We’ve all felt that ol’ UGH feeling once in a while. Maybe you even have it right now.
You know the UGHs, right? It’s when a voice in your head nitpicks (or let’s be honest, screams bloody murder) at your boss while you smile and nod.
Or when you turn down the radio in the car as its disrupting the loud conversations you’re having in your head.
Wait! There’s more … Here are a few telltale signs you need to read this blog:
- You got honked at today. [And not in the woo hoo, you’re cute way.]
- You hope you get your period either any minute now or never again to explain what’s up (or better yet, down) with your mood.
- You questioned whether your coffee (second cup), truly was caffeinated.
- If you’re on the dating sites, the matches (if any) that come calling are more pessimistic than you.
- You schedule your yearly mammogram on your day off.
- You don’t hate everyone, just a select few.
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, read on. You may be in the middle of a party. One that is about as much fun as a sober bachelorette party.
A pity party, that is.
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Pity Party (noun): a one-person party, usually with a theme, similar to that of a junior prom, where even though you can wear your hair in an updo (a scrunchie), you dress down, and go nowhere.
Have you ever noticed when you’re down in the dumps, devastated, overwhelmed, worried, woeful, anxious, annoyed, nervous, needled, irked, pissed, misunderstood, and/or unappreciated, you somehow manage to win the right to shop more than you should, not go to the gym, and not be nice to your spouse and/or spawn—all in your mood’s honor?
Don’t you find the fact that your inner-brat or chicken wins a prize if it sulks a bit suspicious?
If only our inner dialogue was as supportive of our dreams as it is of our vices! I mean, how long do you think your bad mood would really last if you only wallowed in water, not wine? How long before you really had no choice but to get proud of yourself? Because in the face of your bad day (or week!)—you still took care of yourself. You still kept your promises to yourself. You still behaved as great as you wish your day had gone. What if you just declared your maudlin mood what it was—a pity party thrown by none other than YOU?
If you want to have your own pity party, by all means do. We ALL have at some point. Some of us (hi) more often than others!
Truth be told, as I typed the first through fourth draft of this, I was hiding out in the middle of my own marathon pity party. Sure, as a writer (and Russian Lit major!) I appreciated the irony of writing about a pity party while being in one. But, instead of declaring it as one, having fun with it, and truly do what it takes to get out of it (helpful hint: take a look at my integrity), I stared at it wondering which came first, the blahs or the blog.
As happy-making and productive as it sounds…
However, if you knew me well, you’d know that I can turn any tale into a sad one. It’s part of my gift and my grief. Magically, my memory remembers the past a bit skewed. [Psst, as does yours.] From preschool to high school to college to my 20’s, my mind and mouth recant how miserable, shy, screwed, and unappreciated I always was, true or not. Conveniently, it forgets how loved, laughed with, and funny I also was. How I was the one who picked switching sleepaway camps every summer and whined about not belonging, or how I was the one who grovelled my way into UCLA only to bitch that I was not blonde for all five years of it (yes, I stayed an extra year), or how I even managed to claim the middle position of four kids, where there is no middle.
This time around, I was in the middle of suffering over something, except I couldn’t figure out what exactly it was. I purged (wrote everything down in a stream of consciousness), I moaned to many, but still I couldn’t nail what had set me off. I mean nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
Save one thing…
I was dragging my feet about diving into the book proposal for Handel Group’s second book. And in order to justify my procrastination, I got blaming. My mind started messing with the story of the first book, remembering the work on it as ONLY hard, and magically forgetting how much fun I had writing it, not to mention how insanely proud of it I was. And I mean insanely proud. In the face of my own fear of having a second “child” (book two), I practically had to declare ‘postpartum depression’ on the first.
I wish I could say that the admission of my unconscious pity party smokescreen came at my own volition. But alas, it did not. You know what had me FINALLY call the cops on my own pity party, besides my sister Lauren?
It’s really deep. Ready? Losing my wine.
You see I made a promise that if I didn’t call off the party by Wednesday, I’d have to forfeit my nightly glass of wine until I did. A worthy battle, no? Wine vs. whine. And though my stubborn (and now, without wine, skinnier) martyr was willing to forfeit wine, Wednesday, Thursday, and even Friday — hell if I’d let my sadness mess with Saturday night when my husband breaks out the good stuff.
So I didn’t.
On Saturday afternoon, I got back on the phone with my sister, determined to get myself out of the hole I put myself in, or at least, accept the rope she kept throwing me to get myself out. And, lo and behold, finally I could see that there was nothing truly wrong except that I, without my truly knowing it, was afraid of climbing up the next 250-page mountain.
Turns out, my sister had even been on this VERY ride with me before. You know when? Right before I had my daughter, Sophie. You see, I was so in love with my first child that I couldn’t even fathom that I could have the capacity to love, adore, and raise TWO great ones. In response to my fear, I took a long time to get pregnant, pity partied once I got pregnant, and cried.
Once again, as useful as it sounds…
And here I was in the same spot. In the face of my sister wanting to birth another book (or five) with me, I pouted and puddled. And, with that uncovery, I called curfew on my pity party and unlocked my jaw.
Realizing you’re in the middle of hosting your own pity party, and announcing it as one (like I finally did), allows you to decide how your party is going to go: from the party’s duration to what you are going to serve at it (or not). It has you in charge of who you want to be in the face of an upset, a road bump, or a sh-t storm.
So if you’re ready to call it quits and break out of your funk for good, here’s what you will need to host, helm, and HALT your own pity party:
- Magic marker
- An epiphany
- Optional: A few bubble gum cigarettes (remember those?). I mean, How sad could you really stay having one of those hanging out of your mouth?
- Call it what it is. Declaring that you are in a pity party versus excusing, blaming, hiding, and sulking about it is the first BIG step in getting out of it. It triggers YOU figuring out what triggered it.
- Start acting the host(ess) and decide the duration of the pity party. [Helpful hint: shorter is better.]
- Get your candle. Put it front and center. On your desk, dining table, wherever you are. Light it up.
- Grab your post-it pad and marker.
- Name it. Junior prom has a theme, as should your pity party. Come up with something befitting and over the top. For example, if you are finding it hard to be as great, as generous, as unappreciated as you, name it exactly that: “IT’S HARD TO BE ME.” If you think all wo/men suck today, call it that. If you just hate, period, write “HUMANS” in all caps and put a strike through it.
- Attach the post-it it to your candle holder. [Now, now. Not to the flame.]
- Some pity partiers like to put music to their party. If that’s your jam, by all means, go for it. The louder, sadder, more dramatic, the better, i.e. The Carpenters, John Denver, Maria Callas, The Smiths, a violin concerto. You get the idea. Something so over the top that you almost can’t help but get over yourself the minute the melodramatic music starts.
- Fess your party to someone you trust. No matter how much you may want to invite them to it, don’t. Just tell them you are having one, and ending it by X time or see #9 below.
- It’s also not a bad idea for the marathon martyrs like me out there to put in a consequence should you opt to stay longer at your party than you promised. Forcing yourself to go for a run, speed date, wear pigtails or grandma coral lipstick publicly if you run over might just curtail your own sad self and get you back at your mood’s helm in a hurry.
- Blow out your candle when your pity party is over.
You see, the minute you call your sad what it is—a pity party—and light it up, DJ it, set a time limit to it, and get conscious to what you are camouflaging with crocodile tears or tantrums IS the very same minute you can call it over. It’s all in our hands. As it’s always been.
Whoops and whew.