Every now and then, don’t you love just licking your wounds? I do. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I do.
This last week has been hard for me. I won’t bore you with details, but the cumulative effect of negative comments (from others), negative thoughts (from me), and negative actions (again, from me) have rallied viciously against my normally cheerful demeanor. This last week has left me feeling weak, incompetent, and bruised. I have been feeling far below average as a wife, mother, and woman. But more than any of those feelings, what I have really been feeling is sorry for myself.
Oh, how I love feeling sorry for myself.
When you were a kid, did you ever roll up a piece of aluminum foil into a little toothpick and rub it against the filling in your back molar? Didn’t that just hurt-so-good? I loved doing that. I’d screw my face up and cringe, knowing the tickle-torture that was coming as the foil wavered from my hand to my mouth. I could have stopped at anytime, but for some reason I just didn’t want to. So I’d rub that tooth and savor that agony over and over and over again. It’s the same with self-pity, I guess.
Even if my problems are small (they usually are), even if my problems are my fault (they usually are), there’s something intrinsically delightful about wallowing in a wave of Woe-Is-Me. I love metaphorically rubbing my hands together, adding up all the injustices that have befallen me–real or imagined, present or past. Should the mood beset me, I’ll resurrect rude comments and faulty behavior from years, even decades, back. I’ll reach far into the corners of my mind (where I keep all such memories simmering) and pull my favorites off the back burner to warm them over, yet again, with whatever recent injury I’m cooking up today.
I’ve found that combining old and new offenses make for particularly tasty dishes: a forgotten slight from a childhood friend mixed with a recently rude comment from a relative; an adolescent insecurity parceled out against a current self-doubt; comparing my younger self to a younger perfect person I once knew and then my older self to an older perfect person I know now. And it doesn’t matter who this perfect person is, because when I’m in this kind of mood, Everyone Else is Perfect and I’m Not. (Your name is surely on the list.)
And finally, there’s my favorite molar-foiler-good-mood-spoiler of all time: spreading an ancient, useless regret across a current life situation with which I am dissatisfied. Isn’t it delicious, blaming something now on something then? Removes any chance for change and any need for work, since even the hardest work can’t change the past. The decision was made and the die cast; nothin’ I can do about it now! What a great way to get myself off the hook. (And no, I’m not talking about my marriage here. It’s not that bad, my faiths!)
Whipping up these dishes of despair does nothing to cure what ails me, but is it ever satisfying to whip them up. A slow, sweet burn as I rake myself over those coals. I can stop at anytime, but for some reason, I just don’t want to.
So my goal for next week? A brighter outlook. Funny how these things seem dark and dire or small and silly, depending on the tilt of my lens. Next week, I’m going to wallow less and do more. Next week, I’m going to feel less and think more. Next week, I’m going to stop talking about my little problems and start doing something about them. I am, I really am.
Just as soon as I finish writing this post.