When I was 19 years old I asked my Mom if she was happy. She thought for a moment and said, “I’m content.” I wrinkled my nose and said, “Ugh, contentment is for cows.” We laugh about that insensitive remark now. Back then, I felt sorry for her. I wanted excitement and fun. The thought of settling for contentment seemed so boring to me.
Fast forward eleven years. I had A LOT of fun and A LOT of pain. If I were to track the highlights and lowlights of those eleven years it would have become abundantly clear that every wildly exciting time in my life was followed by an equally tragic time. For every pride filled moment there was an equally humbling moment. Call it God, Karma, or Law but without fail for every emotion there is an equal and opposite emotion.
When life had chewed me up and spit me out at 30 years old, I swallowed my pride (and there was a lot of it) called my Mom and Dad and asked if I could come home. They welcomed me, my dog and three cats into their home with no questions asked. I was 30 years old, divorced, alcoholic, unemployed, and living at home with my parents again. Contentment sounded like a dream.
Living life to the extremes is like dieting. It takes years to work off the weight of debt, to rebuild self-esteem and to right your wrongs but it only takes a couple of unhealthy choices to lose it all again.
So I set to work rebuilding my life. I quit drinking (almost eight years now) and in doing so found faith and a program that helps me stay sober today. I got a job and bought a small home that I named Holly because of the beautiful Holly tree in the front yard.
Holly was, in a lot of ways, my salvation. When I first bought her I thought that all she needed was a good cleaning and some paint to make her whole again. I soon found that, like me, Holly needed a significant amount of work before she’d be ready to let people in. Working on Holly taught me patience, hard work and the satisfaction of creating something myself.
My Dad and I grew closer, spending countless nights and weekends working on her together. I quickly coined her my “I don’t need a man” house. At the time, I didn’t see the irony in the amount of time, hard work and money my Dad contributed to my “I don’t need a man” house. We spent two years and thousands of dollars getting her move-in ready.
Throughout that time, I was so focused on rebuilding my life that I wasn’t interested in dating, until Jeff started calling. We talked on the phone for weeks. We went on our first date two months after I moved into Holly. Ironically, my “I don’t need a man” house quickly became a house filled with them. Two little boys that I love more than life itself and a man that I can’t imagine ever living without.
Six years later and like me, Holly’s still a work in progress but she’s become a wonderful home that has allowed me and my husband to start our family here.
It’s been in this house, surrounded by the men in my life that I have found contentment. All of those years I spent bouncing from city to city and apartment to apartment. Switching jobs, cars, and relationships but never finding happiness. I was always restless. I ran from commitment and contentment because I thought it was weak and boring. All that time, all that running and I was wrong.
It takes more courage to stay in one place, to face yourself and others, to be vulnerable, to take chances, make mistakes, and to try again. Contentment, for me, is a beautiful reward that came when I made the conscious decision to get off of life’s roller coaster. When I stopped chasing the cheap highs I no longer had to relive the same lows. Accepting life on life’s terms IS contentment. The key is to keep the pendulum of life in the center as much as possible. That’s where contentment is and that’s where I want to be.