Reflection: Finding Happiness in 7 Years

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In the same way that I’m picky about my cream puffs, I’m super picky about what books I’m willing to invest my time in reading. I’m one of those people who will compulsively borrow ten library books, keep them for six weeks, but will have only read a paragraph from each one to determine that “the writing is just not my taste”. The thought of reading a badly written book even for five minutes feels like getting a tooth pulled out with rusty pliers.

But it’s the last month of my pregnancy right now, and all I can manage to enjoy after work is sitting on the couch with a bowl of ice cream. My left brain tells me to douse myself with fresh knowledge while baby is in her ultra-growing phase and mommy is her ultra-lazy phase.  So I head into the library next to IKEA and spend about an hour cherry-picking the last books I will read in a very long time (I’m assuming most new mothers don’t have the leisure or energy to finish a book).

After combing up and down the aisles, I finally made a choice. Interestingly, for someone who doesn’t typically read books a second time, I decided to revisit Caroline Myss’ Sacred Contracts, a spiritual book about realizing our life purpose. This was a book that I read about seven years ago during my ripe 20’s when I was having a hard time figuring out where my life was going.  I honestly do not remember if I derived much from this book back then, but something told me that it was time for me to pick it up again.

During my early 20s, I read a lot of Buddhist literature and spiritual self-help books to help navigate my life decisions. I was one of those crazily unrealistic perfectionist who had an impossibly high expectation of what I should have achieved by age 22. I wanted to be a world-changer, a leader, a noted activist in the environmental and animal rights movement.  I wanted to be one of those young people on the front page of the news for my worldly accomplishments.  I didn’t realize at that time that my dreams for what I wanted to be and my emotional growth and leadership skills were not in sync.  I wanted to be someone that I was not ready to become yet.  I still had a lot of growing and learning to do, but I couldn’t see through my impatience and self-criticism to realize or accept that.

As a wise person might predict, no matter how many self-help texts I read or spiritual teachers I consulted, I would reap no benefit if I could not see the truth of my state of my life. The books, spiritual groups, and classes only intensified the self-critic in me that said I was not good enough and that I wasn’t doing enough.

Amazingly, less than ten years later, I go back to reading this book with what feels like a new set of eyes. It’s only been a handful of years, but I feel like I’ve gone through hell and back to find a place of peace, acceptance, and, yes, happiness. I left a field of work that I thought I would work in for the rest of my life to attend graduate school, which turned out to be like a three year long therapy session. I left an old relationship when I met a man who I knew instantly was going to be my life partner.  I got engaged, married, and pregnant.  I held a number of very challenging jobs which tested me in ways that I never expected.  I grieved through the loss of several grandparents and my beloved canine.  I learned to be okay that there would be people who would never like or approve of me no matter how hard I tried.  I moved away from the college town that I loved back to my home town to live with my family.  I learned to forgive my parents for things I wish they would’ve done for me as a child and to accept them for who they are now.  Each life change and challenge had a purpose–I realize that now.

The intent of this short post is not to reflect on the book (I’m only on the third chapter!) or to boast about my life.  I merely wanted to express the possibility that a lot can change in a small period of time if one is willing to take the challenge to face their fears, to accept their flaws, to risk their heart in new relationships, to make big life changes and to take big leaps of faith. I am so blessed to become a mother at a point in life when I feel physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy and to raise a child with an equally healthy partner.  I am eager to have a child who can further my growth in my new life as a mother.

 

 

 

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