I watch people around me savour the good things that happen in their life. I see them celebrate successes and achievements. People relish the positive things happening around them and I am envious. Logically, I know that I should feel excited or happy about certain events however, those thoughts do not translate into feeling.
Recently, I got a new job and it was a job I really wanted. It was a job that I knew would make my life easier and was a great next career move. People close to me were all very happy for me and that was nice. But, I didn’t feel it. I kept waiting for the happiness to hit and it never did. My therapist said the emotion might be delayed due to anxiety of a new job yet it never came.
Throughout my life, happiness has always been followed by devastation. I’ve never been able to hold onto positive emotions. With the nature of BPD, my feelings are always pretty erratic. Over time I have got into a pattern of subconsciously not allowing myself to feel the good things because the expectation is that it won’t last anyway. I know there’s the old cliche that it’s better to feel some brief good emotions rather than none at all. It just doesn’t work like that for me. Part of me seems to feel like happiness is not worth it if it’s just going to be ripped away at a moment’s notice, followed by pain.
It’s difficult for those who do not experience it to understand – how can someone possibly be scared of feeling happy? Well happiness is so fleeting for some people, it is always followed by misery so it can be a scary place to be emotionally. Do I focus on the bad things and fail to remember the times when happiness has lasted? Maybe I do because it fits into my core beliefs about life that I have developed throughout my own experiences of life. The fear is automatic and the only reason I have even recognised it exists is thanks to my wonderful therapist.
I’m still unsure of where the fear comes from. Maybe something happy as a child was followed by deep sadness and that link has stuck with me. I don’t know. But I do know that it is something that can change. I know that I can alter my perception of happiness and its link to bad things. It will take a lot of work and challenging much of my thinking but the hard work will be worth it. To be able to allow myself happy emotions will be a turning point in my management of BPD. The black and white thinking of things either being bad or soon to be bad isn’t something I want to get in the way of my enjoyment of life.
So here’s to hoping that next time something good happens in my life, I can savour the happiness and let myself enjoy it.
You can read more about fearing happiness here.