First of all, I’d like to say that I almost made it an entire year without writing which may or may not be some sort of record for me. While I must say that the primary reason for not writing is probably rooted in the fact that I’m really happy and content with my life right now it is quite frustrating to have the desire to write and not really be able to think of anything to write about. Oh, sure, I could delve into the old squash and come up with something unpleasant to write about but the truth of the matter is that I actually enjoy being happy a lot more than I enjoyed being unhappy. Yes, I admit it, I have been known at times to have actually enjoyed being miserable. But I’m over that shit now. I’m like that 80’s song “Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride. Nobody gonna slow me down – oh no, I got to keep on moving.”
Yep, I’m happy like an 80’s song. Deal with it.
But I still have the desire to write and, most of the time, have writers’ block. And that’s frustrating to me because I really like writing.
Interestingly enough, I was able to derive something to write about today out of how unbelievably happy I have been for the past year and a half which is somewhat shocking in and of itself. I’ve been laid up in the bed for almost a week with kidney stones so I haven’t been feeling well. And my computer decided it should have sympathy pains with me. Oh, lappy, I don’t need your sympathy. I don’t need you to be sick with me. I need you to work and entertain me when I’m all laid up in bed on painkillers. Don’tcha know? Yeah, Lappy missed the memo and kept giving me the beach ball of death. For you PC people, it looks like this:
(illustration by Allie Brosh of the brilliant blog HyperboleAndAHalf.com – go read it… it’s linked on the sidebar)
Anyway, I had to take my computer to the Apple Store in Jackson to get it worked on and since I couldn’t take it Friday due to the iPhone5 launch, I had to wait until today. Only, in typical Courtney fashion, I had to schedule my appointment after the Ole Miss game but early enough that I’d make it back to see Florida State and Clemson play at 7 p.m. Look, I have priorities, okay? And no sick laptop comes between me and my Rebels. And no sick me comes between getting stuff done (sometimes) so I had my dad drive my drugged-up ass over to Jackson.
Fritz was able to fix my computer fairly quickly and Lappy seems to be much happier than it was earlier so hopefully it’s all better.
But on the ride home my dad and I got into this really good conversation about how much my life has changed over the past couple of years. For those of you who have known me for a while you know that I’m prone to going through periods (sometimes really long periods) where I’m just not happy. Honestly, I think I can safely say that I wasted the best years of my life being not very happy and the only person I can blame for most of that wasted time is myself. Sure, I got knocked around some but it’s not like I had anything so devastating happen to me that I shouldn’t have been able to bounce back from in in a couple of weeks, or at the worst, a couple of months. But, no, I literally spent years upon years being unhappy. I wasted my college years. I wasted my 20s and I wasted half of my 30s. Or, as Greg Berendt says, “I wasted the pretty.” If you’re reading this and you’re going through a bad time in your life I hope you’ll continue reading this because this is the thing – life is too short, or too long (depending on how you look at it) to be unhappy. And if you’re unhappy with something in your life the only person who has the ability to change it is you. So, here’s my story of how I tricked myself into being happy. I’m not making that up either – I literally tricked myself into being happy. I wasn’t trying to do it, but that’s how it worked out and not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for how things happened.
Let’s flash back two years to September of 2010. I had been in Shreveport for 4 years and in that time had managed to date the two biggest losers out of a population of like 400,000 people. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration but they weren’t good guys and they certainly weren’t good for me. I mean, on paper they looked good for the most part but you can’t get the meat of a novel from reading its Cliff’s Notes and you certainly can’t get it from just reading the back flap of the book. And with these two, the devil was indeed in the details. But, hey, this isn’t about them. This is about me. So that’s about all I’m going to say about those two with the exception of one event which happened about this time two years ago and how it impacted my life and made me who I am today.
For those of you who have seen the movie “Up in the Air” this will probably make a lot of sense and for those of you who haven’t read it but intend to then you might want to skip this paragraph and start back with the next one because there will be spoilers from the movie. Starting now. You have been warned. After the amazing weekend George Clooney and Vera Farmiga’s characters have at his sister’s wedding, he gets all romantic and decides to fly to Chicago to surprise her. He appears on her doorstep and knocks on the door and ends up learning that the woman he’s been having a relationship with for the past few months has a family and a life that she had kept hidden from him. Anyway, that’s basically what happened with me. I went to the guy’s house and knocked on the door and his ex-girlfriend (who I call Jaws) was there… in her pajamas… spending the night. This was three weeks after he’d said to me that he hated her and hoped he never had to speak to her again in his life. So yeah, to say that seeing her there was a bit of a shock might be an understatement.
I was shocked. I was devastated. I wanted to lay in bed and cry and at one point in time I remember praying, “God, you know I don’t have it in me to take my own life but if you were to do it for me that’d be great.” Yeah, I asked God to take my life for me because I am too much of a coward to do it myself. So that’s pretty much hanging from the bottom rung. And I’d been posting all this mopey shit on Facebook. Whiny status updates. Sad songs. Mopey quotes from sad novels. It was painfully obvious to everyone I know and love that I was in bad, bad shape. And sometime right after praying to God to take me, I realized that I was being absolutely ridiculous and that, since the guy was still Facebook friends with me that he could see everything that I wrote that he was probably all smug in knowing that I was upset and he was happy. And that made me really mad. Because in the movies the bad guy never wins but in real life they often do. Only, I wasn’t content in letting him think that his life was fabulous and mine wasn’t because that would mean he had won. And I’d be damned if I let him win.
So I made a rule that I was only allowed to post on Facebook happy things – that way he’d think I was out having a great time, that my life was fabulous, and I wasn’t missing him one bit. If I went to a friend’s house to watch a movie then my post was that my friend was FABULOUS and the movie was GREAT even if it wasn’t someone I was all that good a friends with and the movie wasn’t really anything all that special at all. But adhering to the old adage “If you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all,” I basically became the verbal equivalent of a Lisa Frank painting.
(This is the part of the story where I ask you to stop reading and do a Google image search using the words Lisa Frank. Go do that now. I’ll be here when you get back)
Yep. My posts were all sunshine and rainbows and kittens. Every time I got on Facebook I forced myself to write something good. And here’s the funny thing about me: I hate not updating on Facebook. I don’t know what it is about social media that’s so addicting to me, but I love it. So I’d be dying to post something but I couldn’t do it unless I had something positive to say. Which meant that even if I was having the worst day in the world, I had to make myself think of something good so I could participate in Facebook. And then something clicked in me that I really did have fun going to the movies with my friends and I really did enjoy going to my friends’ kids dance recitals and I really did love my family and spending time with them. I am a lucky person to have these people in my life that I call my friends and family and luckier still that they had stuck by me through years of mopey-ness.
We’ve all had that sad sap of a person in our lives and at some point in time you get sick of that shit and you cut the person off or you stop answering the phone when they call. And for whatever reason, the majority of my friends had stuck by me. And, oh my gosh, how freaking lucky am I to have these amazing people stick by me when I probably would have gotten sick as hell of me and walked away? VERY lucky, that’s how lucky I was. So if you’re one of those people who I’m fortunate enough to call my friend and you’re reading this – thank you. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for whatever traits you have that made me like you in the first place and thank you for whatever reason it is that you didn’t leave me. You all add something significant to my life and that is why you are my friend. I do not say this lightly as one of my new-found mottoes is “If you can’t add something positive to my life then get out of it,” and I live by it. The two loser ex-boyfriends are no longer Facebook friends of mine. I deleted them both and blocked them quite some time ago and I have not regretted that decision.
Okay, so I’ve written for quite some time now and not gotten around to why men are just desserts. Rest assured, it’s coming.
As I was talking to my dad about how much happier I am now than I was two years ago – or ten years ago for that matter – I said that I felt like going through all of that really made me realize that it’s better to not be in a relationship and be happy than it is to be in one and be miserable. That’s not to say that I’m not a believer in love or relationships because I’m a hopeless romantic and I do believe in “happily ever after.” I know that life isn’t perfect and that there are ups and downs in all relationships but I’m fortunate enough to have been raised by parents who have been together for 42 years and to have parents who were each raised by a set of parents who were together until one of them died (my dad’s parents were married over 40 years and my mother’s parents for over 50). So, yes, I do believe in happily ever after and I do believe that there’s someone out there for me. Maybe I know them already and maybe I have yet to meet my Mr. Right, but I do think he’s out there somewhere.
When I got home I had a friend who was lamenting the fact that she is single and that she didn’t think that there was a man out there for her. To which I replied:
When I was in high school a friend of mine was reading this book called “Men are Just Desserts” and I thought that it sounded like the most ridiculous book. I never read it but I’ve thought about the title a good bit in my life and I have come to the conclusion that men (or for men – women) ARE just desserts. They’re great but they’re not what sustains you. Maybe you’re not in a relationship with someone right now because you’re not ready for dessert. You need to have your life where it needs to be before the relationship part can happen.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that a relationship shouldn’t be what sustains you. Your own personal happiness should be what you derive the most satisfaction out of. If you rely on others to make you happy then you are ultimately setting yourself up for disaster because the other person will at some point let you down and it’s only if you’re content with yourself as a person that you will be able to deal with those letdowns and be able to move forward. You have to get your life where you determine your own happiness and if that’s the case then the relationship is dessert – it’s the sweet thing that adds to your life after you’ve provided your soul’s own nourishment.