I have a naturally sunny disposition.
Yeah, I know. I’m just as surprised as you.
More after the jump…
I’ve been very frank on this blog in the past about my struggles with depression and self-imposed religious misery. I’ve also been pretty candid in discussing the bitter, unpleasant, socially suicidal process of getting rid of all of that but still coming out the other side with some kind of faith intact. (Once again, I’m just as surprised as you. I mean seriously, have you read this blog entry? And this one? Re-reading those I’m surprised I believe in anything more sovereign than a whisky bottle right now…)
Anyway, this past year I have been getting rid of a lot of behaviours and social circles and frankly, a lot of associated people who seemed to only exist to come at me with an open hand and a sideways mouth. I asked myself some hard questions–like, what is it about me that makes me so attractive to these situations? Am I just another version of what is externally dragging me down? And, as I began to ask in this post, what happens when you realize, on the path to becoming a better person, that you also need better people?
And as I ask myself these questions and force myself to face the answers and so on and so forth and Scooby-Dooby-Dooby, I’ve discovered that I am actually a cheerful person. I smile. I tell jokes. I laugh at things. I don’t walk around looking for things to be mad about.
Now, folks who know me in person would probably say that I’ve always done these things and yeah, I probably have. But there’s always been a moody, dark, turbulent part of me that’s always been invested in my own misery and wrapped around the things that are wrong with my life and that has simply…changed.
Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything wrong with my life. It doesn’t mean that I’m not moody or turbulent or for that matter, that there is no darkness in me. As a matter of fact, as I type this, I’m in a pretty terrible mood due to circumstances outside of myself. It just means that those bad things–the bad history, the bad luck, etc.? Those are not the foundation of my life.
I think it bears repeating; I am a cheerful person. I can’t tell you how surprising that is for me. I’ve been depression girl, deep girl, moody girl, the motha-effing ORACLE for so bloody long that it surprises me that I can take a walk in the sunshine and nothing reminds me of pain, doom, gloom, or church evangelism.
Let’s take a quick break for today’s lyric/title…
The song is one of my favorites, the classic jazz tune “Sometimes I’m Happy”
I’ve embedded the Billie Holiday version although I personally prefer the Sarah Vaughan version, which you can hear here. Something about Sarah’s version is just airy and transcendent and beautiful…but it’s Billie who lends the right amount of gruff irony to the line that’s made it into today’s title block…”my disposition depends on you.”
Boy, does it ever. Now this is where this sort of discussion veers into dangerous territory, at least for me. That is because it is my deepest desire to be cool with everyone. Childish though it may be, there is a part of me that feels like everybody’s friend, that is open and honest and accepting, and will let anybody into my life as long as they want to be there.
I need to cut that shit out.
As I get more and more consciously happy and knowingly cheerful, I find that there are some people whose preferred method of social interaction is to drag you down. Like, way down. Remember how I said I was typing this in a terrible mood? It’s because I had a conversation last night with someone I’d been avoiding precisely because she is a negative, sour, needy person on a whole different life wavelength than I am. We’ve been friends for a while and she wasn’t always like that(or maybe, I used to be), but because I’m realizing that her favorite hobby is pissing on other people’s parades, I’ve been limiting my exposure to her.
I need to keep doing that. Half an hour with this person and my stomach hurt, my head hurt, I was frowning, tired, drained, exhausted – just not okay at all. I’ve always been friendly with people based on the idea that you do you, and I’ll do me. You are entitled to believe, think, and do whatever you want, really–just as I am. We can peacefully coexist. But after having such a dramatic reaction to this friend last night, I wonder sometimes if my constant malaise over the years hasn’t been 75% me and 25% taking on other people’s problems. (OPP was a close runner up for today’s song, btw.)
I’ve always felt (and been accused of) being a bit self-righteous when I decide NOT to have certain things in my life. I’ve bought into the strong positive person BS and believed that other people can’t make me feel bad–only I have that right. But I’m discovering that that’s simply not true. People are social animals and whether or not we like it, we DO influence each other. We all have a certain amount of power over how we feel individually, and how much we react to things…but we’re wired to respond to other’s emotions and feelings as well, and if someone lives in a maelstrom of pain and misery and projected issues–well, sometimes you can’t help but pick that up. Not everyone is going to be a positive influence, and there’s nothing wrong with limiting your relationship with folks who drag you down.
I’m going to leave that there for now…
Peace, beautiful people!