The Balance of Happiness

There is more than one reason why I don’t want to write about this.

Firstly, I have a very negative mind, I automatically focus on all things bleak and cynical, and they stick. They shroud my thoughts like a thick fog, and nothing short of a loud, obtrusive distraction is the only thing that allows me to escape it. Sometimes, in the instant my mind becomes aware of these sour streams of conciousness, I instinctively force my hand to slap my face to break free from myself. The ‘Balance of Happiness’ is something that has caused these thoughts to appear with stubborn persistence and I struggle to ignore the inevitable sadness that is mentioned within it and expressing it in words will hopefully relieve my thoughts of it.

Secondly, as well as being existentially paranoid, I am quite superstitious and have been brought up surrounded by the Christian faith. This has resulted in every other decision and choice that I make in  my daily life being calculated and analysed to its bare moral and ethical bones to avoid the uncompromising wrath of a higher power. The temptation of Fate or a bitter-sweet kiss from Karma is a prospect that has several times ensured that I bite my tongue in many situations in my life in case I was to regret it in the long run. To this end, I am also very self-blaming and take responsibility for many things that transpire that I feel I could have possibly done differently to create a different outcome. This may sound completely irrelevant to what I plan on talking about but, put simply I don’t want to write about bad things that haven’t happened to me yet just for them to happen the day after as I will instantly assign blame to myself.

Here goes I guess.

The ‘Balance of Happiness’ is something that I have recently thought about and in its core can be a extremely pessimistic and despondent topic of conversation as well as being a source of hope for many. It is basically the idea that in our lives, good things happen as well as bad things. Some are better than others, some are worse. In an instant, one’s life can go from ‘good’ to ‘great’, much like it can go from ‘bad’ to ‘abysmal’. There are several variations in which our lives can head, and often times it is random. However, there is one inevitability in life (as well as taxes) that I prefer not spell out.

I have been blessed throughout my childhood and teen years to have not experienced many major negative changing points in my life and I have most of my loved ones in my life. Both of my Grandfathers are gone – one I never even met and the other died when I was 11. At such an age, I simply didn’t know how to react to death. I remember the entire process leading up to his passing. It was cancer that stole him in the end; spreading vehemently throughout his body in a very short amount of time. I never visited him in hospital, my parents told me that I wouldn’t want to, that he looked like a different person, that he eventually lost most recognisable human features, that he was more a ghost or zombie. My wonderful, humorous, intelligent Granddad replaced by some spectre.

Learning of his death was a surreal experience; there were no tears except until the following evening. I remember just lying in bed when a sudden explosion of grief hit me. My mum (whose dad I was in the process of grieving) was expecting this, she had noticed my sincere lack of emotion towards the recent news during the day and must have prepared for an emotional flash flood at some point. That night she took me in her arms and embraced me whilst my tear ducts militantly demonstrated against the death of her father. Then she gave me some advice that has stuck with me ever since – “Never bottle up your emotions, they will catch up to you.” That night I slept soundly, every ounce of sadness was washed into my mum’s shoulders. That night was the first and last time I ‘mourned’ for my Granddad. There have been times where I have thought about him and the last memories I had with him, I’ve prayed for him on several occasions, just to see how he was doing; but apart from that I have been able to get on with my life quite happily.

Even though it didn’t really change my life in any conventional way, I class this as a main negative changing point in my life, and again I count this as a blessing. I care infinitely about my family and life without them would feel like something was missing. In fact, to be quite honest, I’m not sure how it would feel – I simply don’t have any sort of reference as to how I’d feel when it happens. I mean, I’ve played it out in my head more than I’d like to admit but I’m yet to experience it. I always hope that I will try make it into some life lesson, a gateway into making me a stronger person.

As I was saying, I feel blessed to be surrounded by such an extensive family whom I love very much. But it can only get so good in life. People would do anything to be reunited with loved ones and spend one last day with them, ask them how they are, tell them how much they mean to them. But what if there is something at play that creates certain situations to transpire in order to maintain a constant level of satisfaction and happiness in life?

I always think of my parents’ houses as an example of this being at play. So my mum and dad are separated, therefore resulting in them living in different homes, therefore resulting in Yours Truly having two homes. One house is lovely, there’s a room for all 6 six of us, all of them with televisions, there is underfloor heating in one of the bathrooms – just your generic dream home and I live in one! All we need is a white picket fence and we’re set for the rest of our days.

Yet I often struggled to find happiness and comfort in this house, I often felt unwelcome, in the way, and a burden to the rest of them. I would then go up to other house at some point during the week. This is the other side of the ‘dream home spectrum’, with peeling wallpaper, blood coloured carpets, and placed in more of an undesirable location. Yet upon arrival, I would feel relief, a physical weight being lifted from my shoulders, a weight that only stockpiled at the other house. I quickly began to understand that looks can indeed be deceiving. I’ve experienced my fair share of poverty in this house but also a never ending feeling of love, comfort and support. Yet, this hasn’t always been the case.

Within this home there is an ongoing battle with alcohol and witnessing this in someone so dear to me shattered my spirits and self-worth at times. Where would I go to find this morale again? Where could I go to feel comfortable? To distract myself from what would go on over there? The dream house. Here I was able to lounge on my double bed and watch TV on a 40 inch screen and try to avoid the overwhelming feeling of anger and sadness that often attached itself to me upon leaving the other house. I live two different lives, with two different parents and different ways of living in both of them and have learned to find a happy balance in how I live there. They both present me with rewards and challenges in equal measure but this is what has made me the person writing this now.

This scenario is applicable to other peoples’ lives and how we perceive them. It is said that the grass is always greener on the other side; meaning that everything isn’t always as it seems. A quick glance into a seemingly happy person’s life can introduce sombre events that you’d never think would’ve happened to them

Contrastingly, if you were to lose a loved one, what if something out there allows something in your life that causes the pain from their loss to be eased somewhat. Give them a fighting chance to continue being the person they were before and fix the emotional and physical damages that have been caused. Some may call this the human spirit; the invisible soldier that, in the worst of times rises above the test of nature. The levels of happiness may not be measurable and we may not notice these small arrivals into our lives, especially in times of crisis, but they may be there – something about silver linings and grey clouds.

This is where the extreme situations enter. As the third leading death in young adults aged 15-24, suicide is something that has to be seen from several angles to be truly understood. For many, the overwhelming feeling of desperation when met with unrelenting forces of nature can be too much; leading to only one solution.

Oscar Wilde once said ‘Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess. Yet in the instance of life itself and our emotional responses to a loss of such, the latter can often times be the fatal thing.

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