Chapter 22: The Myth of Happiness
After working the curse breaker spell and presenting Scott with the medicine pouch, I felt sure our relationship was meant to be. Scott didn’t exactly feel like a ‘soulmate’ per se, but I believed we were supposed to be together somehow. I felt I was clearly meant to break the curse on his family, and I felt Scott was sent to me to provide me stability and assuage my loneliness. Back then, I lived by my feelings and what my heart told me. I figured my feelings or heart wouldn’t lie to me, but I had no clue Satan whispers thoughts into our hearts and minds. Ignorant of the enemy’s schemes, I blindly followed what felt right in every area of my life.
As the days went by, I felt like I was a ‘real’ woman because I was finally in a serious relationship. I felt like I was worth more in society somehow, as if by the sheer fact that a man wanted me…that this made me more valuable in the eyes of the world. My married friends were all very excited for me as well, and they suddenly wanted to hang out more because I was part of a couple. I was no longer the single girl, and this had a profoundly positive effect on my self-esteem. Scott and I did normal everyday things that couples do together, and I began to feel like I fit better into the world somehow–all because I was part of a couple. I marveled at how powerful this social approval was, and how much I needed it. Scott and I attended parties and went on weekend trips, all the things I had longed for in life. He bought me thoughtful gifts and treated me like a queen, and I was finally where I always thought I should be. Even though I finally felt satisfied, a slow growing feeling of unease began to fall upon my heart. I finally had what I always thought I wanted, so why wasn’t I as happy?
Even though everything was finally going according to plan, I felt unfulfilled and empty. I couldn’t help thinking that I was play acting, pretending to be happy and fulfilled, but that deep down I was anything but happy. I tried to shake off the steadily growing feeling of uneasiness, but it kept returning, stronger each time. I finally realized that I had done what centuries of women before me had done–I had settled for someone I liked very much, but did not love with all my heart. I had wanted so badly to be happy, that I had created an artificial happiness that didn’t quite fit the bill.
My obsession with finding a soul-mate had proved to be a fruitless endeavor thus far in my life anyways, so it seemed smart to settle for more of a ‘companion’ sort of love. The word ‘love’ was in itself a profoundly confusing term to me as it was, so a companion seemed like a viable alternative. My previous experiences with love had always been ‘obsessive love’, and so I had no clue what real love was supposed to feel like. So, I rationalized that as long as I really liked someone and respected them as a friend, well then I could turn that into true love. However, as the days and weeks went by I started to realize that my heart was empty, and my life was even emptier. I had created a fantasy based upon how things looked on the outside, but the inside of my heart was wasting away. I wanted to be accepted and loved, and it for a while I was, but it was all superficial. Meanwhile, all my friends finally thought I had ‘arrived’ in my life, and everyone seemed overjoyed that I had found someone. I was receiving messages every week from friends and family telling me how happy they were for me, and this began to wake me up.
Friends could tell from my social media that I was FINALLY happy. They could tell from my pictures that I FINALLY had a good life. I froze hearing these words. I realized I was anything but happy. Instead, I was empty and the act finally had to come to an end.
Unable to bear the secret misery any longer, I knew what I had to do–end things with Scott. Breaking up with Scott was a quick and painless process for me, in part because my heart was so hardened at this point in my life that I only cared about myself. That seemed normal to me at the time, and it just felt like ‘self-preservation’ and ‘self-care’. I had no sympathy for his feelings because I only cared about my own. I just wanted to get out of the relationship that I felt I had created. After all my talk about Scott and I being ‘meant to be’, I had realized that I had actually orchestrated the whole affair by seeking him out and seducing him. So, it was almost like extracting myself from a plan that had gone wrong in a way, and so I had no consideration for the fact that another person’s feelings were involved. I was just happy and relieved to be free. My life in the new age had taught me that to survive I could only really trust myself, so when I cut ties with someone I had to pull back all my ‘energy’. This was easier to do with Scott than with the other men I had dated, because I never had intense emotions for him. This is the hardening of the heart that I would later learn occurs without Christ as the center of our lives. Our hearts don’t know how to truly love unless we allow Jesus to transform us.
Jesus is the only path to true Peace, and the idea of finding happiness without the Prince of Peace is a lie…an illusion.
What surprised me however, was that ending the relationship with Scott seemed to have a domino effect in other areas of my life as well. I began to realize how little emotion or attachment I had for anyone in my life or anything really. I began to do some self-evaluation, and I realized just how empty the life I had created for myself in general had become. I began to wonder why I couldn’t ever seem to find a soul-mate, to find a true home for my heart to rest. I felt as if I had taken a wrong turn somewhere, but I couldn’t figure out where. I looked around at my friends, my job, my standing in the community, and all I could think was: ‘Is this as good as it gets?’ I had achieved what I never thought I could: a steady job, a place of my own, fun friends, a stable life…yet I was still feeling so empty inside.
I tried in vain to fill the emptiness with more spells and spiritual healing pursuits, spa days, road-trips, fun flirtations, fabulous friend time with my gals, etc… but somehow all my usual sources of joy had turned on me.
I did everything in my own power to be happy, so why wasn’t it working? Why wasn’t I healed from the past, and why was I always so miserable?
I put on a great front, as I had become a master at the art of pretending to be happy. The advent of social media helped to convince others that I had a fabulous free-spirited life, and that I was completely fulfilled, but deep down I knew the truth: I had been running from my past and my pain for as long as I could remember. I had never stopped, and it would never be enough for me to be at peace.
It was around this unsettling time that an opportunity to leave Oklahoma presented itself. You see, several years ago, my mother had decided to move to Arkansas with her new boyfriend. She wanted be close to her own mother who lived out in the country there. However, shortly after arriving in Arkansas my mom’s boyfriend abandoned her. My mom was then stuck there with the mortgage on a house she could barely afford. Needing help and also knowing my current situation, my mom offered for me to stay with her. This was logically appealing to me for a couple reasons. First and most selfishly, I would be getting out of town like I had always wanted. Secondly, I would also be able to help my mom pay the mortgage on her new house. This seemed like a smart and calculated move. I even decided that I could further legitimize my decision to move by applying for admission into the Master’s Program at the University of Arkansas. Nobody could question my decision to move if it involved upgrading my life, I thought. I was nervous about how my job and friends would react to my leaving, so having an iron clad excuse was important to me. Back then, I wanted everyone to like me all of the time. As long as people approved of my choices, I felt that meant I was on the right path.
Even though moving seemed like the right choice, I had an uneasy feeling about picking up and leaving again, giving up all my freedom to stay with a parent. This move definitely wasn’t as glamorous as all the others I’d had in the past. However, I felt compelled for some reason to go ahead with the plan. At the end of the day, I felt there had to be something better than the life I had been living, so I began to slowly dismantle my world for the umpteenth time and prepare to relocate in a strange place.
Saying goodbye to my friends was surprisingly easier than I thought, and this too shocked me. On my last night in town, my best friend Angie had decided to throw a goodbye party for me at her house. While I was really touched that she would do that for me, I was also surprised that I had little emotion around the idea of leaving everyone. It was as if somewhere deep down I knew I was supposed to leave, to get away from the life I had created, and yet communicating that to my loved ones came across as hurtful. Angie couldn’t understand why I would want to leave to begin with, and while I hated hurting her I knew something was pulling me towards leaving. I didn’t know it at the time, but God was already pursuing me…calling me out of the occult.
The night of the bon-voyage party was strange, and I felt the same emptiness inside that I had been feeling for years. Here I was, surrounded by good friends and yet I felt all alone. The sense of loneliness was a burden I had carried for as long as I could remember, but it had somehow grown in intensity as of late. I found this loneliness surprising because what initially drew me to Wicca was the idea of communicating with the spirit world, the idea of finally not being all alone. In the beginning, the mystical world eased a deep wound inside my soul. I felt as if I had been adopted into another world of enlightened ascended beings, as if these higher life forms knew I was worth something. However, after several years of spells and mystical pursuits, the old feelings of loneliness had returned. This time around, the feeling seemed much stronger in its intensity. I couldn’t find any strength to fight my way through it, like I had in the past.
I clearly remember the strange, uneasy feeling I had at the party– the feeling that I was trapped inside myself, the feeling that no matter what I did, the loneliness would be there. It had taken on a life of its own, and it was stronger than me now.