The Loss of Happiness
I consider myself a fairly happy person. I think other people also see me this way. In many ways, over time, my sense of value and confidence has become tied to my happiness. I attribute many things (my marriage, my friendships, job opportunities, etc) to my personality and the fact that I usually have a positive outlook and am "fun". I often feel that if I am not happy, people will not want to be around me and will stop wanting to be my friends.
Last week, I had a day where Molly woke from her nap and I was too exhausted, depressed and overwhelmed to go and pick her up. I just lay on my bed, feeling utterly empty. I could hear her chattering away to herself and laughing in her crib. Finally the guilt settled in and I thought "Molly has done nothing to deserve a mother that won't even go in and get her when she wakes up". Still unable to go and get her, I called my best friend, who just listened to me sobbing. She told me that if Molly really needed me, I would go to her, and that this doesn't make me a terrible parent, and that I am not alone. I went and got Molly and cried the whole time I fed her a bottle and played with her. Jay came home early to give me a much needed break and I had a bath and went to bed early.
I am not sure what is wrong. Maybe a combination of things. More than a week of rain, hormonal changes from having a baby, a few years of constant extremely stressful changes (moving, getting married, family deaths, having a baby), nutrition, postpartum depression, exhaustion, loneliness, any of the above?
This weekend we closed the cottage over thanksgiving. I wouldn't say that I PRETENDED to be happy, more like the happiness I achieved came at a huge emotional and physical cost. I needed multiple naps through the weekend and when we came home, I collapsed on the bed, fighting tears, back pain and a headache and fell asleep within seconds despite the fact that I was supposed to be helping Jay unload the car and take care of Molly.
I am still struggling. It's hard to write about tough periods when you are still in them. Often I wait until I am through a rough patch to discuss it, because then I can inject some humour and be like "This is the crazy thing I said to Jay when I was depressed! Hahahah!". Also, now there is that risk that every person I meet will treat me like I am fragile or broken, or even worse, avoid me. I do feel better this week. More like myself and able to handle things that go wrong. But the effortless energy and joy that I usually carry around with me are a little bit harder to reach for than normal.
As kids (especially girls), we are always told to smile and I feel like that is a lesson society taught me that I took maybe too much to heart. Logically, I know my only value doesn't come from my happiness. I am also smart, talented, loving, able to grow babies, and probably a bunch of other things I can't think of right now. But it's still a struggle to let my unhappiness show. Part of me is always thinking "If I am not smiling, people won't like me as much." or "If I sit here like a stormcloud, that will ruin everyone's day". I have always tried to let go of minor problems in order to move on and enjoy my day and I think that normally that solution is a good one. But then on weeks like this one, where telling jokes and laughing comes with great effort, I just wish that I could stop trying so hard to please everyone else.