I'm sure this comes as an ENORMOUS surprise, but I am a complainer, and I do it loudly.
Being as passive-aggressive as I am, I rarely take action when something hinders or hurts me. I find confrontation uncomfortable (which is why the internet appeals to me so much) and prefer to hide in my corner of secret loathing. I always use words to action.
In my past post, I alluded to the fact that J and I have had a crazy couple of weeks. I made a conscious choice to keep my negative thoughts about our situation to myself -- and, of course, I slipped up a few times and posted a whiny facebook status about OH WOE IS ME, only to delete it when I realized, um, that was what I didn't want to do. There's is a peace that comes from the community seeing and recognizing your troubles. It's a salve that is used by a lot of people.
The reaction to internet complaining is interesting. A lot of the time, especially from the older generation, I hear a lot of chastising when people express negative feelings on the internet. It's not only my parent's generation, though; I recently read on a blog I used to love that the blogger purposefully unfollows other bloggers who put negative things on their blog, because they felt it brought the world down and they didn't want to read that stuff. It was annoying, they said.
Being someone who 1) is an introvert, so face-to-face emotion is not a picnic for me, 2) is a writer, so most of my emotions are better expressed in print or song lyrics, and 3) is prone to melancholy and drama, per my personality, that did sting a little. Most people don't realize that your reaction to situations is programmed into you, mostly beyond your control, an emotional flight or fight, if you will. One group can let things roll off their back and find comfort in pretending it didn't happen, it brings them healing to be happy. The other, however, has a harder time letting things go and needs to process, to live the event in their head until they have problem-solved what went wrong, and then they feel in control, and then they can heal.
It's not a picnic being the second type of person, I can tell you that.
It means that I have to particular proclivity to wallow in self-pity. This is not a result of being pathetic or lazy -- I am a problem solver by nature, extremely stubborn, and I live to accomplish tasks and accomplish them well. It means that I don't enjoy bad stuff happening, so when bad stuff happens, it means it was out of my control. When things are out of my control, I feel unsafe. When I feel unsafe, re-live it in my head to find out when went wrong. When I re-live it in my head, it comes out of my mouth in the form of complaining. It's a relief to say words into air that are rattling around in my brain.
About three weeks ago, J was laid off from his full-time job. Another employee was fired, without that employee they couldn't keep J's particular station open, so he was let go. November turned out to be the month where our mortgage on the house went up almost 300 dollars that month, a monstrous oil bill was due, and we got a few surprise charges on the already dwindling bank account when the loan ran out without warning. J had to go to walk-in care with his dismal insurance, our water bill spiked almost 50 dollars, we just purchased our second car and, yes Christmas is right around the corner with almost 40 people to buy gifts for.
At first, I was livid. Can someone please, please, PLEASE tell me who lays off their employees six weeks from Christmas? Winter is an expensive time for Mainers: we pay to heat our homes, our water, our cars use more gas when it's cold, we need coats and mittens and hats and shovels and winter tires because no one closes when it storms. The house requires J and I to both have a full-time job to sustain it. We knew that when we took the house. We weren't planning for one of us to be laid off for a ridiculous reason. I thought all of this and as I watched the money drain from the savings account, I knew it was out my control.
And I was afraid.
I don't know what prompted the choice to take a positive approach to this situation. I've always been a person of faith but, being the control freak that I am, I've always kept God in the back of mind, a nice little cushion to reward my responsibility with money. I thought nothing could go wrong when I worked my ass off to earn my paycheck and budgeted out our bills every week, setting aside money for savings, packing lunch from home, saying no to dinner dates. I had control.
I finally figured out it was hard to be thankful when you feel like you have earned everything by yourself.
Luckily for J and I (and yes, I'll say it, with no thanks to his old job. I still spit my tongue out at them.), he found another job, part-time, but better pay and so far he has had chances to earn more shifts every day. Our roommate Mr. T's rent has helped supplement some of the lost income. There are still moments where it's frightening -- my monthly paycheck just barely scrapes us by and I haven't had spending money since J got laid off -- but it appears we are out of the woods for now. We're still in the last-check-from-old-job-waiting-for-first-paycheck-from-new-job limbo.
Yes, it's hard to be thankful when you feel like you have earned everything by yourself. It's easier to be thankful when you realize that you have had help with many things along the way that you didn't realize before. Yes, I work hard at my job, but I am thankful to have great coworkers and understanding supervisors who make it easy to stay there. Yes, I had built up a great savings account, but I am thankful for parents who instilled that responsibility within me and a lot of kids my age didn't get that. Yes, I turned down trips to save gas money, but I am thankful to be living so close to all the things that are important to me so I don't have to drive far. Yes, I pack my own lunches, but I am thankful to have access to healthy food and a fridge to store it.
I don't think being thankful means you have to pretend that you didn't put forth effort into things and blindly roll the word off your tongue. I think being thankful means you recognize that you may have what others don't. I think being thankful means you open your eyes to the world around you and acknowledge your stepping stones. I think being thankful means practicing a gracious heart that, though prone to cynicism, should always remind itself that what we have is more than enough.
Even for a melancholy, dramatic, pessimistic control-freak like me.
Happy Almost-Thanksgiving, everyone.