Ok this is a hard one to hear. It is for me at least. This is because I sit and think about so many wasted years of unhappiness. Overall my life has been pretty damn good, but I haven’t always seen it that way. I’ve spent many days miserable because of things either out of my control, self-sabotaging or allowing people to stick around when I should of said “Buh-bye!” Now that’s not to say feeling anger or sadness isn’t a healthy thing. It is, and life doesn’t always feel great. I’m not talking about having an off day. I’m talking about choosing misery over Happiness the majority of time. It’s a hard habit to break. One I have to be conscious of daily. I don’t always succeed at it, but I’m making an effort.
We are responsible for our own happiness. That statement hits me hard. So I’m the reason I’ve spent so many days unhappy? Ouch, that stings a bit! I thought it was a laundry list of people and circumstances. This recent ah-ha moment I had on the subject makes me want to smack myself upside the head. I’ll get to that part in a minute. I can think of a million instances where I could’ve chosen happiness over wallowing, but let’s narrow it to the subject of marriage and relationships.
I consider myself to be happily married. I think I’ve chosen a hell of a partner. In fact I think it’s one of the few really smart things I’ve done in my life. I chose someone who’s kind, thoughtful, hardworking, an amazing cook, and helpful to anyone who needs him. I think anyone who knows him would attest to all those things. So how on earth could I ever be miserable in my marriage? Well, everyone has days within a marriage or partnership. I mean we see this person day in and day out. We bug each other or annoy each other. No one is perfect. This topic brings me back to the beginning of our marriage. The year we had our first child. Those exhausting years of figuring out who you’ve become as partners, and as parents. It’s so hard. It’s an identity crisis no one tells you about. The internal fight to be a good mom and find some semblance of the wife you were or want to be. So rather than actually say that outloud I thought, let’s pretend I’m not exhausted, scared or worried. Instead, I’ll just pretend I can do everything better than my husband all the time. I’ll make it his job to do X,Y, and Z to make me happy. If he does these things it’ll show me he cares. (Newsflash it didn’t work ) That’s where the tally sheet comes into play. I think Most (I’m sure a few of you unicorns exist so I won’t say all) of us can confess to keeping a mental tally sheet of things we do more than our partners in parenting or the day to day. If you wrote it out it would look something like this. I’ve gotten up 10 times with the baby and he’s only gotten up twice. You can substitute just about anything that’s rubbing you the wrong way. This tallying thing is sort of a running joke with girlfriends or a way to vent but it starts to churn up resentment and anger. One person constantly trying to out do the other and in the process just gets both people mad. Gratitude and love is replaced with keeping tabs on crap that doesn’t freaking matter!
So here’s the ugly truth. I’ve been married almost 10 years. We have been together 16 years and I just figured out that I was doing it and how unfair it was . I want to shake 30 year old me! It’s been in the last year or so I’ve realized so many unfair expectations I put on him in those early years. My kids are older now and the tally system kinda fell by the wayside. I started to come up for air and find myself again as a mother and wife. But man those early years of parenting were rough. Not rough in a way that I didn’t love motherhood. I think the hardest part was navigating us as a couple now with this little life that depended on us.
Now for the part where I went Ooooh yeah I get this. The moment I wanted to time travel back to 2011 and smack myself. I recently had a conversation with my husband where I was like hey I need to apologize for some things. He looked at me confused. I started by saying “This started years ago, 7 years ago to be exact”. This is where his facial expressions got better bc I then said “It’s about hunting”. Now if you knew us you’d know hunting is a HUGE source of resentment between us. My husband is an avid hunter and hunts from Mid September to late January every year. Both of our children were born in August and September, so I had newborns during the dreaded (for me 😜) hunting season. As I sat with very little sleep, covered in baby poop and vomit I would watch my husband willingly get up at 4am to lay in a duck blind in the freezing cold. Anger does not even begin to describe my feelings I had when he’d leave for hours. At this point laying in the snow with a robe on sounded like a delightful break. How dare he leave this house when we have a newborn baby? I viewed this as a vacation for him. Every hunting season we would fight and bicker about him leaving. I had convinced myself I was the high and mighty mother who was never allowed out without the baby. This cycle continued for years. It wasn’t until my kids were much older I stopped caring about his hobby of hunting.
Fast forward to a couple months ago. I watched the Breńe Brown special on Netflix (if you haven’t watched it, do it right now!!) then stumbled upon another video on FB where they talked about expectations we put on others to be responsible for our happiness. I cried watching both. Everything became so obvious. I was embarrassed and confused as to how something so simple could be so hard to live. There it was, the simplest truth. We are all responsible for our own happiness. Your partner can enjoy life with you and can bring you moments of joy, but they can not make you whole. That’s your work to do. You know what my first thought was after this realizations?? Hunting haha! I thought O.M.G….all of those years being pissed off about hunting. Stewing for days in resentment. I always viewed it like how can you leave the baby? We are both parents, why am I the only one here all the time? Well for starters I chose to be a SAHM, so yeah, I kind of signed up to be home. It wasn’t meant to be the life sentence of seclusion that I was making it out to be. Secondly, no one said I had to make a tiny human and then never ever leave him. I mean my husband wasn’t telling me to be barefoot in a kitchen (that would never happen because I’m the worst cook 😜). I now see he was taking time for himself, to do a thing he enjoyed. I was resentful bc I was jealous. Ok more tears, bc it’s hard to admit you were wrong or jealous. I was so jealous of his ability to leave our child and not feel guilty. Who can relate? As a mother you need a break but you feel guilty taking time for yourself. I could’ve gotten a babysitter or a grandma to come so I could enjoy some time for myself. I could have simply asked him for a few hours too. Instead I decided to do the opposite of what I needed/wanted so I could hold it over his head in someway.
The look on his face was priceless and after I got done spewing all the things on my mind, we had a good laugh. It’s so much easier to look back on something with clarity once you’ve lived through it. This is just an example of choosing misery over joy. We are all in charge of our hapiness. We can’t control the shitty things that happen. There will always be death, shitty people, teething kids, sleepless nights, the list is endless. We can control our reactions and what we allow to bring us down. So feel the anger or pain but then take a long look at what is really bothering you about it. You might just see it has more to do with you than anything else. Woo hoo I’m 38 and figured out I’m in charge of my happiness. Hears to figuring out more shit I wish I’d have known at 20!