Miserable is a strong word. I don’t use it lightly. Yes, I am miserable and have been for several years. I’ve spent a lot of energy blaming others and trying to explain away my unhappiness at the expense of everyone else. If so and so would do this or not do that… blah, blah, blah… I always came up with an excuse for my misery that revolved around others’ actions. My poor husband has been the target more than once and I hate I’ve put him through the blame game. I misdiagnosed my misery for a long time thinking it was grief. We lost a daughter six years ago and it was the most horrific thing a family can experience. I still grieve her loss and will as long as I live but I now know that my grief is not the cause of my misery. It has taken me quite some time to diagnose the root of my misery, but I’ve figured it out. The cause of my misery is me. Rationally, I’ve known this but accepting it is easier said than done.
I’ve been in an internal struggle for several years now. I had expectations of what life should be like. I thought that if I worked hard, I’d be successful and I expect everyone around me to adhere to that philosophy. Tiana is my favorite Disney princess because she knew you had to work hard to fulfill your dreams (plus she makes great gumbo!). I have worked hard and for the most part, I’ve been pretty successful. Now, let’s define successful. Hmmm… is it having a great family? (check, got that!), is it having great friends? (check, got that too!), is it having a big house in the right part of town? (check again), is it having a career that others perceive as important? (checkmate). Lots of people define success in these ways and so did I. In fact, I expect these things because I’ve worked hard for them. I expected those things to make me and everyone around me very happy. I’ve spent the last 6 years turning myself inside out to achieve and retain “success”. Once you have acquired the house, the job, the cars, it takes more work to keep them up – a ton more work!! So much work that the other components of a successful life begin to suffer – the spouse, the family, and the friends. I don’t care what anyone says – it is impossible to have time for everything. There is no such thing as the perfect work life balance. I’ve tried for years! My expectation of what my life should be versus what is feasible is the cause of my misery. I’ve decided it is time to appreciate everything I have rather than lament over my expectations. I love my house, I love my possessions, and I love my neighborhood. It will be hard to let them go but I know it will be freeing. I want less yard! I want less dust! I want to use my time at home with my family to enjoy them! My definition of success is changing.
Please understand that I don’t judge anyone for their definition of success. It can and should be different for everyone. I know that to be happy I have to articulate my definition of success and focus on it. If I were independently wealthy, this might not be so hard! HA! All joking aside, the first step of my journey is to identify the things that are truly important to me – the things I can’t live without. I’ve asked my husband and daughter to do the same so we are working on our lists this week. After we determine what is truly important to us, we will make a plan to purge the rest. Downsizing here we come! I do have to tell you that this whole concept has scared our daughter! I think she thought we were going to become desolate. I explained to her that downsizing does not mean you can’t have nice things. It just means you have less of them. That has eased her mind!
I’m a big believer in giving those that choose to spend time with you a concrete take away that makes the time they spend with you valuable. As I share my journey and you spend your time with me reading my posts, I’d like to give you all some thought provoking questions. They are the ones I am trying to answer for myself. The questions for today:
· Do your expectations of what your life should be get in the way of you enjoying what you truly have?
· Is your definition of success feasible?
· What is truly important to you?
I can’t wait to share our lists with you! I’d love to hear your answers to the above questions too! Let’s make this a conversation!