Monday, September 5, 2011


I should start out by saying that I am 100% aware of how lucky I am that my house did not suffer damage in the hurricane last weekend.  We only had some dampness and moisture in the usual basement places and several bags of leaves and sticks from our large tree out back.  Next door they had about 6+ inches of water.  Just a few miles away, people's basements were flooded out completely.  There are some people who will never go home again.  I get it.  I am so blessed.

However, I am also me.  I am, at heart, a complainer.  I can't help myself.  And mostly I don't feel like I'm complaining, just stating fact.  It's hot today. It's cold today.  It's not has hot/cold as expected.  You get the point.  I'm not looking to have my problem solved and it may not even be a problem.

I find that people like me, known as complainers, bring out a different type of person:  The one who must point out that my life isn't that bad.  These people are the worst (see, complaining again) because often they don't know enough about me to know that, trust me, I've known harder times.  Oddly enough, you'll rarely hear me complain in a serious manner about my childhood or young adult life.  Those struggles - those REAL struggles - were what they were.  They are done.  I may talk about them, joke about them, lightheartedly laugh off some traumatic experience.  But I rarely lament the awfulness of them.
These people who need to point out to me that my issue du jour is no big deal are quite irritating.  

Me:  I don't like my nail polish.  I should take it off.
Other Person:  You know, quadruple amputees can't even go get a mani-pedi, so consider yourself lucky.

Me:  I don't like my hair.
OP:  You know, someone going through chemotherapy would wish for your hair.

Me:  I don't like my job.
OP:  At least you have one.

Me:  Wow, being unemployed is the pits!
OP:  At least you're not homeless.

Me:  Wow, being homeless is unpleasant.
OP:  At least the weather's nice.

Me:  Wow, being homeless in a snowstorm is not ideal.
OP:  At least you didn't freeze to death.

Me:  I just froze to death.
OP:  At least you weren't murdered violently.*

The hypothetical someone-out-there-is-worse-off-than-you rant is also far worse than the my-problem-is-bigger-than-yours rant.  Here's why.  When I complain about something to someone who is truly in a more difficult situation, they could be pointing it out for several reasons.  Maybe it's for a little bit of perspective, which sometimes we all need.  Maybe it's because they are self-absorbed and can't help themselves.  Maybe I'm being insensitive and need a major reality check.  But when you're telling me that I should get over my problem because someone, somewhere is having a worse day, pardon me, but kindly shut up.  That's not helpful and it's annoying.  It's also a tad condescending and judgmental in a passive-aggressive way.

If at any point I stated something negative about my relationship with my mother, invariably someone would tell me how lucky I was that she was alive, someday she'd be gone and I really shouldn't mind any of her faults.  First of all, yes, some people's moms are not alive.  If everyone's mom lived forever, we'd have an even bigger overpopulation problem.  Also, I was always aware of how sick my mother was and that someday she'd be gone.  Even if she wasn't sick, some day she'd be gone.  And her faults, well, she was human.  She had faults.  I noticed them.  Get over it.

I find the same thing happening with my dog.  He is getting up there, 13 last month, and his age is showing.  He has some bladder issues that are resulting in some carpet issues.  He does have the uncanny knack for having accidents at the most inopportune moments: while I'm in the bathroom, while Nathan's in the bathroom or tub, while I'm eating, etc.  I know he can't help it, I know he's old.  He is still urinating on my floor more often than I'd prefer and I still have to deal with it.  It is not fun.  It's not the part, when you're getting a dog, that you look forward to.  It's not like when he's gone, I'll fondly look back on being on my hands and knees mopping pee or dragging out the steam-vac twice per week.  I know what I'll miss, thank you.

And finally, the kid.  He is 4 going on 2 going on 14.  That child is his mother's son:  He is opinionated, emotional, sensitive, easily offended and has a big mouth.  He keeps talking long after he should have stopped and in ways that are completely inappropriate for his age (that's the 14 part).  He does so, however, while crying, stomping his feet and pounding his fists (that's the 2 part).  Every day is challenging.  But, every day is wonderful.  He is bright and beautiful and funny.  I tell him every single day how much I love him and how he is one of my favorite people on Earth.  I wouldn't trade him or change him for anything because he is who he is.  And someday when he learns to tame who he is, he will be a happier boy.  In the meantime, we have challenging days.  Seriously though, I know how great he is.  I know that I'll miss this age just as I miss all the others that have passed.  But I won't miss the bad stuff and it's silly to tell me I will.  

Last week wasn't my favorite week.  All aspects of life were challenging.  Not horrible, not the worst ever, just lots of annoying stuff, one after the other, all. week. long.  So, by the end of Thursday, which is my last day in the office for the week, I was done.  I had had it.  I wanted to sit down, relax, zone out.  I just had to get through Nathan's bedtime and then I could have some peace.  And wouldn't you know, the dog pees a ridiculous amount in a ridiculously spread-out way.  And, just needing to vent to adults, I vaguely commented about it on Facebook.  And wouldn't you know it, I had people tell me a) it's no big deal and to b) get over it.  

What's the moral of the story?  Most reasonable people in the midst of annoying life-crap know that their situations are not the worst possible things (unless they are teenagers, but they aren't really reasonable people, are they?).  You don't need to tell them things could always be worse or tell them to get over it.  We know it could be worse and we will get over it.  Maybe we just needed to say something out loud or in print.  Maybe we just needed a hug or a sad face in the comments.  Maybe we needed to know we aren't alone.  Sometimes misery loves company.

*Disclaimer:  None of the examples given above actually happened, except the one where I shouldn't complain about my job because the economy is bad and many people are out of work.  So here I am, officially stating that I'm aware of our current economic situation and the large number of un- and under-employed people.  I sincerely hope things change and those who seek work find it.  Here I also am, officially stating that some of my work is fun (in a benefits geek way) and some of it is not.  And yes, it could be worse, I could be a coal-miner or a janitor in a train station or a podiatrist (feet are gross).  That is all.  Carry on.