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The Oxford Dictionary firstly defines hope as

a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen

Now let’s be sensible here. I don’t feel my life is pointless, that nothing good is ever going to happen so in that sense I am not without hope. But yet I don’t have expectations that the future is going to be better than today. And I don’t have precise desires for where I want to be in ten years time other than being happier.

On the positive side, in the last four years since I started counselling, and in the years since I became single and life started to settle down I have improved my life tremendously.

I have a home. Not a house where I live but a home that I want to decorate and look after, where I want to stay.

I live in a community. I live in an area where strangers become friends, where neighbours talk to each other, and those who can expend time and effort into making the community a better place to be, whether it’s organising fun events we all like to go to or helping to realise the boring bits we all need.

I have four children. They might drive me mad at times but I wouldn’t be without them and I love them very much. They also bring me joy and delight as I watch them grow up into eventual adulthood.

I have a job. It’s part time and I’m not free of benefits but it’s a good start and it allows me to work from home and fit work around the school day. And I enjoy it.

I have friends. For the first time in my life I have friends. Lots of nodding acquaintances, friends I talk to about lots of things, closer friends with whom I talk about more and finally my BFF1 and BFF2 with whom I talk about everything, including my darkest moments.

I can participate in life. By which I mean that I have joined groups of people, both in real life and online, people with whom I share common interests and want to be able to talk to about them. I can find people who are interested in what I am interested in and can then engage with them.

I have twitter. This somewhat goes with the above line, but the joy of twitter is that I’m never alone if I don’t want to be. There’s always someone spouting nonsense to cheer me up or take my mind off things. There’s always someone writing something intelligent and thought-provoking that I can think about. There’s always stuff to find out and people to read.

I am in charge of my own destiny. I can change what I do and how I do it. This is after all why I am in counselling: because I want to change, because I don’t want to be the person I became.

I concentrate so much on the journey still to come that I forget to celebrate the journey undertaken. I can feel positive and good when thinking about these things but that happiness, that joy, whatever it is, is fleeting and disappears momentarily.

I’m reminded of Pollyanna, who I first read as a young adult rather than a child. In it there’s a conversation when she talks to the vicar about the “rejoicing texts”, saying her father said “if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to be glad and rejoice, he must want us to do it”. Now I don’t believe in God but I believe in that sentiment. Maybe I should make my own collection of rejoicing texts. Life is too short not to enjoy it and I want to feel glad and rejoice in it.

But something’s holding me back. It may be that I’ve spent so many years being so miserable that I just can’t get out of the habit yet. It may be that I need to uncover more depths to somehow free me My brain sees the progress and logic that gives me permission to feel glad and joyful, but my heart isn’t there yet. And until I can feel joyful, I cannot hope (or is it the other way round?).

I feel as if I’m going round and round this conundrum, circling it and sometimes getting closer and sometimes further away. I shall keep writing about it, attacking it from different angles until I find a way through. One day.

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