I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that your life, like mine, isn’t perfect. Congratulations! Welcome to the wonderful world of being an adult. It’s not always fun, but you can stay up as late as you want and run with scissors on a whim. Before I accepted the fact that I was a grown-up, I spent years of my life in an angered state; blaming other people whatever for my current situation was. Most of my blaming…OK…all my blaming was baseless and selfish.
I blamed the mortgage company for loaning me the money to buy my condo, then having the audacity to expect me to make a payment every month. I blamed the department store for issuing me a line of credit, then tricking me into using my card to make purchases by displaying really cute shoes, that I couldn’t afford. I blamed the Postman for delivering the bills for these things I willingly bought, to my mailbox.
I talked about people behind their backs when they were successful in something that I was too fearful to attempt. I said things like “Hey! Congratulations on going for that promotion!”. When what I was really thinking was “Really? They promoted you? Why not me? You’re an idiot. You think the non-abbreviated name of the printed paper that comes out of the fax machine is pronounced “facs-meel”. It’s “facs-sim-ill-ee”, you tard!”.
I was envious of people when they owned things I was not able to afford, “Nice house. It’s huge!” I would say, and then I’d criticize the color of the kitchen cabinets on the way home from their house warming party. I was, as it is commonly referred to in modern society, a “hater”, but I believe a far more accurate term for my behavior is “asshole”. I spent the precious hours of my life making snarky comments about the achievements of others, when I could have been encouraging them and looking for ways to make my own life more like the one I wanted, stupid huh?
Yeah, anyone with half a brain can see the trend developing here…I accused other people of being accountable for my shortcomings, all of which I was completely responsible for. It wasn’t like I developed a terrible disease or was treated unfairly by circumstances beyond my control; I was simply being a lazy, jealous, moron. Envy is part of human nature; I’m not any different than anyone else. We all sometimes throw a party for one at that new. trendy restaurant; the “Why Me? Bistro and Whine Bar”. But, my complaining became so excessive that I didn’t even want to be around me. So, since I was too scared to purchase that at home lobotomy kit, and disrupt my ugly synapses in the comfort of my own dwelling; I did the next best thing- I self-medicated. I took vodka to dull the pain, scotch to ease my mind and tequila to make me forget. For a few hours a week…or night…I was awesome, bullet-proof and always right. I would always wake-up feeling like a heaping plate of I hate myself, dusted with a sugary plum coating of kill me now. Although, I have been told that I am rather intelligent, I wasn’t acting that way; but it was something I got in the habit of doing.
I was made aware of my own asinine actions, not by going to a shrink or reading a self-help book or anything, but by watching the actions of like-minded people. I had a boyfriend at this very negative time in my life that walked around channeling his inner-Eeyore. He slept all day, barely moved from my couch, stopped bathing at one point and found fault with everything I did. When I bought a new car, he opined that it wasn’t the right car. It was ugly and boxy and blue; he’d never buy a blue car. But, he didn’t have a problem driving it around all day and not filling up the tank, because the green car that he owned wouldn’t make it out of the driveway without breaking down at least six times. I would come home with a new dress, he’d criticize it for being too yellow and making my boobs look big. These reasons were exactly why I purchased the dress, I love yellow and a little extra cleavage goes a long way.
After several months of being condemned for my every action, I decided he was a jackass. I broke up with him, reclaimed my couch and started to change the way I looked at people. I had grown tired of not feeling good about me, and tired of feeling like I wasn’t allowed to see the good in anyone around me. I also got tired of waking up with a searing hangover six out of seven days a week, after indulging in an activity that only caused temporary happiness and made me permanently broke and fat. I was giving this turning over a new leaf thing a try. It was a slow process, it took about as many years to correct, as it did to plunge into the negative abyss that was my life. Through the wonders of modern medicine, I was able to slowly regain some optimism. This optimism was short lived…because I then began to feel poorly about myself when I had to rely on medication to get my good mood back. I’m not calling anti-depressants evil here, I wanted to get happy, cold turkey. It was going to take a lot more effort than I initially expected.
I had to reprogram my brain. I spent months yelling at myself internally when any non-pleasant thought crept in. This new way of thinking made me crazy. Negative thoughts are going to happen, whether you want them to or not. I had to devise another plan. I am not a ray of sunshine with feet, trying to behave as if I was, was making me more unhappy than being dark and twisty. I crafted another plan of attack, quite by accident. What really helped me, even though this sounds like something straight out of kindergarten, was encouraging others. When I cheered on the efforts of my peers, family members and co-worker’s, something miraculous happened; I started to realize that I was just as capable as they were. When someone encroached on my good mood, I’d try and encourage them, as annoying as this statement can be, to look on the bright side. It worked, I had de-miserablized myself. Whenever I say “Good for you!” now, I genuinely mean it. I had to go out of my way to be nice to other people, so I could be nice to myself.
I have realized through this period of change that problems of others are not my own. If someone is actively trying to be a miserable piece of shit; sometimes you just have to unfriend and move on. It’s not cruel, it’s self-preservation. I know I am not a flawless being, I’ve still got a lot of work to do on myself and I’m never going to be Mother Theresa. Between you and me, I suspect that even she wasn’t always as nice as she let on. I bet she had some off days when she didn’t feel like cradling the sick and just wanted to be left alone so she could eat ice cream and go get a pedicure.
Sometimes, although it’s hard to listen to, you have to be reminded of your faults in order to fix them; the people that care about you will do this as gently as they know how. The people that don’t, will ostracize you for a multitude of reasons; ranging from poking fun at your newest hobby, trying to make you feel guilty for being fertile and able to reproduce or less than human for having to accept the help of your parents when your life hits the skids. I have been on the receiving ends of all kinds of remarks about me as of late. Normally, I try not to let this type of stuff bother me. On occasion, it does get to me and I take the tender approach of reminding myself that these people are more than likely projecting, because there is something about themselves that they genuinely don’t like… but won’t devote the time or energy it takes to identify and fix. And other times, it’s just easier to hop back into the dark side and suggest that these naysayers go screw themselves, in the most encouraging way possible.