Rachel Discovers Happiness

my life and road to happiness

Archive for the tag “sad”

Confession: I’m a Hopeless Romantic

Alright, brace yourself, I’m about to blow your mind with three facts about myself:

  1. I’m single
  2. I love Valentine’s Day
  3. Yes, I still love Valentine’s Day even if I don’t have a special someone of the opposite sex to spend it with (or same sex, depending on who you are, I don’t judge)

" So today I was in Hallmark buying my mom a Happy Birthday card when I noticed this old man stnding in front of the Valentines card section contemplating which one to get. I decide to go over and I ask him “Are you getting a Valentine’s Day for your wife?” in which he replies 'No my wife died 3 years ago from breast cancer but I still buy her roses and a card and bring them to her grave to prove to her that she was the only one that will ever have my heart' " (via Facebook)

Okay, that’s enough, lift your jaw off the floor. And if you are just going to respond to this post by saying that Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday that was developed by greeting card companies in order to increase revenue, I will say that I don’t care and if you really feel that way, you can stop reading now. That also goes for all of you who complain that Valentine’s Day causes more problems than it’s worth and that it forces an obligation for couples to go above and beyond when it comes to giving gifts and topping whatever it is that they did for the previous holiday – not to mention the couples who have been dating for only two weeks, or don’t have a title, or whatever. I’ll say it again, I don’t care.

The only argument that I will address is this: Why should there be a specified holiday for showing the one that you love that you do, in fact, care about them and want to be with them? Shouldn’t you do that every day?

The answer is: yes, you should do that every day, but that doesn’t mean that you always have the ability to do so. Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, etc. are great opportunities for people to set aside time, be with with sweetheart, and spend time just the two of them.

There doesn’t have to be all the added pressure that society has added to the day. I love seeing men (or women, whatever) walking down the street with roses (or their significant other’s favorite flower) in hand. I liked going to Papyrus yesterday on the search for a birthday card and seeing all the people standing in front of the card display, picking up and putting down cards in the search for the perfect words. I love getting texts from my family and friends saying “I love you” or, in the case of my father about 30 seconds ago, “Happy valentine’s day! Love daddy.” I don’t care what you say, I like the sentiment and I think it’s sweet.

When I was younger and had more money than I do now (I’ve had a job since I was 16 which means that I was saving a bunch of money what with not having to pay for rent, utilities, food and whatnot) I used to go all out for Valentine’s Day. I not only dressed up, but I also made Valentines for my friends (yup – made), baked cupcakes, and always did something special for the guy I was dating. When I was 17, my boyfriend at the time, Mike, and I decided that, instead of buying each other something, we would make each other a memory box and put things in it that reminded us of the other. I decoupaged a wooden box, filled it with candy and pictures of us, plus a few other things that I can’t remember right now. It doesn’t matter that we broke up a couple weeks later – I still look back on that fondly.

But now, get ready for another confession:

  • Although I love Valentine’s Day, this year has been a different story. It’s not that I’ve dreaded its arrival, I just completely forgot about the holiday all together… the dread set in after I realized that it was, in fact, going to occur this Tuesday, AKA today.

I don’t know why I have this feeling this year. I have tried boosting my own spirits by dressing nicer than normal today(substituting the stereotypical pinks and reds for a nice, pretty, girly lavender instead), smiling at people on the street, wishing people Happy Valentine’s Day, etc. but something has happened today that has never happened in Valentine’s Days past – my happiness and good spirits for the day have felt (gasp!) fake.

I know, it’s a shame. And it makes me sad. I don’t think it has to do with the fact that I’m single and don’t have someone to spend it with (well, besides my roommate and Jameson). I think it’s just more that I am not worried about that part of my life right now. There are other things in my life that I am happy about, and Valentine’s Day/romance in general seems kind of… I dunno… trivial right now?

That doesn’t mean that I don’t love a good romantic movie (hello, The Notebook is still one of the best movies ever), or want prince charming to sweet me off my feet, or whatever else goes along with being a romantic. I’m still happy for friends when they are in healthy relationships, still get excited when someone tells me they are engaged (for the most part), etc. But I have also become a lot more cynical when it comes to relationships*.

In any case, this doesn’t completely change the fact that I want to spend Valentine’s Day with a special man in my life. Unfortunately, I don’t have a special person in mind. Because of this, Christine and I will be spending this day of love with our special man friends: Jameson and Jose.

What will you be doing for Valentine’s Day? What are your thoughts on the holiday? (Despite earlier rants, I promise I won’t jump down your throat.)

*Note: What I mean by this is that I am a lot more judgmental and get more frustrated with people who don’t see others’ true colors, or only see what they want to see. I have also adopted a mentality of “if they refuse to listen to what others have to say and/or continue to put themselves in a situation where they know they will get hurt, I have no sympathy for them.” See: Bachelor Ben and Courtney (“My feelings for Courtney are strong and I don’t want to let external forces get in the way … It’s amazing to see how deeply the women felt about their dislike for Courtney, and it’s equally amazing not to see any of that coming through in her actions with me.” uhhh hello? She’s a manipulative bitch. I know the kind. She’s crazy. Don’t let her get to you. But I digress…) Or Best Friend and Jerk Boy she dated this past summer (a story which I will not get into.)

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Effects of Empathy

Empathy is a wonderful quality. It allows you to really connect with others. It allows you to feel their emotions, understand where they are coming from, and really take relationships to the next step.

Of the qualities I value in myself, empathy is at the top of the list. I think I’m a good friend. I listen to people and genuinely understand where they are coming from. I am able to comfort people because I can honestly say that I know how they feel.

On the other hand, empathy is an awful emotion. It allows you to feel other people’s emotions.

Although I value my ability to empathize with others, sometimes it makes my life really difficult. Especially with negative emotions. When somebody is happy, it makes me happy too, but only to a certain extent. When somebody is sad, however, I feel those emotions much more intensely. If somebody is crying or upset about something, it physically makes my heart tighten. I feel like my chest is closing in, and often times I am able to hold myself together just as long as it takes for me to get out of their proximity before I break down in tears myself.

Yup, that’s right, I feel other people’s emotions so extremely that their tears bring me to tears.

The reason I am writing about this right now is because today, a family friend of mine passed away. I got an email from my step mom earlier in the day telling me that his mother found his body this morning. Although I have heard his name, I didn’t know him personally. He went to church with my step mom and my step sisters and he graduated from high school with my older sister. My step mom has nothing but nice things to say about his family. When she told me about his passing, I instantly replied, telling her that she had a huge hug waiting for her when she got home.

When she walked in the door at 7:45, that’s exactly what she got. A huge hug. My step mom is a big hugger so I’m used to her comforting arms, but this was a different hug. This time, I was the one supporting her. It felt like she was holding on to me and didn’t want to let go. She had tears streaming down her face. She was sobbing. And through the sobs she gasped “his mom found him with the needle still in her arm.”

My stomach dropped. My heart constricted. I didn’t know what to say.

I gave her one more squeeze and when she went over to my dad, I went to my room and broke down. I sat on the floor up against my bed, with tears streaming down my face, and cried. I cried for the lost life of somebody so young, for his family and friends, and for my step mom who I rarely see that upset.

She doesn’t know I cried. Most people don’t. (And shhhh, don’t tell her. Although being empathetic is difficult at times, like I said, it’s one of my favorite qualities in myself.)

As I was sitting there with tears streaming down my face, although my mind never went off of the young man and his family, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I am that my family doesn’t struggle with things like hard drug addiction, drunk driving, or teen pregnancy (knock on wood… Pookie still has 8 months until she is officially out of the teen years).

Although we do have our struggles, we are pretty tight knit and support each other. We take care of each other, and make sure that we stay on the right track. This young man’s family did everything that mine would do in their situation, everything they could think of to try to help him through his addiction – rehab, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, praying, etc.

Through all of this, my mind has jumped from person to person who has passed away since my high school years. All of the young people I know who have died have been from one sort of substance abuse or another. I had a friend named Andy who died at 17 from drinking and driving. A boy a year or two older than me OD’d on oxycotton. A young man I graduated with was shot in a dispute over drugs. This makes me extremely sad.

What will it take for people to realize that doing those things doesn’t make you cool?  Calling your parents for a ride home won’t make them as mad at you as drinking, driving and killing somebody would. Shooting heroin won’t make people like you more – and if they do, you probably don’t really want to be hanging out with them in the first place. Selling drugs may be a good source of income, but it’s dangerous and you are contributing to issues in so many other people’s lives.

My step mom, kind of regretfully, told me that she kind of went off on her students today. She was crying and lectured them to never try drugs. Never get into those types things because they are dangerous. She told them that she didn’t want to go another funeral – that it was so painful to watch young people pass away when they had so much more life to live. That not only would they be hurting themselves when they tried things like drugs or drinking and driving, but they hurt their families and friends too. She was kind of sad that she lectured them like that – I think it is extremely important that she did. If even one kid chooses to say “no” because of that lecture, she has made a positive difference (as she does every day in the lives of her students).

Although empathy sometimes makes things difficult for me, I wouldn’t trade it for any other qualities (except, maybe, confidence…) My breakdown after that hug was painful, but it allowed me to look at my family and realized how blessed (or lucky, depending on your religious views) I am and how amazing my family and friends are.

My heart goes out to those who are affected by drugs and alcohol. What my step mom said to her students today is spot on – don’t even start with things like cocaine, heroin, etc. You aren’t just hurting yourself, you are hurting all those whose lives you have touched, and a bunch of people you didn’t even know you had an effect on.

As my step mom just said to me (literally, 3 seconds ago):

It really puts it into perspective that we get ourselves all worked up and nervous about things that really aren’t important.

Twas the Season

I am a firm believer that one of the best weeks of the year is the one between Christmas and New Year’s.

It is that week when there are no more presents to be purchased, no more stress about how Christmas day will go, no more worrying about whether or not someone will like your gifts. There is just family. Oh, and maybe one or two returns.

holiday decorated bird house in my mom's neighborhood

Yesterday morning, as I walked into the bagel store, I was struck by how much I love this week. I love that children are out of school and that parents take the time out of their day to sit and have a jelly smeared bagel and hot chocolate/coffee with their kids. I love that it is still cold enough to cuddle up on the couch and watch a movie. I love that it is still appropriate for said movie to be a holiday movie. I love that I’m still able to order Pete’s peppermint soy hot chocolates and not feel dumb. I love that the house still smells like pine needles. I love that there is no more pressure to ge a bunch of things done, but that my family is still home and I still get to spend time with them (minus Caitlin who just had to go back home. Whatever Caitlin.)

MJ and her daddy

Of course, this holiday season had its downs too. I was stressed about work. I couldn’t quite figure out what that perfect present would be for my step dad so I was disappointed with my gift to him. I wasn’t feeling well. I was exhausted. My mom and step dad had to put down our dog, Toby.

Toby, we will miss you

This holiday season I learned a lot about myself though. I guess it means you’re growing up when you realize that you are more interested in seeing other people’s reactions when they open your present to them, rather than unwrapping your own presents. I had four Christmases (having divorced parents is sometimes really exhausting), but it was wonderful to see (almost) all of my family. I really treasure our holiday traditions and was so happy when each of them came along (including eating minestrone soup with my mom’s family, eating Mexican food with my dad’s family, cuddling up with my family on the couch to watch It’s A Wonderful Life and watching my dad cry without failure, etc.)

Anyway, just in case you were wondering, here are a few more holiday photos from this season. Enjoy.

Merry Christmas Eve – family tradition: home made enchiladas
brown paper packages tied up with strings (how I wrapped my Christmas presents this year)
Doogie, my handsome nephew
Christmas dinner table
me and my older cousin
cousins 🙂
I love her hair like that
MJ and Grand-Piffy
Oh, Christmas Tree
MJ and Toby
Auntie Rachel and MJ – denim shirts, leggings, and over the knee socks
me and MJ in our matching outfits 🙂
MJ in her “ugly” dress (I thought it was cute… she didn’t)

Prey, MJ, Pookie, and Toby

me, MJ, and Toby

Wondering how four christmases works? I’ll tell you:

  1. Wake up at one parent’s house – this year it was my dad’s (luckily, Gramma and Grampa spent the night on Christmas Eve so we got to see them)
  2. Open presents, eat a delicious breakfast, then get on the road to go to the next Christmas
  3. Show up at Christmas #2 – mom’s house
  4. Drink delicious cappuccinos, rush through presents, head to the next Christmas
  5. Show up at Christmas #3 – aunt’s house
  6. Help make Christmas dinner, hang out with cousins, open presents, rush out to get to the next christmas
  7. Show up for Christmas #4 – mom’s house again, with step brothers and niece
  8. Open presents (letting your niece open all of hers before anybody else opens anything)
  9. Get worn out and head back to dad’s to sleep.

Whew. And that doesn’t include the  fifth Christmas that we normally have. The one where we go back to our dad’s house and say hi to our family who always comes over for Christmas dinner there. There just wasn’t enough time this year. I think it might have worn me out beyond return if I’d had any more “Christmas cheer.” It was pretty exhausting, but I’m so glad that I saw the family that I did. Maybe next year I will have Christmas over two days instead of wearing myself out all in one day. We shall see.

I hope your holiday season, no matter what holiday you celebrate, was full of love, family, and compassion.

What are our favorite holiday traditions?

Look, Daddy. Teacher says, every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings – Zuzu, It’s a Wonderful Life

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