The Difference Between a HAS and a HAS Not

“If I could shake the crushing weight of expectations

Would that free some room up for joy

Or relaxation, or simple pleasure?”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Surface Pressure, from Disney’s Encanto

One thing I don’t like about myself is I have HAS-Happiness Avoidance Syndrome. I completely made that up, but I think I have it nonetheless. You won’t find it on WebMD or HealthLine, but I know it’s real. I don’t know why I have it. I try to get rid of it. I’ve read books, lots of them, on the topic. I’ve tried all kinds of happiness “Kool-Aid” from the best happiness experts and gurus.

However, some of the people who claim to have all their happy ducks in a row are millionaires. And the happy drinks they offer are laced with toxic positivity and a huge dose of privilege. I work hard to be positive and to see the glass as half full, which I discussed a few days ago, but then again, what’s in the glass? I prefer reality. No amount of positivity is going to completely turn something horrid into something not so horrid. What helps in those situations are a lot of people helping me through those times because you have to ride through them. If something’s awful, it’s awful, there’s no need to pretend it isn’t.

How did I become this way? Is it being a (mostly) rule following first born? Is it the high expectations I load onto my shoulders? Is it nature or nurture? I often have to tell myself not to fret about certain things.

Case in point: This weekend. I’m fretting about ordering dinner. What can I share with my ‘tween who will either have the appetite of a gnat or a full grown man? I’ve been sharing meals with my kids for almost two decades. Why? The damn budget. I hate wasting food. My husband orders whatever he wants, plus extra sides and a drink without blinking. Why do I have to second guess everything and tally the bill before we even order? I’m usually hungry and since we don’t eat out more than once a week (which I think is too much), might as well enjoy a good meal I don’t have to cook, right?

If I do share, ‘tween devours the double sized portion and I’m stuck scrounging up leftover fries or half a chicken strip with the breading gnawed off. If I don’t share, we wind up with too much food. The thing is, we can afford it. We don’t go to overly pricey restaurants and we order what’s reasonable. Everyone else is happy, so why do I do this to myself?

Is it first-born perfectionism? I’ve had to play adult before I became one. I helped younger siblings with homework. Cooked some meals when my parents were at work. I did lots of sibling-sitting while I was in high school. I’m not the only one. It’s the default when you grow up with two parents working. I don’t know if this is the reason or not and I’m certainly not blaming my parents. That’s how it was.

Thanks to Disney, I have Surface Pressure from Encanto playing in the back of my mind. Often. The song annoys me. It isn’t pleasant. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth and hurts my ears. And yet, it’s fitting. Isn’t that what HAS does though? It’s annoying. It’s unpleasant. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and hurts your ears. And thoughts. And everyone around you. Everyone around me. I’m working on it, but it’s hard. That’s reality. It’s self-inflicted. I’m trying to stop.

I don’t know what’s it’s like being a HAS-not. Happiness ebbs and flows. That’s okay. We can’t be happy all of the time, otherwise, we wouldn’t know there’s a difference between anything else.

This morning, I emphatically ordered avocado toast and a cappuccino. It was delicious and I enjoyed every bite of it. I didn’t share a meal with ‘tween and it felt good. Then I ordered a concha, my favorite Mexican pastry, to bring home for tomorrow morning. Might as well. We were in San Antonio and found a bougie Mexican panaderĂ­a. I’m a sucker for conchas. I will be happy when I have it with my cafecito in the morning. Or at least the second half of it. I happily ate some on the way home.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022