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I recently threw myself a pity party. Some of the characters from Inside Out were there-Sadness, Disgust, Anger. It was a grand ole time until Joy tried to show up. But it was three against one, so she was ousted pretty quickly.
The cause for celebration began when I overheard my ten year old daughter telling her dad (aka the “fun parent”) that she had a boring day with me. Even though I know that it’s not realistic to think that I can be around 24/7 to sculpt her day with joy and laughter, her comment made me feel like I suck as a parent. My inner dialogue whined, “But I want to be the fun one!” And even though we’ve had some really enjoyable summer days, her comment stuck with me, and this pity party snowballed into all of the things I suck at.
Here’s the thing about me-I don’t do the “feeling sorry for myself” dance…ever. So, this party was unexpected and unwelcome. With panic in my voice and horrid thoughts of becoming one of those people who holds onto the past with a steel grip, I asked my husband, “How do people live like this without getting ulcers?” He simply answered, “They do get ulcers.” Not exactly comforting dear, but message received.
One of my favorite things about myself is my ability to move on quickly. I have known people who have spent months or even years feeling sorry for themselves, making themselves out to be the victim of every undesirable situation. These people had always been a source of negativity and none of them remained in my life for very long. I never understood their need to hang on to something that wasn’t making them feel good. But now that I was in this strange new predicament, I got a taste of what this kind of life could be like. And (surprise!), I still fucking hated it.
During the entire party, I was completely aware of what an ass I was being. I tried to remind myself that, every day, people in this world are hungry, sick, dying, or poor. And here I was-none of those things, feeling sorry for myself.
My best friend had to listen to my assholery on extremely long phone calls (sorry Lisa). And no matter what she said, I couldn’t kick the feelings I was having. My intense fear of morphing into one of those people I hated was becoming real. You might think I’m exaggerating, but imagine living your life for 39 years and never once feeling sorry for yourself. And then, one day-BAM! Here it is…crappy feelings wrapped up and delivered to your psyche in one fell swoop.
In my experience, the only people who get invited to pity parties are those who, on some level, enjoy wallowing in their own misfortune. Maybe I was briefly one of those people, but I realized that it’s not who I am at my core. The party eventually started to wind down when I started remembering who I was.
I am a happy and fortunate person. I have extremely wonderful people in my life, a great career and some pretty interesting hobbies. And most importantly, I am a good mother to my children, even if I don’t get to be the highly coveted “fun parent”.
So yes, I can now say that I have been to the worst party that has ever been thrown. I wore the large P for pity party on my chest and the experience only left me with something I already knew. And that is this-I have never really been great at hosting parties, but when I do, Joy is usually the only person who is invited.