You Don’t Determine My Happiness Anymore

woman spreading hair at during sunset
Aditya Saxena / Unsplash

Your good morning texts used to have the power to make my day. A simple smiley emoji at 8 a.m. could turn all my negative thoughts into glitter as my worth was validated by the sign of your interest in me.

When those texts went missing, however, I could feel my stomach sinking and anxiety crippling inside out my chest. I’d wonder what was happening, if I did something wrong, if I wasn’t good enough. I would fall into the pits of self-doubt, beating myself over losing something which I didn’t realize I had never had in the first place. Only when your name popped up on my lock screen again would I feel okay again. And the cycle repeated.

My mood constantly went up and down depending how you responded to me. I would dissect your one line text over and over again to find a reason to be hopeful, to reassure myself I hadn’t just been making a fool of myself this whole time. When you told me you thought it might not be working out between us, I was at work and I almost had to excuse myself to go vomit.

Okay, vomiting sounds dramatic, but it did feel that bad. My happiness was in the future tense and one casual text from you could instantly wipe away all those blissful scenarios. I was painfully lost. I had been so deep into the idea of us as a couple that I didn’t know where I would be or even who I would be without you there.

But then clarity came through when the pain got soaked up.

With you removed, I realised I didn’t really have any problems. All the problems I had were brought on by liking you and hoping you would like me back. If this desire was to be removed, if expectations were to be eliminated, my life would be smooth. If I could just let go of the outcome that we would end up together, there would be no more anxiously waiting, no more decisions made based off the movements on your face; there would just be me doing things I know are definitely good for me. My days would be positive. I wouldn’t have to feel like I’m perpetually holding my breath, nervous about what tomorrow would bring.

With you removed, I’d still be me, wonderfully so. It took time to get used to the idea of me as an individual instead of being part of a pair, but it wasn’t the end of the world — it’s actually how it should be. Me as an individual should always come before any other identity, and it should be something I’m comfortable with, something I’m excited about, whether I’m with a partner or not.

You don’t determine my happiness anymore. And I’m not saying this to make you feel bad or as a kind of pep-talk to help myself move on. No. You don’t determine my happiness anymore because you’re not supposed to determine my happiness. Ever. No one is, except for myself. You had tremendous power over me because I gave you that power. You were that special to me because I made you that special. I enabled you to be a crucial part of my self-esteem, and it wasn’t fair to either of us. Now I’m taking that power back and I’m giving it to myself as I always should. I’m taking full responsibility for my happiness.

I’m happy if you’re interested in me, but your lack of interest or effort won’t take anything away from me. I’m whole as I come. I’m worthy as I am. I will focus my energy and attention on things that I know will add value to my life and bring me positivity. Because I want to be happy. Because I determine my own happiness. I choose to make myself happy right now, whether that happiness involves you or not. TC mark

Ellen Nguyen

Viet girl. Writer. Founder. London based

Tell me, if a person falls apart alone in the dark, does it make a sound?

You are not broken.

You are simply disassembled for a while as the artist inside rebuilds something infinite out of you.

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