So, you know those days when you just want to throw your hands up and say “F*@% it”? That’s been me for the past couple of weeks. There have been a series of events, some professional, some personal, and some societal, that have resulted in a loss of my generally optimistic and trusting nature*.
*This statement may, quite possibly, be sarcastic.
Bear with me while I give you some background, before I get to the real point of this post. I’ll try to keep it succinct. (Y’all know I ramble, right?)
Yesterday, an acquaintance phoned me, after a mere 7 or 8 years, to tell me that a former boss was mentally “down”, and thought it would be oh-so-helpful if I reached out to offer reassurance and friendship to him. The former boss that went entirely on the attack when I resigned from his company. The former boss that tried desperately to ruin my reputation in the industry and the community. The former boss that tied up my energy and most of my retirement income in a frivolous lawsuit that took 3 years to get thrown out. Yes, THAT former boss is depressed and is in need of his old friends to rally around him, and I should learn how to let go of past transgressions.
While that phone call was the proverbial straw, the advice that I should learn to “let go” was like a blow torch to dynamite. I have been on what my grandmother would have called “a bender” ever since…eating and crying and hating people in general, and some people in particular. I have been raging against an onslaught of dishonesty, disrespect, being taken for granted, and injustices to people around me. Thankfully, I only rage in my head so as not to disturb others.
I call that “Catholic raging”.
I sit and spew mental fire and cry and eat things I shouldn’t and make my dogs look at me funny and my husband get that exasperated face and say “What is WRONG with you?” I am raging and loathing and sobbing as I type this. If I didn’t need my hands for the keyboard, I’d be eating, too. It’s not a pretty scene.
Because sometimes I get tired of doing the right thing. I get tired of taking the high road. I get tired of forgiving. I get tired of being responsible. I get tired of accepting bad behavior. I want to throw my hands up and be helpless and let someone clean up my messes. I want to get even and toss out paybacks like penny candy at a Christmas Parade. I want to walk away silently whilst flipping the bird. I want to be the sort of selfish badass that just leaves it all behind.
So, that’s where I found myself. It’s a ridiculous, non-productive, unhealthy place. Time to adjust sails and get my perspective back.
This is where the real point of this post starts, so if you’ve hung in there with me thus far, thank you.
I decided to focus on vacation, which is only 59 days away. There is still so much to do: menu planning, t-shirt making, beach mat blinging…it’s like a full time job, except I WANT to do it and I DON’T get paid, which I guess makes it the opposite of most full time jobs. Whatever.
Steve, in his practical wisdom, and knowing that I am not in the best place right now, innocently suggested that maybe this isn’t the right year for the beach vacation. Maybe we should put it off a year. Go to St. Louis instead. Something more low key. Which made me cry harder, but at the same time gave me that much needed perspective.
When I was growing up, we took one trip: The Great Anderson Family Vacation of 1969. 7 people in a Chevy Malibu. My parents, my two sisters, one brother, and our parish priest. Why did the priest go? I’m not sure, but I think it had something to do with the fact that he was the one that owned the Malibu. The Andersons didn’t have anything fancy like a car in 1969, ya know. The priest may have also paid for the vacation, but I don’t know that for sure. It still wasn’t a complete family vacation; one brother was God-knows-where with the Navy, and the other was on tour in Vietnam.
I have so many memories of that trip, and it is still the source of endless laughter at family gatherings. Watching my Dad convince a deer to eat from his hand in Estes Park. My sisters’ swimsuits, made by my mother, literally dissolving in the Great Salt Lake. Freezing on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco because we Midwesterners thought all of California was 80 degrees all the time. Trying mint jelly on a lamb chop, and gagging on it. Being besieged by window washers as we drove into Mexico from Texas. A horse trying to roll over on my Mom during a trail ride. My Dad digging through the trunk every morning to find the bottle of Karo syrup if I wanted pancakes, because I didn’t like anything else on them. My Mom with a death grip on the back of my shirt at the Grand Canyon, because she didn’t want me to fall in. To this day, my only memory of the Grand Canyon is what the backs of other people’s legs looked like.
It was glorious and awful and funny and hot and crowded. It was The Great Anderson Family Vacation, and it was the only one we ever had.
Fast forward 4 years. Not exactly a vacation, but we were going to go to Six Flags, which had opened in St. Louis a year or two before. It was a big deal to me, because I’d never been to an amusement park. I had been to school picnics at St. Mary Magdalen and some other surrounding parishes, and the concept of something as grand as Six Flags just blew my mind. I mean, what could be better than the Scrambler and the Round Up? My Dad was taking his week’s vacation, and while it was sure to be full of house projects, like every one of his vacations was, we were going to go to Six Flags.
But we didn’t. The day before Six Flags, on my Dad’s last day of work before vacation, he suffered a massive coronary while in mid-sentence on a loading dock. Lights out. It was over, and there would never be another vacation, or baseball game, or fish fry, or house project.
My sister and her new husband took me to Six Flags later that summer. It was awesome. Really. But I will always remember that my Dad never made it to that park.
The beach can’t wait until next year, because next year isn’t promised. THIS year isn’t promised. A lot can happen in 59 days.
The good stuff should never be pushed aside while we wallow in the inevitable bad crap that happens in life. That’s backwards.
I can’t walk away from my world whilst flipping the bird. That’s not who I am.
I can’t throw my hands up and let my world crumble around me. That would make me ashamed of myself.
I can’t go on the attack or retaliate against people who fully deserve retaliation. That goes against the laws of Karma, and in case I didn’t mention it, I pretty much try to hold true to that belief system.
I’m going to stop crying, stop binging on carbohydrates, and stop being angry at everything that breathes. I am going to work on beach bags and t-shirts and cruise Groupon hoping for a deal on hot air balloon rides.
I am not calling the former boss. I’m a believer in doing the right thing, but I’m not a martyr.