a morbid aversion to cheerfulness.
In other words, a fear of happiness.
I never knew such a thing existed. All my life, I’d say it out loud and think I was a fool. That I was the odd one out in this vast world, complaining about something ridiculous. I’d see people with smiles from ear to ear, laughing so hard they would choke. I’d see people with tears of joy streaming down their cheeks. Then I’d enter my room, lower the shutters, sit in the dark with my back to the door, and just close my eyes, contemplating. Why would I only choke on sadness, but not on laughter? Why would I only have tears of despair streaming down my cheeks, but not of joy? Why could I not embrace something that people took for granted?
I now realise that it’s not the prospect of happiness that I fear, or happiness itself.
Rather, part of me believes that whenever I’m happy, something bad will always happen. Much like being punished. I begin to question why I’m happy, and whether my feelings are valid or I’m just simply in a hysterical state. I question whether I’m truly worthy of this happiness, and if I deserve it. When my efforts to understand my own emotions turn out to be futile, I wait for my impending doom. And it usually happens. Always. It’s become ingrained in my mind to prepare for the worst.
For many of us, it all comes down to the lack of self-love. We feel as though we’re a burden to anyone and everyone. We feel as though we are inferior. We feel as though we can never please others. And because we constantly berate ourselves, we conclude that we are undeserving of happiness. Often we forget that happiness doesn’t have a price, and that it doesn’t need to be justified. We forget that sadness isn’t eternal and we have the permission to feel happy too. But somehow, we have convinced ourselves of the opposite. Hence, whenever the slightest of smiles spread across our face, we demand to know the answers to when, how and why we feel this way, and before we know it, that fleeting moment has already passed, never to return.
We become so bogged down in a negative headspace that it is beyond our capabilities to truly feel pure happiness.
We tell ourselves that we can never experience true happiness if our mind is filled with dark thoughts. We tell ourselves to solve all our problems before stepping out and laughing the nights away. We tell ourselves that we must exert positive energy to those around us. And when we can’t, we dread returning back to that twisted state of mind. Soon, it becomes an endless cycle of euphoria and sadness, over and over again. It’s exhausting, upsetting, and painful.
But things don’t always have to be this way.
Just like a tide lapping at the water’s edge, happiness comes and goes. So does sadness. We need to start believing that this happiness is a gift, and that we should treasure it wholeheartedly without worrying about the consequences. We need to understand that moments of happiness won’t last forever, and therefore moments of sadness won’t too. Just as we are so caught up on the thought of deserving sadness, we need to tell ourselves that there needs to be room for happiness too. We need to trust ourselves that whatever we’re feeling is genuine, and cherish every single second of it.
I know how hard it is to rid your mind of thoughts you have basically grown up with your entire life. But just as happiness passes, so too will your sadness. And so too will these thoughts.
Artwork by 애뽈 (Grafolio)