So tonight for dinner I made a patty melt. Anyone that knows me in real life realizes that I am a horrible cook. I try to keep it really simple. So how difficult can a cheeseburger with onions really be. Another one of my food issues is that I take a lot of care in place my condiments. They need to go in a specific order and look a specific way (I know, I hear the OCD phone ringing). So as I was preparing my sandwich I reached for some spicy brown mustard and as I squeezed I got the worst thing ever…
That yucky mustard water substance that does nothing but make the bread wet. It took me a moment to regroup, shake the bottle, brush the water off, and continue my dinner. A perfectly good sandwich was almost ruined by a little wet surprise. I hate it when that happens.
I guess this isn’t really about the mustard or the mustard juice or the meal at all. Really it is just a metaphor of disappointment. I was so excited to bite into my patty melt. It looked good and I was hungry and then all of a sudden it wasn’t quite as good anymore because it was wet instead of properly condimented. Now I did eat it and it was good but for that snapshot in time, I was down.
I think we all have those snapshots a lot more often than we choose to recognize. Whether it is when your team looses (and lately that has been waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much) or actually something serious concerning a family member or your job, we face these disappointments all the time. Now most of us don’t really have time to reflect and deal with them. When you are sad you missed a two-day sale at Kohl’s and your shirt just went up five dollars you still have to get the groceries, clean the bathroom, and get to the lunch appointment on time. Dwelling on the missed sale is probably inappropriate and a waste of time. But are we desensitizing ourselves to being down and sad.
I know that I hate sad. A big part of my personal struggles revolve around covering up my sadness. I have drowned myself in partying, work, and fantasy sports over the years to help “medicate” my sad. I have heard more than a few times in life “why can’t you just sit in it?”. It is very hard for me to just be in a funk. So rather than be funky, there are so many times in my life that I have chosen to gloss over the emotion. This is a great way to deal with things except for the fact that I’m not really dealing with things. And not dealing with things has a way of a) making them get bigger and b) having them continue to occur. So instead of making things better a lot of times I make things worse.
When I was younger a UGA football loss would be devastating. I would be sad, mad, frustrated, and upset. For some reason I thought the best way to deal with this disappointment was to find my way to the bottom of a bottle many times and drown my sorrows. As info, it doesn’t work. The first problem is that I had absolutely nothing to do with the game outcome and was taking it as if I made the fumble. The second problem was that my team will always loose again at some point. My process for dealing with the pain was quite flawed.
Now I don’t think that the losses bother me less now that I’m older, but with a little wisdom and perspective I no longer fish for victories in the bottom of a pitcher of beer. I make Facebook posts and call the sports talk radio station and vent with friends. Small steps but steps that allow me to get out of me that which drives me to make bad decisions in response to college kids missing a field goal.
This is a small and somewhat silly example but it is similar to how I have dealt with many things in my life. I have also noticed many of my friends and family coping with things in their own ways to get over the hurt. Some drink, some smoke, some run, some surf the web, and some read. Non of these items by themselves are bad but so many of us do them rather than “just sit in it”.
So how about this for an open forum…
If you are sitting in something, feel free to post it. You can go anonymous if you like, but feel free to put it out there. It may just be the first step in easing the pain. And I’ll go first (but you will have to read the comments to see what I said).