Saturday, March 6, 2010

Insult to Injury

I finally figured out why I'm feeling in such a lousy mood and why even my sense of humor has deserted me. It's not just that in the past few days I've been verbally assaulted by co-workers and family, and crushed by a remark not meant to hurt me. It's that when I spoke up about feeling bad, I've run smack into the old "first you offend/hurt me and then you get pissed off at me because I feel offended/hurt" routine.

I'm one of the wretched who wants everyone to like or at least respect me, even the bitter old pit bull of a hag who started my downward slide with some nasty remarks about me in a meeting, followed by a nastier email, which she copied to all involved. As an adult, I haven't had many people be malicious to me; first I was angry and then I crumpled like cheap tin -- three hits in two days took its toll. I tend to withdraw when hurt, and I don't need some crusty old bag to beat me up; doing so is one of my core competencies. As my sister Barbie says "guilt-ridden as charged."

So I've spent the better part of a beautiful weekend feeling sorry for myself -- letting others influence how I feel about myself.

I have friends going through much worse things right now -- one family is going through almost unendurable pain. So then I have to slap myself around a bit because my problems are nothing compared to theirs, much less to the suffering of the world. When I whined to a friend about my troubles and then what a loser I was for even feeling troubled, she looked sternly at me and said "pain is pain." And I think that's when I began to snap out of it -- I was in pain, but it was of my own choosing. I couldn't ask for a nicer life - I have people who not only like me, but love me unconditionally. So I can continue to hammer myself or pick myself up, get on with it, and, as my youngest advised me, "You should say to them 'I should tell you what I told the woman looking for Earl Porter!'"

I was totally perplexed for a minute. Then I remembered. A month or so ago, I kept getting calls at work from a thuggish-sounding guy making vague threats -- I kept hanging up on him but the threats kept escalating and he starting calling at night (I have the office phones rolled to my cell in the evenings and on weekends.) One night I got so furious that I called the number from which the call originated. It turned out that it was a collection agency looking for some guy named Earl Porter, but it took a second call to find that out -- the first woman I spoke to would not give me any information and was so infuriating that I screamed "Fuck you!" at her before slamming down the phone. (I wish I'd been on a land line because slamming a cell does not feel very satisfying).

Nice going, mom -- both girls heard me. So much for my lectures about making good choices, treating people with respect and plain good manners. So much for setting a good example. Just more ammunition to arm myself with against me when I'm down.

Still, maybe something good came of it -- it's a great line. And feel free to borrow the line when you can't hit back for some reason or other but feel compelled to say somethiing: "I should tell you what I told the woman looking for Earl Porter!"

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