Wednesday, January 21, 2009

House of cards


The most difficult thing about getting happy is breaking down the facade I've built to convince everyone, including myself, that I've got my shit together. It's almost like I've carefully crafted a support out of a house of cards and placed the weight of my life upon it. Unfortunately, as it goes higher and higher there is more danger of toppling over and with it everything fragile will come crashing down and shatter into a million pieces. I didn't have an emergency plan for this when I started building, but I know it's coming.

Just thinking of it is exhausting.

I've spent so much precious time on this house of cards that I'll never get back. With every I'm fine and every faked or forced smile I've added another Jack of spades or 8 of clubs to the top. I've gotten so good at it I barely need to think about where to place the next flimsy paper rectangle. I'm so high atop it the view from up here skews the reality of what's going on everywhere else. But every day brings another threat to my fragile structure; a strong wind, an errant charm bracelet. It's time to fortify or rebuild.

But which?

How do I tear away everything I've based my life on so far and start over, and if I do what do I build my solid foundation with?

How do I say, Sometimes I am fine and sometimes I am not. Today I am not. Tomorrow I may be but I'm just guessing?

I've got some pretty strong building blocks - a supportive husband, two happy, healthy kids, and friends I can call on when I need them (if I just let myself).

What do you base your happy on?

24 comments:

angi said...

I know this is not an answer ro your question, but it reminded me of myself in so many ways. I feel like I do not always have it all together, and when someone notices that I do (or so they think) and points it out...it puts that much more pressure on me. That stresses me out just thinking about it - UGH!

Ree said...

I base my happy on whether more things have made me smile today than have made me frown. Today is a good day - my 17 year old got accepted to his #2 choice of university - we're waiting to hear from #1. That simple thing made me smile more than the unknown leak in the basement.

SciFi Dad said...

I try to stay calm and remember the words of wisdom imparted to me by my mentor:

"It's always darkest before it goes completely black."

Shit. That isn't right.

"Sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is a train heading for you."

No... that isn't any better.

"Everyone has a purpose. It could be that yours is to serve as a warning to others."

OK. I'll just stop now. I think I'm making it worse.

Mary G said...

Three things.
Have I learned something today? (Read a book, tried a new recipe, listened to something wise on the radio, watched the birds outside my window interact -- *paid attention*(.
Have I done something to make my home or family or community or whatever a better place? (Anything from strangling weeds through donating my time to sell daffodils to writing to my daughter -- *include self improvement like sticking to your food plan*)
Have I given myself a break? (Have I done something that pleases me, or stopped myself from self criticism or given myself time in the library to browse.)

Used to be just two, but a very good therapist helped me add the third.

mothergoosemouse said...

Is it really a house of cards?

I ask because part of what I base my happy on is making the effort to remember the good stuff. It doesn't make the tough stuff go away, but it puts me in the right frame of mind to embrace the happy.

Maybe there's still tough stuff that needs to be dealt with - yours, mine, everyone else's - but it doesn't necessarily mean that the good stuff is hanging by a thread.

NotAMeanGirl said...

I have no clue what my happy is based on. I saw my Dr. today... I start on Lexapro tomorrow... I start therapy... soon. Hopefully then I'll know. I hope you find yours soon!

Ericka said...

you may find, upon inspection, that your house of cards is sturdier than you think.

mine alternates between "that which does not kill me is only postponing the inevitable" and "this would be hilarious if it were happening to someone else" - neither one of which is probably any help to you.

Amy Nathan said...

I base my happiness on the fact that I am alive watching my kids grow up.
It's very simple. I try not to focus on what isn't or won't be or can't be or what has been lost. Only what is and what can be.

Ashlie- Mommycosm said...

Wow, do I GET this.

The great thing is the foundation is strong. Once the card house collapses, you can't possibly rebuild the way it was. You are aware that it didn't work...and awareness won't allow you to go that route again.

I say, find a new building material and slowly lay each brick on top of that foundation, making sure it is stable before adding too many new ones. The material doesn't need to be aesthetically pleasing to the outside world, it just needs to provide a safe and stable shelter.

Good luck!

Avalon said...

Am I supposed to base my happy on something?

I have spent so many years just bulldozing my way to get through life, I don't even know if I have a foundation.

Kate said...

You're probably not as fragile as you think.

For me, happy is called living an artistic life and enjoy the days with my kids when they are young. It's really pretty simple. Although sometimes it gets pretty complicated. So getting the happy back means centering yourself.

C Sierra said...

Whenever I speak to my roommate from college (a few times a year), I start with, "How are you doing??" and her reply, "I'm on this side of the dirt, so I'm doing pretty good."

Chin up. Good days, not so good days...you just live them one day at a time because if life were blissful and perfect all the time that would be REALLY boring.

Emily said...

I agree with Avalon - I don't think your happy needs to be based on something (in fact I actually don't think it should be - thats putting a lot of pressure on your self and said something.)

I think the first thing to ask yourself is "Is having a house of cards bad?" You are definitely not the only one with a house of cards and I think, as soon as you acknowledge that you feel like you're teetering on the brink of extinction you'll realise almost everyone else feels the same way (and those that don't are in denial).

Its baby steps not big gigantic leaps. Tell one or two very close friends how you're feeling. You don't have to broadcast it to the world but take those tender steps away from the whole "Everything's fine, life is perfect mentality".

WHat you'll probably find is your friends feel the same way but they've been too worried about letting anyone else know. I mean who wants to share that they're feeling like they're about to fall apart with someone who has it all together?

Your house of cards is probably much stronger than you think. I once had a massive event knock my cards and I may have lost a room or two but I realised my foundation was strong enough to keep building on. Each time you are honest you reinforce the walls - and each time you gloss over the giant cracks with an "I'm fine" you undermine the foundation. Be strong and put your faith (however small or compromised) in yourself.

pisceshanna said...

Its hard to be witty, snide and confident when you really are just a flawed, mortal human being underneath eh? Pretending like you have it all under control comes from wanting to protect yourself and your loved ones. I predicted that I would be having a meltdown sometime last year, and the apprehension of that fact just made every day miserable. So go ahead, have the meltdown. Maybe it won't be as bad as you thought. Maybe it will be good for you. You deserve a moment of weakness. I know its scary because you don't want to be the raging lunatic mom, who is an emotional disaster, but its ok to be that person for a little while if it helps in the long run.

Maybe I'm just talking out of my ass. Hey, I'm a 26-year-old single mom, what do I know?

Rebecca said...

"How do I say, Sometimes I am fine and sometimes I am not. Today I am not. Tomorrow I may be but I'm just guessing?"

You say it just like that. Everyone knows that rarely when someone says they are fine that they actually mean it.


(I stumbled on your blog through random clicking off of other sites. Glad to read it, I hope you find everything you are looking for through this blog. Self reflection is the key to getting happy and healthy!)

Lucy said...

I keep on lurking on your blogs - my life seems to look a lot like yours - baby, preschooler, lots of snot and really everything that should make things OK but still.... I'm not okay. Before Christmas, my house of cards started to tumble and for the first time, I actually said - I am not OK. Actually, I sobbed it repeatedly over the course of 48 hours and my puzzled husband held my hand and stroked my hair. I don't think I've ever felt quite so untethered and scared. Strangely enough, it was kind of cathartic - I knew that I wasn't OK now but I kind of felt that I would be OK and for me right now, being okay is about all I can manage and from here I'll work on the happy.
Good luck.

Lisa said...

I've always thought of you as a cool, strong, confident chicky. (I still do.) Like others have said, I think you're stronger than you give yourself credit for.

I saw your Tweet about the husband. (I can so relate. Hubbby had something NASTY four days ago. He's finally starting to feel normal. Our house is a big cloud of Lysol right now. Here's hoping it IS food poisoning and that you and the girls don't get it.)

mo-wo said...

Believe it or not it really is:

That..
You are good enough
You are STRONG enough
And, DAMNIT, people like you.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I think that you are only living on a house of cards if you're living a life that you've convinced yourself is great but isn't. If you have a husband you love, happy daughters, good friends, an idea of the work you love, you already have a strong foundation to build upon.

But, I know what you mean about something not being right. I wonder if it is that I just don't laugh enough anymore. When I think of being young, that is what I think of---those days when I'd be bent over in a belly laugh over the silliest thing. I'd love more of that.

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