My Misery Is Miserabler Than Your Misery

First off, infinite thanks for the incredible outpouring of love and support you all gave me on Monday’s post.  I knew you guys would be awesome about it, but I can’t begin to tell you how much all your kind words and encouragement mean to me.

I, lover of run-on sentences, TMI, and endless rambling, can’t find enough words to express my love for you all.  So you know it’s like way huge.  🙂

An update:  The husband and I are going to a counselor this week to discuss local support group options, and talking to his primary care physician about a potential fibro specialist who may be able to give us some better tips on coping. Plus we talked/cried/hugged it out, so things are on the path to getting better.

That all said, here’s today’s post:

Don’t Mind Me While I Momentarily Become an Annoying Tween…

Monday’s post had me entering the office Monday  morning with a particularly stormy outlook.  Having spent the weekend dwelling on a post that summed up weeks of anger and sadness and worry and stress, I’d finally begun to realize—really realize—that my husband wasn’t going to “get better” and this was going to be our life going forward.

Having this hit me left me like one big raw nerve.

I’ve gotten pretty good at laughing off my coworker’s Eeyore attitudes.  It’s the only way you can get through spending 8 hours a day with people without having their shoddy mindsets bring you down.

But this Monday, I wasn’t in the mood for any of it.  Oh, was I not in the mood for it…

So when my coworkers began their usual grumbling and groaning about all the petty hassles of being a downtrodden secretary (My printer isn’t working!  I’m only getting a 55-minute lunch break instead of my full hour!), something in my brain snapped.  Not just a little snap, but an Acme-fireworks-KERPLOOEY!, the mess of which wound up on mostly my personal Facebook page.

You know how much you hate it when people passive-aggressively type-vomit their frustrations on their FB pages as though you give a crap?  Yeah, even the most panda-hatted of us are subject to that in weak moments…

It wasn’t pretty.

Perhaps the clearest example of this was this lovely status update:

Dear shitty office workplace vibe: I’m rubber; you’re glue. Everything you bitch & moan about bounces off me and makes me want to say SHUT THE FUCK UP YOUR LIFE IS EASY PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL PANTS. </rant>

Classy, huh?  The kind of thing you’d expect from someone fluent in personal branding, social media dos and don’ts, and the basics of being a 30-year-old grownup?

Yeah, I thought so.

The Truth About Troubles

Two Tylenol, two Aleve, three cups of coffee, two generous snifters of Buffalo Trace, and one very long call with my mommy (thanks, Mom!) later, I’ve come to I realize a few things about the way I need to approach this whole “my problems vs. your problems” mentality: It’s the totally wrong way to approach life.

Yes, it is frustrating to see the people around losing their heads over stapler jams when you’ve just come to realize your husband will always be sick.  But, turning into a resentful “my shit is shittier than your shit” judgment-a-holic won’t do anyone any good.  And it certainly isn’t very Cordelian.

So, in a calmer state of mind and rationality, I have come to realize the following:

You have no idea what the people around you are secretly dealing with.

Personally, I think many of the bitch-and-moan issues at my workplace are a matter largely of people needing to put on their big girl pants.  Some things are just so stupidly unimportant there’s no use getting yourself in a twist over them.  (See below.)

But, that said, who am I to judge?

I of all people know what it’s like to struggle with things (my husband’s illness, my own issues) in secret and put up an “everything is normal” front.  Maybe something else is going on behind the scenes.  Or maybe some people simply are just chronic whiners.  Either way, it’s not my place to say.  And it’s certainly pointless to get upset over it.

None of this petty shit matters.

Two days after my own personal meltdown, I can look at the silly hassles that normally make me a grumpypants (like, a-hem, complaining coworkers) and say “Seriously?  This is what I’ve been getting so upset over?  This is a negative on the scale of importance.”

I’ve noticed that the people I happen to know have the most on their plates (sick loved ones of their own, family problems, money trouble, overwhelming schedules) tend to be the ones that roll the best with whatever punches are thrown their way and laugh off stupid inconveniences with a sense of humor I can only envy.  I need to learn to be more like them.  I can’t get mad over someone taking small things out of proportion, because that in itself is taking a small thing out of proportion.

No one can say their shit is shittier than someone else’s.

Because no one is living anyone else’s life.  We’ve all got things that are weighing on our minds.  There are always going to be people much worse off and much better off than we are.

All we can do is live this one life we’ve been given, with as much grace and humor as possible, and leave other people to do the same with theirs.

(Holy mother, I’ve been deep and solemn the past couple days.  Back to your usually-scheduled Railing Against the System shortly…)


Image: Flickr

Never miss a post! Sign up here and get a free copy of Your Guide to Calling It Quits.

  • Danabee

    Cordelia, personally I think you’re allowed to fall apart at this point. When the news first comes about serious illness that’s going to be around for a long, long time, that is the most difficult time. There’s so much to learn, to do, to take in, to believe, to find (the right kind of help), and your body, mind, soul, emotions are overwhelmed. Anger comes right on in and pulls up a chair, maybe a comfy chair or sofa, and you look at it and you feel it and you wonder if it’s there forever now. I’ve been through receiving a nasty diagnosis and I stayed in disbelief and depression (or some form of it) for about 5 years. I was on my own – I didn’t have a YOU to help me out and listen to my many mucho complaints, tiny and mega-sized. You have to find your own way here, but you can have lots of help. I can recommend one blog – – and her Spoon Theory (just read it) is invaluable and a great shorthand to talk about your day. I write a blog about chronic and serious illness – – and I open up all sorts of topics. I’m just ready to kick it into high gear, too, posting at least 3 times a week. And you’ve got close friends and your mom to call on – so do that, definitely! Hang in there. Each day, maybe each minute, will be different. Find ways to be gentle with yourself – first. Others need you, so you need to make yourself available to you by loving yourself ever so sweetly. Wishing my best of luck to you and your husband.

    • “But You Don’t Look Sick” was actually first on my list of books to start reading! I just checked out the Spoon Theory, and I love it. It perfectly sums up how I see my husband going through his days–usually his “spoons” are out by the time he gets home from work…or, if we know we have a function coming up like a family birthday party, he has to conserve some “spoons” beforehand to make sure he can get through it well.

      I am forwarding the Spoon Theory to my husband this instant–hopefully he can start following that blog (and yours, which I’m also subscribing to) to help him understand things and learn ways to deal with them.

      I am so grateful for your comforting words (and great recommendation!), and I look forward to reading about YOUR journey on your own blog. The love, support, and empathy I’m finding in this new “community” of illness and caregivers continues to bring tears to my eyes.

  • LB

    I completely agree with you… There is always someone with shittier shit and someone with a better life (or maybe a better front) than us. Dealing with our own crap with humor is the best advice ever. It makes me more human and less of an ass that hates everything. Plus I get to make myself laugh 🙂

    • Exactly. That’s all you can really do. You have the troubles (and blessings) that were given to you, and comparing them against someone else’s is pointless. Especially given the “front” that you mention–I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found out what someone is secretly dealing with, only to be amazed because they seem so in control. (Heck, the same thing happens to my husband.)

      I heard a great quote once, I can’t remember from whom, that said, “Never judge someone else’s outsides by your insides.” Meaning, you can’t imagine you know what someone’s motives or intentions are just based on what YOU would do in that situation.


    In all seriousness, though, I’m glad you’re being proactive on this, but don’t beat yourself up for the days that it’s just all too much. Remember, this too shall pass. Your husband may never be “well” but fibro is one of those ‘comes and goes’ illnesses, too, and it won’t always be as bad as it is right now.

    And if I may suggest, think of this as practice for the “asking for help” muscles. Dealing with the stress of chronic illness and being the bread-winner and caregiver is one of those situations where your proud independent streak will work against you more often than not. I remember when my ex-husband was ill, and I was so scared and trying to hide it and wondering how we would ever manage or if I was just going to be a widow soon so I should count my blessings.

    Lean on others. It’s the only way. And it’s much stronger, too.

    • Ahh…the “asking for help” muscles. I definitely have not developed those very well. I am a revolutionary! I can do anything! I am on top of it all!

      I think that’s actually where a good bit of my frustration comes from–I *am* very proud of my independence, and I’ve always been proud of how I can keep it all together and manage all sorts of responsibilities. Now that I’ve found that things are beyond me and I literally can’t do everything, it just adds to my frustration. I’ve done my own thing since I was little–and now that I’m 30, I have to start admitting I CAN’T keep on top of things and I need help? Gah!

      You’re so right, though. One of the first things I did after drafting this post was to call up my mom (I am SO not a run-to-my-parents kind of girl) and just ramble on about everything. And it helped. A lot. I guess I’ll have to suck it up and start looking outward for help a little more often. 🙂

      • *Inter*dependence is the next logical step from independence — and we know you’ve got that nailed. Movin’ on up!

  • Right now, you are in the part where you are processing everything–your “new normal,” what it all means and how you will cope. So let yourself process it all and pull in your support team. As for other people’s whining or bad behavior? You are spot on. Whenever I see someone behaving badly being “inappropriate,” I try to remind myself that they may have a reason for their bad behavior. That things may appear OK on the surface, but you just never know what someone is struggling with internally.

    • That is so true. I know plenty of people with some seriously rough issues they’re dealing with, but you’d never know it from the way they are on the outside. Sure, some people *are* petty and immature, but lord knows I have no no idea what might be going on in their lives behind the scenes.

      And as for my support team? I think you guys have made it pretty clear that, in addition to my friends and family, I have one hell of a support team here, too. 🙂

  • Cordelia’s Mom

    You’re welcome,sweetie. You can repay me after our road trip this weekend. If my 92-yo mother with Alzheimers has finally forgotten who I am, I will be crying on your shoulder! (I miss my mommy, even at my advanced age.)

  • DeenaMcClusky

    One thing I have learned in my own futile attempt at being more zen in my dealings with others is that a lot of the time people fill empty conversational space with complaining (yes, often about random, unimportant crap like staplers) because they have nothing else to say and cannot cope with dead space. It’s as if they feel they are contributing something by complaining, even though, in reality, they would be contributing far more by shutting up. So the next time it is getting to you, stare blankly at them and imagine them saying “I am really not a very interesting person and I have absolutely nothing to say, so can you believe someone took the end of the coffee and didn’t refill it?” Hopefully it will make you laugh inside your head.

    • It just made me laugh out loud in front of my keyboard, so I absolutely WILL be imagining that! Again and again and again.

      Flipping brilliant!

  • Omar

    Sometimes awareness (like realizing your husband’s illness is not going away) can be daunting, but after it always comes clarity. I’m so happy that you will see a counselor, and I hope the fibro specialist is helpful.

    Your facebook status made me laugh 😀 sometimes I also feel that way in the office. But as you said, its taking a small thing out of proportion. I try just to ignore them, but if I’m not in a good mood it can be very difficult.


  • JimMcKee

    It’s all fine and well to bitch about a job, until you lose yours and can’t find another one.