When Happiness is Hard

Annah Elizabeth Happy Happens ™ 0 Comments

“Hard times always lead to something great.” ~ Fashion Designer, Betsey Johnson

Dear Journeyer,

This last week was tough…really tough.

After three years of struggle at my other job, I finally faced something that I can’t comprehend.

I had two, back-to-back events that ultimately triggered panic attacks.

For those of you who have ever endured these physiological symptoms, my heart goes out to you, for the feeling of burning lungs and chest pain is anything but a pleasant place to be.

I’ve never had any form of anxiety or panic before and I am honestly having a hard time wrapping my brain around how this health condition could come on so fast, and yet I know that it is not these two isolated instances but a culmination of years of feeling unsupported and at times unsafe.

Just writing this is causing my breathing to shift and my lungs to feel like I’ve been cleaning with chemicals.

When I went to my doctor, my blood pressure was through the roof and he pulled me out of work for a week. “Relax, enjoy, and spend some time with your Hubby,” he said.

Close friends with whom I shared the disconcerting situations echoed that sentiment, and yet I am finding this is so much easier said than done because my brain keeps taking over, replaying the events and worrying about future circumstances.

There was a time when I envisioned my future like this: I would have the best of all worlds by being able to schedule my healing work between my two shifts, while my travel events and speaking engagements could be scheduled during my winter and summer breaks. My beautiful life would include things I love, need, and things I am passionate about…working with children…more time with my children…a steady income…insurance benefits for my family…helping heal worlds of hurt with The Five Facets Philosophy on Healing™.

Right now, this second, my life feels far from glorious or desired…

I have always worked hard to establish and maintain a professional identity as someone who is confident, courteous, competent, and cooperative–always working to be part of a solution rather than part of a problem. I am having a hard time because of events that leave me feeling vulnerable, not to mention humiliated and embarrassed in front of my peers.

Usually I will sit down and write a post from beginning to end, unless some duty calls me away, but today I keep getting up and leaving each time my lungs begin to burn from what the doctor has labeled as onset panic attacks and I can’t seem to find the right words to tell this story with some sense of grace and hope.

Here’s what dawned on me: What support or advice would you give one of your clients, Annah?

I hear Counselor Hank’s words echoing out from twenty years ago: “Why don’t you treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you bestow on others, Annah?”

Right here, right now, this is what I say to You and to Me: Sometimes Life and Happy are hard, but you’ve survived both. The depths of your suffering are what allow you to be empathetic to others and to fully feel all that is peaceful; your vulnerability makes you real; your courage conveys hope, and your love transcends time and circumstance.

Journeyer, yesterday I spent the day in nature, navigating the backwoods on four-wheelers with some of my family members.

Moving at a good pace, I caught only glimpses of Spring’s bounty…bulging tree buds, pink and mauve apple blossoms, and green pastures that are already in need of mowing.

The smile and peace these things brought me felt transitory enough that the happiness didn’t stay, as if it didn’t have a chance to penetrate the outer layers of life’s chaos.

If I pause and think real hard, I can conjure the joy in these things, but I feel a bit of resistance, and I can’t help think that happiness shouldn’t require so much effort.

When I’m able to get out of my head and put aside the physical sensations that are now coming with my outside employment stress, here’s what I know: It is the Yin and Yang of life that pushes us to be our best selves and to appreciate what we do have.

In a training I took with Dan Millman, he taught us how to juggle lemons and he talked repeatedly about hitting a baseball: If you’re swinging low, then exaggerate a high swing, for once you know what the two extremes feel like, you are able to find the balance in your swing that will help you hit that proverbial home run.

There’s a nasty storm brewing in our region this afternoon; one that’s supposed to bring a twenty-degree temperature drop along with hail and high winds.

Right now I feel like I need to change my conditions, so I’m going to take advantage of this calm before the ensuing storm. I’m going to wrap up this post, forget about my work drama for a bit, and exaggerate my happy by blaring my music and dancing beneath my glorious, flowering Crabapple trees.

“Even smile in your liver,” said Ketut Liyer, the medicine man Liz Gilbert refers to in Eat, Pray, Love.

Following my song and dance event, I’m going to collapse on my deck and allow the sunshine, bird song, and warm air to slowly penetrate deep into that happy organ, into my liver…and beyond.

What about you, Journeyer, what do you do when happiness seems hard?\

Until next time, yours in hope, healing, and happiness,.

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