I was thinking about that on Valentine's Day. It's one of those uncomfortable memories that creep up on you when you're feeling cringe-worthy, like your present day stuff isn't enough on its own and must needs be augmented by past feelings of discomfort.
Bearing in mind that Total Stranger had only whatever existed on my Tumblr to judge me on, combined with her own views, I can't say that the comment caused offense. But it's stuck with me because there's a part of me that believed what she said and hated me for not... for not doing something about it.
Here's what I think.
Ultimately, in some respects we have to claim ownership of our happiness and unhappiness both. We have the capacity to attempt positivity in the face of negative events. We similarly can find a place of negativity where maybe another person would err on the side of being positive. In that sense, there's some sort of 'control' over our emotional reactions, in that there's multiple possible perceptions to any one instance. I don't think you can really force yourself to feel any one thing; it is possible to try to paw through a myriad of emotional responses and try to nudge the more positive ones to the surface. That's okay.
But if no person is an island unto themselves, they're not responsible for -- or even capable of -- being 'in charge of' how they feel about any given thing. Happiness and every other freaking emotion known to man is not wholly internal. Humans are at least somewhat social in nature, though there's a fairly broad spectrum of how much this matters to a person. If you live with people, work with people, acquire goods and services from people...? There exists the very real possibility that they have an influence on your reality, even in altering your perception.
Right now, I'm not especially happy. Within me I've got a wicked concoction brewing: equal parts of 'being pleased on behalf of others' mixes with 'jealous feelings regarding the happiness of people I know.' Add a dash of 'self-aware self-pity' -- actually, you'd best sprinkle a bit more of that in -- and some 'semi-detached reflection.' It simmers until soppy and listless, at which point a healthy spoonful of 'shake yourself out of this already' is vigorously stirred in. Let the contents cool and serve with a garnish of 'chagrin' and a heaping side order of 'things'll get better because they have to.'
I'm not happy. I'm not ugly crying into my pillow or sobbing tremulously at unexpected moments during the day... but just the same I'm more than a little sad. But I'm not capable of following Total Stranger's order to "take control and make things better." There's not a whole lot I can do to make this better. I can, and do, accept the fact that I'm simultaneously jealous of and happy for the people in my life who aren't alone -- significant other, tight-knit family, children -- and the people in my life who are alone and are fine with it. Even happy about it, whether it's their choice or not.
I want, one day, to have a partner. Valentine's Day, to paraphrase something said by a friend, is a day when you're more aware than ever that you're single. While I wouldn't mind the grand gestures of romance and affection that the day is a gateway to, I'm more concerned with not feeling lonely. I'm very lonely, on my own a fair bit, with good friends that in no way live close by. I love these friends dearly but I rather want a companion now and again. Whilst I know there are possibly things I could do to remedy the negative feelings I'm experiencing, I'm also more than a little helpless in this particular area. Chronic illness plays its part as well. It's not so much that I don't get out much as it is sometimes that I can't get out.
These things add up to make me generally unhappy. There's stuff in my life that I am happy about. This isn't a black or white issue, isn't even a sliding scale; I'm capable of being all over the map all at once. But right now I'm feeling the unhappy bits more acutely and that's pushing positivity to the back burner. I'm doing what I usually do: attempting to make the best of things, saying practical phrases, attempting stoicism once I've admitted weakness, simply dealing with the situations I find myself in. I excel at dealing with so many things.
What I'm not so great at is asking for help. I falter at knowing when it's okay to ask and when I should help myself instead. I fail miserably at being direct and specific when I do tentatively reach out. I expect I'm sometimes difficult to be friends with because none of you are mind readers and I'm rarely clear with how you can assist me. This is because I don't know myself. I'm writing this now as a way to tell you that, though I don't know how to talk about it, I think I need people out there to read this and maybe you can come up with something to make me feel less alone, something to help me smile so much that the scales tip in favor of the positive aspects of my life so I can't dwell on the mounting negatives.
This might be the closest I can get to trying to make things better.
Posted via Journaler.