Pretending to be Furiously Happy

A few years ago I found myself sitting at the airport about to catch a flight that I didn’t really want to be on, going somewhere I didn’t really want to go, to undertake tasks that I’d rather have avoided.

My father had passed away only a few months before, and I was flying across the country to help my mother sort out his things, make some order in the house, and come to terms with his passing. My mother and I have a mostly cordial relationship as long as we stick to topics like the weather, add religion, politics, child raising to the mix and it becomes strained rather quickly.

My mother is still an active Christian Scientist, she has political opinions that I disagree with, and I’m raising her grandchildren. These topics are pretty much unavoidable.

I sat in the airport terminal dreading the flight, my mind filled with thoughts I’d rather leave unaddressed. I’m not totally sure how I ended up deciding to buy Jenny Lawson‘s book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I heard about Jenny Lawson aka “The Bloggess” from Wil Wheaton‘s twitter feed, and the #depressionlies hashtag. Eventually I got curious and went and read a few posts, which then turned into a few years worth of older posts.

My impulse purchase of her book before my four-hour flight was serendipitous. It helped me put things in perspective, it was funny, relatable (a little too relatable in places), and I laughed, cried and nodded along. It was exactly what I needed to read before heading home to face my mother.

Jenny’s new book has come out, Furiously Happy — I picked up a copy of Furiously Happy two or three days after it came out. While I found it enjoyable, I didn’t find it as relatable as Let’s Pretend this Never Happened. I don’t know why, I enjoyed it, but I found I far prefer Let’s Pretend. I digress. She recently shared the promotional video for it. I’m not sure if it is the stress, lack of decent sleep, smoke in the air from the fires, or a combination of all of those things, but the video brought me to tears. People shared why they are “broken” and why they are “furiously happy” and it is so relatable…

I struggle with the concept of “broken” although I relate all too well to several of the inscriptions on the placards. I was raised as God’s perfect child, with no room for error, or mistakes, certainly not broken. To open myself up like that, to be vulnerable, to be who I want to be, to allow myself to drop my defenses, to be alright with failure, I’m not totally sure where I’m going with this.

I don’t feel broken right now, I have in the past, I did after I had my first child. I felt like a failure during my first winter at Principia. I felt used after I split from my abusive boyfriend who apologized for ruining me. For a while I did feel ruined, then I felt angry, and then empowered, as well as confused.

Right now, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I have a several very successful projects going on, and while magical thinking says everything will all work out, I know it takes a lot of hard work for that to happen, and some things are simply out of my control. I’m not going to “let go and let God” — I don’t think God has anything to do with it. I will instead trust that events will continue to fold with serendipity and that the sun will continue to rise each morning (even if it is heavily obscured by fog, clouds and hopefully rain).

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6 thoughts on “Pretending to be Furiously Happy

  1. Jane says:

    As a recovering CSist, I have found that allowing myself to feel the full range of human emotions has made me kinder and more connected to others. The old CS fear that allowing myself to feel a range of feelings would cause me to get stuck in unhappiness never came true. I am ultimately far happier as a result of not squashing normal emotions. My natural set point is basically happy and grateful, which is great. I don’t need to worry about the occasional passing sadness or worry becoming a permanent state of being.

    • kat says:

      My natural set point is “mostly reasonable human being.” Things occasionally mess that up, lack of sleep and anxiety over things I have no control over being the big ones.

  2. Wendy Rigby says:

    We can probably be prepared for 65% of life and the rest is blind luck. I love this little piece you wrote. So self affirming and easy to relate to. Thanks.

  3. Hester says:

    The “happy no matter what” piece of recovering from CS is hard. I’m finding myself vacillating between beating up on myself for being a sad sack and thinking really, I should have paced myself better on the feeling other emotions! Going half a lifetime stuffing 67% (just a rough estimate) of normal human emotions leaves me with a backlog of sad and cranky.

    • kat says:

      Only 67%? This number feels low. I’d say closer to 87%, and then bottle up the rest until they explode and people wonder what’s wrong.

      I’ve got a current log of anxious and exhausted. They feed each other, and together they’ve wiped out my stash of chocolate.

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