Unhappy is a word that I (and others) use frequently to easily describe so many things.
I can be unhappy if it is raining when I want to do something ouside.
I can be unhappy if they cancel a TV series that I really enjoyed.
I can be unhappy if a shop has sold out of the type of bread I want to buy.
But on reflection, this is not being unhappy. That is something much more serious.
Have I been unhappy at stages in my life, really unhappy?
Yes I have. Or have I? I at least thought I was.
I was desperately unhappy for my mum when my dad left, and she had to sell her beloved house in the suburbs. I could see the pain on her face, and hear the heartbreak in her voice. But I was not unhappy to see my dad go, I was being unhappy for someone else.
When my first marriage broke up, I was genuinely unhappy. I felt bad that I had failed as a husband, and discovered loneliness sitting on my own in a new small house. At the time, I dealt with that by using denial, and felt sure we would get back together.
Some years later, I was divorced again, and living in a rented flat a long way from the parts of London that I knew well. Coming home after an exhausting shift on the ambulances, I had nobody to talk to, and sat in that cold, damp flat feeling very unhappy. I dealt with that the second time by drinking a great deal of red wine, and seeking oblivion.
I had to rethink though. Was I genuinely unhappy, or was I just feeling sorry for myself? Was ‘unhappy’ just a convenient word for a different feeling?
Now with the accrued life knowledge of 70 years, I have come to a conclusion. I have been unhappy for others, which is probably better called sympathy or empathy, depending on the circumstances. I have been miffed about something, fed up with something else, and have definitely felt sorry for myself on numerous occasions.
The good news though is that I have never been truly unhappy.