Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Grass is Greener: Why aren't you happy?

Sorry for the swear word, but this phrase couldn't have said it better.
People are always looking at other people's lives and wishing they had what they don't. They live in a constant state of, "what if?" I know this state better than most, as I spent many many years consumed by it. The funny thing is you make yourself miserable when you obsess over what you don't have or what you think you may not achieve. Other people and their successes are not making you miserable. YOU ARE.
So, during this period of time when I was making myself miserable, I learned a lot of valuable lessons.

First, and foremost, The Grass is Greener Where You Water It.
I know, you've heard it before. Yet, why is it so hard to apply to our own lives? It's easy to point the finger at someone else and say, "Well they don't have it as hard as I do, so...they should be more grateful." For some odd reason, we use false reasoning to convince ourselves that our misery and depression and covetous thinking is rational and validated, while everyone else's is not. This is a lie.
I've had a l o t of not so proud moments. The one in particular I will speak briefly on today is my divorce. {I'm sorry to beat a dead horse, but this is a very relevant topic. Divorce is so easy and so common these days. Also, mine taught me more than any other single experience so...bear with me}
Obviously, if you've read previous posts, you know my first marriage was absolutely grounds for divorce. All three A's were present. (Abuse, addiction, adultery) I did everything in my power to fix it, from therapy, to church counsel, to addiction recovery meetings. In addition, I'm a strong Christian with faith in prayer, and I received a very clear blessing from a man that instructed me to "guard my womb" , which was strict guidance to leave. However, I want you to be aware that the grass wasn't greener just because I left a toxic marriage. Of course, I was out of a deadly situation, but my new life and new trials were just beginning. People aren't kindly to divorced folk, especially in Utah. Also, dating is awkward. Healing is near impossible. Your relationships are broken, like ex-in laws and common friendships, and that is heartbreaking. Oh, and divorce is heartbreaking. The love you thought you had is gone. You lose all sense of self. The fact that you failed is a heavy weight on your shoulders.
To me, marriage was the most important decision I ever had to make and divorce was not an option. This is why I stayed in that marriage WAY longer than I should have. I DID NOT WANT TO GIVE UP!  I did NOT want to be a failure.
Anyways, I ended up all of these things. I spent a couple years in the darkest place of my life. I was angry and sad and selfish and lonely. Then it got worse. I started to witness other couples getting divorced, who, in my opinion, had an easy or less difficult marriage than I did. I judged them. I secluded myself from other people. I didn't want to make friends, and I didn't really know how even if I wanted to. After that, I started picking on couples who were legitimately happy. (You know, actually functional despite typical couple problems)  I didn't believe in love. I didn't believe in monogamy. I was in pure survival mode. I was drinking heavily and numbing my pain. I was killing myself. And I didn't care. I was looking for greener grass in all the wrong places. My life was a mess.
So why should my life be in such shambles if I had followed God's guidance to get out of a bad marriage? This is a good question and I will answer it with my first quote.
Because the other side is fertilized with bull$h!t.
Life is hard. For everyone. Surprise.
The bible clearly states, and reiterates, how this life is to be, "endured to the end", and that it is, "long suffering" . There are no scriptures about falling in love and living happily ever after. Whoops....Disney, I don't think that's how it works.
We live in such an amazingly superficial and deceitful world, that we have set ourselves up for failure from the beginning. If you expect this blissful and easy journey, with the perfect relationships, perfect husbands, perfect wives, perfect children, perfect job, perfect sex life, etc, then you will simply live a very unhappy life. End of story. If you don't believe me, let's talk 60 years from now. I'd be glad to listen to what you found "in your search for what everyone else has" . (Spoiler alert: you will never find true happiness. )
Remember, You compare your worst inside to everyone else's best outside. They probably think the same things when looking at you. She has what I don't . I hate how perfect his life is. Her kids are so well behaved. He is so handsome. He is so wealthy. They never fight.
Its all fertilized with bull$h!t. They are probably hurting, just differently than you. They struggle differently. They fall differently. They will heal differently and find peace differently. Weird, right? That we are all different, and yet, we expect everyone to feel, fall, and rise the same way we do?
How does she find so much happiness babysitting her nieces? I mean, I've seen those kids. They are crazy! ! That can't possibly make her happy.
Maybe she is barren, and being a good aunt brings her such joy you could never imagine.
How can they possibly have a happy marriage? He is deployed in the military more often than not. I bet one of them is having an affair.
Maybe they are very independent people who really enjoy a companionable relationship, but also enjoy space and freedom. Someone has to fight for our country, and someone has to love them. Or, maybe one of them has erectile dysfunction, or AIDS, and they're marriage isn't based solely on sex.
There is always a bigger picture and we will never see it all. Stop trying!  Stop comparing and stop lusting.
The truth is, my trials will be different than yours. I've quit jobs before thinking I deserved better only to wind up unemployed for months, wishing I could go back. I've been resentful of friends and unwilling to forgive them because I believed they hurt me on purpose. I've change my look, hair, weight, trying to be someone else's version of beauty. I have made a bunch of silly decisions thinking I could find greener grass and what I've learned has truly changed my outlook on life. No, I don't wake up singing rainbows and cupcakes, but I'm not stuck in this dark, miserable hole of wishing wanting and unsatisfaction anymore.
My cynicism is based on my realism. I realize this is an ugly world. I also know this world is not the end. I will go on to live in the next life, but what I do and where I live is solely based on what I do here, on earth. I understand that I don't have to achieve what the person next door achieved. I don't have to be as pretty, or successful, or skinny, or smart, or rich as anyone else. My worth, the greenness of my grass, is compared to no one else's, and it is only measured by what God sees as my potential worth.
Knowing that, I've done a better job at letting go of my failures, my mortal weaknesses, and I've done better at exemplifying my strengths. I know I'm more bitter than sweet. I know I'm more negative than positive. I know I have a big mouth and I speak before I think. But I also know I am giving. I am loyal. I am charitable. My grass will be green because I've decided to water it with my own talents and dreams. I've decided to be thankful for the blessings I have, not jealous of the blessings other people have. I use my time to help people, to do volunteer work, and to excel at my job.
  I am also thankful for the temptations I have.
I had an eye opening experience this last year in my ARP meetings, where I facilitate meetings that help people overcome addiction. I see all kinds of addiction and codependent behaviors. And you know what? My weaknesses and temptations are SO MINIMAL COMPARED TO OTHERS.
LET ME PUT IT INTO PERSPECTIVE. I am weak when it comes to Being optimistic. I also have the addiction gene for alcoholism. Sounds bad, right? But what if I was attracted to children?  In a sexual sense? Yes, that is disgusting and we think of it as a cruel and repulsive illness, but the truth is some people suffer from that. How awful!! I mean, truly, I feel sorry for them. They live in purgatory. I will never have to face that problem. YOU will probably never have to face that problem. Did you ever think of that as something to be thankful for?
So I've faced some battles, and in order to survive some of them I had to kill parts of my soul. My divorce was like gangrene of the heart. It infected parts of me and the only way to heal and live was to cut them out. Because of that, my heart is a little smaller and a lot more fragile. Would you say that is greener?
I'll tell our what is Greener. The life I've made.
The use I've made of my small heart.
The moments I value more because of the fragility of my heart.
In my marriage to my husband now, and our life as parents to our daughter, I am able to utilize all of my experiences and shortcomings by remembering that I am in charge of how green my grass is, regardless of my circumstances.
Now that this has become a short novel, I will conclude by repeating myself. The Grass is greenest where you water it. I wish with all my heart people could see some of the things I've seen and know that it's easy to be envious of other people, but it only leads to misery. This b is in no way to encourage you to stay in a bad situation, I merely want to help you recognize that we live in an imperfect world with even more imperfect people and sometimes we have it better than we think. When you expect obstacles and heartache, you can challenge them with more optimism and hope. You live a more fulfilled and satisfactory life because you understand this life is meant to be one big test after the other. Ask yourself, what am I meant to learn from this? What valuable lesson am I to take away? How can this better me in God's eyes? How can I help others now that I've learned it?
If you want to find joy, the key is in the verb. Find!  Its an action word!! You must find it. Cherish it. Water it. And spread the word.
Like fertilizer!

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