“Happiness is not determined by what’s happening around you, but rather what’s happening inside you.”
Growing up I always thought about my “white picket fence” life. I believed I would be happy if I were able to find a career I loved, marry the man of my dreams, and have 2.5 children. I believed all this to be true and then I had my accident, and my whole world and thoughts about happiness changed with one clink of my bike tire. My life from that day forward would never be the same and it has taken fifteen plus years to realize what happiness really means.
Once chronic pain became intolerable nothing in the world would make me happy. On the outside it appeared that I was a very lucky girl. I survived brain surgery, I had an amazing dad who helped me financially with college, I had friends, and I was going after my dream to be a teacher. I hate admitting this but none of this made me happy. My surroundings were wonderful and my scars had healed and yet inside I was slowly falling apart. I no longer looked forward to vacations, holidays, or birthdays. I no longer looked forward to a day on the beach and swimming in the ocean. I dreaded family visits that I had once looked forward to. I dreaded every aspect of my life. I think I dreaded the good much more than I ever dreaded the bad. It did not matter what was happening around me because my whole existence was based around chronic pain. All I could feel and think about was pain. I know many of my readers are feeling like this right now and I hate that for you.
My dreams did not go as planned as life rarely does. Just like most of what we worry about does not happen, many of our plans turn out a completely different way. Never in a million years did I think I would be living with chronic pain without medication or treatment. I never believed I would have a degree in social work. I never thought my favorite two activities would be running and meditating. I sure as hell did not believe I would marry a man from PA and end up buying my late La La’s (grandmothers) home. Chronic pain changed the course of my life forever but now I realize that it did not really matter which path I took. I’m happy now. I am a living, breathing wife and mother living with chronic pain naturally and I am happy.
I had a few difficult nights with chronic pain recently. It was during those hours that I remembered how downright awful chronic pain can be. I can deal with random times where the only thing I can think about is pain and just end up crying. However, I cannot believe that is how I lived every moment of my life for ten years. I could have won the lottery back that and had millions but none of that money would have mattered if pain was affecting me the way it used to. I do not believe anything would have made me happy during those dark years of my journey with chronic pain. Now that I know and can manage pain well, it takes very little to make me happy.
I do believe happiness is an inside job. So many of us base happiness on money and success but some of the saddest people I know are richer than I will ever be. Some of the happiest people I have met were people who had spent a majority of their life living on the streets. Happiness is relative but you have to be happy with yourself in order to be happy with anything surrounding you, that I know to be true.