Beach Happiness

Last year, on a particularly hard day, I spoke on the phone with my friend, Beatrice, about why we were both so depressed. We had many reasons, and this led us to a discussion about the different types of sadness. The list covers a lot of ground, including: hypothetical sadness, death sadness, projecting sadness, jealousy sadness, bittersweet sadness, extreme weather sadness… we ended up listing about 75 types.

 

After half an hour of compiling this list, I forced her to help me come up with the different types of happiness. Surprisingly, we found this extremely difficult. When we challenged ourselves to think of the bad it poured out of us as though we’d been mentally preparing our whole lives for the moment we’d need to recount it. But the good? It was slow to come to mind. Over the course of a few days, with the help of a couple more friends, we eventually had a list consisting of around 50 types of happiness.

 

One of these types is beach happiness. Neither Beatrice nor I thought of it initially, but it rings true for all of my peers and I. When I’m on the beach I just feel… peaceful, I suppose. The sound of the waves replaces the sound of worry in my mind.

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I stand on the beach looking out at the sea and marvel at how tiny I am compared to it all. If my life is so small compared to the world, then the problems in my life amount to nearly nothing. I’m never one to belittle my own suffering or the hefty challenges I face every day, but during certain rare moments I truly believe they aren’t all that important. The beach supplies the majority of these moments.

 

Yesterday was an odd summer day in the middle of February so I flocked to the beach with my friend and her boyfriend. The water was freezing but I almost prefer feeling numb to feeling my normal pain. The smell of the water and the sunscreen smeared on my (pathetically) sensitive skin remind me of summers past, in just the way that bug spray reminds me of hiking trails around my childhood hometown.

 

My mom reminded me that one year I had a birthday party at the beach and that I hated it. I remember the reasons for this being that sand got on my birthday cake and watermelon, that we never had time for the dance party or limbo (I’ve always been quite the planner), and that a boy from my class (who was not invited) saw me in my bathing suit (mortification. I hate you, Speedo.)

 

My mother remembered the reason being that I got salt water in my eye and that at that exact moment the love affair between the sea and I became a tale of regret and disappointment.

 

Safe to say the discord has dissipated, and I have kept a special place in my heart for the beach throughout it all. One of my biggest regrets in life is that I’m forced to miss out on fun – a seemingly harmless substance the majority of young adults seek and occasionally experience. I’m more of an 80-year-old stuck in an 18-year-old’s body type, and I have to “take care of my health”. Which means I often need to miss out on all sorts of experiences because fun has a clear consequence for me – pain. Pain leads to sadness, but mainly, pain leads to more pain. More pain leads to trouble sleeping, which leads to extra fatigue, which leads to extra pain, which leads to even more trouble sleeping… it’s only one of the viscous cycles that people with chronic illnesses need to live with.

 

But just because I have less fun doesn’t mean I have to be less happy. This year I’ve been privy to a few types of happiness that weren’t on my list before: proving myself happiness, spreading joy happiness, professional growth happiness and above all – somehow, it will all be okay happiness.

 

At the very least, that’s how I feel after I go to the beach.

 

Love,

Ella

 

Song Quote:

Take me back to the basics and the simple life, tell me all of the things that make you feel at ease. –Ease, Troye Sivan

 

Have a suggestion to add to my lists? Share in the comments below please!

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I Wonder

Please give me a pass for sounding incredibly pathetic right now, but I have a mental catalog of really great hugs I’ve received. I suddenly thought of someone I haven’t seen in about a year who gave me a great hug the last time we saw each other. It was a lingering hand hug – you know, the kind where the hug is officially over but neither removes their hands quickly. It occurred to me that I might have written in my journal about that hug, so I started digging through my drawers and retrieving old diaries.

As I was looking through them, page by page, I was struck by how much I have changed and how little my life has. The entries from last year could be the ones from yesterday, and the ones from two years ago could be the ones I’ll write tomorrow. I write with more finesse, maybe, or a slight twang of additional maturity, but I’m still dealing with the same difficulties. No matter how I change, advance, grow or learn, I can’t get away from this pervasive problem of my life.

I never imagined I would graduate high school and be sick. I’ve accepted a lot and have a lot of accepting left to do, but nothing can alter the fact that I’m greatly displeased with what is happening in my life. The things I’ve been writing here for over two years, about how little control I have over what happens to me and how useless hopes seem to be, are as relevant as they’ve ever been.

Now don’t get me a wrong, I’m a pro at making the best of whatever situation I find myself in. I believe in seeing and appreciating the good as I live, and remind myself every day how important it is not to see good only in retrospect. Not to look back on a time in my life and see some good aspect of it that I didn’t realize was there at the time. So as I suffer and smile through it I make lists in my mind of everything that is good, and this helps me. Helps me some, but not quite enough. Not enough to cover the sadness.

The sadness. It runs deep, maybe through my veins or my nerves, maybe in my heart or in my soul. I prefer to be alone with it, to retreat at times and allow myself to feel it as it courses, because I have a lot to cry for. I have a lot to be thankful for, but also a lot to cry for. The pain is a constant that seems to stem from my very core and that makes no sense, but the sadness I understand from the inside out. It’s there in the silence and it resonates in music, it thrums in my ears as I walk and buzzes in front of my eyes as I sleep. It’s a part of me, an integral component in my days. I live with it and it lives in me. But I no longer wonder why.

I try to remember that maybe the fact that I can’t imagine my future means it is destined to be better than anything I ever could imagine. I read my diaries and see the process of becoming who I am right now, a person I genuinely like. I can’t put my finger on just when it happened, but I have become an adult. I think practically and reasonably about decisions in my life, and I spend so much of my time now thinking of what I’d like to do with it. What do I want to study? What shall my profession be? Where do I want to live? (How will I afford that?) Which is the ladder I would like to climb?

It’s a quick step to the spiral of anxiety, realizing no matter how I plan I cannot conquer this disease and cannot live to my fullest potential. I harbored a secret hope that after finishing high school I would start to feel better and that I’d slowly but surely rise out of the pain. But alas, I’m just as sick as I was before, and I need to start figuring out how to manage adulthood in my current state. This point in my life is about proving that even if I am sick, I can still be okay.

I remember my childhood so vividly. I remember crying and thinking that good tears should not go to waste, trying to find a parent in the house and show them my state to receive some extra hugs. The real world doesn’t dole out any extra hugs when I suffer. I no longer wonder why.

I am still, in my essence, happy. But I am still, in my reality, sad. I mourn for the things I cannot have, cannot do and cannot be. I mourn.

There’s doubt. Isn’t there always? I doubt that I will ever get better. I doubt that I will live to see a time of peace in the world. I doubt that… that…

Well, this leads us to a sore spot. I know I’m lovable, okay? I know that. It’s not one of the things I doubt. It’s just something that has yet to be proven. I feel so silly for writing this, but in a way I feel it should be recorded just the same as all my other feelings.

No one has taken an interest. I’m the last of my friends… I’ve never been asked out, never been kissed, never been the object of someone’s crush. And I know my time will come, that I just haven’t met the right person yet, and that we each have our own timelines. But it makes me wonder. I wonder: why hasn’t anyone taken an interest?

When will it be my time? My time to be healthy, my time to be loved, my time to be free…

I wonder and will continue to wonder, but one thing can be said for sure, and that is that time doesn’t stop. In this moment I am older than I have ever been before and the youngest I will ever be again, and that in itself is a beautiful thing. Maybe life won’t disappoint me.

I know we’ll be fine when we learn to love the ride.

Love,

Ella

Song Quote:

If I fell in love a thousand times, would it all make sense? –Sense, Tom Odell