Saturday, October 30, 2004

Happiness

"The difference in the two of us
Comes down to the way
You rise over things I just put down."

- "Happiness" by Grant Lee Buffalo

I began to wonder if my ongoing and intense irritability with the world was somehow simply due to lack of exercise. So I went to the gym last night, and tried to outrun my demons on the treadmill. When that didn't work, I let them chase me on the rowing machine. Finally, by the time I hit the elliptical trainer, I was a soggy mess, but the pursuit was waning. High on endorphins, I pumped some iron (ROAR! FUCK YOU, DEMONS!) and then skipped back to the changing room feeling pretty good for the first time all week.

Whereupon I ran straight into my seven-and-a-half months pregnant former boss. In her bathing suit. She was leaving work for maternity leave the next day, so she wanted to chat to say goodbye and all that jazz.

As I have already indicated, I like FB very much, I think she is a class act . But in my present state of mind, encountering a woman so heavily pregnant, wearing that little clothing was somewhat...um, gosh...unsettling? I honestly didn't know where to look. My eyes were drawn, as if by tractor beam, to her voluminous belly, while my brain was squeaking, "Don't stare like a fixated freak! Don't stare like a fixated freak!".

By the time I left the changing room, the demons had found me again, and were making up for lost time by gnawing a hole somewhere around my midsection. I walked home berating myself for feeling this way. Wondering why I can't simply be happy for her.

This expression "I'm happy for you" is one that is causing me some consternation at the moment. It's not so much that I am finding it hard to reconcile some truly volcanic pissed offness at the universe with the uncomfortable awareness that the happy news of others should really elicit something other than a weak grin. It is not even so much that anyone is expecting that of me- it's that I am expecting it of myself.

But why? Why do I expect it of myself? Why do I think I need to be happy for the pregnancy of others, at a time when I am so profoundly unhappy with my unpregnant self? Would it be such a bad thing for all concerned if I took a moment here and there to acknowledge how I feel, rightly or wrongly, that the whole world seems to get pregnant apart from me? Knowing that even if a much longed for pregnancy is achieved, that it can be such a fleeting gift, that it can be taken away in the blink of an eye, seemingly on a whim from the fates? Can I not churn through some anger and bitterness about that, without slapping a happy face on?

I thought that I had attained some sort of understanding how delicate the emotional interplay with others can be. That all relationships take on shaded patterns, and so very rarely is the path of the emotional arrow straightforward. Take love, for instance. There is only one person in the entire world for whom I feel simple, uncomplicated, unquestioning love. And that is E. This is not to say that he doesn't occasionally bug the shit out of me, but the love I feel for him is so pure. It's the one true and clear thing in my life.

And that is not to say I don't love other people-of course I do. My parents, for example. I love them very much, and sometimes with something akin to simplicity and joy. Other times, the picture is much darker, with violet shades of guilt, magenta of regret, scarlet anger, navy hued sadness. I live, quite happily, knowing that the colours of our relationship are not always going to be blue skies, but more likely the Northern Lights. Complicated and beautiful.

I wish that in the middle of the hellish maelstrom of my inner world at the moment, that I could, automatically and on cue, be able to pluck something elusive as "happiness" for somebody else out of this mess. But I have trouble feeling happy for myself at the best of times. So why should I keep trying to wave my wand and summon the fairy godmother of happiness, when I am limp with the pain of longing for my arrival of my own good news? When all the happiness I can muster may still not save someone from pain and loss?

Because, I whisper to myself, because the world does not revolve around you. Because no matter what happens, a generous heart is a sign of a hero.

I so want to be a hero in this. I want to be able to step outside myself, step back from the stunted knot of bitterness. Take your face in my hands, and press a happy, uncomplicated kiss on your cheek. And I want you to know that a part of me is doing just that, even though in some cases, it might look for a moment like I am turning away from you with a tear in my eye.

Even if, in some cases, I am already gone.

10 Comments:

At 8:09 PM, Blogger Anna H. said...

Ah, Mare, you are amazing. That was a wonderful post -- so true, so true!

You're absolutely right -- there are so few things in life that are as 'pure' and 'simple' as your love for E (or mine for R). If only everything else -- this IF stuff -- were just a tiny bit less complicated, a little less fraught.

If only... if only...

xxoo

 
At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So beautiful Mare, as always.

I'm really struggling with all of this right. It's just so hard.

You're a true gem.

xxxxoooo,
Emily
scrambledeggs

 
At 1:44 AM, Blogger chris said...

Struggling here also. The other day I didn't even say "congrats" to a former neighbor when she told me she was pregnant (I already knew, but whatever). I just made a quick excuse to get away. Part of me doesn't really care. Damn it, why should I congratulate someone when it's ripping my heart out regardless of the fact that it isn't about me at all? What if I really think that this person is an ass, as I do the woman from the other day, pregnant or not? Other times, I just want to be above it, be "happy" for them. I've never really been a jealous person. This feels really uncomfortable.

 
At 2:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God, Mare. You are a brilliant writer. You write in such a way that makes me feel I am always hitching a ride in your pocket.

Your post resonated with me so very much. Our pain is deep and it is so very difficult to express happiness for another when deep inside, it truly is just gratuitous.

Even if you can't always be happy for others in the moments they want you to be, please always know that you are a hero in our eyes already.

Moogielou

 
At 4:19 AM, Blogger lobster girl said...

Mare -- You have such a way with words. Really you do. This brought tears to my eyes. I want to be a hero too, but it's so hard some times. Thank you for putting into words what I've been feeling a lot latey. And, my sweet, I hope that some day soon, we can be heroes for you.

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger Soper said...

There was a pregnant lady AT THE ADOPTION SEMINAR yesterday. Completely tactless.

When we got in the car, D mentioned her and then said:

"What a bitch."

I love him.

I'll be your superhero today, and tomorrow you can be mine. Wanna be Radioactive Ovary Woman? I'll make Super-T take back everything she ever said about R.O.W.'s boobs...

 
At 2:18 PM, Blogger sherry said...

Brilliant. Right on the money.

Wishing we all didn't have to be the heroes...

 
At 11:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mare, you ARE a hero. Heroes are those who keep going even when it is painful and difficult and try to see beyond the pain. If you don't, you're not a failed hero -- you're a hero who is having a rest day. And I'd say you've earned and deserve a few rest days!

Rana

 
At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in a low place right now myself. Trying to work up the courage to call my friend who just had her baby (from IVF #2). I absolutely can't stand knowing that as soon as I hang up I will cry. I feel like such a gutless loser and it sucks. I guess I'm trying to say, I know how you feel. Heidi (lost and finding)

 
At 7:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in a low place right now myself. Trying to work up the courage to call my friend who just had her baby (from IVF #2). I absolutely can't stand knowing that as soon as I hang up I will cry. I feel like such a gutless loser and it sucks. I guess I'm trying to say, I know how you feel. Heidi (lost and finding)

 

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