“I guess I’m happy enough.” The words are often followed by a sigh, and are uttered in a voice that doesn’t really sound happy at all. I’ve heard them more often than I can count…and more often than I’d have wanted to. They are spoken by women (I can’t remember ever hearing them from a man, despite having had a plethora of male friends over the years) whose lives, whose marriages or other relationships are not as happy as these women had hoped for.
Where does the fault lie? Are we selling ourselves short in “settling for” sub-optimal relationships or expecting too much out of relationships that really are good enough? Personally I suspect it’s some of each.
Books—and it’s not just romance novels by a long shot—lead us to expect to be happy ever after, happy in the face of adversity, happy on a continuing basis, blissfully happy for the rest of our lives. For most of us, that’s hogwash. Life has its ups and downs. Relationships have their bumps in the road. Happiness is not all-encompassing, forever enduring, and constant. The happiest of couples have their disagreements.
Life isn’t a novel.
My marriage (1965-1970) was a peaceful one. We had exactly two arguments in those five years…not a bad track record. But ultimately it left me unfulfilled. And ultimately I left. Happiness is about more than the absence of negatives. Happiness is about more than “getting along well.”
I’ve been in and out of various relationships since then. I lived with Jay for five years. I lived with David for eight years. I’ve been living with Grant for three years…and still counting. I was happy in each relationship for a while. And when it wasn’t good anymore, I got out.
I’ve had people say to me, “Too bad you couldn’t find the right person.” I don’t look at it that way. I think I found a number of right people…or at least “right now” people. I found them, loved them, and lived with them each, one at a time, enjoyed it while it was good, and ended it when it wasn’t good any longer. I can think of three other men I also loved—one shared a relationship with me of 11 years’ duration, and we’re still friends, one I met and became lovers with (in both senses of the word “lovers”) and remained close friends with thereafter, and over 30 years later we’re still very close and loving (although not sexually—I don’t cheat on Grant), and the third is also still a nice friend (and co-authored a book with me).
I consider myself rich to have had all these experiences, all these relationships, all these loves in my lifetime. Am I mourning the fact that I haven’t had one steady marriage all this time? HELL NO! Do I regret the times between relationships, when I was alone? Well, I never felt “alone” in the sense of “lonely.” I’ve had an abundance of friends over the years, and while the love of friends doesn’t replace the love of a significant other, it sure does keep you from feeling lonely.
Will Grant and I walk arm in arm into the sunset of our lives together? Time alone will tell us that. I could—God forbid!—drop dead tomorrow. Or he could. Or, more prosaically, one of us could simply end the relationship. (From where I sit right now, that hardly seems likely, or at least not imminent, but stranger things have happened.) But if he dies or leaves me, I’ll look forward eagerly to the next chapter in my life, sure that it will be yet another chapter dripping with happiness.
No, not the happiness of fairytale relationships. Part of what was wrong with my long-ago marriage was of my husband’s doing, but part of it was mine: I had unrealistic expectations. But I haven’t cast myself in the role of Cinderella since 1970. Maybe I haven’t had one enduring marriage or relationship to last a lifetime. But I’ve had a running series of happinesses. And what’s so wrong with that!
You’ll never hear me say, “I guess I’m happy enough.” I’m happy. Period. No...exclamation point! Without qualifications.
And without regrets.
I wish you the same.
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Multi-published freelance author/editor Cynthia MacGregor has over 50 conventionally published books to her credit, and over 20 e-books. She’s written “everything from catalog copy to promotional video scripts to website copy to... you name it” in addition to all those books “and a great deal more books that haven’t seen the light of print yet...but I’m still looking for homes for them.” She also ghostwrites for others.
As well, she has edited numerous magazines and books and websites. Writing is not only her career, it is also one of her hobbies, chiefly in that she writes all the plays produced by the Palm Springs Players, a community theatre group in the village of Palm Springs, “the one in Florida...not its rich and famous namesake in California.
“I don’t get a penny for the plays,” she says, “but it’s fun.” Not surprisingly, she also enjoys wordplay, specifically punnery, and is a member of the online punsters’ group PUNY and a frequent attendee at the annual O. Henry Pun-Off World Championship, held each May in Austin TX, where she sometimes appears as a contestant and sometimes is a judge. Her other hobby is cooking “and entertaining, ’cause if you’re going to cook, you need to have victims...I mean beneficiaries...to eat up all that food.”
The self-described “happiest woman in the world,” Cynthia avers that “there is no one in the world I’d want to trade lives with.”