Happiness is a choice. I know you’ve heard this a million times, but there is a reason for that! It’s true. And I’m not talking about those moments when something awful has just happened. I’m talking about after those moments, when you have had time to process – happiness is a choice.
I have always had a body that I call “my circus.” I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease (a hyperthyroid disorder that – although serious – sounds scarier than it actually is) when I was 19 years old and Vitiligo (read more here) right around the same time. Both are autoimmune disorders, which means that my body likes to party hard on my healthy bits even when they aren’t causing any trouble. My life has been like this for the last 21 years – with doctors not always knowing what was wrong with me and finding themselves just as perplexed as I was. I have had some doctors tell me that I was more complex than their knowledge base (which I appreciated! I don’t need to be wasting their time or mine) and others tell me that it was all psychosomatic. I know I’m not alone in hearing these things, so if you’ve been there, I can absolutely relate. You get to a point where ANY proper diagnosis or explanation is a good thing. I don’t care as much about the new condition of my body, as long as we can figure out what’s happening. It’s much easier to deal with something and work through it when you know what that “something” is.
When I was around 25, everything came to a head. My body kind of freaked out and several new issues began at the same time (although we didn’t know that yet). Just after being hospitalized (and having no new information discovered), I was told that one possible “solution” to all of this new physical amazingness would be pregnancy. “Do you want to have kids?” my doctor asked. I remember saying, “I absolutely do, but I’m not there yet.” I was dating a great guy (my now husband), but we weren’t ready for children. My doctor then told me that if I did want to try to get pregnant, I’d want to consider doing that earlier than later. Okay, message received. It didn’t scare me, but it did become a priority.
Long story short, my husband and I got married in an amazingly fun ceremony with friends and family all around, went on a honeymoon, and then went to my doctor, who proceeded to put my body through menopause. If we were going to have children (which I desperately wanted, whether it meant getting pregnant or adopting), we had to get my body as clean and ready as possible. I spent my menopause eating a lot of gyros and pasta, getting hot flashes and asking my older female family members about their menopause. It’s one of those things you aren’t really prepared for at 28, so I was very happy (and lucky) that I had them to ask.
My husband and I tried for three months before getting pregnant with my son. I remember spending those first two months crying a lot. I tried to be optimistic that it would happen, but because of my “circus,” there was just no way to feel hopeful. We were shocked and excited at how quickly things went, and my doctor was very pleased. My pregnancy wasn’t an easy one, but it culminated in an amazing child who changed our lives. And shockingly, my body did feel a little better for a few years! We had my daughter two years and nine months later (“Let’s start trying when he turns two because it will probably take awhile.” “Honey, I’m pregnant!”) and decided that our family was complete.
I tell you this story because it has made me thankful. I have a body that will never be settled or done with its antics, but it gave me the gift of two fairly healthy pregnancies and two very healthy children. That is all I can ask and I am beyond thankful. And even though my children are 11 and 8 now, it doesn’t change the grateful feeling that I have chosen to hold so dear.
I think that thankfulness and happiness come from both the little things and the big picture. For me, if I didn’t have this body, I may not have these children. I have a family member who had never broken a bone before, but getting pregnant was a huge challenge. And I’m not making a commentary on whether adoption or surrogacy or pregnancy is a right or wrong path for anyone. I’m just saying that you never know the gifts and challenges that you will have in any area of life – and that I truly believe that we follow the paths that we are meant to learn from.
Happiness is a choice that I make every day. I am thankful for the life I have and I work very hard to make it the happiest, fullest life possible. I try to ingest every smile, every laugh, every amazing moment with my children, my husband, my friends and family. All we are given is right now, today. You can plan for the future (and absolutely should!), but it doesn’t change the fact that you have no control over what will happen tomorrow. Make a choice to be happy and thankful for the little things, even if the bigger things make that decision more difficult. It really is a choice and there is always something to be thankful for. You just have to find it.