Unbridled Happiness

Me and a friend posing with a fox statue. I am leaning forward, lauging, trying to make sure everyone is in the shot

Fun times on the 2nd Annual Bemidji Pub Crawl/Sculpture Walk.

The other night I started reading Lindy West’s Shrill.  I was looking for something new to read, and avoiding Roxane Gay’s Hunger, which I desperately want to read yet know I am not ready for it. Look, I think you either love Gay’s writing, or you don’t, and that is fine. For me, however, she guts me, lays me bare, and makes me deal with myself. All good stuff in the long run, all painful in the short run, right now I feel like I’m full up on dealing with myself and my stuff, thank you. West’s writing hit the spot, relatable, inadvertently insightful, and full of just the right amount of escape from my own life.  Oh crap, maybe I just described my other current read/re-read Harry Potter and the Sorcer’s Stone. I don’t think West would mind the mix-up. The key here, is the inadvertently insightful aspect of West’s book.  The first night I took a picture of a passage I highlighted and sent it to Ouiser with the caption: “The moment you find the disintegration of your marriage summed up in one sentence.”  This particular sentence was in West’s essay about her abortion, so I’m pretty sure she didn’t anticipate someone thinking, “Hey, yeah, that sums up the misery of the last five years of my life.” The real kicker though came yesterday, when I sent a picture of the following passage to both Ouiser and Dr. Revolution,

“Well, you’ve destroyed your capacity for unbridled happiness and human connection, but don’t worry –we’ve replaced it with this prison of anxiety and pathological inability to relax!”

My commentary, “I know it is hard to believe, but this author is NOT describing academia.”  West was writing about dealing with online abuse.

Last night, a thread and conversation broke out on Twitter.  Tressie McMillan-Cottom talked about telling new Ph.D.s about the time it takes to recover from the trauma of graduate school and writing the dissertation.  Of course, I immediately thought about the passage I’d just sent to Ouiser and Dr. R. It is what I was feeling, that graduate school had curbed, if not destroyed, my capacity for unbridled happiness. And … if I’m really going to be honest here, so did the last few years of my marriage.

This morning Dr. Lawyer Tweeted a link to an article in her advice for writers series.  In her article about creating an author website, she says this about an author’s blog, “You are writing fun and engaging blog posts and giving them to your readers for free.” The third time’s the charm I guess, because as I thought about all the ways this website/blog are not like what Dr. Lawyer described, I thought about all the ways it used to be.  It may never have been fun, or full of unbridled happiness, but I thought about when my blog was most active and I had the most fun maintaining it, which was right after my stroke.  In that period, after my stroke and before I sunk completely into the dissertation, I wrote frequently and I wrote randomly about the things that made me happy. First, I stopped blogging because I needed to write the dissertation, then as I struggled to return I felt a pressure to make sure every post had meaning and weight.

Clearly, there are deep things I need to write about in the fall out of my marriage.  Honestly, I thought this space would be the place where I could do that, but it isn’t. The most important thing I have learned in the last 11 months since my divorce is just how sad, lonely, and hurt I really was. Stick with me, I know that doesn’t sound like fun. I learned that lesson because in the last 11 months, I have been happier, built amazing communities, and healed. My smile and ability to laugh with ease, the things my ex-DH said drew me to him had all but disappeared. In the last 11 months, I found my smile again; I laugh easily now; and I routinely surprise myself by realizing how happy I am in a given moment.

I’m sure it won’t be all fun and games around here, but just as I have begun to recover, I want to recover this space. I want to post more often, post about what I find fun, write things I enjoy instead of brooding and thinking about it all until I can’t write a word.

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