Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What Happened to the Joy?

I re-read my last few posts, and they don't sound very joyful. That rocked me back a little bit, as I feel pretty darn happy, and I meant this blog to be a place for me to celebrate choosing joy, and maybe to post about times then I had to make that conscious decision.


If I post about having to consciously choose joy, that means I'm going to be posting about difficult times. And that means it may sound like my life is fraught with anguish and I'm struggling to try and find that silver lining.

While that is true some of the time, it's a very small percentage of the time. So please, if you are reading this (anyone out there?) bear in mind that you are only hearing about the tough stuff, not the other 95% of my life.

And as for yesterday's post, I found a silver lining! I was making a list of menus today (I feel so damn housewifey right now it makes me laugh!) to make sure and offer Fearless Husband a variety of meals, to make sure I had the pantry basics to make most of those meals, and to make sure I was offering a HEALTHY variety of meals.

I happened to see Ms. Misery online, and had a bright idea...I asked her what she served her husband. We chatted for almost an hour. She perked right up, sharing some great ideas, some dishes I'd never heard of and some I'd never considered. She even mailed me the recipes for several dishes. And we laughed about the fact that many of the recipes on my list would so NOT be on her list. So...she seemed to have some fun, she got some joy out of teaching me and sharing with me, she spent a full hour NOT complaining, and I got some good new recipes! Woo-hoo!

No, the woo-hoo isn't "good for me for making her happy", the woo-hoo is "hurray, we found some common ground and I found a way to enjoy her company without feeling guilty or trying to fix her!" So woo-damn-hoo! (And if you want the menus or recipes, just leave me a comment, and I'll be happy to share!)

I Can't Fix Other People...

..and I have to remember that. I get so frustrated sometimes though.

I've been asked to sort of be a big sister-type for a fellow Navy spouse. She's been married about the same amount of time that I've been married, she has two very little children and I am currently childless, and I'm older than she is. But I've got this whole "choosing joy" thing going on, so...the ombudsman asked me if I'd touch base with her. No, this isn't "hey, pretend to be her friend" or anything like that. The ombudsman just asked me to give her a call, reach know.

I know what it's like to feel alone and scared in a new place, and I do have plenty of nauseating cheer-bunny crap to share. So I called her, and we're now hooked up on IM, which is nice...either of us can message with questions or venting any time, without that whole phone-ring-waking-the-baby stuff.

Here's the problem. I've never met anyone so determined to be miserable in my whole life. She's choosing misery even more determinedly than I've ever been able to choose joy. And it's bringing me down.

She absolutely hates Japan, is convinced that no one wants to be her friend, just knows that everyone must be rolling their eyes the minute she walks away, is convinced that her hardworking husband is going to have an affair, etc. She hates the food here, hates the people, hates the babysitters, hates never having time away from her kids. If our husbands are at sea longer than anticipated, she's convinced the Navy is trying to screw us spouses. If our husbands come home earlier than anticipated, she's upset that she didn't have time to clean the house.

I've suggested that she get together with a couple of other mothers and do a rotating playgroup three days a week, so each woman gets two full days sans kids, and each woman has a houseful of kids only once a week, but she doesn't like other people's children. I've suggested we go out to eat off base, but she doesn't like Japanese food. I've invited her to the movie theatre, but she isn't into the movies that are showing.

I suggested a therapist, and possibly anti-depressant medication, but she's convinced a therapist won't help, and she doesn't want to try changing her current meds (like they are working?!?) She told me today that she's really concerned about her husband's health from all the hours he's working...then in the same breath told me how jealous she was of his last port visit, because she "feels like she's been sentenced to three years of jail." And she doesn't see any contradiction in that.

Maybe she's clinically depressed (which I suspect). Maybe she's one of those folks who isn't happy unless she has a list of things to complain about. Or maybe she's one of those people who simply can't be happy--everything was always better in the past (back in high school, with her last boyfriend, whatever.)

But this post isn't about's about my reaction to her. I have this desperate need to fix her. To help her find joy. I've tried and tried. And I can't. It's freaking me out.

I feel guilty that I can't help her, and I feel angry with her for not "letting" me help her. I want to fix her and make her happy!

I have to let go of all of that. She gets to choose how she feels, and I get to choose how I feel. I can only fix me.

I'm going to try and remain friends with her. Maybe some of my half-full will rub off on her...but if not, I have to be ok with that. And I will have to make a concentrated effort not to let her half-empty rub off on me. I might have to find the strength to say "Please don't talk to me about those things". And she might choose not to talk to me anymore as a result.

But all I can do is choose for myself. And stop trying to choose for anyone else.