Right now, right at this very instant, life feels joyous and pretty much perfect. One child has just returned from a walk to shop with G. He has picked a flower for me. The other is listening to nursery stories and playing with some action figures in the sunlight that streams through the sitting room window. My niece is curled up on the couch with a content dog. We had a “night out” last night for a good friend’s 40th birthday party. We walked there and home again. My IBS and health anxiety were playing up a little last night, but both have cleared with the morning, and despite the fact that I woke with a raging cold, with attendant headache and sore throat, lemsip and sudafed appear to be doing their job, and I’m feeling okay.
Why? Why happy now? There are damp clothes in the washing machine, a chaotic riot of dishevelled clothes and dog toys on our bed, an undressed child, the usual clutter everywhere – and a cold and a headache and a cancelled run, and a whole lot of other negative things I could dig up to focus on, if I were so inclined. But I’m not. I just feel good and happy and grateful and content.
I guess it doesn’t matter why. Shouldn’t I just sit back and be grateful? I suppose I want to understand though – what’s different, when everything else is the same? Because, some days things are bordering on perfect – or at least, certainly going to plan – and yet I’ll be blue and sad and filled with no motivation.
Maybe it’s just brain chemicals. Doesn’t that seem like the most likely thing? But I don’t like that answer so much, because it feels a little like I’m abdicating responsibility for my own mood, and I believe that – while the external factors are complicated, bordering on fractal levels of complexity – I do have a personal role to play in how I’m feeling each day. Sure, I can be dragged into a depressive mood, but there are choices that I can make around my actions that can either compound or make tolerable that depressive state.
I don’t say this as a type of “victim blaming” for those who are unable to do anything to defend themselves against the slings and arrows of outrageous mood swings. In fact, I often feel unable to do much more than ride it out when the swamp creature of depression has me in its grip. But if I can find even a small spiky tool on my side to help pry myself free during future captures (and I know they will come), then I feel a responsibility to myself to discover it.
Maybe even the hope that I do have some kind of control, even in the depths of the worst mood, maybe that belief is something that keeps me afloat. Whether it’s true or not.
It does me good to believe it.
So, why so happy this morning?
The big and truthful answer is “I don’t know”. But there are some things that I can point to, that I feel glowing inside with a kind of warm contentment.
I didn’t drink last night. And it wasn’t difficult. Isn’t that funny – I’m more content about the fact that I didn’t have to work at something, rather than feeling proud of overcoming something difficult. I suppose I feel pleased that my decisions and beliefs appear to be aligning with the life I’d hoped to have when I first began. If I was spending my evenings and goings out “white knuckling” it, it would feel a bit intolerable, and I’d feel sure that my experiment in sobriety was destined for failure – at the hands of some future bad mood. Now, after the two parties over successive weekend, I’m feeling pretty secure that: this is what I want; this is healthy; this feels right.
I drew this morning. It’s the 31-Day drawing challenge that a friend runs every Summer. I always attempt to participate, usually falling off towards the end of the month, and it always brings me a lot of joy. It feels like I’m breaking through some of the blockage that I was feeling around drawing and painting. I think I was self-sabotaging a bit my insisting that I would only draw things on certain projects I’d begun. I’m still not satisfied not to be making headway with those, but I’m feeling a sudden trust that if I just get back into the drawing habit, I’ll somehow find the space and motivation for working on those projects too.
There’s never enough time in the day for everything I want to do, it seems. And on the days when there’s spare time, I don’t always have the energy to utilise it. But today. Today I’m feeling like I’m swimming in the right direction, and like the current is on my side.