>Is it a crime to be happy? To be at your ideal weight? To have the marriage you want? To have friends you care about? To be content with what you have? Is it a crime to concurrently own the perfect LBD and a tremendously flattering pair of jeans? Worse yet than being happy, is it a crime for a Christian woman to admit it?
I’ve been tremendously joyful and happy for several weeks now. Yep. I’ve had both, like simultaneously, as in at the same time, and I’ve felt both extreme giddiness and terrible guilt over it because I know it just ain’t right.
Hey, I’m not the one who came up with the notion that happy people are likely damned. In fact, there are plenty of people out there making serious coin off the notion that happiness and joy are antithetical to one another. Don’t believe me? Have a look for yourself. Check out Google’s minute-to-minute live coverage of the Happiness Versus Joy Cage Match.
There are blogs and blogs written about it and even entire books. In Outrageous, Contagious Joy, Ed Young writes, “God does not want you to be happy [emphasis mine]. In fact, I believe happiness misrepresents what God intends for our lives. Happiness, as we commonly know it is a myth. Yet we have been told for so long that happiness is what God wants for us…. Happiness is a cheap imitation. And God is not into cheap imitation.”
Wowza. Is it any wonder I feel so guilty and want to keep my happiness to myself? Admitting I’m happy sounds like it might be tantamount to my admitting that I’ve renounced my faith, become a Wiccan, and had a pentagram tattooed over my heart. Or at the very least that I’ve seriously lost my way.
Don’t get me wrong, this is no “health and wealth” blog post where I tell you how to pray the perfect Prayer of Jabehooloo and next thing you know your territory is enlarged and your Shack is turned into a million dollar mansion, baby. No way. I don’t believe that crap. I might be happy now, but underneath this fabulous veneer of happy hedonism beats the heart of a true blue martyrist all the way. No. I didn’t say I was a martyr, I said I’m a martyrist. I believe that if you’re in the perfect will of God then your temporal life ought to suck really bad and end in a bloody, painful and gruesome way while you sing God’s praises as the flames lick your feet. While I’m pretty sure that I’ve got the theology right on this one, I must admit that this particular belief system does make it hard for me to 1) Feel good about my own happiness, and 2) Get all that thrilled about praying for God’s Will in my life.
I’m also acutely aware of the ever-present warning bell going off in the very back of my mind that I shouldn’t tell anyone how truly happy I am. To do so is to court disaster. Not to go all Greek Mythology on you, but the Fates don’t like it. And nobody else does either. Once you start admitting that you are happy and content you set the clock to ticking away the minutes until catastrophe comes to humble you. And I didn’t come up with this superstitious need to suffer all by my lonesome. No, I had me some ancestral help. As I gaze back through the hazy halls of genetic memory upon the desperately miserable faces of my many long-suffering female progenitors, I hear their plaintive warning cries about the danger of reaching beyond my grasp and trying to live above my station. How dare I? I almost owe it to them to be miserable just to validate that they were right: Life Sucks.
Furthermore, and maybe most importantly, what do I have to contribute to female conversations if I can’t complain about this last 10 pounds I need to lose, or the fact that my husband is a creep who bores me? A couple of weeks ago I did have a little annoying zit dead center on my forehead that wouldn’t go away. Does that count?
I didn’t think so.
As my happiness quotient has risen, I’ve become more and more acutely aware of feminine negativity and how it plays out in the social arena. This male blogger is particularly negative about the negativity of women. He’s so upset about it that he uses it as his primary reason on why he will never marry. (Also, there’s this long, long post on The Futurist about Misandry and the Fall of Western Civilization. Check it out if you want to have your Masculinist Consciousness raised.)
So now that I’ve confessed to the crime, what will be my sentence? Possibly solitary confinement because being unhappy about our bodies (and I suspect everything else) is socially mandatory for women. If you are happy and successful then you risk being labeled a Gwyneth Paltrow, a woman whose primary crime against womanity is being gorgeous, thin and good at everything she does, and refusing to be self-effacing about it. Women instinctively know that if you are unfortunate enough to be happy with yourself and your life then you should never acknowledge it, and, if someone else has the very bad taste to bring it up, you are supposed to humbly act like it has all been one big, accidental mistake on your part.
Reaching your goals (whatever they might be) is supposed to be entirely effortless for women and if you admit otherwise then there is something entirely wrong with you. But let’s not get started on that even as it does beg the question: Are women obligated to be negative and unhappy if they want to be loved and accepted by other women? And if so, how does that really play out for you and for me?
George Patton said,” You need to overcome the tug of people against you as you reach for high goals.” This concept is reflected in the idea of the Crab Bucket Syndrome. Maybe we’ll discuss the crab bucket syndrome at another time, but I think it is a very true human sociological phenomenon. If this is true though, then the question is: Which Crab are You?
So, now, throwing all caution to the wind, tempting the Fates, and risking the rejection from women I love, not to mention hellfire itself, I’m here to openly admit what many of you have been suspecting for quite awhile now: I’m happy. I wake up every day looking forward to getting out of bed because I like my life just that much. I have a meaningful career, a happy, passionate marriage, I’m very happy with my body right now, my house is clean and uncluttered and decorated just the way I like it, and I’m doing all the things that I want to be doing in and with my life.
But don’t worry, I think I feel sufficiently guilty about it. I worry about how my declarations of utter happiness will play to my women friends because, to be perfectly honest, my women friends and my happiness are both almost equally high in importance to me (In truth, I doubt I could have one without the other). They aren’t equal enough that I’m willing to sacrifice being happy, but I’ll admit that the contest is close. So please, don’t hate me because I’m happy, okay?