I fell down the rabbit hole last week. At first, the slide was slow. Just a little devil whispering into my ear tiny, moth-like lies about how there is never enough time or enough money. Then, the lies grew louder, as they are wont to do when you’re silly enough to listen. Scarcity showed up in my kitchen along with her mean-girl friends Selfishness and Resentment. Bad things indeed come in threes. We did our nails together and talked about how unfair it was that my husband got three new pairs of shoes last week and all I got was to buy groceries and pay bills until the account was empty. We complained together about how hard I work, never mind the fact that I love the work I do and it always leaves me feeling better at the end of the day. If you aren’t careful, the lies you tell yourself can become your new best friends.
So many of us fail to notice when the Wham-O Slip and Slide of Doom ends up under our feet and we have no idea we’re shooting down a cheap vinyl tube into a hell of our own creation until it’s too late. I do spiritual work. I teach other people how to find blessings. I know better. Yet here I was, feeling as righteously sorry for myself as a jilted lover drowning their sorrows in a backstreet bar. I’d like to say I snapped out of it, pulled myself up by my bootstraps. Maybe put some lipstick on since we are never fully dressed without a smile and all that Broadway musical bullshit. The truth is, I wallowed around in self pity and angst, and then greased myself up with several slices of cake and quite a lot of booze. It wasn’t very attractive, but feeling sorry for oneself becomes quite seductive and can become a most comfortable state of being if one isn’t careful. Self-pity is the stretchy pants of feelings.
Skillfully avoiding the way God gave me a much needed work break last week when the computer systems crashed at work, failing to see the vivid oranges in the flowers my husband brought home, ignoring the blush on new strawberries in the garden, I managed to continue working towards my title of Grumpiest Mom Ever for almost a week. At least until my youngest daughter came to the rescue. Our children are most often the greatest mirrors we ever hold up to ourselves, and my doe-eyed Faith is no exception. She was perfectly named. This morning, she left me a note which also contained fifty of her hard-earned waitressing dollars. It said:
Mom, please go buy yourself some new foundation or yarn, like you were saving for. You deserve it. I love you to the moon and back- Faith
And for a second, time stood still. A waterfall of moments from the last few weeks crept in. All the little miracles I missed while navel gazing and nurturing hurt came to me in waves. My little guy’s snaggle tooth grin. Watching my oldest son pass his driver’s test. The perfectly choreographed cuddle ballet my husband and I do every night in our blissfully comfortable bed under the roof of this cozy little mint green house. The fact that I raised a child who sees a need in someone they love and is willing to sacrifice to plug the holes in a leaking ship. Even though I’d momentarily been so caught up in what I wasn’t getting for myself, I’d somehow raised children with a desire to take care of others. I went from self-pity to sheepish in .4 seconds. My cheeks burned and shame shrunk my spine.
My next instinct was to give her the money back but something small inside of me whispered to keep it, allow myself to receive and my child the pleasure of giving. I took the cash in my purse to a local fiber fair. The most luxurious ball of Mongolian cashmere yarn I’ve ever held sits next to me now and my laptop has a million tabs of possibility open. Gossamer shawls, butterfly thin wraps, objects of beauty and art ready to be made with this sweetest gift from my darling girl. This emerald thread can be made into such gorgeous things with focus and practice, just as our thoughts can create joy or suffering. It is up to each of us what we choose to do with them. We can weave extraordinary lives and find blessings in each stitch, or we can complain at the workload.
What we pour out of ourselves and into others never goes unnoticed. Nor is there such a thing as suffering silently. When you’re loved by others, they are witnesses to your pain, whether it is self-inflicted or not. This is sometimes easy to forget, as misery loves company, especially when we’re hanging out with all of our worst feelings at a week-long slumber party. I’m so grateful for people in my life who remind me I don’t have to go to every party I’m invited to. So, with this reminder, I gave my girl my deepest thanks. I remembered what I know. I consciously and fully chose this life. No part of me expected it to be fully free from hard work or struggle. It is up to me how each moment is perceived, to not forget that I put myself here. When you’re trying to build monuments, sacrifice is part of the bargain. What I learned today is that while I can certainly have a pity party, the people who love me most aren’t afraid to be ruthless bouncers and kick negativity out of this dance club. And this is enough to leave me smiling for years.