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The Struggle with Guilt over Happiness

Hubby and I decided to embrace the “struggling artist” roles and recently started taking steps to make this happen. It’s a pretty big deal for the both us being 40 plusers and now deciding to try the road of “no guaranteed paycheck”. We hear it from our friends and from the parents. It’s unconventional, I get it, it raises eyebrows.

We believe in ourselves and each other. We understand what hard work is, and we realize we still have to pay the bills.

We both have side jobs when we aren’t focused on our passions and it feels like life is heading in the right direction. So we are going with it.

It’s Time to Put Me First

I have spent the last 20+ years of my life making other people rich while making sure I have a paycheck every week. Even if the paycheck isn’t enough to pay the bills, I still bust my ass just the same to earn it. It’s what I was raised and taught to do – get a good job, work hard, and I’ll get rich.

Well, that hasn’t happened yet, and given the current state of the US economy – I don’t think it will.

Up until my store closed in March due to the pandemic, I was working 50+ hours a week and on my days off, frequently got calls from the store with issues. I was exhausted, stressed, anxiety ridden, and unhealthy regarding sleep and eating habits. Dinner with my family was rare, and I had very little time with my child, but the paycheck provided just enough for the bills and a small pot of disposable income – that’s what I was burning myself out for.

I am not going back, and I am not going to miss that. Check out my Therapy Dump to catch up on what happened.

I’ve been trying to get into a groove of writing for over three years and I have aspirations to write a couple books. I have a story to share, and advocacy in my blood but I keep putting this to the side to go be a good worker, for other people.

Time to make that commitment to myself and see where it gets me. I wonder where I will be in a year from now.

Is That Guilt?

Today I was out doing my thing and I had a moment where I felt so light. I know that I am going to struggle to make the salary I used too but today I knew I was going to “hustle” for 5 hours and then have the rest of the day for family and for writing.

It made me smile. Acceptance of this new path in life felt like a hug that wrapped me up with love. I knew in that moment what I wanted. To take a chance on myself, to spend my time with my family, and to be safe during this time of unprecedented health crisis – all things I get to do now.

Then two seconds later, my mind hijacked me with a reminder in flashing red not to be too happy because I am still so broken over my childhood and full of so much sadness.

I spent the next few minutes fighting back overflowing tears from the well of grief in my heart.

I’ve done this before. It wasn’t intentional, I just suddenly found myself wandering with these thoughts. A part of me feeling like I don’t deserve to be happy given what I have been through.

And I know exactly which part it is.

Finding the Balance

The affects of childhood traumas are a mind f**k. I don’t know how else to say it.

It’s hard keeping myself balanced with the flood of constantly conflicting emotions that are a part of my hard-wiring. I always have two responses to any given situation: logical, mature, rational me, and raging/broken inner child me.

Still, I am getting better at recognizing when this happens and moving through my emotions rather than judging them, but it doesn’t stop the flood, or the uncomfortable feelings.

So, I am trying not to be judgy with myself – and I look forward to the day when I can touch happiness without guilt.


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