• Sandra Hughes

Happy ever after or happy every now and then?

“Like most people, my life has been full of variety. I’ve experienced a mixture of happiness, sadness, joyful moments and times when I just wanted to disappear and feel nothing anymore. And after 60 years I feel cheated.

I’ve done my best. I’ve worked, I’ve loved, I’ve raised my family, I’ve built my career, I have been a good person and sometimes I could have been better, but I have tried – I have played the game that promised me happy ever after, and I only get happy every now and then.

And right now, I am more and more dis-satisfied and p***ed off. It doesn’t feel fair and I am feeling guilty that I am not happy with my lot.

It’s not that my life is downright awful, because it isn’t. It’s just that something deep inside me aches. It feels as though something is missing and I don’t know what it is – and I’m running out of time to find it. There is something in me that feels trapped, desperate to be set free. Something that isn’t satisfied by what I thought would bring me happiness. I seem to be my own worst enemy sometimes, never quite managing to find the elusive key to just letting go of the stuff that holds me back. I’m not even sure I can even find the door anymore, and I have no idea of what might be behind it if I did.

This can’t be all there is to my life – it just can’t.

And how the hell did I get to here so fast? My life seems to have happened in spite of me being there. There always seemed to be time to do the other stuff, everyone else’s needs and wants just seemed to be the ones that got priority. It wasn’t that I ignored mine, I just didn’t even recognise they were there, or if I did, it was brief and quickly got swallowed up in the everyday stuff.

I don’t want a mundane, ordinary life. I want to feel more joy, more freedom to be me – I don’t want to sleepwalk my way through each day with brief moments of intense emotion. I’m tired of being on auto-pilot and I want to be present to what is happening in each moment – I want to feel fully alive. I want more. I want my happy ever after.”

I wrote this in my journal the day after my 60th birthday. I have never freaked out over getting older, I think it’s a privilege that many don’t enjoy, but I do think that I must have heard my mortality knocking on the door that day – and it woke me up. I was Sixty. Sixty years on this planet and I wasn’t happy. Not really. Not the kind of happy I wanted to be. Sixty years and whilst lots of my life has been amazing and I am deeply grateful for so much, there I sat with a feeling that just wasn’t going away. More than a feeling.

A deep knowing that there was more. Something more that I was missing. Something that was purely for me.

If my mortality knocking on the door had started my wake-up call, that thought was like someone throwing cold water over me. If my happy ever after was something purely for me then perhaps, just perhaps it was my turn. I could almost hear Gladys Knight singing “It should have been me!” in the background.

I have always been a member of the ‘Put up or Shut up’ club and I knew that if I wanted to find my happy ever after then I was going to have to go and look for it. No good sitting in a field with a bucket and a cow and expecting the milk to magically appear. I was excited and ready to start my search for more for me, so I started making a list of all the things I wanted to do and have for myself. This was great.

Go to a spa

Try a different gin every month

Treat myself to a new wardrobe of clothes

Go on holiday

Eat out at a nice restaurant once a month

New iPhone

New hairstyle

That beautiful leather handbag I’ve been wanting

Then all my excitement just left me. I had tried this kind of stuff before. This was happy every now and then. I wanted more, remember? But more what? Doing more of the same I had done before was never going to bring me my happy ever after. I needed something different. The answer to finding my more wasn’t hiding in a list of things. More stuff, more of the same was never going to cut it.

Feeling like a sulky two-year old, I scribbled out my list of lovely things. Come on Sandra – you have helped to sort people out your whole life, surely you can sort out what you want more of. Pull yourself together woman!

Aha! I’ve got it! I don’t need more things; I need other people to be more of something! New list.

My husband to be more affectionate

My husband to help more around the house

My husband to listen to me more (my poor husband – he’s a good guy really!)

People to understand me

People to accept me for who I am

People to tell me they appreciate me

Woohoo – on a roll now folks!

Nope – not really. I’m not a stupid woman and I am self-aware enough to know that I cannot get my more by relying on other people changing the way they are. That’s like asking the cow in my field to walk over and fill my bucket with milk for me.

I had no idea. How could I be a grown up, responsible, intelligent, capable woman and have no idea of what I was looking for let alone how to get it? So frustrating. Doesn’t everyone deserve a life that is full, meaningful, rich and satisfying. Didn’t I? So why was it so difficult to find it?

Why was it so hard to find my more?

Actually, it is downright impossible to find your more when

a) You don’t know what more is

b) You are searching for it in the wrong place

Getting increasingly frustrated I made myself a coffee and grabbed two (well, okay, four) chocolate biscuits and sat back down. I decided to start with what I did know. I knew that more things or relying on others wasn’t going to bring me my happy ever after. So, if my more wasn’t out there, then the only place left was… Crap. The only place left was within. My more had to be within. No Prince Charming, no beautiful castle. My happy ever after was down to me.

That frustration, that knocking on the door, that soul-deep emptiness, that sadness was me – another me, the real me, deeply hidden; My true self desperately begging to be known. Asking me to wake up and bring me the more that would bring me the peace, happiness and fulfilment I literally ached for. But if I knew how to do this, then I would be doing it already!

I felt lost. I didn’t have the faintest idea of how to start this journey. So I tried all sorts. I read books – hundreds of them. I took workshops – dozens. I had affirmations pasted all over the house (my husband is not just a good guy, he is also a very tolerant one) and I meditated and ‘ommed’ myself half to death. I had some great moments of awareness, but nothing helped me to bring any of this into my everyday life – although I was glimpsing a different kind of happy, I still only had happy every now and then.

Then My Map to Freedom came into my life and the relief was instant and enormous.

At last I was holding something in my hand that simply and clearly showed me what my more was, where to look for it – and how to get it. And I didn’t have to sit in a cold cave on top of a mountain! I could use this every day, at home or at work.

Understanding and freeing my true self has brought me my more. I am human, and I still struggle with aspects of my life and my self, but I can now, through daily practice and a deep commitment to living my truth, find peace and compassion for myself.

My definition of happy has changed from something fleeting that amused and distracted to a state of boundless Joy which lives at the very core of me. My Map to Freedom has brought me the tools to find and create my very own Happy Ever After.

Sandra Hughes

#Happiness #TrueSelf #Fulfillment #Coaching