Holding On To My Grudge

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For the past three years, I’ve been holding a grudge. I have tried to rid myself of it, I really have.
I went for the straightforward approach first. You know, the grown-up schtick, where I talked directly to the person, suggesting we just forget “The Thing” happened and move on. It did not go well, I think because this method of conflict resolution requires not only that I forget the unforgettable, but that the other person admits that “The Thing” actually happened at all, which I think is the first, and most important step to forgetting “The Thing.”

(Stay with me, people.)

I went to plan B.

“Kill them with kindness,” was what a good friend told me to do, and though I’m sure that works for some people, when I am in full on grudge holding mode, it’s just not a realistic approach.

(Let me just say that it’s super tempting to tell you “The Thing” right now, because there’s nothing a grudge holder (me) loves more than nice people(you) saying they are right. I want to share the whole story so your jaw can drop and you can tell me that it’s totally ok that I can’t forget “The Thing”, who could, after all? So hungry is my grudge for validation, that I am actually walking away from my computer right now, so that I don’t go there.)

Ok, I’m back.

That was close.

As time passed, and my grudge still nagged at me, I decided to do a little research. Tich Naht Han wrote a whole book on anger. In it, he suggests we “take care of” our anger:

“Anger is like a howling baby, suffering and crying.
Your anger is your baby. The baby needs his mother
to embrace him. You are the mother.
Embrace your baby.”

 

The idea of embracing my feisty little anger-baby, stroking it and singing it Beatle’s songs, sounded like a nice change, but also kind of creeped me out, though I can’t exactly say why.Unknown-1

I decided to give it my own spin and, with props to Tich Naht Han for the inspiration, came up with this mini-meditation hack for when you can’t let go of being pissed. (It’s similar to another one I wrote about here, for when I’m anxious. Good times!) Feel free to play along:

First, I close my eyes and imagine my grudge. Not the person I’m holding it against, but the actual anger, the whole fiery, dangerous, white hot thing. My grudge is roughly the size of my son’s Nerf basketball, or one of those mini-watermelons that seem like a good idea, but are totally not worth the money. Anyhooo…

I hold it in my hands and see that it is beautiful,

orange and red and yellow.

I feel its warmth.

I don’t try to cool it down or make it smaller.

I don’t try to make it be nice.

I take care of it.

Holding it in my hands reminds me that it isn’t part of me, it’s a thing I am holding:

Anger.

Grudge.

I could choose to put it down, if I wanted to. But for now, I don’t.

I am a beginner person.images

(If you are doing this meditation and decide to put your grudge down, you are doing way better at life than me. Please leave your tips and suggestions in the comments section, following this post. Thank you.)

So, that’s pretty much it. After that meditation, a few deep breaths, and a piece of cheese, I feel so much better. It gives me a bit of relief from that feeling that my grudge is controlling me.

And reminds me that I could, if I wanted, put it down.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, it’s looking like I might have to spend some time this summer, in a small group setting, with the person against whom I am holding my grudge.

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I know.

Some friends have said that this is The Universe offering an opportunity for forgiveness and healing. To them, I say, with great affection, “bitch, please.”

(Ok, I don’t actually say that.)

What I actually say is that maybe they are right, but in that case The Universe is going to be sorely disappointed because I don’t know how to forgive this person. Like reading the Qur’an, or toning my upper arms, if it was that easy, I would have done it by now.

So here’s my plan: I’m going to take my grudge along with me this summer. I’m going to wrap it safely in its own cozy little beach towel and let it ride shotgun with me, heading North on the 101 freeway.

Because grudges are needy, it will need lots of help applying sunscreen and want the crusts  cut off it’s sandwiches. It will demand the radio be tuned to it’s favorite station,

AM talk radio, of course.

I’ll give it all these things because, even though this grudge weighs me down, and has hijacked a tiny corner of my brain, when I have exactly no corners to spare, it also means well. It doesn’t want me to feel the pain of “The Thing” that happened, so instead,

it makes me feel

right.

It’s possible that eventually my grudge’s needs will get to be too much, and it just won’t be worth it anymore. One day, when it doesn’t feel so goddamn important to be so very-all-the-time right, I might decide to pull over and leave it on the side of the road.

I’ll give it a juice box and wave good-bye, watching it in my rear view mirror, red hot, beautiful, and smiling.

I’ll wish it well.

And I’ll head to the beach,

just in time for the sunset.

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PS–Even with my handy meditation, I do still have a few questions, which I’ve listed below. If you have answers, please advise.

1) Is it my responsibility, as a grown-up, to forgive this person?

2) If I don’t forgive this person, will The Universe keep making me run into them at Trader Joe’s? 

3) Why is The Universe such an asshole sometimes?

4) Do you have a grudge success story? Share it here!

 

The Good Part of the Sad Thing

The Good Part of the Sad Thing

I was planning to write something really upbeat this week

Really, I was!

There’s an idea I’ve been kicking around about why summer camp is awesome and I thought that would make for nice reading, and lighten up the tone of my blog, which may have become, oh, just a touch dark, as of late.

But then I had to kill my cat.

I thought I was ready. At twenty-one, Cash was so old that, unless asleep, he howled almost constantly. He had lost some teeth, spent a good chunk of his day staring at the dryer, his kidneys were failing and something had gone seriously wrong with his nose.

Our vet did what she could, but lately would just shrug, as if to say, what can you do?

When I shared pictures like this, friends suggested that all that crying might be him begging for us to just put him out of his misery, already.13000270_10209513323214648_7111807898188004599_n

So last Friday we called a professional cat-putter-downer, who came to our house and was so kind and good at her difficult job that the whole experience was much less awful than it could have been. After she examined Cash, and reassured me that this decision to put him to sleep wasn’t just an over-reaction to him peeing a river into my son’s guitar, I held my cranky old kitty on my lap and said good-bye.

And then, out of nowhere, a truckload of pain was dumped on top of me.

I knew I would be sad, but I truly did not expect to have that punched in the chest feeling. You know, that bruising that happens when you trip on your own humanity.

Ouch.

After the vet left, with Cash’s body tucked inside a small basket, I thought about how my mother in law had put her beloved cat to sleep a month ago. When my husband told me, I had called her to say I was sorry.

“I’m so sorry,” I had said, and meant it. She loved the cat. It was A Sad Thing.

Another friend lost her dog a few months ago and it pretty much went the same way.

“I’m sorry,” I said, and meant it.

So sad.

But the truth is that in both of those cases, I hadn’t let myself feel their pain at all, really. I was sorry, but not enough to let even a little of their grief get on me.

When the hurt of Cash dying hit me like it did, I was surprised. It shouldn’t have been a shocking blow, but  no matter how my brain tinkered with it, it was.

It’s only a cat. Not like a person or anything.

Yep, that’s right.

He was old. He had a nice long life.

Yes indeed.

He was in pain. It was time.

Still sucks.

Seriously, that smelly cat???

I know.

I have an old friend who is really good at finding the meaning in every bad thing that happens. She can connect the dots like a boss and explain just why that diagnosis was a gift, why becoming homeless was the best life lesson, or why that guy who dumped you and still owes you money was your greatest teacher. She can spin any shitty thing until, eventually, it’s almost unrecognizable as shitty.

Look Ma, no sadness!

But talking to that friend about my heartbreak always feels a bit like hugging a wire monkey. She just never seems to get it. I wonder if it’s because she never let herself.

Like booster shots for compassion, small tragedies come our way all the time, reminding us that we are all vulnerable and that’s exactly as it should be. But the tenderizing effects of life’s curveballs only work if we let them hit us.

I usually don’t, but this time I did and I’m glad.

When I spoke to my mother in law a few days ago, and she talked about her cat, I didn’t try to make sense of why she was so upset. I didn’t think about how it had been a month, and what’s up that she’s still soooo sad about it.

Instead of thinking, I felt some of her sadness with her.We were up to our knees in it.

That’s progress, you guys.

You’re probably thinking this is like Common Decency 101.

What can I say?

I’m kind of a late bloomer.

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Will Prozac Make Me Nicer?

Will Prozac Make Me Nicer?

Last week I had a complete physical and received the fabulous news that I am a-ok, which was a relief since lately, I haven’t been so sure.

Don’t worry, this is not another post about peri-menopause. 

But suffice it to say that, in addition to the issues hailing from my fifty year old uterus, I’ve felt tired and anxious, with a fluttering heartbeat and a semi-constant sense of dread.

That, plus pissed.

So boy was I relieved when (what’s left of) my blood checked out fine and, after reassuring me that my experience with The Change is not that uncommon, the doc sent me away with a referral for my first colonoscopy and a crisp new prescription for Prozac!
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That sounds so 90’s.

If Prozac was sold in stores, it would be at Chicos.

It’s the Rachel haircut of anti-depressants.

(Here’s where I stop for just a minute and say that I am so grateful that drugs like Prozac exist. It has helped several of my dearest and best friends out of the dark hole of depression, and I am a fan of people not suffering needlessly. So I hope you won’t be offended if I’m dissing your drug of choice, because I’m not. I am just a very neurotic and small minded person and I like nice things, even if they come in capsule form. Please discontinue reading if you want to, and have a healthy snack instead.)

Anywho—

I’ll admit, I got pretty excited about my 10 mg of self improvement.

“What are some of the side affects?” I asked the doctor. I’m a smart consumer, I thought, as my hand made an almost imperceptible jerk toward the prescription my doctor was writing out.

Act casual, I thought.
She mentioned a short list of issues some people have experienced while taking Prozac, weight loss being one of them. “But you’re unlikely to experience any of those with such a low dose.”

I crossed my arms on the soft flesh of my new middle aged middle and smiled.”Oh good,” I heard myself say, pretty convincingly.

My goal was to get out of the office, get to the drugstore and right away take one of my new pills so that I could be a new person by tomorrow. Why wait? My husband and kids would thank me! No more lectures about

Exactly How I Would Like the Bread Package Sealed Please.

Twist hard,

several times

and then fold over and wrap a rubber band around it.

Don’t forget to squeeze all the air out of the bag

and the reason you can’t find a rubber band

is that no one ever saves them

and no one puts them here in this little space

in the drawer,

where I’ve told you

the rubber bands should always go.

Am I the only one who cares around here?

It’s a small thing,

to seal the bag of bread and do you just assume

I will throw that stale bread away and go buy another loaf?

Is that it?

Well is it???

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Standing under the fluorescent lights of the Rite-Aid, I had some time to think.

As much as my brain bugs me, what with all it’s shortcomings, I kind of like it.

Or, I’m used to it.

Or at least, I’ve tried to make lemonade, as they say.

I remembered a friend telling me that taking anti-depressants hadn’t changed her personality, it just made her not “stew” on things as much. But who am I, I wondered, if not someone who stews??

At that point, the lady in line behind me had a full-on passive aggressive sighing fit about the long wait. What a bitch, I thought. Geez! People need to get a grip. Talk about tightly wound! 

Wait, where was I?

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Oh yeah, do I or don’t I need some Prozac…

I peered into my phone, reading about other possible side affects, the ones my doctor had failed to mention. Side affects like clenched jaw, sleeplessness, anxiety (what the actual fuck???), cold symptoms, mild nausea, decreased appetite, increased appetite, loss of sex drive, constipation, dry mouth…

Later, I sat in my car, my little bottle of hope tucked in my purse,

and called Jo Dee.

“I can’t decide if I want to take them,” I said, enjoying the anti-depressant effect of  a bag of peanut M&Ms. “I just don’t know if I’m that bad off. When you look online, most people  say the side affects were nothing compared to how bad they felt before.”
“That’s how it was for me,” Jo Dee answered, referring to her own experience of depression years ago. “I just felt so fragile. Any little thing would happen and I would just start crying and go back to bed.”

“Yeah, I don’t have that. I do think I’m pretty irritable,” I say, stating the most obvious thing ever stated in the history of the universe. “I wish there was just something that would take the edge off when I need it. I should have asked her for Xanax.”

“Is that what Xanax does?” asks Jo Dee.

“That’s what a friend told me. She described it like, ‘Oh, it just takes the edge off.”

“But isn’t that what they say about every anti-depressant? That it takes the edge off?”

“Yeah,” I answer. “Tastes just like chicken.”

I go home, throw the bottle in the top drawer of my dresser, the one with my jewelry and all my boys’ baby teeth, and that is where they sit.

 

My guess is that you haven’t heard the last from me on this topic, because I’m just so full of questions.

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Does my tendency to snap when my estrogen ebbs warrant a daily dose of medication?

Will taking a little bump of Prozac each morning mean I won’t get quite so worked up when caught in the incessant dinging of a group text from the parents in my son’s basketball league. DING!- “who’s snack mom this week?” Ding!- “I’ll do it!” DING!- “You’re the best!” DING!-“Thanks!” DING!-“Thanks so much!”

DING!-

DING!-

DING!

I don’t know. It could be that the bar for emotional health and a sunny disposition is just a little bit high sometimes.

Because group texts are annoying,

and don’t get me started on stale bread.

 

Facebook, A Love Story

Facebook, A Love Story

I’ve been thinking about social media lately.

I’ll flaunt my age here and admit that for me social media mostly means Facebook. When I started this blog I got onto Twitter, although I have to tell you, it remains a mystery. I use Pinterest mostly for recipes, and have never used Instagram.

Not so bad, right?

But I’m addicted to Facebook and, the truth is, I’m getting pretty sick of the haters making me feel like an asshole for it.

Phew! God it feels good to get that off my chest.

237b6e36cda5fbf311016fe495a6d611The pendulum does seem to be swinging, when it comes to social media, and it joins reality t.v., Snackwells, and Riverdance in the discarded pile of things that were once thought to be so new and hip and fun and now are at least partially to blame for the destruction of our humanity.

Well, I happen to love Facebook.

But when I get articles like this, or this, it does make me think: Am I wrong to love it? Am I shallow, incapable of real friendships, a voyeur, and to use the word of the day,

a narcissist??

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Image source, Flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve thought about all of those questions, even as it relates to writing a blog. It’s impossible to keep posting, week after week, without constantly asking myself why anyone should care enough to read my thoughts on such deep and meaningful topics as midlife menstruation and drinking in my car . I do try to write as honestly as I can about my experience, in the hope of hitting on something that has a wider appeal than just my husband and bestie, but in the end, it can’t matter. Blogging is slowly making me a better, more disciplined writer and teaching me new skills, which they say is the fountain of youth.

Also, it’s fun.

How’s that for selfish motives?

Facebook is different though, which is why I get very defensive when people tell me it’s sucking out my soul.

Here are seven reasons why I love the salty sweet confection, cooked up by Mark Zuckerberg. Why Facebook is my drug of choice, and why I’m not giving it up anytime real soon. (Even though I could, I swear I could, I just happen not to feel like it right now):

  1. It’s a way for me to get my chit-chat on, since I live with three (lovable) introverts
  2. It’s like a cocktail party without the cocktails, which should make the fun police very happy
  3. It keeps me up to date on current events!
  4. It makes me laugh
  5. I get to reconnect with friends from my past (when I say friends, I am definitely not referring to the wives of old boyfriends, because I never look them up. Who does that??? Moving on…)
  6. I find good ideas for blog posts
  7. I love knowing what’s up with my people

All of these are good reasons, if you ask me, but not good enough for the people who say it’s as bad as internet porn, and maybe worse. Here are a few of my answers to their concerns:

Has it broken my brain and made it harder for me to sustain focus? Maybe a little, but given the chance, I tend to focus on things like the bedbug epidemic and whether exorcism is actually a thing, so I consider Facebook a step up, in my case.

Does it foster feelings of inferiority and invite depression when I see the carefully curated feeds of people, with their fancy lives and overachieving children? Actually, it doesn’t, and I don’t really know why. It’s true that I hide the posts of the worst offenders (here’s how), but I have friends who swear that all it takes is a few minutes on Facebook to plunge them into self-loathing or, the less copped-to but equally common, friend-loathing.

Now, do I do a fair amount of eye rolling, as I scroll through my feed? Sure. But I like to think of eye rolling like cursing— a healthy outlet and an effective coping device in today’s world. In fact, some of you might be doing it right this minute, and I say, go for it!giphy

(Feels good, right?)

Doesn’t Facebook encourage narcissism? I can see why this is a concern. As I said, I often think about whether I’m narcissistic. (That’s a joke, you guys. I mean, I do, but not that much. I mean, I also think about how smart cats are and whether I should buy some of those underpants that you can pee in. Go Facebook!)

Look, there is some truth to all of this. I can get too distracted and too self-involved. I could stand to stop multi-tasking and, say, just stir the risotto instead of stir the risotto while also watching my friend’s daughter sing a solo in her Montessori preschool’s production of Single Use Plastic Bag, The MusicalWould it be an interesting experiment to log off for a week or two and see how that feels?

Sure, why not?

But just as I don’t like people to tell me that listening to audio books doesn’t count as actual reading, I don’t want to hear that the connections I’ve made or maintain through Facebook aren’t of value. And if it’s true that laughter is the best medicine, then scrolling through my friends’ feeds can be like a shot in the ass, after a rough day.

Yes, we humans love a bandwagon, and right now it looks like social media is the new gluten. Some believe it is the cause of all our ills, and some people park behind Trader Joe’s and eat shame muffins out of their trunk.

So if, like me, you enjoy a daily dip into the slightly fake slightly fabulous online middle school known as Facebook, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone.

Because it is comforting, isn’t it, 

the not being alone?

 

(Well, how do you like that? I buried the lead.)

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