From 1994: “Choose to be Happy”

From my journal for October 30, 1994

Woke feeling very depressed.  Hard to get out of bed.  Told myself it was just chemicals in my body and I had to go on with my life.  Held it up “as prayer.”  Both activities helped lighten it a little but didn’t make it go away.

Holding up your pain as prayer is described as a thing you can do in Elizabeth Goudge.  I tried it, but it never works for me in the way she describes.

Reading yesterday an article by one of those people who says you can choose to be happy.  I don’t think that’s the choice, I think the choice is between truth and denial.  If people manufacture unhappiness for the purpose of manipulation, if they scare themselves with stories of the misery of the world (the author recommends avoiding news media because “only the bad stuff is news”) then perhaps they can choose to focus on something different.  But if your pain is because somebody dear to you has died, “choosing to be happy” seems inappropriate to say the least.  And if your pain is because some part of you has been foully murdered, and you’ve been told it didn’t happen, then you become stuck in the twin pains of grief and invalidation, and “choosing to be happy” is just a further invalidation.  What’s needed here is first the truth: yes, something was damaged here, and then space so that the process of mourning can happen.

I was thinking of how my father told me “You’re miserable because you want to be.”  Dammit — that makes me angry all over again.  I knew at the time that I didn’t want to be miserable, but the idea is so insidious, especially when the real reason for the misery is hidden in repression and denial.  The real reason for my misery as a teenager, or one of them at least, was because my father molested me when I was twelve and my sexuality shut down as a result.  I was dealing with anger and grief that couldn’t be expressed because I thought what had happened was no big deal.  Dammit dammit dammit.  Well, now I notice that the anger has to some extent dissolved the depression, there’s warmth where there was coldness.

I notice that anger has “to some extent” dissolved the depression, which suggests that my depression was caused by a lot of repressed anger. Thinking about it now, I wonder if I didn’t know deep inside that my parents were lying to me about who I was. Certainly that’s what mother did. And it both convinced me that I was her mis-representation, and made me angry.

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