It's not for the faint of heart.

Welcome to my slightly silly, often odd, and mostly messy life.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Am I responsible for YOUR happiness?

I don't mean you, as in the reader... It's more a general question I struggle with now and again. Am I responsible for my children's happiness? BLT? My parents? Friends? Do I do what makes me happy even if other people don't enjoy/appreciate/participate/accept my choices?

I stayed married to my X for at least five years when I was REALLY, dreadfully unhappy. I stayed because I wasn't sure if my personal happiness was more important than that of my kids and my X. My children had a very comfortable life, we lived in an affluent neighborhood. I was home with them all day, and financially we were very well off. The X was also perfectly satisfied...why wouldn't he be? He traveled all over the country for work and I stayed home taking care of the kids, the house, the pets, the cars, the bills, the yard, all our personal responsibilities like shopping for holiday gifts and visiting ill family members. As far as he was concerned all he had to do was bring home a paycheck and his marital and parental duties were performed.

But I guess that's neither here nor there. At this point it's already a done deal - the ink is dry on the divorce papers. He lost his mind and is now, and forever more, a felon. The kids and I have started a new life, a happy life. We no longer have the financial stability we once did. They no longer have their father in their lives - but I'm involved with a man I love, and we're all making this new, better life for ourselves one day at a time.

So... how much more am I responsible for? I worry about how much I have asked BLT to give up. Having him here makes me ridiculously happy. I'm madly and truly in love with him...but is it fair to expect him to build this life with me while the rest of his family and friends are several states away? Is it even my responsibility to worry about that - or do I say, "well, you're a big boy. You know what you want and you'll make the choice that's right for you." While that makes sense, I love him, and I all I really want is for him to be happy.

And how about the kids? I still have guilt about how things played out during the divorce. While I did not love the X, I never had any intention of hurting him. I certainly never wanted him to go nuts and end up in prison. My kids are now without their father.... and as shitty of a father as he was, he was still the only father they've ever known.

My parents... what is my responsibility to them and to their happiness? I work with them on a daily basis and I feel an extreme amount of responsibility towards the business and towards them. I need to do my best, I need to help grow our business so that one day in the not too distant future they can retire. They are not in great health, and while they are fairly young - they've spent 16 years sacrificing and putting every penny back into the business. What if I fail? What if my best isn't enough?

There are things I want for myself, and those things make me feel guilty on occasion. I am having a hard time reconciling what makes me happy and whether or not I have a right to go after the things I want, even if it's opposite of what my loved ones need/want. How do you balance that?

Maybe it's maternal guilt. Maybe it's personal responsibility. Maybe that's what love is really about, giving up what you really want for the sake of your loved ones. It's all so complicated, and yet so simple at the same time.

Why aren't there any clear cut answers in life?


  1. I wish I knew the answer. I wouldn't say we are responsible for someone elses happiness but we are responsible for our actions and need to be aware of how those actions impact others. I saw a quote recently that was along the lines of this: everyone will hurt you. It is up to us to choose who is worth suffering for. I know I've mangled it but I'd take it a step forward and go on to say that we are part of the "everyone" that has the potential to hurt someone else and so we need to realize that. No you won't please everyone but I suppose it is important to find the most healthful balance. Be true to yourself but not trample on the relationships with those you love.

    Ugh. Need coffee. Lol. I think you have to remind yourself that the X is not with your kids because of his actions.

  2. They are responsible for their own happiness and the choices they make that affect them. Or the choices they make about whether or not something does affect them.

    You know you are responsible for your happiness. Period.

    But do the things that make you happy out of love for yourself.... not out of spite towards someone else. When you do this, you will naturally be more loving towards everyone else. Not because you HAVE to, but because it makes YOU feel good.

    Never feel guilty for loving you!

  3. I think T summed it up very nicely.

    In the rooms of Al Anon, there is one story I hear all too often. The story is told by a divorcee who stayed in a marriage "for the kids", in hopes of offering stability, keeping the family together until the kids were through school. Years down the road, this person explains to their adult children why they stayed married and the kids invariably ask "Why did you stay if you were so miserable?" Many times the kids admit that they were miserable & scared too.

    Kids are resilient. They bounce, like Tiggers.

  4. I was gonna say it's maternal guilt and then you did!

    I also like what T said. However I'm one of those people who has a very generous spirit; I'm happy when I can make others happy but it's an easy way to lose yourself and get taken advantage of. Just make sure YOU are making you happy TOO!