Last year, Doug and I almost bought the world’s smallest violin. We came across it in the gift shop at, of all places, the Sherlock Holmes Museum over there at 221B Baker Street in London. It was less than an inch-long, and absolutely adorable. Why would we buy it? Well, don’t we all play it from time to time? We envisioned using it as a trophy–the kind you don’t want to win or earn–for whenever a household member was going on and on. You know: Those “woe is me” type of moments.
I’ve been engrossed in my own little pity party for one these last few days. It’s not fun, and it’s not welcome. Of all emotions, I think I hate pity the most. Pity is the opposite of action. People feel pity for others–“Oh look, that poor man is missing a leg”. “I feel bad for that woman; her baby just won’t stop crying.”–but they don’t do anything about it. I recently told my daughter that pity is a “wasted emotion” and I truly believe it.
Don’t we all play the world’s smallest violin from time to time?
And self-pity is even worse. Self-pity is a pit of woeful despair. Poor me, this always happens to me, I have bad luck, life sucks. That pit is a cesspool of chocolate pudding–you just lie in it, relishing the comfort of not having to do anything but feel bad for yourself and it feels good. You enjoy lying there and it actually tastes good too, for a moment. Then you realize you’ve overindulged on the pudding and the pity and you now feel worse, not better.
My self-pity stems from frustration. I’m extremely frustrated with both my ankle and my job hunt. My ankle, as I posted in “Life after 40: Body Betrayal (Or Becoming Your Own Worst Enemy)“, is a bit of a mess at the moment. I’ve torn the deltoid ligament on the inside of my left ankle and a tendon on the outside of it. I’ve started physical therapy and, if it didn’t feel better exactly, it wasn’t feeling worse. Until this past weekend, when it hurt, constantly. So we had to dial back a little of the p/t today and I feel like it’s never going to get better. I currently have just one pair of sneakers I’m allowed to wear because I’ve got orthotics in them. I’m a barefoot kind of gal–except, now I’m not. Going barefoot, wearing flip flops, enjoying shoes with heels–they’re all likely things of the past. And I mourn that. Intensely. Still, at this point I’d be happy to be able to walk right again, even if it means a dependency on orthotics for the rest of my days.
As a migraine sufferer half of my life, I understand chronic pain. Or, I thought I did. This is daily, hourly, almost constantly. My migraines usually come and go. I could have a week without one and then a stretch of back-to-back ones for a few days. Migraines have made me a poster child for “Better Living through Pharmaceuticals” because sumatriptan is the only thing that works on mine. The ankle hurts all of the time. Sometimes I can deal with it–it’s there but not horrible–and sometimes it flares and I gasp reflexively. I try not to. I try to stay quiet. I try not to make that sharp intake of air. I try and I fail. It hurts. It fucking hurts. And I have no doubt that those around me are sick of me mentioning it. I’m sick of mentioning it. I try not to mention it. But I fail.
Of all emotions, I think I hate pity the most. Pity is the opposite of action.
The job hunt is ridiculous. It’s been over a year since I lost my part-time, virtual, steady and predictable job with the college. I’ve sent in applications for too many jobs to count since then. Office jobs, virtual jobs, freelance jobs. True, I’ve had some interviews and some second interviews, but Hey! No job yet. I’ve got freelance clients and I’m getting paid to write, but I need to double my income to make it a viable, full-time gig. I’m willing to trade up the freedom of working from home for the predictability of office hours and a regular salary. There are just no takers on the deal.
That’s frustrating and basically making me feel like shit about myself. Not constantly, of course. Not like the ankle thing. But just enough to hurt, and make me doubt myself a little too often. I think the biggest problem with choosing a career that’s subjective (art in any form) vs. one that’s objective is its unpredictability, volatility, fluidity. But yet, isn’t that what the artist craves? Constancy kills and all that?
I’m creative AND analytical, so the numbers side of my brain would love a little more constancy when it comes to financials. I’m telling you, money is not necessarily the root of all evil, but it is the root of a heck of a lot of stress.
So yes: Here’s me having my little pity party of one in the corner. I’ll get over it, like I always do. I hate wallowing. I hate passivity. I have to keep moving mentally while not being able to move much physically. Does that even seem possible? I’ll let you know.