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“Every person’s happiness is their own responsibility.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
Honest Abe, I’d love to agree wholeheartedly, but I have a bit of an argument.
Suppose it’s a beautiful day, you go kayaking on your own, and everything goes to plan.
Yet, you spent the whole trip not looking around at the beauty around you and were a grump the whole time. All on your lonesome. Or maybe your happy pup joined you for the ride.
If you’re in the middle of nature—of beauty—and the stars have aligned for you to have a wondrous moment with source, and you’re out there having a bad time…well, I’d totally argue that you’re responsible for your own happiness there.
When those words are uttered to us by someone who frequently uses malicious “pet names” when addressing us and we’re deep in the web of emotional, mental, and physical abuse, they are not true.
“You’re responsible for your own happiness” becomes an emotionally triggering phrase because, in that situation, spoken by that person, no, we’re not.
When we go through it and muster up the courage and the strength and everything we have inside of us to leave a situation that is dangerous, especially if we’ve worn the face of the physically abused, for many months, maybe years after, no, we’re not.
We’re not responsible for our own happiness anymore—for a long while.
We’re not responsible for the slew of emotions we experience during and in the aftermath.
We are not f*cking responsible.
So, don’t let that sway you from the sweet path of healing.
Especially when we hear the words, “Why didn’t you leave them sooner?” or, “You have a lot of things around you to be grateful about, why aren’t you happy?”
“You’re responsible for your own happiness.”
Oh, if only it were that simple.
There are a few steps we must take before we can obtain the responsibility for our happiness—once more.
>> We are responsible for how we handle our emotions. Let me tell you, I know—it’s no walk in the park.
>> We are responsible for holding space for ourselves to heal. Even if that means curling up on the floor of our shower as our rib cage heaves and we let the heavy sobs flow.
>> We are responsible for bearing the weight of the grief and being aware of the stages.
>> We are responsible to seek help for as long as it takes to try to relieve the trauma flashbacks if we can’t handle them on our own—reliving every moment in 60 seconds or less like it just happened because of a certain color, or song, or food, or phrase, or whatever nonsensical thing decides to prompt our entire nervous system to experience it all over again.
>> We are responsible for not giving up, for being mindful, for finding our ikigai, and for not projecting our trauma onto others.
>> We are responsible for not running into the arms of another person before we sit with ourselves for a long while as painful as it seems.
We are responsible for all of that, but no, when it comes to the past, present, and future of breaking the cycle of abuse, it is okay to understand:
We are not responsible for our own happiness right now.
Take a deep breath and know it’s been taken from us, and it’s okay. It’s a part of the painful, yet necessary, surrender.
It’s more than okay because we’re going to f*cking rebuild the definition of happiness.
You think that the person who allegedly loved you, would do that for you?
Oh, no, no. That was just a trial run. Though it’s treacherous and gut-wrenching now to lean into the lack of control acknowledging what they took from you, there’s a beauty to behold.
Your new web is going to be strung with lace and gold, and it’s not going to take ahold of you, but set you free.
You get through the months, or the years, it takes to shed the control they gained over your ability to feel joy, trust, excitement, and all the things that made you happy about life. You get through it.
Get through it; your story isn’t over yet.
And you damn well better believe that when you climb into that kayak one day, something that feels so far away right now, you’re not going to be the grumpy jerk throwing away a perfectly beautiful day, nor will you have had an interaction with someone like that for a long time.
You’ll be basking in the beauty, and you will be untouchable in ways you never imagined, with humbleness you would have never gained, with gratitude you would have never otherwise felt.
Your metaphorical day of kayaking could result in a rainstorm, and you will still be happy to be alive, feeling the rain.
Many kudos to those on the other side, in the middle, or at the beginning.
It may be a long path, but it’s one that’s going to have a storybook ending.
If you’ll let it.
“And, when you want something; all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” ~ Paulo Coelho