I'm sure we can all think back and remember those words of wisdom that our mothers shared with us on a regular basis. I've found that many of them are universal, like "Money doesn't grow on trees," or, "A watched pot never boils," or my personal favorite, "Don't stand there with the refrigerator door open - penguins are forming a line." There was one that my mother used, however, that always bothered me and, much to my surprise, the lesson that came with it has unknowingly stuck with me up to this day until recently.
Whenever something wonderful happened my mom would always caution us not to get too excited. She believed that a good thing was always followed by a bad thing that took the happiness out of the good thing. She said she was always, "waiting for the other shoe to drop." In essence, she was afraid to be happy because something always happened to take her happiness away. It wasn't until I was much older and came to know the story of her past and her upbringing that I understood why she felt that way. Unfortunately, by that time the belief behind that saying was deeply implanted in my psyche. Whenever someone wonderful happened, or I achieved a goal or dream, inwardly I would always be afraid to be happy because I was sure the happiness wouldn't last. It was as if happiness was for other people. I was one of the ones that was lucky to just get by .
The other day I was watching an episode of Oprah's Super Soul Sunday with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best seller Eat, Pray, Love. When Liz started talking about folks who were afraid to be happy, my inner radar beeped. It wasn't until that moment that I realized I was one of those people. Here I was sitting in my new place, surrounded by nature at her best and the peace and quiet I had craved, and I was complaining because I had a case of writer's block. I kept telling myself, "see, you complained for years that you wanted to move back home so you could write full time and now that you're here, you're still not happy." It hadn't occurred to me that I was in fact afraid to be happy. Now that I was finally "home," I was waiting for something bad to happen ... waiting for the other shoe to drop. Wow, what an eye opener.
I know that I will not be able to rid myself of this belief over night. After all, it has been hiding in the back of my mind for 65 years. The good news is that now that I have found where it was hiding and have exposed it for the goblin that it is, I can work on embracing it and then letting it go. It won't be easy. It takes something called faith, in myself and in The Universe, but as they say in AA, admitting you have a problem is half the battle. Giving this goblin a name will enable me to finally stop waiting for the other shoe to drop. Note to self: run through life barefoot like a child who still believes in happily ever after. Then you won't have any shoes to drop!
And so it is.