In a recent conversation, I found myself talking about pity parties. Namely, that I needed to stop throwing them for myself. In my defense, I have been dealing with chronic illness for over two years, my first overseas trip in a decade was plagued by illness – including fevers so high it made wearing a coat in England in January frivolous – and a broken little toe that may require surgery. So I’ve got some crap going on that warrants the occasional pity party. That being said, I do my best to stay positive. Please see previous blog post.
That means, that when I do throw myself a pity party, it’s not a long drawn-out affair. Generally, I give myself about an hour. For one hour I am allowed to bemoan all of the ills that have befallen me. All of things in life that are unfair, all of the times that I’ve gotten the fuzzy end of the lollipop and all of the opportunities that I miss out on because of all of the crap mentioned above. In essence, I get to be in a surly, shitty-ass, nothing-will-appease-me, stay-back-or-I-will-end-you sort of mood. At the end of the hour, I shake it off, let it go and move on with my day.
It’s quite refreshing, and lately has become more and more a necessity to maintain my mental health. Which I’ve been looking at as a problem. The inner dialogue looks something like this: “Why do I need this so much lately? What’s wrong with me? Why am I such a whiner? Buck up and get over it!”
That’s a great inner monologue, right? Very healthy. This is what I was bemoaning in my recent conversation, when my whole view on the matter got turned upside down. My therapist (I try to only whine about stuff like this to people whom I pay to listen) posited an alternative way to look at it – “What was wrong with throwing yourself an hour-long pity party every week? Or even every day? That’s healthier than bottling it all up inside.”
What? How in the hell could feeling sorry for myself every day for an hour possibly be good for me? Think of all of the other things that I could be doing in that time. An hour a day. That’s seven hours a week. 28 – 31 hours a month. 365 hours a year. Why in the world would I spend over 15 days a year purposefully feeling sorry for myself? That’s ludicrous! Then she asked two more questions:
“Name the happiest child you know.”
I gave the name of a friend’s child.
“Ask that child’s parents if there is a time every day that the kid is impossible to deal with.”
She intended this to be homework, but as it so happened, this child’s mother and I had recently talked about this very thing. Like clockwork, this child goes from happy and bubbly to inconsolable every day around 4:00. Doesn’t matter where they are or what they’re doing, nothing will please this kid. Something that was a piece of cake at 10:00 that morning, will cause a complete breakdown at 4:00. Then after an hour or so, he’s back to his happy self. Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
Apparently this is something that well-adjusted children do. They store up all of their injustices and frustrations throughout the day, and then let them out all at once. They throw themselves a daily pity-party, and are happier for the rest of the day because of it. Huh? That actually makes a fair bit of sense. I still haven’t been able to wrap my head around it completely – probably because I’ve spent my whole life being told not to feel sorry for myself – but this might be worth trying. Who knows?