Joy Interrupted

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I couldn’t stop smiling at  work yesterday.  Conversation came easy and, for the first time in a long time, I had a LOT to say.  I had stories to tell.  I had people to hug.  I had jokes and laughter.  I was so euphoric I had to keep checking my water to make sure I hadn’t been drugged.  I felt drunk.  Not the bad drunk where you just know the hangover is going to be hell.  I felt tipsy, slightly buzzed as if I’d had a few fabulous glasses of wine on a full stomach.  Even bad jokes were hilarious.

I had energy.  I had non-caffeinated energy.  The kind of energy that infects other people and induces smiles they didn’t know they needed.  I blessed them with conversation they didn’t realize they wanted.  I probably got on folk’s nerves. Hell, I got on my own nerves.

As I walked to my car later, I thought, “What’s wrong with me? What’s going on?  What is this crazy feeling I’ve been dealing with all day?”

I kept shaking my head as if the crazy sensation in my brain would miraculously drain from my ears and return me back to normal.  I was truly puzzled.

As I started my car and began to back out of my parking space, I had an epiphany.

“Ohhhhhh,” I slowly said aloud.  “I’m happy!”

I started laughing.

I said it again, “I’m happy!”

My sister and I laughed as I relayed the story to her this morning and then she suddenly went silent.

“That’s so sad,” she finally said.

She was right.  It WAS sad.

I hadn’t been happy in so long…when that feeling settled in my brain…I thought something was wrong with me.

Let that sink in.

I thought that happy feeling was the beginning of an illness.

I’ve been in an extremely dark place over the past few months.  People who don’t truly know me as a person didn’t recognize my internal struggle.  They just thought, “Oh, she a little quieter than usual,” or they might ask, “Are you okay? You don’t seem like yourself.”

“I’m just tired,” I would respond.

They would accept that, not understanding what tired really meant to me.

I was exhausted. 

Mentally.

Physically.

Emotionally.

I was spread thinner than the last smidgen of grape jelly on the last piece of toast…the butt of the loaf.

I was spending so much time making sure I wasn’t disappointing the people who depended on me…I wasn’t recognizing the complete disservice I was doing to myself.

I was working two jobs. 

I was working a full-time job with 13-hour shifts.

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I was also working a part time job with full-time responsibilities.

I had one day off in between.

One.

One day to run my errands, schedule doctor appointments, socialize, clean, and anything else I was too tired to do on a work day.

It was a day off that wasn’t really a day off.

Eventually, I stopped socializing. I stopped cooking. I stopped cleaning. I stopped enjoying my life.

Depression settled in.

I was stressed out, overwhelmed and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Resentment took residence in my heart and made it a home.

I cried all the time.

When thoughts of harming myself began to randomly pop up in my mind I knew it was time to start protecting myself.

Stress kills.

I was always sick.  My blood pressure was too high. I wasn’t eating healthy.  I was experiencing migraines so severe they felt like having a stroke.

I was dying.

I’m being literal.

I was dying, and I needed to figure out what was killing me.  I needed to identify what was siphoning my joy and eliminate it from my life. 

I decided I needed to quit my second job.

Although I needed the money, I had to come to the realization that my second job was not worth the stress it brought to my life.

No amount of money is worth immersing yourself in endeavors that not only strip you of your joy, but it also strips you of your dreams.  You can’t follow your dreams if you feel shackled to responsibilities that aren’t contributing to your emotional bottom line.

You can’t be so loyal to a job that you forget to be loyal to yourself.  Jobs come and go.  You only get one life.

The moment I put my part-time job on notice, I felt as if a massive weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  Lifting that weight allowed joy and happiness to find itself back to me.

I deserve this happiness.

I deserve this joy.

I’m gonna keep it.