«Does happiness lie in living for ourselves?»

«Or giving happiness to others and not being contended by everything in our lives?» – Ena.

Oh, Ena! That is such a good question. If I think about it, it is the central question that drove me on my quest, on that roadtrip that became the book «Fool’s Journey». Whose life is it anyway? Do I live for myself or for others?

At that time I was swaying wildly between the two extremes, or ideals: A life lived according to the wishes and needs of others, or a life lived on my own terms, ruled by the demands of my the life of an artist, a writer. I couldn’t find a balance. I didn’t know how to do both.

It took me a while to figure out what the real problem was: I thought I could – and would – only be loved if I went out of my way to make others happy. Even if it meant hurting myself. But somehow, it didn’t work out that way. It was never enough.

I guess I secretely hoped someone would see my sacrifice and intervene at some point: You’ve done enough Milena! Now it’s your turn!

That of course never happened. But I reached a point where I was to miserable and too exhausted to care anymore. So maybe I was crazy, maybe I was unlovable, but I couldn’t go on like this.

That is the story of my book. How I learned to live my life. To be there for others without losing myself completely. The book ends before I meet and fall in love with the man who is now my husband, Victor.

It would have been very easy to make him and caring for him the focus of my life. His various health problems and the constant struggle with the American healthcare system are enough to keep one busy, physically, emotionally and mentally. I admit I was tempted: It fit my old patterns so perfectly. But he made it very clear that that was not an option: «Do not use me as an excuse because you’re scared of being yourself, of living your life.» Harsh maybe, but true. And definitely not what I was used to! Living with him is like the extreme-sports version of dealing with my issues. Because his needs are very real, and sometimes scary. But so are mine. Real, that is.

Of course his health is a big factor in our life together. Of course I often put his needs first. Of course I have to adapt constantly. I am aware that it might look like I live my life even more «in the service» of the other. But this is different: This is my choice. I am very aware of that. If I stay in his hospital room instead of going home, I do it because I want to. Not because I think I have to, or because I am afraid he will not love me.

I make the decision to be there consciously. Because I know my life is my responsibility. So is my happiness.

Thank you for reminding me, Ena!

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