Anxiety has trained me to hate the word ‘happy’. I struggle to relate to the over simplistic and superfluous ways in which we are encouraged to find happiness. I didn’t see happiness as a realistic goal for myself either. I preferred the words ‘peace’ and ‘joy’, and perhaps still do. But reflecting back on this year I realise that the place I find myself in this New Year is really the happiest I’ve ever been.
Happy is the word that came to my mind, heart and soul. I relate to it this year in a way that I haven’t for so long. There’s a new playfulness and purity in my happiness, it is lighthearted and not overly serious. It doesn’t over analyse, it doesn’t expect the world of me, but is pushing me to be brave and seek out new opportunities. It almost found me by surprise, this happiness.
Strangely, I wouldn’t actually describe myself as being terribly ‘peaceful’ at the moment- that seems a bit much for anyone this year really! I also don’t feel peaceful because I would still consider myself still in recovery from my anxiety disorder. I still have many scary days and moments. The happiness isn’t perpetual. It isn’t really an emotion per say. The happiness I have discovered is more of an awareness or acceptance of the beauty and freedom in my humanity and the ways I relate to others.
I think a lot about the millions of people on this earth, so many of whom are sharing in my griefs and failings, but also with their own joys and discoveries. We aren’t so different really. We all deserve respect, opportunity and support. I have thought myself so unfortunate and hard done by in the past. The ‘why me?!’ mantra has fogged a lot of my early twenties. This new happiness has turned these petitions into a sort of thanksgiving. I am among so many that suffer and who find ways and means of coming alive again. Whatever is to be in the future, I am trusting in a new way about my capacity for coping, and releasing that which I can’t control. I am thankful for that. Underlying the days of stress, fear and loneliness, the lightness is a new comfort. This is the lightness of our common humanity and awareness of so many that love and have loved, pray and have prayed throughout generations. It isn’t so ephemeral as the happiness we acquire from objects or successes.
Maybe I could even say that I am content. Or is that a bit strong to end this year? I must say I have lost a great deal in 2020, like many have. I lost my grandma back in September to cancer and had to release control in the summer as I agreed to give antidepressants another try. I have experienced the huge loss of performances and audiences and the loss of having my friends so far away. I have made new friends that I have struggled to say goodbye to and finished my music degree on a rather low note, having deferred it due to my mental health struggles.
All this loss and change shouldn’t leave me feeling my happiest, and yet I do. I don’t need to explain that, just to say that I must be starting to accept the wildness of my life. Out of the darkest of years may emerge new depth, new faith and strength to live on, in the knowledge that we, your suffering friends, are right there with you.
Happy New Year friends! ❤