Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Boxer

Warning to all:  This probably isn't going to be the most uplifting post I've thrown out there.  I'll try my best to be still be funny, though I'm not sure how that's going to turn out.

I'm generally an upbeat person, but every once in a while, I get slammed with a very bad day.  My mood is presently hovering somewhere between completely demoralized and downright heinous.  It happens.  At one particularly low point, as I was putting away laundry, I harbored this gem of a thought...."I hate absolutely everyone and everything.  Well, everything except for my shoes.  My shoes rock."

So, that's that.  Unless you happened to be an overpriced heel in the US size 7 (37-37.5 in Euro size), you just might be SOL with me today.

The real kicker is that I couldn't even specifically name one thing that sent me over the edge today.   Call it a cumulative effect thing, if you will.  Sometimes, all it takes is one straw to break the camel's back, and this camel went down in spectacular fashion.  True to form, the fall wasn't even graceful.  It was a big, fat thud.

The way I see it, life is hard.  That's fine.  The hard is what makes it so great, the hard is what builds character, the hard is what defines.  Sometimes, the hard crushes you and swallows you whole.  That's not so great.  Sometimes, the hard crushes you and swallows you whole and you look around anywhere and everywhere for a shred of encouragement....and it's nowhere to be found.   That, my friends, is a special kind of world class suckage and pretty accurately captures my mental state at the moment.

I'm wise enough to know that life with small kids, while undeniably rewarding, can also beat you down to the point of exhaustion....repeatedly.  It can drain you to the point where you feel like you have virtually nothing left to give anybody, but then you still have to give some more.  I've more than had my fill of people jumping down my throat today, so please allow me to say this---I love my daughter in ways I cannot express in words.  I'd take a bullet today for my daughter if that were the only way she'd have an extraordinary life.  How I feel about my daughter is unquestionable.   I'm just more than a little bit exhausted and could use a cheerleader.

I've heard more than my fill of how my exhaustion is my own fault.   I don't dispute that this sentiment is probably true, but seriously.  What good comes from kicking someone when they're down?  I've said this before, but I think it warrants repeating--I work two jobs- one with a paycheck and one without.  Yes, both of those jobs are rewarding and hard.  No, I would never say that what I am choosing to do for my family is the "right" way---it's just what I think works for us.

Now for the part that I haven't publicly shared before.  What I'm doing is no freaking joke.  I'm proud of what I'm trying to do. I don't show up at work at 9 and leave at 5.  I jam a full-time job---a full time job in a challenging industry that has been laying off people on a regular basis for over three years--into 4 long days.  I'm a good performer.  I'd like to think that on performance alone, that I still have room for advancement.  I basically sleep with my blackberry.  I don't miss deadlines.  I do good work.  I'm basically killing myself- and you know what I hear more often that not?  That I've killed my career and my potential- that my choices were bad.  That I'm not taking my career seriously enough.  That I'm not serious.  That I'm kind of a joke.   And this is the feedback that people are kind enough to tell me---to my face.

And, God, does it hurt.  The best part is---this is only half the story.

The other half is that I'm partially traumatized by the fact that I'm not at home with my daughter like I'm "supposed" to be.  Sometimes, that guilt is paralyzing.  So, I jam in everything I possibly can when I'm with Little M---so I can be the supermom that she deserves.  I kill myself trying to be mommy/Christmas/the Circus/Toys R Us so that she's not shortchanged by my not being a stay-at-home mom.  And do you know what I hear more often than not?  That I'm not cutting it as a mom.  The words criticizing me may vary, but the sentiment remains.

If hearing that I'm a joke at work hurts, then this feedback breaks  shatters my heart.

Oh, and I sleep maybe 5.5 hours a night AND I work out most days- because if this collective mess doesn't kill me first, I'd like to be healthy enough to see my daughter grow up.

So, let's summarize, shall we?  I'm killing myself on both sides of the spectrum and I'm killing myself on an ambitious undertaking of which I should be proud. The feedback I most often hear is that I'm not taking one or the other seriously enough.  That I'm constantly exhausted and that exhaustion is pointless because I don't nicely fit into one box or another.  That I'm not making the grade. At least people are nice enough to remind me. WOOHOO!

This is a whole lot to take in, considering that I'm the kind of person who thinks that a 92 is a failing grade.

Compounding the issue is the kind of person that I am.  I'm a big fan of analogies in general, and this one, in particular, really resonates with me.  In life, some people are racehorses and some people are plowhorses.  Racehorses are catered to, racehorses are regarded with awe, racehorses are cared for, racehorses are special.  If a racehorse gets hurt, that hurt is immediately tended to and rectified. Again, racehorses are special. Plowhorses aren't special.  Plowhorses do a lot of the heavy lifting and are rarely noticed.  Plowhorses are a commodity and they're interchangeable.  If a plowhorse is hurting, no one cares so long as the horse is still able to pull the cart.

Want to take a stab at which one I am?  Since I'm in a bad mood and gravitating toward the overdramatic, I'll even elaborate.  I'm a old plowhorse with a bleeding hoof who would love to have my head rubbed instead of my ass kicked.  Again, WOOHOO!

Don't get me wrong-- I generally like being a plowhorse. There's some pride in that. What's more-- I'm not meant to be a racehorse.

Seriously, though, for just one day- I'd love to be treated like I was special, to be regarded with awe, for people to rearrange their schedules to be with me, to not be cancelled on for a more appealing offer.  To not be altogether ignored when I'm sad.  To not be appealing only when I'm useful. To rate slightly higher on the importance scale than the tailor or the dry cleaner or an eyebrow wax or the neighbor's cat.

Okay- even I know that the aforementioned paragraph was a total indulgent self-pity party. I actually had that pity party while I was on the treadmill at the gym.  I'm sure I was quite a sight for the other people in the gym, as my self-indulgent rage was apparent (a) on my face, (b) from the angry music blasting from my ipod and (c) from my 6 minute miles when I hate running and am normally slow as all get out.

Normally, I indulge in some retail therapy when I'm down, but since I bought a (ridiculous German car) in the last 3 months, I'm cut off from retail therapy until further notice.  That totally sucks.  This leaves me with no other recourse than to whine in a public forum to feel better.

I keep trying to remind myself that the criticism, the exhaustion, the feelings of inadequacy and un-importance.....that they're building my character.  That they're making me stronger. I have a nice track record of choosing to build character over being defeated.  Let's hope that streak continues.

Heard the song "The Boxer" earlier today, and, in closing, I will just say that Paul Simon more articulately captures my sentiments than I ever could:

In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade 
And he carries the reminders 
Of ev'ry glove that layed him down 
Or cut him till he cried out 
In his anger and his shame 
"I am leaving, I am leaving" 
But the fighter still remains 

Thanks for allowing me to verbally vomit my angst.
Tomorrow is a new day,

No comments:

Post a Comment