What Are You Laughing At?

20120324-105520.jpgIt’s okay to feel happy.

This came rather as a surprise to me. Strange, since I am a happy person most of the time, but I recently realized that I focused and identified more with the sadness and sorrow than I did with the happiness and joy. How ridiculous, really. Especially because I have a great life.

Truly blessed, beautiful life.

I am well aware of how lucky I am and I express gratitude for that every day. Still, I haven’t felt happy because, unless I was in a state of ecstatic joy, I only noticed when I wasn’t. My husband has had to remind me how genuinely happy I am. Why does it take my husband to remind me that I’m really happy most of the time? Sure, there is sadness and pain in life and relationships, and I feel those as deeply as I feel love and joy, but the happy times far outweigh the sad times. A sense of peace and contentment is an underlying feeling throughout my life, even during times of grief.

I am truly blessed.

After the most recent loss of love, I really looked inside myself to see why I didn’t feel happy more often. Why I didn’t notice the intrinsic joy within. Why it took someone else to point that out. Why I so identified with sadness and depression. Why I found some kind of satisfaction or justification in it. I knew I could just choose to be happy in any given moment, to focus on the joy in life instead of the sorrow, but it seemed like so much work when sadness was natural in a time of the loss of such a significant relationship.

I felt resentful that I was expected to be happy all the time. Who expected this of me? My ex, I suppose, as that was one of the excuses he gave for leaving. The joy and bliss we shared 95% of our time together wasn’t enough for him. He wanted 100% of joy, ecstasy, and love without any sadness or misunderstandings or pain or fear.

Funny, when I told this to my life coach, she said, “What a whack job! Glad he’s gone!”

It made me laugh.

Laughter is good.

I also told her how I realized that I didn’t trust people who were “genuinely happy all the time,” as there was something inherently insincere about that. Life is about a variety of experiences. Sure, happiness and joy and love, of course! But those are only so lovely because life contains so much sadness and pain and fear, too.

It’s all of it. There cannot be one without the other.

Being happy all the time would no longer be happy. It would just be. It’s like a beautiful, magnificent view of the ocean or mountains or forest. At first, it’s glorious and inspiring, but after a few months, it’s just outside.

I realized that I felt people who are “genuinely happy all the time” were being deceptive. Pollyanna. Fake. Shallow. Completely and totally bogus. They are as broken and scared as the rest of humanity, but they are covering it up with fake joy, too cowardly to face it. They were lying to themselves and lying to the world.

I have no respect for liars.

But even more than the need to avoid this feeling of insincerity, somewhere deep down, I felt that I didn’t deserve to be truly happy. I felt that there was something inherently wrong with feeling happy and expressing joy, especially when there is so much suffering in the world. I realized that I downplay my successes and give away my power.

I minimize myself.


I feel guilty when I feel happy. I feel ashamed when I feel happy.

What is that about? Honestly?

With shame, I admitted that to my life coach, and she said, “Of course. That’s easy. It’s from childhood crap. Did anyone ever say ‘What are you laughing at?'”

Then it hit me.


Not only had I been told those very words more times than I could count, but I was also made to feel ashamed of being happy. When I would have fun as a child, I was told it was inappropriate or annoying. To stop giggling. To be quiet. To behave.

So being and acting happy was made wrong. Worse, when my stepfather would say, “I will slap that smile right off your face,” and did more than once, I learned that I would be punished for being happy. For showing happiness.

What a complete disservice we do to our children.

And now, even though I noticed more joy with my recent ex than I ever had before, albeit short-lived, that still wasn’t enough for him. So I was punished with abandonment for allowing myself to feel joyful, to act blissfully in love, to trust him. He gave the excuse that because I had insecurities and fear, just like he and everyone else on the fucking planet does, he was “stepping back” to look for someone who was 100% “genuinely happy all the time.”

He’s going to be looking for a long, long time.

So am I “genuinely happy all the time?” No. How absurd, really.

But I am genuine all the time. Authentic. Real. I have a big tender heart filled with love for those who are strong enough to accept it. I feel deeply and I experience life fully. I experience the highest joy and ecstasy, and sometimes my heart breaks wide open. However, I am wise enough to know to turn into the pain, just like I turn into the love. Feel it completely. For when you turn into pain, it passes more quickly, like diving into a wave instead of trying to outrun it. And when you turn into love, it grows and deepens.


So when he said about his other girlfriend, “she doesn’t have the highs, but she also doesn’t have the lows,” he’s settling for mediocrity.

I am not mediocre. I am extraordinary.

I am genuinely happy. I am genuinely sad.
I feel joy. I feel pain.
I experience deep love and I face my dark fears.
I am complete. I am strong. I am real.

I am genuine.

~ by omgrey on March 24, 2012.

9 Responses to “What Are You Laughing At?”

  1. I am glad you are feeling better, and I appreciate that you shared how you came about it. I read your blog and have started empathizing with you, feeling for you, hoping that things would turn around. I am glad they have.

    One of these days, God willing, I hope to have a nice chat with you, maybe even meet you; because you are what I WANT to be. Real. Genuine. Not afraid of the past and boldly going on into the future.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful and kind comment, Clint. I’m so pleased that I come across as boldly going into the future! Some moments are bolder than others. 🙂

      Thank you, too, for acknowledging the value of being real and genuine. Your post was very validating for me, and I appreciate you reaching out to me.

      I’m so pleased you’ve been reading the blog and it’s touched you so. It would be nice to have a chat sometime, perhaps in person! Keep an eye on my schedule to see where I’ll be.

      Always, as well as for the rest of my readers, never hesitate to email. I do love to hear from readers.

  2. What a powerful statement: “I am complete,” What an amazing feeling–good for you! I experienced joy again for the first time after a struggle with depression…it is a marvelous feeling when you actually recognize what is happening!
    Blessings on your journey, Erin, Bella Bleue

    • Thank you, Ella!

      Joy is indeed an amazing feeling! The trick is to recognize the underlying joy of being which is always present, even in times of depression.

      Although, I know exactly how you feel, having had a very difficult year myself, when the joy came a few months back, I embraced it openly and basked in its light. Even now that ecstatic joy is gone, I realize that that joy was within me, is within me, and wasn’t put there by him. It’s not put there by anyone. It’s inherent.


  3. Grey, it is wonderfully exciting to see you grow like this! Since I’ve known you, I have seen you ‘mature’ in profound ways, all forming a more WHOLE and beautiful woman.

    When I have those rare moments of conversations about the open/poly lifestyle with people or couples new to it, I always share your stories of hope & growth when they express (inevitably) their fear-based inhibitions. If you want to learn how to hang-glide, you must eventually jump off that mountain, huh? 😉

    So very proud of you!

    • Thank you, professor. Your guidance and kindness has been of great benefit to me during this continuing journey. I’m grateful for your friendship.

  4. […] What Are You Laughing At? (omgrey.wordpress.com) […]

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