The pursuit of happiness

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I have just returned from work and it’s been a regular day –not very hectic or a one that would totally sap the energy out of me. I look at my watch and its 8.30PM, hmmm not bad. I get out of my jacket into a pair of shorts and one of my oldest and scraggy t-shirts. Looking at it, I wonder why I even wear it now. It’s one of the oldest and has clearly run the course of its useful life, but it is the most comfy and just feels like second skin. Casting that thought aside, I pour myself a glass of single malt and park my ass in front of the TV in my new and improved living room (I have had my house re-decorated since the split and tried to just clear out a lot of the memories from the past). It’s been my ritual now and I am in my comfort zone – surfing channels, having my dinner and crashing to bed, hoping to get up in time to hit the gym before work.

I then realize, it’s a thursday evening and my daughter comes home tomorrow and I need to wrap up everything before the weekend so we can truly spend ‘papa-beti’ (father daughter) time together doing absolutely nothing on the weekend 🙂 all together, just the two of us….. I like that!!!! But something is different today and somehow in one of my moods, and I ask myself – AM I HAPPY? Just like all the other non-simple questions – this too must be broken down and analysed.

So here goes. My life has been pretty predictable since the split. I focus on wrapping up work during the week, enjoy the evening with my single malt and some actual real live friends 🙂 (and I have a few very nice ones) and spend time with the daughter on the weekend. It’s sort of a routine but I have gotten used to it. Truth be told, I have not really dated much since the split (since we are telling truths, have not dated at all really :)) but there’s been no time. Yes, I have missed a companion and there have been some occasions when I have had this strong urge to call my ex. But I was most likely a little wasted, alone and the logical thing to do was to delve into the past. But over a period of time, realization finally dawned on me, that I did not miss my ex, as a person. I really just missed a companion. While I didn’t like being alone, those times were few and far between and the hum drum and chaos of daily life really did not let me ponder on such thoughts t too much. I didn’t want to be in a relationship just because I was alone – that’s the worst foundation to a fresh start. So I brush this thought aside and think, yeah, am not sad, life is good and if am not moping about am happy……..Logical? Well, seemed to be.

That was 8 months ago. A month later, a dear friend of mine, very reluctantly and cautiously broached the topic to trying to set me up with her colleague. My friend, who shall remain nameless, like everyone else in the blog, works in a different city and my first reaction, was to tell her that she had completely lost her mind. Relationships were clearly not my forté and long distance ones to boot…phew…But I agreed, with the clear understanding that I was not committing to anything and if it did not work out there would be no hard feeling. Finally and above all, this mystery lady would need to understand that my daughter would always be the single most, top of the line, priority in my life. That was that.

Nothing happened for the next few weeks but co-incidentally, I was travelling to the city on work fairly soon and we were officially set up. For the sake of anonymity, lets juts call her X. As I got ready to go, I picked out what I thought was my best black suit (it was a formal client meeting), nice tie and a dress shirt which everyone told me really fit me well 🙂 I had been working out, so if the lady, got a hint of the decent chest and nice(ish) arms under the shirt why not 🙂 If you are back in the ring, might as well dress to impress. I also could not help but realize how nervous I was. It was like being seventeen again. The pressure to impress, the pressure make intelligent, good conversation, the pressure, the pressure the pressure!!!! Gawd, I dealt with professional client situations better than this…. Here I was worrying about meeting X. Why?

Cutting a long story short, I really did not make intelligent conversation and was infact a bumbling idiot. How I behaved that night was clearly not something I would like to reproduce in print but all I can say was that I was looking at all the wrong places (since I am telling the truth here – I thought she was smoking hot) and saying the wrong things :). I was like a puppy with my tongue hanging out on a hot summer day and drooling to my heart’s content :). My experience (here it is mine) is that men (read I) can’t make intelligent conversation when am distracted by hot women around. And the best part was that she knew it and was enjoying this 30+ year old man make a fool of himself. But I just knew that there was something there. By the next day it was as if I had known her for a very long time. She understood me, my idiosyncrasies, my tantrums, my attention seeking ways, my love for my daughter and also made me feel like a good man. It was a great feeling after a very long time.

It was not right but it was natural for me to compare situations now and with my ex and I realized that I was in a much happier (???) place now. Life was good, I missed X and not just ‘a’ companion and being in different cities, for the first time in 3 years I stared feeling lonely when I was alone. My logical mind couldn’t really understand what was happening here and I would always try and find some fault or the other and an excuse to be unhappy (?) and go back to the time of no expectations, no other person that I needed to worry about.

It was in one of those evenings with my single malt that I really got thinking all over again. I had been there and done that. I had experienced the entire expectations that came with a relationship. Was I ready for that all over again? I had been on my own for over nearly three years now. I was used to having to deal only with my emotions, my feelings, the expectations that I set for myself and no one else. Was I ready to make space for someone else in my life and not just in my closet? Was it really worth the effort anymore? As I had realized, I was not unhappy or sad. I had my own routine and I had made my peace with it. I had no time to think of anything or anyone else. Was it all worth it? Was I ready to start all over again? And more importantly, did I want to? I would be hitting the dreaded four O in a few years and really did a man need a companion after that? Was your life really not about your children after that????

Then I looked at the little girl lying next to me and I wondered – as a parent was it not my duty to think of her before I thought of myself? Isn’t that what being a parent is all about? I was now a father and was that not it…… How would she comprehend the entire change in my personal life and how would she accept or understand it? Was it not my duty to see what was best for her? And I would always have her….. She needed me, even if it was only on the weekends. Was that not enough? Should I not make her the sole focus of my life and make sure my being is really revolving around her. After all, I was her father???? I could never be ‘the mother’ but that’s the least I could do as her father……

I just could not figure out how to analyse this entire situation that I was in. In was torn in the need to be the best father possible and also embrace the woman who really made me feel alive all over again. It was really tough, dealing with what I felt was the guilt of at some level ‘betraying’ my little one of trying to have a life that had something more than just her. She would always be my little girl and would always need her daddy. Could I really risk trying to focus on something else? What if she were to need me at the precise moment that I was busy with my own feelings? What if she never understood why I was not there for her? Would she forgive me and more importantly, would she understand? And I just had no clue…..

I spoke with X and always told her of the dilemma that I was going through and she just told me one simple thing – to just go with the flow and see where this led. Why create the pressure of significant expectations and try and find fault and convince ourselves we could never be happy? Hmm… seemed like a logical thing to do.

But it was not the easiest thing to do. To top it all, how soon was too soon? It had been less than 3 years since the split? Was there not a required waiting period before I threw my hat into the dating ring and sounded out that I was ready all over again? Aren’t men expected to wait longer to ensure that they are not labeled as cads? When did this period really end and when would it be ok to be seen with a woman other than my ex? Would there ever be such a time? As always I never had any answers…

I did mention that my extended family (my friends) had really been very instrumental in keeping me together. Infact my ‘bro’ once told me ‘dude, whenever you are wasted and have the urge to call your ex – just call or text me….I will be your 2AM friend :)” sounded perfect. The one time that I did call him, when I was wasted and needed to avoid making a fool, he did not take my call and it was only midnight 🙂 Very sheepishly, he told me next morning “dude, I fell asleep. I must be the worst 2AM friend ever” The guy had good intentions and knowing that was good enough.

Coming back, X made such an effort for the things important in my life, my daughter, folks, my friends (see above :)) and just about all that I cared for that I just knew she could not get away. And the fact that my daughter got along with her like a house on fire really sealed the deal.

A funny ritual that has developed over the last few months – we had just started dating and X sent me a text at 1PM saying ‘lunch?’ I responded with a very cool ‘yup’. This went on every day and now it’s become of our daily ritual. Same time, every day. Now I don’t even respond and I feel she does not expect a response either. But if I don’t get the text I am as surprised as she when she gets a response 🙂 Life is good, it’s comfortable, and I seem to be a relatively calmer and dare I say a much happier man?

But it is also due to my realization that not everything is controllable and sometimes you have to pick your paths and make your own decisions and live by them. They will determiner greatly your own state of mind and happiness. It’s weird now, when I see my ex these days and I don’t feel anything other than a small amount of regret. I used to feel angry, hurt, frustrated and now it’s been replaced by just a tinge of regret as I think I don’t see her as anything more than the mother of my child. It’s really sad, since at one point in my life, she was my life!!!! I have moved on, made peace with the past, accepted my mistakes and hopefully never to make them again. Life has a strange way of making one see perspective…….

I remember reading recently, where a woman said that she hated the movie Jerry McGuire. The whole idea of someone else completing you just did not make sense to her. After all, we are all ‘whole’ individuals, so why did we need for someone else to complete us? We should be with someone because we want to and not because we need to or because they complete us. A very interesting take I thought…..

So what’s really been my take from all of this? Just two things really.

Firstly, that we need to be happy personally and that will spread. Are we just so caught up trying to find our happiness through others – be it our children, our friends, our spouse, our family, whoever it maybe that we forget that we are individuals too? My daughter needs me now but in a few years she will have a life of her own. Can I really live my life around her completely? Children will soon have lives of their own and can we ignore our individual needs at the risk of being a bad parent? My personal happiness makes me a better father and I think my daughter does notice that. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to find what makes us happy as individuals and make us better people? Just because I am happy as an individual does not make me any less a father.

Secondly, the absence of sadness is not necessarily happiness……… I could go on with my life, the absence of change and potentially realize that there would be a day when I would have none. My daughter would still love me but have her own life to lead. She will always need her father and just because I have a relationship outside of her does not diminish the bond that we have.

So as I ask myself the same question today, I think I have a definite answer, yes I am happy and it’s not just the absence of sadness. The only catch being that we all have to take out own paths to find this happiness. Sometimes, it may take us days and sometimes it may take us even months or years. But don’t we owe it to ourselves and to everyone we love?

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3 responses »

  1. With all those realizations, you will very soon need a new name for your blog – I would go with Insights of a Reflective Man :)) So very happy for you, X and your daughter.

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