Apparently, happiness is the feeling you had as a child, when everything was allowed and nothing was wrong.
But… I never felt that way. Or I can’t remember it, at least. There was always someone to take care of, feelings and emotions of adults to take into account. There were always adults to be considerate of.
I mean, I can remember that I was told to stop coughing when I had pneumonia. My grandfather worked shifts and wanted to relax watching Quincy or Columbo or something like that. And my coughing on the couch was considered a nuisance.
(I was 8 when I had acute bronchitis, and because it was not taken care of for a long while, it turned into pneumonia. I was not allowed to leave the bed or the couch for two weeks, and I remember that I had a high fever and that my chest hurt a lot… I read a lot during that time. A lifelong love for reading was born right there and then.)
I cannot remember a moment when I felt safe and carefree. Not until I was 31. And by that time I was married, mom of 3 kids and lived in a house, complete with a mortgage. I was always on the pursuit of happiness. And never really found it. Until that night in Brussels where a hug from a stranger put together some broken pieces in my soul.
When do I feel a sense of happiness?
For me, happiness is an hour of selfishly listening to music – preferably loud, singing along, and not having to take care of anything or anyone.
But, happiness for me also means looking at my kids and feeling proud of the young people they are becoming. I am proud because I lack role models in parenting, but my kids are awesome anyway. Sure, they could try tidying their rooms more. But they are kind and considerate, opinionated, and interested in the world. They are intelligent – we discuss a lot and speak about everything and anything. I would not be who I am now without those three young people who are only alive because I exist. Without women, there is no life on earth.
What is happiness for you?
I wonder if I am not looking in the right places or maybe, happiness is an emotion I cannot identify and label because I didn’t experience it in my formative years.
You see, today, children are taken out of families for less than the emotional neglect and abuse I suffered. And I consider myself lucky that I was able to grow up with my mom and grandma and my father who was at the periphery of my life too. And still, I cannot help but think that if a social worker had known or a teacher had cared, my life would have taken a different turn.
But… No regrets. I wouldn’t be who I am, and I would not think the way I do, if my past had been different.