I thought a great deal about what I wrote yesterday and how much the situation really riled me. I’ve lost two solid days allowing it to consume me, and for what??!! Yes, anytime I am ‘surprised’ by an unexpected bill, I get a little worked up. I hate to admit it, but that’s not the only thing that evokes that kind of response. A lot of ‘stuff’ gets me worked up. Some of it’s little stuff that is so insignificant that I cannot even come up with an example at this moment. Oh, wait! I just thought of something!! When I am walking on a sidewalk and staying to my right and the person approaching me is not. In fact, they’re steps away and showing no signs of yielding and it becomes a battle of the wills as to who will eventually move out of the way to avoid a head-on collision. That’s an example of the little stuff that works me up. There’s also people that snap their gum or chew their fingernails or steal my french fries. Yes, clearly I’ve got a few issues to work on. ‘Control’ issues being at the top of the list.
Where am I going with all of this? I was thinking about how looking at things differently can help put them in a new and different light, or a new ‘perspective’. By doing this, it helps me to reevaluate what I’m dealing with and determine whether it’s worth investing any additional energy towards it. And to my horror and disbelief, I just realized that a phrase my mom often uses means essentially the same thing, “It could always be worse.” As much as I hate to acknowledge that my mother had a valid point, I have no choice but to admit that she did. Dang it! I hate having to say that my mother was right. Personal feelings aside, when you consider what other people have gone through or are going through, it is amazing how it can help minimize what you’re going through. I got so worked up about getting a $300 bill from the counseling office where I go for therapy, that I have spent two solid days processing and reprocessing the assorted conversations and emails that were exchanged over it.
Do you want to know what helped put it into perspective? Turning on the news and seeing all of the chaos from the recent winter storm in Texas and hearing about countless people getting electric bills for thousands of dollars. Yes, thousands of dollars!! If I am capable of having a meltdown over a $300 bill, I don’t even know how I would react if I received one for $17,000. And while I was thinking about Texas and Texans, I thought about one of my dearest and oldest friends ‘K’ that lives near Dallas, and promptly sent her a text to check on her. That girl and what she has gone through in her life can put nearly anything in perspective! Just to give you an idea of what I mean, she also comes from a family that largely suffers from one form of mental illness or another, her included. And when she was in her late teens or early twenties, she was the one who discovered her younger brother after he committed suicide. Her life has been riddled with loss.
Before she responded to my text, I had hoped things had turned around for her. The last time we talked, she had been diagnosed with lupus, lost her father who she treasured, and then her beloved dog died. She was heartbroken. When I did hear back, I seriously began to wonder if she was born with a dark cloud looming over her head. Honestly, if they gave out awards for having the worst Christmas ever, she would be one of the top contenders. Of all the days and of all the people, why wasn’t I surprised when she told me that her father-in-law died at her house on Christmas Day? How does anyone recover from that?! I don’t think I could. See what I mean? It makes what I’m going through seem like small potatoes. Another one of my dear friends ‘M’ has been through his fair share of challenges, too. Once he ‘came out’, he’s had to deal with continual harassment and bias and hatred. It isn’t easy for people that are gay or queer or who don’t neatly fit inside a specific category to live in this world.
On top of that, he’s dealt with heartbreak and extensive financial losses (much greater than I’ve experienced). One day he called me, nearly inconsolable. Between sobs, he told me that upon returning home after work, when pulling his car into the driveway, he accidentally ran over his cat and his cat died as a result. My friend was devastated by what he had done. I’ve heard of people accidentally running over pets and small children. What a terrible burden that must be to bear. It happened to the father of a toddler that lived just a few miles from us. That’s another thing I don’t think I could recover from. I also have another friend ‘P’ that has lived from ‘hand to mouth’ or ‘paycheck to paycheck’ for the last 3 years. She told me once that it’s like trying to cover a bed with a sheet but the sheet’s never quite big enough despite how much she tugs on the corners. Once her husband was laid off, they have yet to recover. Day by day, week by week, month by month, they teeter on the brink of financial ruin.
She has tried doing odd jobs to make ends meet but she doesn’t have much of a work history (and qualifies for primarily minimum wage positions) because she spent most of her life focused on raising her children. When she had her first baby, she stopped working outside the home and put all her energy and attention towards ensuring her son (and his sister that ‘arrived’ shortly thereafter) grew up in a supportive and loving home. Not only did she homeschool them for the entire duration of their upbringing, but she enthusiastically supported all of their interests and endeavors. In the last few years, since her husband was laid off, he has returned to his love of ‘woodworking’ and makes custom furniture and cabinetry for a living. It’s long days and hard work and it’s also commission-based, which means that they don’t get to rely on having a set amount deposited into their bank account on the first day of the month (like we do because of my husband’s military pension). There’s a lot of ‘borrowing from Peter to pay Paul’ going on.
Another person that helps provide perspective is my brother ‘Clover’. This is a man, I kid you not, that qualifies for ‘martyrdom’. His entire life, he has been a ‘giver’. He has given so much of himself that there isn’t much left. His latest ‘role’ is as my mother’s guardian ‘of sorts’. In legal terms, he’s her P.O.A. (power of attorney) and the executor of her estate. When her dementia advanced to a point that she could no longer remain in her home, he’s the one that researched all of the nearby assisted living communities and made all of the arrangements for her move. He (and his wife) did most of the work cleaning out her home and putting it on the market. Once it sold, they put every cent in a bank account under my mother’s name and are now using that money to cover her living expenses. Even though they qualify to be paid for their time, they refuse to accept a dime. They are two of the most trustworthy people I know.
What is really tragic about the whole situation is that my mom resents my brother now because he was the one that ‘stepped up’. Prior to the move, he was ‘the moon and the stars’. She couldn’t say enough good things about him. In fact, prior to the move, he did everything for her, just as he is now, but she was appreciative. He mowed her lawn and did most of the repairs on her home and worked on her car and took time off to accompany her when she visited the doctor, and anything else she requested. He is now dispensing her pills, cleaning up after her when she has an ‘accident’, paying her bills, washing her soiled laundry, buying her supplies and dropping them off after she calls in a panic to inform him that she just used the last of the ‘fill-in-the-blank’, taking her to the doctor’s, and anything else she wants or needs, while continually being vilified for having put her into that ‘terrible place’. She doesn’t even claim him as her son any longer. It just isn’t fair.
Call it what you will, “Seeing or looking at things from a new perspective” or “It could always be worse,” these phrases mean essentially the same thing. If you think you’ve got it bad, take a look around. If you just take a moment to step back and reassess the situation, you will likely discover that what seemed liked a mountain, may have just been a molehill. When I compare receiving a notice that states I owe $300 to receiving a notice that states I owe $17,000 (like the guy in Texas), it is more than clear that what I’m dealing with, my friends, is a molehill (and I need to get over it). Thank you so much for stopping by. For the folks that are ‘following’ me, I am grateful for you and the continued interest you have in reading about the variety of things I talk about each day. I love to write and I try to infuse humor into everything I do and I hope I was able to make you smile, especially if you had a really crappy day. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.