I have read all of your comments multiple times, and it seems that while we all still struggle with a) how to define joy, and b) how to attain it, a commonly-held belief is that joy is an "underlying" state of being and a gift from above. But that without hope and faith, (and probably love), we won't have it.
I think this just may be the answer I've been looking for.
Today, I experienced pure, unadulterated JOY for the first time in a long time. Praise God, and I will sing it out loud to anyone who listens, because SEW INFERTILE is WITH CHILD!!!
I have seen so many miracles on these blogs recently, and yet have been resistant to believe that I, too, can be a recipient of one of them. Something about Sew's miracle has my hope going through the roof today. And with that hope, came joy. Joy for my dear friend, joy VOID of jealousy (a rarity for me these days!), and joy for my own life and the blessings I have so often failed to see that I already have.
Hope is not the enemy, though I once thought it to be. I believe we need to look at hope in a much more general way in order to NOT turn it into the enemy. For example, do not place all hope in tiny little circumstances, but in the larger picture. I had been hoping that each cycle I would 1) ovulate more than one egg, 2) have wonderful cervical mucus, 3) time relations on the best days, and of course 4) that I was pregnant. I had also been hoping that, during our adoption process 1) our Social Worker would review our documents quickly, 2) we would get our references in, 3) our home visit would be scheduled before the end of summer, etc.
And what was slowly but surely happening was, my hope in all of these things that were OUT OF MY CONTROL just further reinforced the fact that I had lost control of the plan for my life. I felt like a failure, time and time again, and for someone who never suffered from depression, never took anti-depressants, and always had great self-confidence and self-esteem, I felt like a completely different person that even I didn't recognize anymore.
But now I am beginning to see the light that hope has to offer, if you place hope in the right places. I have hope that God will provide, above all else. He will provide. I have hope that I will be a mother. Maybe not the kind of mother I had imagined, but I will be a mother nonetheless. Perhaps I will be so blessed as to someday conceive, or be able to adopt, or be able to foster. But I am not putting any more "conditions" on my hope. And when hope is boundless, joy abounds!
It truly feels freeing to look at hope in my life in this newfound way. Oh, I'm sure I'll have plenty more "depressing" posts in the future for your reading enjoyment, but I will not let hope out the window because that only means I'm throwing my key to joy along with it.