on-going mostly unedited stream of thoughts

happiness is a difficult thing to bear

I am an unhappy person in general. But once in a while, an acute sense of awareness strikes me and I experience the totality of that particular moment – I catch a glimpse of how incredibly difficult it is to have everything in confluence in order for me to have that moment.

Last night was such a moment. I was in bed holding my partner close to me, and I was recollecting everything we had to go through and become in order to be here together. I knew I was experiencing a rare fleeting case of happiness, but in the very next moment I was overcome by a profound wave of sadness. I started to wonder how much time I have left with her, how much we would change as individuals, what are the events we may have to endure as we age, would we really have it in us to stay together no matter what happens, would we both live long enough to spend the rest of our lives together?

When I was younger I lived with very little fear because I felt like I had nothing to live for, therefore I had nothing to lose. Now I am beginning to realise that for me, happiness is a difficult thing to bear. It is precisely because it has always been scarce in my life, so now if I ever experience it I am just waiting to lose it.

It makes me unable to be present in my life. I am always anxious, always worrying, always waiting, always having that dread deep in my gut. It makes me wonder if I am unhappier when things seem to be going well, because it makes me scared.

I am again reminded of this quote:

Winnicott says somewhere that health is much more difficult to deal with than disease. And he’s right, I think, in the sense that everybody is dealing with how much of their own aliveness they can bear and how much they need to anesthetize themselves.

Source: Interview with Adam Phillips: The Art of Nonfiction No. 7 by Adam Phillips | link

It is common in psychotherapy case studies to read of people who would rather self-sabotage themselves unconsciously in order to avoid responsibility, freedom or the opportunity for happiness. It is just easier to stay in the status quo even if it is terrible, dealing with the things we are already used to dealing. I used to find it difficult to believe people or myself would do that to ourselves because I was so unaware of my own unconscious behaviour, but I guess now I can sort of see why.

All my life I’ve been working to increase my capacity to endure the difficulties I will encounter in life, but I am reminded again it takes work to endure positive emotions too.

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