It’s almost my birthday. A year ago, I posted a selfie on Facebook, proclaiming “all things considered, turning 47 wasn’t so bad.” I felt full of sass, and felt like I looked pretty good for someone so advanced in years. What a difference a year makes. Maybe I have a few more gray hairs and a few more creases than I did one year ago, but there’s nothing appreciably, shockingly different in my appearance. I look the same on the outside, but last year’s sassy, fabulous me and this year’s birthday girl are strangers in our heads and our hearts. 2015 Wendy is a fun house mirror of last year’s account. The essential me is bent–distorted, but still recognizable. I find myself particularly focused on my son’s diagnosis as the anniversary of my becoming a person nears. Why do I place such import on random days? Before on my birthday, I’d have cracked wise, lamented being older and losing elasticity. I’d have written something snarky and sassy about lung capacity for the candles on my cake. Nope. Not true. I’d not have written anything at all because I didn’t blog before.
I have felt since summer, for me, abundantly sad. I don’t believe I am depressed at a clinical level, but I know I am more morose than is typical for me. Acknowledging sad is the life saver floating me over the line, but saving me from the waterfall, you know? It’s an anti-vacation, a break, and not a get-thee-to-a-doctor thing because I see that line. “But you look just the same” is something people say to you when that chink in your armor becomes an open, gaping head wound. I do look the same. I actually have the same hair color(s) I’ve had for about three years IN A ROW now, my hair is still long and I’ve neither gained nor lost weight. OK, I’ve gained like 4 pounds, but shut up! we are NOT going to talk about that. Hello? It’s almost my birthday. Did you not read the title carefully?? I believe what is meant by “You look the same,” is this: “You don’t look like I think a sad person should look. Ergo, you cannot be sad.” Would you be happier if I stopped shaving my legs and didn’t brush my hair, would that fit your schema better? Is there a costume, a uniform for what someone who’s sad dons? I don’t wear flip flops and pajama pants to Meijer, and I still put on make up. “But you’re still goofy. You’re a smart ass, you write funny things on Facebook and you always have a smile when I see you.” True. Have you heard the phrase ‘fake it til you make it?’ There’s that.
There’s also a fundamental, core belief I hold that we should always be kind and treat people in a manner such as we would like to be treated ourselves. Have you heard the phrase, ‘don’t be a dick?’ That. When you hold in your power the capacity to make someone’s day better or make it worse, choose better. I’m sick to death of mean, bitchy women (and men too, but mostly women as I work in a female-dominated workplace) in positions of power asserting themselves in a dictatorial fashion BECAUSE THEY CAN. Sure, I’m the sad one writing here, but at least I’m not a mean girl. That would be exponentially worse. No one–OK probably not no one, I’m not so arrogant to think I’m above it–but people don’t say about me when I leave the room, “God, what a bitch.” So even when I’m not batting 1.000, I still behave like a decent human being. Or I sure try.
Mean people have dampened my passion, which, right now in my saddened state, I believe is the objective. Hell, it’s not even a contest. You win this week, mean people. I can’t muster the energy to rally. Part of my professional role is to be the proverbial squeaky wheel–to advocate good professional practice, to charge forward on behalf of 174 others and advance good practice. I’m no radical; I just want our staff’s professional needs recognized because it matters. It matters for the kids. I joked with a friend this week that part of my job is to be mad 62.5% of the time, but it’s not funny. It’s also impossible to maintain. My heart cracks wide open when one of my nearest, dearest colleagues wonders how we charge ahead in the face of abject mean. Her heart is breaking too, and I can’t help. I consulted a thesaurus and found a load of synonyms for how ineffective I am in the charge against mean: unsuccessful, unproductive, fruitless, unprofitable, abortive, futile, purposeless, useless, worthless, ineffectual, inefficient, inadequate, feeble, inept, lame, unsuccessful, powerless, impotent, lame-duck, incompetent, incapable, unfit, inept, bungling, weak, poor, hopeless. Who knew there were this many ways to be unsuccessful? *Sigh*
BUT. . . How can I not feel joy when something like this arrives in the mail? How can I not laugh like the idiot I am when I have friends who do this for me? See, there’s my life saver–how I know I’m close enough to OK. THIS is how you gift wrap a birthday present for me, kids. Inside was enclosed a bookmark with the GPS coordinates to light my way home. My friend. My heart.
So yeah, it’s almost my birthday. I have a billion things to be happy about, and I shall try to focus there in my next post dropping Monday on an iPhone or laptop near you. Screw you, mean people! You may have won the battle this week, but you will not win the war.