…fill in the blank. We all say that. I’ll be happy when the wonderful thing I’ve been waiting for happens. The implication of those words is that until that wonderful thing happens I won’t be happy. So we live our lives, day in, day out, waiting for that one thing that will make life perfect. Perhaps that thing will never arrive and we are condemning ourselves to a lifetime of, at best, not-quite-happy, and, at worst, downright misery.
Several decades ago, as I was walking my dogs one night in Central Park, completely wretched over an affair of the heart gone wrong, I had an epiphany. This is how it went in my head:
Me: But I love him so much. How he can ignore that? How can he not be moved by the overwhelming love I have for him?
My Small Still Voice (MSSV): Well, clearly he can. So what?
Me: So what? He’s my soul mate! How can he not feel that wonderful joy that I feel when I see him? How can he not tremble with excitement the way I do when I see him? How can he be immune to all that?
MSSV: Do you feel the joy of that love whether he’s there or not?
MSSV: Do you tremble with excitement when you see him whether or not he’s trembling, too?
Me: Of course!
MSSV: Does his lack of equal response make your feelings any less real or wonderful?
MSSV: So, why not just be happy? Why wait for him to make up his mind? Why be miserable while you’re waiting for something that may or may not happen? Your feelings are yours. Do they make you happy?
Me: Yes! My feelings make me very happy!
MSSV: Those feelings are yours. No one can take them away from you. No one needs to validate them. No one has to appreciate them to make them real. You’re happy feeling them and that’s real.
Me: But I love him, and I want him to love me back!
MSSV: I understand you love him. I understand you want him to love you back. The point is this: you have your feelings; you have no control over WHAT you feel, or what he feels, or whether or not he wants to receive the gift you’re giving him. What you DO have control over is how you MANAGE your feelings. So enjoy your feelings. Be happy just as you are. And should he ever reciprocate, be happier still. You already have your happiness, all you have to do is feel it unconditionally.
Yes, even when I was in my twenties, my small still voice was ancient. I’ve faced many other affairs, of the heart and others, gone wrong, and I’ve been happy. When I had my daughter, I was happier, but she didn’t have to make me happy. Since my sweet husband came into my life, I’ve been happier, but he doesn’t have to make me happy. Through the seemingly bleak times, I find that moment, that thing that brings a smile to my lips, laughter bursting forth in delighted surprise. These are the moments that I cling to. These are the moments with which I weave the fabric of my life.
And now you know why I never became a Romance writer!