke, but I came across as ungrateful. Sometimes when he compliments me, I pooh-pooh his remarks, or he tries hard to take us to dinner or spend time with the kids and it seems to go unnoticed by me.
And I know that I am a very withdrawn, quiet person. I guess I sort of have a wall up a lot of the time. Kind of like an invisible force field that you have to penetrate to get to me. And that wall probably looks like anger. I’m not sure if it actually is, though. I don’t always smile and have a sunny attitude. I don’t even know how to do that. I don’t know why I have this. Maybe it’s that I am in deep thought, or maybe I am withdrawing from the chaos around me that I can’t emotionally handle, maybe I am simply in pain. Maybe it’s a protective mechanism that I learned as a child. I don’t know. I could probably pay a psychologist a small fortune to find out.
Maybe it’s just part of my personality. Don’t we all have different dispositions? Does everyone always walk around all cheery? Perhaps I am just a quiet person. I am always analyzing everything, and I often think about what I want to say before I say it – which sometimes makes me a woman of few words. Who says I have to be the bubbly type all the time. Is there something wrong with being a bit of a loner? Maybe there isn’t anything wrong with my personality – except for the fact that it clashes with that of my husband’s?
I am quite content sitting alone in my room with a candle lit and a hot cup of tea and a good book. My husband on the other hand wants to be at a baseball game with a dozen friends and he is the loudest in the stadium. I don’t think one is right and one is wrong – but they are not interchangeable, that’s obvious. But, does that mean that we can’t be happily married? I thought for a while that our differences were okay. He could do his thing while I do mine – but where does “we” or “us” come into play? Have we forgotten that element?
It’s so odd that I can find myself fiercely jealous of things that I don’t even want. There have been times when I’ve gotten green over a woman whom my husband was playing poker with, or even his guy friends when he spends time playing pool or eating out with them. I felt jealous, but in all honesty, I didn’t really want to be in their place. I’m so confusing. I guess I just wanted the attention. I didn’t want to be the one playing poker, I just wanted to be the one sitting at a table with him. I can’t explain it.
I think I even get jealous of him. I don’t know if its jealousy or competition. He is very competitive as well, and I think it breeds between the two of us. Especially since I’ve gotten sick, I envy his every move. He can do everything I can’t do. And everything I can do – he does better. And if there IS something I think I do better, I critique his every breath. There is so much hostility between us.
I don’t know where this has come from. I truly don’t think it’s just me. He critiques me constantly, he flies off the handle over the smallest things, he is SOOO horribly mean to me sometimes that I have even been physically afraid of him a times. He has said and done things that I just can’t get out of my mind – from making fun of my hips, to comparing me to my crazy mother, to taking pictures of the dirty dishes in the sink, to downright calling me a bad mom. I know we all say things we don’t mean – especially in the heat of the moment, but I let those words just fester in my head and the anger and defensiveness builds and builds….
I feel like every second of the day he is analyzing me and judging my actions. I feel guilty when I stay in bed because I don’t feel well. I imagine that he is filing it away as another point against me. I stress over every move I make because I think he is judging me, but at the same time I don’t want to be judged so I rebel and get angry. The resentment makes me want to be even less productive than I already am. All over something imagined – or is it? More anger….
Sometimes I think that I am intentionally pushing him away. Unconsciously, I suppose. I know that I don’t always like myself. I can be really critical and harsh on myself and maybe I think that I don’t deserve him. Are those dishes in the sink really bothering him, or are they bothering me, and I’m taking my frustration of not being able to wash them out on him? Has he really noticed those five extra prednisone pounds, or am I just defensive because I think he has?
Why would he want to be with me? Why should he have to be? I think I have myself so convinced that he is going to leave me anyway when things get worse, that I just want the pain to be over now. I am so certain that I am going to be stuck in a wheelchair and fat and psychotic – and I don’t want him to see me that way. Maybe I am alienating our relationship because I don’t believe I deserve to be happy? I’ve been known to do that. I know that is typical behavior for a child of an alcoholic. Maybe I’m so afraid of him leaving me, or hurting me, that I am staging a preemptive attack?
Perhaps the question shouldn’t be “are you happy?” but rather “do you want to be happy?”