Joy, week 41
Yesterday I was walking out of a local quilt shop when a stab of loneliness hit me. I had just watched three women standing together around the cutting table laughing, talking about their lives, talking about someone they all knew who has inspired them over the years, sharing a common interest together. I watched them and felt so lonely! I drove away thinking about how many friendships, especially groups, I’ve let go of in the past few years during my struggle to stay afloat as I learn how to mother eight very different children. I thought of the book groups I dropped out of, the classes I didn’t take, the luncheons I’ve missed, the chats on the phone that I rarely, if ever, have anymore. All of a sudden it felt like I’ve paid a terrible price for this family of mine, and it felt hard. I longed for the community of my first home, for the proximity of a dozen good friends living within two blocks of my house, all of us starting and adding to and raising our children together, driving each other’s children to and from soccer practice, sending samples of new recipes across the street for a fellow cook to taste. So much in common, so much to talk about, so many easy opportunities to serve each other every single day. Why did I ever want to leave that? Then I was honest with myself and admitted that in the muddy years of trying to figure things out, while I’ve wanted so much to be understood and accepted, I’ve also held the world at arm’s length. Not living up to my own standards, I couldn’t bear opening myself up to the view of others. It was really quite strange how these feelings suddenly rose up before me like a monster.
I need to do better. I’ve tried to resume more friendships this year, but admittedly it was more difficult than I anticipated. My husband’s injury changed the summer, and the school year has run away with me and left many good intentions shriveled and cast aside. I learned this weekend that I need more of friendship than I’m getting, that I’d like so much to find a close circle of friends that I can belong to once more.
But I’m focusing on feeling happy this year, and the kind of feelings flooding my heart were the opposite of joy. I remembered what I read early in the year in The Happiness Project and decided to fall back on the good old advice to “act the way you want to feel.” I went to work and an hour later realized that life was just fine. Looking back over the week, I recognized so many joyful moments and blessings. I have a fantastic marriage. I tried a new recipe for dinner and we loved it. I got to go outside with my children and watch them play in the leaves while I pulled weeds. I got to watch the sunset. Went on a date with my husband. Took the children to choose pumpkins, then came home for root beer floats. We made caramel apples. We made cookies. I planted a few tulip bulbs. Started a book. Helped each child along the path of learning new skills that will help them to solve problems effectively. Today I laughed really hard at some of the sweet things that little children say and do. What could I possibly feel bad about? Yes, I have a wonderful life. There are certainly things I can adjust, but life is very, very good. Especially if I focus on the positive and let go of the things that hurt.
My husband tried to take the boys on an overnighter this weekend when one of our cars broke down an hour from home. Oh well. My daughter has had pain in her feet for two and a half years, and this week we were fortunate to pinpoint her Achilles as the problem, then get her in to see some great physical therapists. It was an eventful week in some ways, but nothing we couldn’t handle. THAT is also a blessing.
I want very much to be good, to be better. I hope the Lord will help me along this path. I am grateful for His assistance every day. And so we start another week with hope in our hearts, trust that we can figure things out, astonishment that October is ending so soon, and happiness in our step.
Have a great week,