Your happiness is not yours to keep.
Your happiness is an extension of all the pain you caused others to make it here, a symbol of all the toes that you severed. Your happiness is not yours when it’s punctuated by your parents’ forfeited fantasies and their passed over luxuries and the exorbitant amount of money they poured in just so you could land a job so cushy, it snowballs into a career. Born out of someone else’s blood, sweat, and tears, your happiness is not yours to keep even if it started off as your dream.
Your happiness is not yours when you’re constantly comparing a milestone you’ve reached with a brother who’ll never be able to do the same, especially when you know you only made it as far as you did by learning from his trail of suffering and mistakes, so is this even ‘happiness’ when its obvious that it would be different in an alternative universe where he still exists because then who else would you be writing about and what pain would you be spewing on stage and would people even know your name, or would you still be the little sister drowning in her ignorant bliss? An ignorance you can’t claim as your own either for it was a little gift chosen by him as his way of keeping us ‘safe’.
Your happiness is not yours to keep when there’s so many around you deprived to the bone of the basic necessities – how can your conscience let you indulge in yet another meaningless festivity when there is another child of the same soil drumming his empty belly? Your happiness is a symbol of class disparity, exploitation, capitalism – a privilege that is born out of another person’s forced sacrifice, due to systems far too broken for us to recognize that the milestone you’ve reached today is only a fraction of your hard work and the rest is the result of a game that has always been rigged against the majority.
Your happiness is not yours to keep, not only because it wasn’t yours to begin with but also because it never planned to stay. Happiness is a fleeting consolation we tell ourselves we’re moving towards, as if one day we’ll arrive at this gawdy golden gate with angels manning an orchestra and credits sprinkling from the sky calling it a day, but happiness is beginning to feel like a burden to sustain. A burden of self-imposed pressure to stop complaining and do better, a weight that is stacked up with guilt for outliving one and not being able to protect the other, and yet not living up to the standard that he left behind, smothers me in shame. My happiness no longer feels like happiness when it continues to cause so much pain and forces me to give parts of myself up for its sake, so by the time I arrive at this realm of happiness, I feel like an alien that ventured over by mistake. Occupying a land that was never mine to begin with, arriving here on the backs of everyone else, so upon arriving I tend to immediately start crouching, too uncomfortable to celebrate and undeserving of any praise for this happiness was never mine to keep, it is simply a receipt of all that I broke and still have to repay.