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I Believe I Am Responsible For My Own Happiness

Essayist Lisa Sarick
Lisa Sarick

This is a tough story to tell. My “wasband” (that’s husband, past tense) is an alcoholic. There came a point during our 18 years together when I was sure that he was making me miserable.

Luckily, it was during that time that I found Al-Anon, a group for loved-ones of alcoholics. Then, at a meeting, I heard someone say, “I am responsible for my own happiness.”


I actually gasped! It was a revelation. I thought to myself, “Holy cow! I am! And that’s great news. I’m free!” Ever since, I believe that I am responsible for my own happiness. 


But it wasn’t as easy as just accepting that truth. Soon after that meeting, I realized what the “responsible” part meant. It meant I needed to find ways to help myself be happy. I was responsible for my happiness when we went to a party and he got drunk. I was responsible for my happiness when we had plans but he didn’t come home after work. And when he didn’t want to visit my family because he wanted to drink. It was a bit of work, but I learned to adapt. I planned to drive myself when we went to a social gathering, and to have a friend available on back-up in case he didn’t show for plans that we had made. Most importantly, I also tried hard to appreciate daily all of the good things in my life.


Ultimately though, that responsibility for my own happiness led me out of that marriage. I decided to leave, to open myself up to the kind of intimate relationship that I really wanted to be in.


It may sound strange, but I’m grateful for my “wasband” and for his alcoholism.


It’s been 9 years since our divorce and I’m now re-married to a wonderful man named John. I am in a relationship where I feel safe and loved. But it’s still imperative that I remember whose job it is to make me happy. It’s not John’s, it’s mine. 


I look at my marriage as an opportunity to grow. He doesn’t complete me. He challenges me. He pokes at my tender spots so I can see them and tend to them. He allows me to reach down into and remember the unlimited well of love I have within me. I’m so grateful I can share that with him and our daughter.


But I learned those lessons the hard way. My first marriage may not have been ideal, but it set me on the path to where I am now. It taught me many lessons, especially to take responsibility for my own happiness. So, I think that marriage was perfect. At least, that is what I choose to believe…because it makes me happy.


Lisa Sarick is a yoga instructor in DuBois. She also started the Sole Spirit of Love Community.

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