quaking aspen, previously

“I’ve just ‘ad an apostraphe.” “I think you mean an epiphany.”

Posted on: November 23, 2008

From dictionary.com:

e·piph·a·ny [i-pif-uh-nee] –noun, plural -nies.

3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.

I was debating whether it was really the right word, but this definition works for me.

For someone who keeps a blog, in some ways I don’t talk that much about myself or my life. There are huge swaths of things that I don’t discuss online. Which is fine. But every now and then I want to talk about something that I normally don’t. But it scares me. And even now I’m putting it under a cut, or more tag, or whatever that’s called.


Last year, I had this realization, if you will, that helped me a lot, at least for a while. I don’t think I translated it into action well enough, as I feel much the same this year as last, on this subject. But that doesn’t mean the thoughts themselves aren’t true or valuable.

This is important to me, and I’m afraid that I haven’t explained it all very well. But after dallying for, oh well, a YEAR (yeah, you could say that journalism is not the right career for me), I decided that I would just type out what I wrote before, very slightly edited, and hope it’s enough.

Here are a couple of the posts that inspired part of this, back then:
Loralee’s post
Heather’s post

Lucky me, Kerflop already did a wonderful post about my religion, so I at least don’t have to recap all that.

(Also, one more note: this is not meant to be a statement about depression, the illness. Believe me, I am not trying to say “just snap out of it,” or that “oh, it’s your own fault!” Please, please, believe me, I do understand that it’s not like that. This is meant to be hopeful, not blaming.)

**

Talking about detachment, letting go, the idea of accepting “but if not.” The idea that you have to accept what is, that your resistance is keeping you stuck. I don’t want to accept where I am now, and the thought of accepting the possibility of staying “here” (i.e. stuck here) for good is unspeakably horrible. All of me rebels against it – okay, at least most. On some level it’s painful to admit, but I definitely have a sense of dissatisfaction with my life. I’m unhappy, frankly. It has nothing to do with my wonderful husband and kids – and everything to do with how I am handling my time, my responsibilities. With the fact that I feel like I’m failing at everything. And yes, definition and evaluation of expectations is important, but I think there’s honestly no denying that there’s a problem here.

So. I’m unhappy (at least in some sense. it’s so hard to admit because I feel it reflects badly on my family, my parents, my hubby, my life choices. All of which I feel strongly about). And accordingly, I don’t want to accept where I am, let go of change. I want to change, want things to change myself – because I’m tired of being unhappy, tired of being a failure, and feeling like a failure.

So I want change! Desperately. Because I want to be happier. And more effective. (But mostly because I think being more effective would help me feel happier.) So – happy.

But … I’m thinking of Stacy Julian, who says, “Happiness is a choice.”

On the one hand, I have often gotten a sense that I’m clinging to my depression, to unhappiness. So in that way – I feel there is a choice. Or at least somewhat of a choice, I know there are often physical issues as well, but there is choice as well.

But – they say happiness is all about choosing it. (Like the attitude story about the lady and her hair – three, two, one strands.) That nothing else really matters – or has to make a difference. On one level I can see it, but in my own life I don’t seem to have accepted that idea. Like at all. I’m constantly obsessing over changing something or other, so I can be happy. And a better person (mother, wife, etc) and therefore happy. The notion that I could be really happy without changing – it’s crazy. Possibly sacrilegious. It seems wrong – I can’t be happy without changing – I don’t deserve it! Look at everything I’m doing wrong! (Or have done wrong.) It wouldn’t be fair or right to choose to be happy while I’m so imperfect – so sinful. Wicked people shouldn’t be happy.

(This is the part where the world/society would say – you’re so silly! Why are you feeling guilty! There’s no morality, guilt is all in your head, shrug it off! It’s a mental illness! And yes, sinful might be a little strong for some of my issues – I don’t think an unswept floor is a sin. However, some things are – price, shirking responsibilities can be. Wasting the days of my probation on this earth. And imperfection it all definitely is. (Is all imperfection on some level a sin? Hmm. Good thing God is full of grace.)

It’s almost like the same thing – encouraging you to choose happiness – but it rings false to me, because it denies that there is a problem. Trust me – there IS a problem. Sometimes I think I cling to the misery because I want others to acknowledge that yes, there is a problem. Maybe that’s an attention thing. Or a desperate cry for help.)

Articulating it all like this makes it seem so obvious. That it all comes back to Christ, to His Atonement. That He wants me to accept Him, to choose light, choose to be happy now, with Him. That’s what it’s for – the Atonement, his sacrifice for us – to take that burden of guild and imperfection so we CAN be happy now. I don’t have to muddle on, alone and inadequate.

And really (DUH), isn’t it easier to do my part, to change things, to be a better person, to improve, when I’m happy and hopeful, rather than depressed and despairing? Hope makes the changing possible – and it gets lost when I’m despairing, and I don’t even try.

Okay. Okay. So what does this mean? How does this translate to action exactly? What am I going to do about it?

Changes in attitude are so … intangible. I want to make things tangible, have actions to take.

I can choose happiness now.
I can choose joy now.
I choose joy now.

So, that’s it. If it even makes sense. I don’t have much new to add. I don’t have a list of actions even now, to help, besides constant prayer (a simple one, but something I constantly forget to do. Sigh). Which is a good start.

P.S. If you’re interested in reading more about what I believe about Jesus Christ’s Atonement, here and here are good places to start.

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