I didn't know I was unhappy when she was alive. I knew I was depressed (because antidepressants made living "better") and stressed (big job, difficult declining mother, long commute), but I had a good life. Big house, big money, nice cars, frequent vacations, lots of shoes, comfortably large circle of friends. Everything a girl could wish for, right?
Before my mother died, I was certain that I would disappear when she did. My identity was seamlessly soldered to hers (retrospectively - that was my choice, but is it really a choice when you can perceive no other option?) and I was terrified at the thought of losing her and myself.
She has been dead for more than two years now. I have not disappeared. In fact, I have begun to live a life that has my name stamped on it. I knew what steps to take to find this life. They were intuitive. I didn't have to wrestle with what was right or wrong for me, worry about what she might think about my choices, or push through much fear to reach this path. What I did was reject the vast majority of the elements of my existence when she was alive. I allowed my heart to speak and I followed its direction.
It's impossible to describe happiness to someone who isn't. I wasn't. Now, I am.