Do we have a responsibility to be happy?

My Momma! Isn't she pretty.
My Momma! Isn’t she pretty.

Today is Mother’s day and I have been thinking about Momma’s influence on my life. If you look at all of my siblings you would agree with me, that Mom and Dad did a good job. They are brilliant, giving, loving successful people. I am extremely lucky because they are there for me no matter situation. That is what my Mom’s doing. She fostered an elaborate, “us against the world” mentality. I don’t know if it is unusual to my family, but we like to talk about survival issues. For instance, I know that you can drink your urine if you have to, but your snot has no nutritional value. I know that if I had to, I could count on my siblings to help me if I needed for survival. Even if it is just a floor and a hot meal, my siblings would rise to the occasion. My mom told us, that we could only count on ourselves first, and our siblings second. We would come to a time when they would be the only people we could count on.

We rely on each other for encouragement and to share in each other’s joy. My brother Patrick encourages me to read more and to succeed mentally, Katie and I encourage each other to eat healthier and take care of ourselves, and Matthew encourages me to live more honestly and happily. When my brother’s wife was pregnant, Patrick, Katie and I shared in his joy so much you would have thought that boy was in our bellies.

When my sister was going through a hard time in high school I tried to remind her of that bond. I told her that she was a beautiful, smart person and deserved happiness. I told her she would one day have happiness and that the rest of us would be very sad if she didn’t get to see that day.

There was a time when I tried to commit suicide. I cut my wrist. When I was laying on the bathroom floor and the shockingly bright blood hit the tile, the first thing I thought about was my siblings. That is what stopped me. In that moment, I didn’t have enough self-esteem to live for myself. I lived for them. I couldn’t do that to them.

We have since widened the circle of stability and now count on our spouses and a few friends as closely. This may sound like codependence but it isn’t. I only get to talk to my sister once a week at most, and the boys even less, but it doesn’t mean I don’t think about them every day and with each big decision. They are like my north star, guiding me to happiness because if I don’t continue to be happy, what is the point of living so far away from them. If I get myself into some kind of trouble, I would have to rely on them, and I care too much about their happiness to do that to them. In doing this, I have realized my worth and my value because if they care so much-shouldn’t I?

I think that my mother gave us this bond and encouraged it, maybe one might think too much, but in the meantime it has saved my life and also enriched it more than I can explain. I think feeling responsible to hearts outside my own has made my life more enjoyable and enriched.

This is just one of the good things Mom has done for me. Thank you Momma, you are one of the strongest humans I know. I am so lucky to have you.

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