I have a confession to make to all the people I know who recently got engaged, married, fell in love, moved in with someone, lost weight, got a new job, got a promotion, bought a house, car, or a major appliance.
I’m not happy for you. Any of you.
And the truth is, I haven’t been happy about anything good that’s happened for you for a long time.
I have tried to dredge up some happiness, though. Believe me, I have tried. The sad truth is that time and experience and my current state of mind has jaded me to the point that when I attempt to conjure up true joy for someone else’s bliss, all I hear are platitudes and shallow well-wishes coming from my lips. My brain is so full of snark and sarcasm that when I see social media posts from people about the awesomeness of their loved one, or how things are going so well in their relationship, or how much they love their new job or body or couch, I avoid saying anything in response because I know all that vitriol will ooze out of my cerebellum and into my fingers as I’m typing.
I hate that this is true. I hate that I am taking more joy in the stories when someone is miserable than when someone is actually happy and achieving their goals and dreams. Because I have not always been like this.
I can accept the fact that I have major narcissistic tendencies. I’m fully aware of my weaknesses. I’m very good at self-flagellation for any and all times when I’ve said the wrong thing, didn’t say the right thing, did or didn’t do something that would ease someone else’s suffering. I’ve worked hard at being kind and compassionate, because that doesn’t always come easily to me.
But this inability to exalt others is tough. It eats away at me. And it increases those feelings of wrongness.
I have been trying to get to the heart of why I feel this way. A line from “Desiderata” gave me some insight:
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve compared myself to others, whether it’s in terms of possessions, physical appearance, wealth, relationship status, or education. The compare/contrast tactic is ultimately a weapon of self-destruction. I’m working on being aware of when I’m doing this, and refocusing my attention on finding my happy place: a place that isn’t contingent on what I look like or how much money I make; a place where I want the best of everything for those I love. But the path to my happy place isn’t always easy to find, and even when I do find the path and actually get there, sometimes I wake up and discover I’m back in the not-so-happy place.
So if you don’t see me clicking Like on your Facebook post, or sending you congratulations, it’s because I’m still working on getting – and staying – in my happy place. And once I get there, I promise to send you a postcard.