Thursday, July 2, 2009

Chasing Bliss

Chasing Bliss

I’m twenty-five years old. I’ve been married, lived on my own, completed my first degree, had a steady job with reasonable enough pay and a family of odd but loveable characters that appreciate and support me. I’m young, healthy and about a year ago anyone who saw me would think that the world was my oyster. But the truth is that something is wrong with me, something is terribly wrong because in spite if all of these wonderful factors, I am the most unhappy person I know.

The irony of this situation is I’ve been chasing bliss from as far back as I can remember. Through the eyes of a child I realised that my parents, these people, whom I loved dearly, were stressed about money, overworked, miserable and depressed. I wanted to be happy.

I didn’t want to marry someone who didn’t love me. I didn’t want to shut myself off from life because I was too blind to see that it was beautiful and meant to loved and celebrated. I didn’t want to spend all of my time at a job where I worked so hard I didn’t have the time or was too tired to be involved in my children’s life. I would do things differently.

Based on these “scientific” observations, I devised a formula for happiness.

Perfect partner + Successful, meaningful, not-too-time-consuming, enjoyable career= Loving family, money, significant impact in the world= Happiness

It was not a tall order. I was not lacking ambition, and I definitely thought that I deserved to be happy. Don’t we all?

When I met my husband I felt so at ease with him. We dated for three years before we got engaged and four years before we got married. I was absolutely in love with him and had no doubts about wanting to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. But as soon as the honeymoon we were beginning to see signs of a problem that soon escalated and became the catalyst for our separation and pending divorce.

As our problems continued to escalate there was a constant ping pong match going on in my mind between blaming him because he was no longer appreciative, supportive, understanding, loving- and blaming myself because I was simply not content to be happily married to the man I adored. Something was missing. I felt like a shadow of myself. I started to ask myself some questions that I thought were negligible… since I was afraid to hear the “truth”. Why was this happening to me? Why was this happening to us? Was I depressed? Was there something wrong with me? Would I need to be put on antidepressants because I felt isolated and passionless about everything and everyone?

My chronic discontent was haunting me, it was bottomless and no matter how I tried to fill it the fix was only temporary. Nothing could convince me that medication was the solution. Was I in denial?

And then some earth shattering questions hit me. Who was I? Why was I here? What did God want from me? Was God punishing me? Was I not worthy of love? Was I not worthy of happiness?

I was searching for answers, searching for God. Going back to my formula I looked at the next logical step- work on my career. I thought if I could be happy, then my partner would be happy and if we were happy then our marriage, our home would be happy again.

At some point I began to dream of a little girl who was waiting for me to birth her into this world. As I thought of her I pondered the kind of mother I wanted her to have. I wanted to be strong for her and for the little brother that I hoped to bear after her. I wanted to infuse her with a strong belief in herself, with a deep connection to God and the Universe however she related to her creator. I wanted my children to experience from me unconditional love, something I had yet to experience within myself.

The unraveling of certain “truths” and assumptions, as I understand it, has been for me a slow and painful process. My search took me away from what I had built up in my quest for happiness and deeper into myself. When my husband left I realised, however hesitant I was to let go, that at this time this was a journey I had to make on my own.

I’ve spent months at an Ashram, met some amazing people, been led to a number of books by spiritual teachers who seem to walk the walk of freedom, and have had months to ponder all that has happened and all that is yet to be. Is there a formula for happiness? I don’t know, I haven’t found it yet or at least I have not recognised it as such. But what I have come to realise is the happiness, the freedom, the bliss that I am looking for is independent of external circumstances. It’s the kind that makes you feel completely loved, alive and connected to this Universe. I know it exists because I have had brief glimpses of it like some heavenly dream while doing the most random things and it has never come because I have willed it into existence. It is simply some gift of divine grace. The job, the partner, the career, each one is wonderful accessory of happiness. But just to be happy, that’s all I ever wanted, that’s the greatest gift of all.

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