Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thief of Joy

Have you ever known someone who just cannot stand to see you happy, when every time things are quiet and you find that smile creeping back into your heart and mind that person starts a fight or contacts you out of the blue just to make sure to ruin that feeling of joy? Then it's time to wise up and pay attention because you're giving them leverage and way too much power in your life . . . and it is about power.

Every time you allow someone to turn your heart and your life inside out, you give them power. Is that what you really want? Wouldn't you rather feel the joy bubbling inside you or do you want to feel guilty all your life? Then wake up and smell the latte because it's not too late. Pay attention to the signs and either get wise or get out.

I have a friend whose life is a mess. Whose isn't these days? She spends her time up on the mountain one moment and down in the valley of fears and tears the next and all because of her husband, but it's also because of her; she can't see what she allows him to do. She does not realize the power she gives him every time he turns her inside out and upside down.

For instance, my friend decided to take some time for herself. She went out with friends and had a wonderful time. She also had plans to see another close friend a day or so later. She came home happy and excited, anticipating a few hours with her friend, someone she hadn't seen in months and missed terribly. Her husband doesn't like her friend so she limits her visits to keep him from blowing up. This time, to be on the safe side, my friend didn't tell her husband she was going to visit her friend, but he knew something was up because he knew the signs so well. Without realizing it, my friend would smile for no reason, a happy secret smile that told her husband everything he needed to know. My friend doesn't realize how much her attitude changes when she plans to go see her friend or how much her happiness and anticipation of a few hours of joy shows on her face and in her demeanor. All she does know is that he planned to turn her world upside down -- and he did. He decided to make plans and corralled his wife into believing the plans could not be changed and she must be there. She knew what would happen if she didn't give in -- arguments, shouting, fighting, anger, and repressed helpless rage -- so she let her friend know she wouldn't be able to show up. The friend was understanding -- she always is -- but the friend knew what my friend didn't; my friend had been set up. Now my friend's husband is making her pay for even wanting to have a small bit of joy that takes her out of his control and away from him because whenever his wife is with her friend thoughts of leaving her husband creep into her heart and she believes anything is possible -- anything, even happiness.

People like my friend's husband creep into our lives like thieves of joy. They cannot stand for anyone to be happy because thoughts of freedom steal into their imagination. They are slaves to unhappiness, slaves to the thieves of joy, who live for brief moments of freedom and then, like good slaves, go back to depression and fear and desperate unhappiness. It doesn't have to be this way. Recognize the signs in yourself and anyone who steals your joy and either shut them down or get as far away from them as you can because if you don't you will be a slave for the rest of your life. The thief of joy doesn't have to be a spouse, the thief can be a friend or acquaintance or even a neighbor, anyone who stomps on joy whenever and wherever they find it.

The thief of joy lives to make everyone around them miserable, including themselves. The thief of joy may seem happy to outsiders but there is a deep, dark well of rage and helplessness inside them that shows itself in many different ways. The thief of joy fills their emptiness by surrounding themselves with people (the thief may call them friends but the thief of joy doesn't really understand the concept of friendship), by shopping, by filling their time with activities, by obsessing about their children, by addictions, by living on a perpetually moving emotional roller coaster, by any number of activities and things that put a smile on their face for a day or a week or even a month, but eventually the darkness seeps out like a creeping fog that taints everything and everyone around them. They cannot allow themselves or anyone around them to be happy for long and true joy brings out the worst in them. The thief of joy will start an argument or create drama and the cycle begins again. The thief of joy anesthetizes their pain but the pain, because it has not been handled, always comes back and devours the sun of joy and everyone around them until only regret and anger and depression remain and the thief of joy is certain their mark will not venture too far for a while. Things settle down after the thief of joy has a belly full of your joy and, like a sated bear, goes to his cave to hibernate for a while. Beware! The thief of joy is not gone, he is merely digesting his meal. He will get hungry again and come rampaging out of the cave looking for another satisfying meal of your joy.

Will you be there or will you take your joy and force the thief to steal from someone else?

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