The New Happy (how introspection saved me)

I’m happy again.

In a recent conversation with someone that knows most of where I have been and what I’ve been struggling with over the last decade, I said, “I feel like me again, I feel like I have come back to myself.” I was thinking about how I was composting again, despite the less-than-common trend toward living green in this town, how I was again putting my heart into what I *really* want to do for work, instead of skirting around it on tippy-toes, and how I’ve recently let go of a lot of extra weight from my body.

As soon as I said “come back to myself” to my friend, I realized its not really true. Going back to myself would be just as devastating…the last time I was happy I was a stay at home mom with a toddler, and a wonderful husband, no degree or real goals for a professional career, and I was looking at more kids and many years of staying home with them. All of that could have been happy too, of course, until I started feeling dissatisfied in my marriage and All That  struggle began. So my Before isn’t really what I’m happy about in my Now.

But even if the external circumstances make the phrase “back to myself” untrue, what is true is that I am feeling like myself again. The happiness I felt Then is the same as the Happy I feel now, but now I have a career, a teenage daughter, fantastic memories, and a stronger character because I know what I have gone through and emerged from.

Which led me to the question, “Does everyone have Life happen to them the way I have? Or is what I’ve been through rare?”

His answer? “No. Not everyone has the capacity for introspection the way you do.”

We discussed how he thought maybe my level of awareness and ability for introspection made me both unhappy, and what helped me through it. I am not so sure. I think the events that came at me – and that I chose to create – came one after the other and were very stressful. I am not sure anyone could be ignorantly happy through all that. However, my knowing myself and expecting More could have contributed to my unhappiness, for sure. To my dissatisfaction.  I could have stayed with contentment in a non-physical relationship where I didn’t feel Met. Or I could have stayed very very angry in an emotionally abusive one, and settled for “what I chose”…but either of those options wouldn’t have helped when my nephew died, and when my mother needed me to come be with her….and the incredible beauty and stress that went hand in hand as I cared for and midwifed my mother into the arms of my dad waiting for her in the Spirit world. (If there is a heaven, I’m sure she’s in it if she is in his arms.)

So I could list off All That Happened to me in this last decade, and believe me it is quite a list. The top five life stressors happened in a span of three months in 2007, and here is a picture of me, right at the peak of feeling as far from myself as I have ever gotten.

You may notice my eyes are squinty, I am desperately trying to smile but I look like I am going to burst into tears at any moment. I look shaken, unstable, and bewildered. All of which I was. I was hurting, very very deeply, and felt I had zero ground to stand on.

A technique I learned in school and in a few workshops is to cover half of someone’s face in a photo, and then compare it to the other half. Often one half of the face looks scared, and the other shows the underlying anger that is unexpressed. I don’t even see that in this photo…when I cover half of my face here, and then the other half, what I see is Lost. A person who doesn’t even have the gumption anymore to be Angry. I just Wasn’t In There. Looking at this photo right now, I feel a deep compassion for that woman. She was carrying so much, and had to muster herself to keep going, and never really felt the luxury of stopping to take care of herself.

Over the next few years however, with the support of some “far flung family” as one of my friends self-proclaimed himself to be, and some Unconditional Love, and a heavy does of Grace…I came to accept. That was the beginning of healing.  Acceptance of what happened. Of what is. Of myself in This Life that I never planned for, or wanted, or expected. Once I accepted that, I began to heal.

Step by step, and bit by bit, I’ve stumbled and skipped and ambled, and sometimes flew my way to Here. The decade of stress that manifested on my body as 25 extra pounds has been released, I am again eating foods that support me instead of foods that were a message to myself that I am unworthy of love, I am treating the planet – through my food and actions – in the way that is aligned with my integrity, I am in my integrity with my words and intentions as much as consciously possible, and I am eager to attract people I can help with the knowledge and skills I have, confident that my passion for what I do will guide me.

I am not ashamed of anything about myself.

So its a New Happy. Not a “back to myself” but an “arriving to myself.” And this happiness, although it is the same feeling of my past happiness, carries with it the depth of a Spiritual Emergency and Recovery, the triumph of a tough climb to the top of a high mountain, and the compassion for my past that dissolves shame and guilt and anger.


This is an incredible life.


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  1. “We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.”

    T.S. Elliot, “Little Gidding”

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