Brené Brown, popular for her empowering and all-of-the-feels books, talks about this thing called Foreboding Joy. If you’re interested in the 3 minute explanation from Brené to Oprah, watch the video or read the article here.
But to explain in my own words – At a time in my life where the Joy is running amok and I almost can’t contain the level of happiness spilling out of me and onto everything and everyone within a mile radius…………. there’s still this Foreboding voice lurking in the shadows. It says to me, “Something bad is coming. I just know it. It’s impossible to be THIS happy and not have something go wrong.”
My eyebrows draw together and give me that wrinkle I will curse for years to come. I think over every possible horrible thing that *could* smash my Lego Tower of Joy to bits. Then I have corresponding nightmares (and wake my fiancé by talking/yelling in my sleep). Until I finally realize that I’m on the self-sabotage warpath and mentally smack myself upside the head. Because I’m missing all of the good stuff.
Brené’s whole point is that we should understand that we ARE allowed this much happy. It IS acceptable to revel in the wonderfully happy moments and not feel ashamed about it. And we should absolutely NOT spend a single millisecond of this Joyful time worrying about when the other fucking shoe is going to drop.
But you know what? Doing so is scary as hell. Because by acknowledging your own overwhelming happiness, you also recognize that you have something important to lose. You are suddenly painfully, awkwardly and uncomfortably vulnerable with a capital V. And for this hard-headed, “I can do everything myself, get outta my way” Aries? The realization that I’m holding something this precious in my hands – and that it could be snatched away at any given moment – it makes me super squirmy. So to follow the wise words of Brene, and instead of being guarded and cautious, I’m choosing to take a minute.
This is me smelling the roses. This is me drinking coffee at my computer on a Saturday morning, fiancé asleep in the other room, and I suddenly have happy tears running down my grinning face as I watch the Sara Bareilles video for “I Choose You.”. This is us, not able to stop giving each other adoring looks or holding hands or stealing kisses in line at the grocery store.
This is him, sliding a potential wedding band onto his ring finger for the first time and looking up and into my face with unconditional love. This is me, in awe of him standing there in a suit about to be tailored for his body, knowing that he’ll be wearing it while my father walks me toward him. This is him, not really a fan of sweets at all, but bravely sampling seven types of cake to choose one that our family and friends will enjoy.
This is my recognition of not only both of us having good jobs, but having jobs in which we are thriving and growing. This is blessed gratitude for a close-knit family that has been woven together more firmly throughout the last 9 months of engagement. And this is overwhelming appreciation for friends who are stepping up and showing expansive amounts of love in countless ways for us.
Even these few examples do not pay justice to the level of my gratefulness. There is so much more. So I’m kicking Foreboding Joy to the curb and refusing to worry any more. (Or…. at least as much as it’s possible for me to get out of my own way!) Because I’m never going to get these moments back. And it’s about time I start living in them. Brené says that “Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience”, and she’s right. It’s sure as shit not very comfortable to stand here, emotionally naked and exposed, yet still shining like the brightest star in the sky. But to miss the opportunity to soak up every ounce of happy would be an even greater tragedy.
I feel you. You feel me?