Beauty over pain. Adventure over agony. Life is what you choose to see. – Andra Watkins
I don’t often write about my life before I met MTM, but I was an adult for fifteen years before we married. At twenty-two, I believed I ‘should’ be married. I engaged in a six-week courtship with a preacher-boy, said yes when he proposed, and married him five months later. Warnings screamed from all quarters, but I ignored them. This man was everything I believed a husband should be. I knew he’d make me happy.
But life with him was an exercise in crossing lines. He told me who to be, what to wear, how to behave, who my friends could be. And when I rebelled against his vision of me, I paid in ways I won’t recount (though you’ll probably read scenes from my former life in various novels someday.) I never knew agony could shred me to my marrow. It almost destroyed my soul.
When I finally found the courage to end it, I embarked upon a new opportunity. At twenty-seven, I could finally determine who I was, what I wanted, how to be happy. An adventure yawned before me.
Instead, I chose agony. Being alone meant I failed as a female, and what would people think? I fell into a relationship with another controller and spent almost four years trying to be the woman of his dreams. A woman who wasn’t me, because he dumped me in glorious fashion in the wake of my thirty-first birthday.
For two years, I railed against my aloneness. My rejected state. I watched other women fall into relationships and hated them for finding the one thing that eluded me: true happiness with a man, because of course a man meant happiness.
And because I couldn’t find a man to love me, I was forced to set aside my agony. Sometimes, I actually lived. I found restaurants I liked and cities to explore and art I appreciated and a home of my own. Oh, I still sobbed on my bedroom floor because I didn’t want to be alone. Agony was my old bedfellow. It wasn’t easy to let him go.
Somewhere in my stupid wanderings, I figured out happiness isn’t another person. It doesn’t live in the next thing or the next friend or the next meal or the next whatever. Happiness is an adventure every single day, because I can wake up and BE it.
I pen this post after spending part of an evening discussing happiness with someone I’ve known almost two decades. I love this person, even though she sometimes drives me insane. We want the people we love to make good choices, to gravitate toward edifying things, to avoid suffering and agony, misery and despair.
And maybe we endure those things so that when people come to our door, broken and agonized, we can hug them. We can tell them we love them. We can challenge them to embark upon the grand adventure called happiness.
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