In my opinion, happiness, like love, is a fickle thing; it comes and goes and it’s forms are near indiscernable. Consider that everyone defines happiness and love differently. From what makes a person happy to how they know they are experiencing love, all these details are boundless and innumerable. With each passing recount of stories you’ve heard or could tell, it’s easy to see how elusive both might be if one should go in search of them and especially so if the goal to hold onto them. Whimsical emotions, both, yet we still try to catch them in our hands and hold onto them in our hearts. A point of comparable observation is that it’s impossible to forever hold water in our hands and should we try, with every movement, the sinking realization sets in that the water is slipping through our fingers. So how does one find and hold happiness then? Is it impossible and so therefore should not be on the list of pursuits or are there tricks to finding what can seem so elusive?

Anyone who knows me well knows that I disdain platitudes, that I find them empty or think they lack descriptors on both, the tools themselves and the necessary use-cases to fulfill their prophecies. There’s an old platitude that teaches “you have to love yourself before you can love someone else”. I always especially hated this one because of how much I wanted love and how every time I considered it, I thought about how just plain godsdamn amazing I was and how nothing could compare to me and yet, I was still alone. My experiences alone were enough to set me apart from literally all of my peers, yet I was also accomplished, wealthy and brilliant on levels simply unmatched. With each passing reflection on my own greatness, pride swelled. From my perspective, I thought of myself more highly than could possibly be enumerated. Mortified at the thought of this platitude being useful to me and so disgusted with it I thought I might vomit, I looked for opportunities to run it down, threw it around like a busted ragdoll I hated and regularly ran people down who pulled it out from under their hat. To me, this proverb seemed the most unclever bit of wit I’d heard in my life. I hear you saying it; that I’m an arrogant narcissistic asshole. You might be right and I don’t have to explain this but I’ll say that I’ve had to fight hard for the shreds of dignity that I have, as a heterosexual (predominantly) transsexual. Ironic how something so insignificant could wreck a person’s life so thoroughly. Words cannot express how much destruction was incurred to my person and psyche while standing up under the weight of it. In the end, I determined to rise above my own circumstances and truly and completely love myself, despite all contrary treatment.

I have been broken many times in search of happiness. I could tell you one such a time. I’d lost my spouse, my home, my job, was incarcerated at gunpoint, lost access to my healthcare and transition only to take two new jobs and homes to eventually lose them both as well, along with all the benefits and the progress toward surgery that I restarted twice over, now three times. Between the last two jobs, I gained the favor of thousands of admirers, became unsuspectingly deeply infatuated and even fell in love. Eventually, as has always been the case, I lost my love and it slipped out of my grasp forever. I was devastated again and again by loss, sinking in an ocean and being dashed to pieces when tumultuous waves smashed against me, unremorseful and unwittingly. It was shocking to me how anyone could walk away from someone as amazing as myself and the more that countless people did, the more resolved I became of my amazing powers and the more I set my feet against others. Pride swelled and hatred burned. Fitful rages became a regular occurrence, one part of me died and something new came to life. After my roommate left for good, I screamed and wailed and cried, as loudly and as deeply as possible, for 3 long months. I became so sick at one point with my ‘circumstantial depression’ that I lost my vision and thought I was going to die. I was alone and devastated. I wanted to reach out but could not think of anyone I wanted to see me this way. My mother came out, sat with me as I screamed out in pain and held me. I am forever grateful to her for this and also for the one phrase she echoed into my ears that I’ll never let go of. It’s ok to cry for a while and you should do it but don’t forget that the goal is to pick yourself back up. My mother pleaded with me, not to give up and die. My loving mother, who always loved me, despite myself or circumstance, I will always hold a very special place in my heart for her. Many more months passed but I eventually arose from the ashes of my anger like a phoenix.

A best friend of mine whom I’m eternally grateful to, lived out in the middle of nowhere and she reached out to me in my tine of need. I knew nobody would be able to find me there and that it would be quiet so, I went to stay with her for several months. I started to build many unscalable walls around myself, I turned my attention deep within myself and listened to my heart. I could hear a pin drop out there in the desert and I had all the time in the world to just sit there introspecting and thinking deeply. I isolated, embraced catharsis and turned ever-inward. Deep seeded pains were anthropomorphized and turned into the mixture components for the darkest of imaginable things and I no longer cared to hold back now that I was safely away from people passing judgement against or questioning me. The biggest problems I had where thrown into the backseat of my mind and I began to deal with them subconsciously so that I could focus on lesser issues quickly and myself. After quite a lot of time passed, I decided to forgo my wits about this proverbial loving myself bit I’d heard and wonder inside it to uncover whatever might be hidden from me there. This too got put in the deeper recesses of my mind and I again focused on myself. I took myself out on dates, spoiled myself with the most delicious foods and the best of times, turned further and further inward, forgot about the world around me and showered affection on myself. Darkness became my clothing. No expense was spared to ensure that people didn’t come near me, as I shrouded myself in an ever-growing blackness. My dark heart resonated all around me when I would go out whether I liked it or not but this too, I embraced and loved. I sometimes made faces at people or became fitful when they would pass and otherwise became really good at keeping them at a distance. When I was alone, I toyed inside my mind and entertained the fullest depths of my own sinking swim. It was out there, when I was most alone, that realizations appeared on the horizon of my mind and I was surprised to discover new things about myself.  I discovered deep-seeded issues within myself that had been enforced during my childhood. I finally could say I truly loved myself; I became protective of myself and loving towards myself in ways I never had done before. To this day, still out here in the desert, I wrap my arms around and hold myself through the toughest nights. It’s become a practice of mine to say, “Jadii, I love you, deeply”. More and more I shower myself with affection and I’m finding that the more time that passes I keep doing this, the less I have a need for others. I still dream but those dreams are either in the back seat or they are dying altogether.

It’s already easy to see a few tools in my toolbox of happiness; I’ll point at them directly for you. * Take time to heal from past pain, allowing yourself to sink but not allowing yourself to die. * Have one and possibly two trustworthy and non-invasive people in your life that can be relied upon. * Find alone time with yourself, where you can really think, introspect and get to know yourself better than ever before. * Deal with issues head on but also subconsciously when their weight is great * Truly and deeply exercise love for yourself by doing things that you would want others to do for you or by doing things for yourself that you know a loving person does for someone they deeply care about. It was here, when looking back, that the proverb meant something, that it could be understood more fully and that I had real grasp of something special. I want tangible things to rely upon in my life or else I move on. Contentment is something we have control of much greater than love because it’s something we contrive inwardly and so therefore, it becomes the goal, replacing happiness.

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