I Had A Home, Loving Boyfriend, And A Nice Life... But I Wasn't Happy

Marriage and Family Therapist By Shelly Bullard, MFT
Marriage and Family Therapist
Shelly Bullard, MFT, is a marriage and family therapist with a holistic and spiritual approach to relationships. She has worked with thousands of clients on improving their relationships with others and themselves.

I was in a starter marriage. Without the marriage part.

I was partnered to a lovely man for four years. We lived in the quintessential suburban home. I went to grad school while he worked for a startup. Dinner parties, game night, wine tasting, a cat. You know, the whole nine yards.

The only problem was, this wasn't my path.

It took me a while to realize this. You see, nothing looked wrong from the outside. In fact, it all looked pretty nice. I was doing what I was supposed to do, right?

Wrong. I was doing what I was supposed to do if I wanted to do it. There's a big difference.

While hanging out with my perfectly sweet boyfriend in my perfectly sweet home, I found myself wondering, "What am I doing here?" and even more disturbingly, "Why doesn't this feel right?"

Turns out I got caught in the trap that many of us get caught in: I believed I'd find happiness if I followed the path I was "supposed" to follow. Most of us learn the hard way.

For whatever reason, many of us believe there's a specific way to do life (marriage, kids, house, in some particular order). We think if we continue down this path we'll eventually arrive to the place called happy.

You're supposed to move in together, you're supposed get married, you're supposed to buy a house, you're supposed to have kids…

The problem is, we actually aren't supposed to do any of these things! What we're supposed to do is be true to ourselves! Lots of us didn't get that memo.

Maybe this is your memo.

Luckily, I caught myself in the midst of unhappy and bravely spoke my truth: This isn't working for me. 

Thank goodness I did because it set me on a trajectory of following what's real. And while it still took me a few more years to find my soul's path, at least now I had the experience of listening to my truth. This was big.

There are two major issues in believing there's a set path for us all:

1. If you don't follow this path (or you don't go through the steps "fast enough"), you think something's wrong with you.

2. If you follow this path and you don't feel happy as a result, you think something's wrong with you.

I'd like to address these issues and talk about why nothing's wrong with you (no matter what path you choose).

Following a path because you think you're going to feel better as a result of "arriving" is a trap. A big one. It never works out the way you want because the destination ends up feeling the same as before (i.e. like something is missing). Only now it's more complicated because other people are involved.

Outside things do not complete us. Including a marriage. Including a house. Including money. Including kids.

They may bring you a lot of joy, which is fantastic. But they aren't going to make you feel complete.

Being true to yourself is what completes you. 

These messages about what we're "supposed to do" create a ton of anxiety for us because they make us to believe we're doing something wrong! We've missed the boat if we don't follow the path, or if we follow it and aren't happy. Either way, we're screwed.

Luckily, this isn't the ultimate reality.

Happiness is listening to your truth and following through. It's saying "F-it!" to The Path, and deciding to make your own road. Happiness is definitely a little renegade. It's not always what others want for you; it's not always the most popular route.

But hear this: it is the ONLY route.

You can't find happiness by living someone else's dream. Including the general dream of society. Happiness is finding your own dream.

Seek your own version of happiness. Drop into your heart, listen to what it has to say, be brave, and go for it. You'll find your way. I promise.

Please leave a comment below and tell us how you found your soul's path (or how you plan on finding it). I'm looking forward to being inspired by your stories!

Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT, is a marriage and family therapist with a holistic and spiritual approach to...
Read More
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Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT
Shelly Bullard, MFT, is a marriage and family therapist with a...
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