Warning: Not a single Funny Bit to be found herein......this is serious stuff)
You know I love you all, but the truth is I am beginning to wonder about some of the younger folks (that means nearly everyone) who seem to truly believe:
*Everyone ELSE had a happy childhood
*That if you chase Happiness long enough you will catch it
*And that Adulthood sucks.
I feel like the Grinch. I hate to be a spoilsport, but do any of you still think that you could achieve maturity and some degree of wisdom if you had what people fantasize as a happy childhood? Maybe I am totally wrong. I have often been known to be full of shit. Actually, there may be a gazillion folks out there who had happy childhoods and who are 100% wise, mature and pretty content with their lives. Sadly, I am deprived and just don't know any of them.
One of my dearest friends confided in me when she had "graduated" from Psychoanalysis at around age 35 or 40. I asked her eagerly if she could tell me the most important thing she had learned. She thought a moment and said, " I was liberated when I understood and accepted that I will never have a happy childhood.)
What provoked all of this mumbling and quiet ranting is the fact that I noticed in some of the comments on my last blog many expressions of sympathy, sadness and indignation at some of the miseries I had to suffer as a child at the mercy of a crazy, sadistic father. Gosh, what if I had really told more and described my 5 years of problems with the overly loving grandfather whom we lived with ? (Yes, I too belong to that abused club.....but happily, it no longer deforms or embitters me.....I wish I could spell out the discovery process that bought me this freedom.....it might be helpful to someone...It is just so hard to communicate the "how" of it).
The fact is , I do not regret one bit of my (often but not always) unhappy childhood. The trials and tribulations of my childhood are what taught me some of the most important lessons of my life. (......You do not HAVE to think like your parents think or believe what they believe......you do not HAVE to act like your parents act, etc........Someday you can make your own choice about how you deal with the world) Without the pain and lessons of my childhood I suspect I would not have known to develop some bits of compassion, tolerance, empathy and kindness, not to mention the sense of humor that has saved my life repeatedly when nothing makes any sense at all.
We all use so much strength and energy trying to avoid pain at all costs and if we somehow succeed, where are we? Surely no wiser than we were.....just older and tireder and more perplexed and infuriated that we have had to suffer instead of being allowed to be......happy. I wonder...if you take away the pain and suffering are you automatically happy? I don't think so. Pain-free does not necessarily mean happy....it could mean just Numb.
It has been my sad experience that we do not learn much from our periods of happiness.....often not even to be grateful for them. The normal reaction is usually just, "More, please"
No, no, I am not advocating seeking out pain and suffering so we can learn....no need for that......If you haven't figured it out already, pain and suffering will find you without any help. But there is always a lesson to be learned in order to avoid future suffering from this particular thing. And the lesson isn't just how to avoid this particular thing in the future. In my experience, unless you can figure out why you are feeling the misery, you are doomed to continue to suffer from the same misery time and again. When my buttons get pushed causing me to say "Ouch", I have to trace the wiring down to the bottom to see what it is really connected to so I can disconnect it. When I finally find the source it is always a huge surprise, not at all what I had been thinking all those years, and an even bigger relief. Sometimes it takes half a lifetime. Snip.....there is one pain not to be suffered anymore. Whee. (Now that is happiness .).
I am sorry I cannot give instructions on how to learn these lessons......I would if I could.......but each must do your own self-surgery, digging, clawing, bleeding, unearthing what is underneath, finally facing it and then joyfully kissing it goodbye and leaving it behind by the side of the road.
As I said at the top, the Adulthood or the Answer so many seem to be seeking does not come free......but (sigh) life gives you untold painful chances to earn it.
I hate it when I get what seems to me to be preachy. Ugh. Forgive me if I have come across as sanctimonious and arrogant. I hope I am none of those things. I only utter these words because I have been forced to learn one or two things during my lifetime and I keep wishing I could spare some of you the same pain. I guess I should know better. In fact I realize that I knew better even when I was young and on the other end of the equation. Now that I think of it, I remember my beloved Mamma saying to me in exasperation, "Do you have to make all the same mistakes I did?"........and I wisely snapped back, "Yes! How else can I learn?"
May you reach your goal and finally be able to be happy.
I'll see you as we trod along the road.
The New Yorker covers: February 10, 1968
6 hours ago