For Yourself 12/3/19

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Some years ago, my therapist tried to convince me that it’s okay to sometimes just be in a bad mood. I am the kind of person that likes to make sure that everybody else is okay. When I would open up to her with something that I thought troubling or disturbing, I would stop and ask if it’s okay that I talk about that subject, or if I was making her uncomfortable. Eventually, she broke it down for me; she pointed out my quirks and how she can tell that I’m nervous (shaking foot or rocking, much as I am doing as I write this), and how I always check to be sure she’s okay. She assured me that it is okay to just be not okay, and to let others deal with you for a change.

I’m struggling right now. There’s just no two ways to put that. Although times are tough (and, frankly, I don’t even see a mechanism by which they can improve if I were to be completely honest), I try to walk around with my head held high as if I haven’t a care in the world. I try to think about other people, and isolate myself when I probably most need the support and presence of others. I reach out when it seems friends are dealing with struggles of their own (although, to be honest, this often helps me as well, especially if there is something I can do for them). With a bank account that may not even have enough money for the lack of minimum balance fee (and the “bounced check” fee for not having enough to cover that fee), I still tend to donate far more money than I should.

I can’t tell you if this is a good thing or bad, because, frankly, I just don’t know. My therapist would tell me that I need to think more about myself than others, and for my own well-being, she’s probably right. But aren’t there too many people who think too much about themselves? Wouldn’t it be nice if more people put others ahead of themselves?

You see it all of the time. Somebody doesn’t like something about their meal, so they take it out on the server, not considering that she or he isn’t the one who prepared it, or how busy the restaurant is. Somebody doesn’t like the return policy, so they take it out on the person helping with the exchange, not considering that it’s not their policy. Somebody doesn’t like waiting as a pedestrian crosses the street, leaning on the horn but never wondering why that person has to be walking.

In a previous post, I wrote about my heart attack and the kind of patient that I was. Nurses take this kind of abuse all of the time. Patients in the hospital are frightened, upset with the bill, in pain, and they always take it out on the nearest person, which is usually the nurse who is trying their level best to help the patient out. This is why whenever I find myself in the hospital, like with my heart attack, I tried to be overly nice, supportive and appreciative of everything that they did for me. They have bad days, too. I even defended a nurse as a doctor was yelling at her. Maybe she deserved it, I don’t know, but honestly, he should have just explained what she did wrong and why what she tried didn’t work. Even with low platelets from a night of continuous blood loss, I stood up for her.

Well, figuratively speaking. Had it been literally I would have collapsed from the weakness.

Sometimes, you have to look out for yourself. I’ve called service centers, and opened up by saying that I am calling to vent my frustrations, and please put me in touch with your supervisor because I know this isn’t your fault. Then, I vent my spleen.

Odd expression, isn’t it?

There is nothing wrong with standing up for yourself. It’s a lesson, in fact, that I still need to learn, but standing up for yourself doesn’t justify rudeness, or threatening behaviors. If something is dissatisfactory, express yourself, explain your reasoning, and let them know when it’s appropriate (leave the poor person crossing the street alone; you’re comfortable, you’re out of the weather, you have your tunes, your but is on a padded seat, give them a chance). If you’re just in a foul mood, that’s okay too. But don’t yell at everybody. Keep to yourself, maybe even take a break from “please” and “thank you”, but don’t be rude. That accomplishes nothing but a snowballing of anger, and that’s not really what you want, is it?

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