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Afraid To Be Happy?


shell

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Hi all,

Does anyone feel afraid to be happy? I was thinking earlier about something I might do (someday way down the road) that would be fun and just kind of daydreaming about it. Suddenly I had this horrible feeling that I could never do it, because I wasn't allowed to have fun anymore. Like if I did, something bad would happen. I know this sounds nuts, but it was just the strangest feeling. Has anyone else experienced anything like this?

Hugs,

Shell

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Hi Shell,

Thank you for adding this post, I too have been feeling this way. I feel if I get happy again that I am forgetting the loved ones I lost. I feel that I would be telling them that I do not care anymore about them. Does this make any sense or am I crazy? Let's pray that we learn the answer and maybe one day we will feel happy without thinking that it is bad. Take care Shelley

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Shell and Starkiss,

Yes, I've had that feeling, too, although it's more pronounced in my anticipatory grief for our furgirl than it was after losing my Mum and brother....probably because I'd lived my own life without either of them really IN it for the most part for many years already. But when I think of all the things we'll be able to do when it's just me and my husband, some of those things, more specifically the things we've had to put off doing for about 15 years, give me 'guilt pangs' and a feeling that is similar to some kind of 'betrayal' should I actually think of feeling good while doing them...all this even before I've lost her! Gad.

I know the difference here is that these are things I'd never normally associate with doing while she's alive, versus those things we've done some of, but just not enough of during the same time. I also know this is not only common but is part of that twisted 'reasoning' we all go through with thinking that if we're happy again, we're 'betraying' our loved ones by being happy despite them being gone. But I also know it's unproductive thinking and will have to be gotten through in tiny steps, just like every other lousy emotion with grieving.

Of course, along with the guilt pangs and inner debate, comes the immediate thought, too, that, "Who am I fooling???? .....I'm not going to feel like enjoying anything for a long time afterwards anyway! I KNOW I'm gonna be 'out of commission' for an awfully long time before I attempt anything fun anyway!" But on the other hand, as per the suggestion from my therapist last year, I still have plans to get away somewhere, even if only for a wknd. and probably after only a few months after the fact, so I kind of have to think ahead as to how I'll be feeling about these things. As she told me, generally-speaking, those who either have something they have to get back to doing &/or plan ahead to taking some kind of break within the first 6 months of a loss, do better overall than those who don't....so I plan on taking her advice to heart and testing out this method.

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Hi Maylissa,

Thank you for your post and though I started with several different hobbies that I am presently doing right now I still have a big problem getting out of the house and meeting people and making friends. I have started a ongoing scrapbooking class and I do meet people but still find it hard to start a friendship. I have also started to go to a counsellor and I am starting to get help so maybe I can stop feel like this and get some happiness back in to my life. Take care Maylissa, and thank you again for your post. Shelley

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Hi shell!

I think that it may be some combination of misplaced and unmerited guilt and resentment. Guilt cuz you want to go off somewhere, maybe with somebody and be therapeutically irresponsible. ;) (That's another way of saying 'having fun' :P ) Why guilty? Because your Dad died some time ago and you're not supposed to have fun so soon. (As if there's rules. Or timelines and benchmarks along the grieving path that we have to adhere to.) Resentment because you can't really go off due to responsibilities at home (caregiver for your Mom (and brother :) ) and the few dozen cats you have. (I know, only 11 :o ) Even if the fun thing is way down the road, your guilty feelings may be due to thinking down deep that its a secret wish to be free of your responsibilities. The fact that you don't resent your responsibilities at home is beside the point, feelings are strange and aren't always rational. If you could only take a peek inside my brain... :blink:

I also just think that 'not being allowed to have fun anymore' is just part of grieving. Of course we're not allowed to have fun anymore, we're supposed to be grieving over our loved ones and if we have "fun" (or even think about it) it means we're over it and have forgotten them. Horse puckey. I've had fun. A month or so ago I went on a daytrip to the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York. Had a ball. Even thought about my Mom and Dad. How we had fun up there when I was a little kid. A little sad, but it passed. I was on an adventure and had a grand time. It was like I took Mom and Dad with me. But dinner was cheaper cuz I didn't have to buy anything for them. :D

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Hi Paul S,

Thank you for your post, when you read and think about it, it does make sense. I just have to remember my mom and dad want me to be happy again and to do things that make me happy. We are having a family picnic for my mom's side of the family and even though she will not be there I think she would be happy to see that we did carry out her request and keep the family picnic alive. Take care PaulS and thank you again. Shelley

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That's one concept I have a tougher time with, because I unfortunately had parents who didn't really want me to have fun in my ( or anyone else's ) life. Their children's happiness was measured in their own heads by what they thought should make them happy, and not by what actually made any of us happy, or happier. And if they weren't happy themselves, then they were just jealous of others' happiness and liked to rain on their parade. So with this background, after a death, it's much harder to tell oneself that mom or dad would want me to return to happiness. My Mum was sort of half and half about this, but for CERTAIN my dad wouldn't want me to be happy, and in fact, would prefer if I was more miserable than he was...that would give him great satisfaction....it's the way he always was, with everyone. Like a vampire, he lived off the false superiority he could feel if he managed to suck every bit of joy out of someone else's happier moments...unless he figured he'd been the one to bring them about...then he just bragged about his accomplishment.

So the only one who I KNOW would want me to be happier is my furboy who has passed. It sucks when I can't apply the same 'tactics' of reasoning to grief as most others can. This is only one out of countless things that a severely dysfunctional family can do to you, but it sure makes grieving harder to bear and come through without a lot of scars.

Edited by Maylissa
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Hi Maylissa,

I am sorry that your parents were like they were in the way of allowing you to be happy. I guess in some ways it is how we are brought up in life. It is not to late to be happy. The problem is finding what makes you happy and make it worth while. Here is too you and finding some happiness out there. Take care and I will pray that you get some of the happiness you deserve. I am sending you a great big hug as well Shelley

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Hi all,

Thanks for replying. I guess what we need to realize is that we are alive, even if there are times we wish we weren't! And I guess, in a way, we have to get somewhat "selfish" and just try to be happy. For most of us, we know the deceased loved one(s) would want us to be, and for those who don't feel that, then we have to say, "Too bad. I'm going to be happy again anyway!" We have to go on, and do the best for us from now on, and the other people in our lives.

Guilt is a terrible trap, but we have to recognize it for what it is. Whatever we do, we will always have our departed with us and be missing them.

Try to be happy, if only for a moment, and we won't feel guilty, right?

Hugs,

Shell

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Hi All,

It is hard to be happy, when everything we have been through is so depressing but think of those loved ones who are watching down on us they do not want to see us sad and grumpy so we must pick up and go on even though I think it will be the hardest thing I will have to do right now. Take care all and prays help Shelley

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Happiness is an inside job. It is a choice that WE make. We can choose to be happy, or choose to be unhappy. Either way, it is OUR choice.

If we depend on other people (alive or dead) for our own happiness, then most of the time we will be unhappy.

This is because most people (the alive ones) are focusing on their own happiness, not ours. And if they are focusing on making other people happy, it is usually their own spouses and children, not other people outside that orbit. They may choose to avoid people who are choosing to be unhappy, because let's face it, if we are deliberately choosing to be unhappy, then we're like lepers in the old days with a cowbell around our necks and we're chanting "Unclean, unclean." Even if we're not conscious of it we are projecting all these negative vibes. Only those people who are relentlessly cheerful will approach us. And even they have their limits. And if the people who are making us unhappy are dead, then really the problem is between our ears.

If we want to be happy but are finding it difficult, then we can figure out what is wrong and choose to fix it. Or choose to not fix it and live on an unhealthy diet of resentment, self-pity and anger.

We can choose to fix our unhappiness and change it into happiness through a variety of methods.

There is prayer and meditation. This is the do-it-yourself approach. Well, not really yourself. There is God and He can guide you along. Maybe buy a book or two to help get you started. If you don't want to buy any book, then I can save you money and just say that prayer is "Talking to Something Greater Than Yourself" and meditation is "Listening For the Response". Meditation is also "Looking At Your Soul in Your Mind's Eye and Thinking About What You See There (and Doing Something About It)".

There is free therapy in the form of support groups (in-person or online) or paid therapy in the form of psychiatrists and psychologists. Free is good. We get to talk to people who once were unhappy or miserable, and find out what they did to become happy. We can pick what might work for us and try it out. Paid is OK. Especially if insurance covers it.

There is medication for those who are chronically unhappy, but not for those who are situationally unhappy, but as I am not qualified to dispense medical advice, ask your doctor. There is also all that herbal and non-traditional stuff, and it may work for individuals who buy it, or so I've heard. These may be the chronically unhappy. If we're situationally unhappy, then no external mood-altering substance, no matter how legal or benign, need be used. If we're situationally unhappy, then we just need to change how we react to things. People who are situationally unhappy are that way because their response to external events is maladjusted. Readjust our response to the stuff that happens to us, and we are on our way to being happy. By choice. We can learn how to readjust our response to the things that people do to us by trying out all those things we can learn at all those support groups I mentioned above.

I, personally, got a lot of help from support groups (in-person and online grief support, also AA meetings some time ago.) I also pray and meditate a lot. Never tried paid therapy, no insurance. Tried herbal stuff, works when I have a cold coming on. I love coffee. Coffee is the exception to using external substance to make one happy. Take away my coffee, and I'll be unhappy.

I will also replicate the fun thing I did that I mentioned a few posts ago. Only I won't go to the Adirondack Mountains. Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame! Mom and Dad would have loved it. Anybody want a postcard, PM me an address.

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I guess this is one of those pitfalls and difficult challenges of grief, and just life in general. One the one hand, we need to accept how we're feeling at any given moment. On the other hand, we need to push ourselves to do whatever work is required to progress through it. So sometimes, it also creates mass confusion inside and yet another raging inner battle, which only compounds our suffering! :blink: Should we push ourselves to choose happiness, or do we need to just sit and feel however we feel, even if that's miserable, disheartened, guilty or whatever? It's often a hard-to-balance act.

And when those of us who are also still caretaking someone else try to find that fine line, often our exhaustion from caretaking rules the day and we just don't have enough energy left to expend on duty to ourselves, even if we realize we need to do these things for our own good. Sorta like how plain, old-fashioned exercise helps so many conditions but you're too tired and hurting to even get going on the exercise that you know will bring you more energy. It can be a vicious circle. Maybe that's a good time for that coffee! :lol: ( of course, I drink decaf, so it does little good that way :( )

Another factor which I'm rapidly becoming more aware of, unfortunately, is age and gender. If you're a female and entering, or in, perimenopause or menopause, those ol' hormones can be SOOO outta whack, adding to your fatigue and depressed mood....another vicious circle, unless you can make the time to get out and have that addressed as well....which is just another thing to add to that to-do list, which makes ME more tired just thinking about it!! :wacko: And this kind of thing is also often a long-term 'project' to get a good handle on.

We'd also just watched a TV show on happy people ( funny, everyone's always trying to decipher the how-to's of happiness, we're so bad at it as a rule! ) and I was chagrined to discover that how one's parents were in one's childhood seemed to be high on the list of how resilient these people with their various challenges ended up. Yes, it was still a choice, as everything ultimately is, for them to 'rise above' their particular challenges, but a good supportive foundation early in life and an ongoing support network later on seemed to be something most had in common. Not that this was news to me, but it still remains as an extra hurdle, as I have little of either.

While I agree that, as good ol' Abe Lincoln said ( among other noteworthy things ), "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be," ( the gist of the quote, if not exact ), it's also not always found, or created, so easily, despite willpower and desire. The so-called experts say that in some people, a tendency towards depression is hereditary and can be passed onto any children. I often wonder if this applies in my case....hard to tell since both parents also drank and it's a chicken and egg debate...which came first, the depression and hence the drinking, or the other way around? I don't have the drinking problem thing, but can still get depressed out of nowhere sometimes.

So, I try as hard as I'm able, when I'm able, and have found many 'tricks' to help myself, plus try to work with the yearnings of my very soul ( which wants me to have fun! ), but I still can never say with any conviction that I know both my parents would want me to be my happiest....I was robbed of that, and no matter how you cut it, there's something terribly sad about it, even if you know you're not the only one in that boat. See, I'm still going to have to try and FULLY grieve the loss of not having a loving family-of-origin and grieve the fact that I can NEVER change that, no matter what else I do with my life. I'll just never even know what that would have been like, but when I see other families acting really loving towards each other, I get 'clues'....and it continues to break my heart.

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Hi All,

I am going to be happy, I have made up my mind. I have joined a scrapbooking class and I am loving it. I like the fact of doing scrapbooking because it does bring back so many memories. The more I do the better I feel, I am remembering also what my parents would want for me and that is to be happy. So Here I am being a little happier today Take care Shelley

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To All:

My brother-inlaw and Brother said to me a few nights after my MOM left me that she was up in heaven just having a blast and running and jumping and doing all that she could not do here on earth, after she got sick and the last few weeks, kinda makes sence but I want my MOM here with me not up there having fun but that is not fair to her and I can not be selfish in that part well I should say I am trying not to be. Along with her eating and drinking and all that she could not do here with me. They told me that me going on with my life is something that MOM would want me to do and not to cry just to be happy that she is not hurting or suffering any more. MOM is not but I am I know that is the least of it all cause the last thing family wants for anybody is to see them hurt. I am still learning all this also.

What I am trying to say is that our loved ones are up above having the time of there lives that they lost here with us but still in some way taking care of us, I have not had the chance to learn on my own with my MOM but I have seen it with other people and talked to some wise people, and trying in my mind to give the laughter a chance again but we all will have our days, weeks, hours and even minutes to be sad and think and all that do to grief to try to go forward. I would like to not feel guilty about going a few hours with out bursting into tears and get my mind straight but I feel as if I am not suppose to yet and the time is to important to stop thinking about my MOM.

Life is so weird I feel as if it is a test to see how stronge we are and how much we have to make our lives strive on and on I also feel at times like giving up but I was once again was told that the more wegive up the harder life will seem to get we all need to strive forward I know it is easier said than done because I am still struggling with it my self. GOOD LUCK to us all

Thanks

Haley

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Oh Shelley, hooray for you! :wub: We're so proud of you! :excl:

And Maylissa, your post reminds me of yet another saying that I love, because it's so empowering;

It's never too late for a happy childhood.

And while you're gazing at all those "other families acting really loving toward each other," keep in mind that life is difficult, life is full of suffering, and everyone -- everyone -- has a story. Appearances can be deceiving, and as Paul and Abe have noted, most people who appear to be happy and loving and kind are those who've simply decided to "be" that way, despite the difficulties, losses, hurts and disappointments they have suffered in the course of their lives . . .

I should also add that, although life is full of suffering, as Helen Keller said, "it is also full of the overcoming of it." :)

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Hi Marty T, and Haley,

Thank you both so much for your comments, It is getting a little easier by just remembering what my mom and dad would like for me. It is easier also because there are so many people here that are rooting for each other. Take care and God Bless you All Love Shelley

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I'm taking MartyT's advice and am gonna have a happy childhood! So what I'm 43, I'm a guy and we men operate best at the 12-year old level anyway.

My first kidhood wasn't necessarily unhappy, it was OK, but I'm taking the "If I knew then what I know now" approach and have a do-over.

I'm also sending MartyT a postcard from Cooperstown. I would guess an Arizona Diamondback-themed card? I'll assume this website has an address for HOV somewhere.

I never said that "choosing" to be happy and fixing what ails you to be easy. It's not like pushing a button or downloading an application to clean your softdrive (brain). It takes years. And it is painful. It is sometimes easier to sit and wallow in misery.

Haley and Shelley: :wub:

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Thanks Paul S and Marty T,

I think that I too are going to redo my childhood, come to think about it I think it will be easy this time because I live with a six year old, four year, and a two year. I think I had a great childhood the first time but who knows what will happen the second time around.. My dad was the biggest kid before he died and so why not give it a try.... take care Shelley

Edited by STARKISS
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