Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Take from me these myths

Myth #1) When you get sick for almost two weeks, missing a full week of work (with no sick pay, ouch) , you are being punished.

I am the worst sick person in the world, and it's not because I whine. It's because I'm guilty. I am guilty for whatever sins I have committed to make me sick in the first place; I am guilty because I am not getting better right away; I am guilty of not being a productive person while being sick; and I feel guilty because I am no longer a Useful Person while lying exhausted and beaten in bed. If I have one obsession, it's with Being Useful. Every day, when I wake up, I ask God for two things: to make me more useful, and to help me love my neighbor better. Being sick makes me feel like a failure of a human being. And this drives the people who are trying to take care of me absolutely nuts as I try to do chores, errands, and work while being sick.

Myth #2) When you put yourself out there for others, it comes back to bite you in the ass.

Right before I got sick last week I had something happen in my life where a big mistake was made - and the harder I tried to fix it, the worse it became. Ever have that happen to you? You feel like you can't win for trying, so why bother caring? This mistake came from me doing someone else a pretty big favor that ended by blowing up in my face - and I walked around for a good week with the bitter taste of no good deed goes unpunished in my jaw and my fists. I was so tempted to take my love away from the rest of the world in some weird act of revenge, and sit there smugly and watch as the world collapsed in on itself the second I wasn't around to fix everything and keep loving it into existence every morning. Which brings me to myth #3:

Myth #3) You are the center of the universe.

Your love will not fix everything; your failures will not break everything. Everyday the world spins madly on and we screw up and apologize and then screw up again and as much as we think that we have a deep effect on what happens to those who around us - we don't. Our friends and family function and cope and survive and breathe and love with or without us making things better or worse for them, and some days this knowledge is a crime and sometimes it's a gift. When I say there is only a limited amount of what you can do you can take that as freedom or you can take it as a jail sentence. But either way it's true - because it's both.

Myth #4) You shouldn't be grateful.

There are two camps that the ungrateful fall into; luckily, being the overachiever that I am, I swing from one to the other in order to partake in them both (high five!). The first group thinks I have no right to be grateful; gratitude is a mockery at the unhappiness and misfortune of others. When the rest of the world is miserable, who are we to be happy? Doesn't our happiness take away from others? And, laden with shame, we lay down our happiness and wallow in the ingratitude of guilt.

The second group feels that with gratitude comes settling. If we're grateful for the crappy job we have, we will never be inspired to find a better job, one that actually helps us fulfill our purpose and use our talents to their highest ability. If we're grateful for our romantic partner no matter how small their tokens of love, we will never declare that perhaps we could do better and move onto a relationship that is mutually fulfilling and blessed. To be constantly unsatisfied with what we do have is to be ambitious; to be grateful for the small crumbs that have been thrown our way is to settle into the mediocrity that will become our lives.

Except gratitude is the path where things grow. Health is gratitude expressed (the gratitude that I have knowing that no matter how I'm feeling or how much I'm accomplishing, my love is always useful), love is gratitude expressed (the gratitude that I have knowing that when I do something kind for someone else, no matter how it turns out, I made that effort and gesture with the best of intentions), true wealth is gratitude expressed (the gratitude that I have knowing that being grateful only opens doors and opportunities and doesn't close any of them). Everything we live and breathe is gratitude being expressed.

Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I'm feeling much better and I'll be back next week.


Jo said...

I'm with you. The only way to live is to live in gratitude.

And along the lines of how our actions don't make or break the lives of others....It took me years to learn that one. I worried more about the effect of telling people "no" than they worried about being on the receiving end of that "no". Hahaha! Boy, was I self centered! Getting over myself sure has taken the pressure off! :)

Robin said...

Oh boy. I felt ya on all of these. I do believe that I have traveled all of these roads. I am starting to think that we are related. Go back far enough in the family tree and there has to be a connection! Thank you for the awesome post. (That is me expressing gratitude.)

Anonymous said...

Right, so ... yep.

When I am ill guilt affects me more than the illness itself, which is JUST GREAT and makes me not rest when I should etc etc (this could go on and on ... )

hey ho ...

JJ said...

I missed you. Your comments are always gifts. Welcome back, and I hope you are well.

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I would love for you to follow my blog as well:

The Disconnected Writer

drollgirl said...

your post has given me a lot to think about. you are on to something here.

and i hope you feel all better soon, and that you have a wonderful thanksgiving. :)

Elisabeth said...

I know about the guilt, the crazy infantile reasoning that says, if it happened to me - for instance, I'm sick - then it must be my fault.

We flip between omnipotence and impotence and struggle to find the good old middle ground. Balance as they say, is everything. But it's hard to find a balance when you're sick.

Jo Schaffer said...

Agreed. Ungrateful people will never be happy or satisfied and tend to live selfishly and jealously.

Left an award for you on my blog. Drop in and pick it up!

Bathwater said...

I hope you are feeling better, I've been wondering what had happened to you. Putting yourself out for someone is is a selfless act and if it comes back to bite you it isn't your fault.

akka b. said...

Hey lady! Thanks for stopping by DLH. I'm gonna to be doing a poetry event in LA coming up (December) - wondering if you want to get involved?
Email me: drunkloveheart@gmail.com

xx akka b.

Avo said...

At first when I read your myths, I wondered if you shared them with anyone... And then the comments shows that you do.

They seemed obviously illogical to me on a basic level, except for number 3 with which I agree, with a qualifier: "You are the center of YOUR universe". Knowing this, one is never lost, and it is less difficult to work out how our universes can interact with those of others, or to find one's tentative and minute place in the meta-universe.

Take care and convalesce well, wherever you are in the universe! As for those pesky myths, I'm sure you can find myth spray somewhere? Isn't right next to the bug spray in the supermarket? : j

Barbara said...

I love your myths! They certainly are.

And am so sorry you've been sick! No guilt...what can you do?? I'm not the greatest patient either. Thank heaven I don't get sick very often. :)
Feel better in time for Thanksgiving, Tracy. I'm sending you my best vibes!

Lydia Kang said...

Oh, so sorry you were sick. I get that guilty-sick thing too, especially when I'm responsible for running myself into the ground.

Gwen said...

I have to argue with you. I think Brian is the worst sick person in the world. Not because he's guilty but because he's a giant needy baby!!! I hope you are feeling much better my friend!!! XOXO

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I am such a guilty sick person. I feel like I'm wasting time and taking up space.
I'm trying to be less driven as a human being, to realize the very things you've pointed out so beautifully in this post. Beautiful insights, Tracy. We travel through life so much freer when we allow ourselves to be grateful.

Wine and Words said...

"overachiever that I am, I swing from one to the other in order to partake in them both (high five!)"

FIST PUMP! But living grateful, the balancing points we should all strive for.

Kristin Quinn said...

Happy Thanksgiving Tracy!!!

Kristin Quinn said...

Oh and yes I'm in LA, well close by anyway. So continue to feel better and I'll see you soon :)

Rosaria Williams said...

My dear, stop abusing yourself, especially when you are sick. You are sick because you work hard. Yes, the overachievers get super tired and don't know when to stop, lowering their defenses.

Go on. Be lazy for a while; you'll be glad you did.

Rosaria Williams said...

Re: gratitude
It makes us approachable!

Anthony Duce said...

It is important to figure out the myths… It’s too bad we have to have experience them to finally believe them.

Marion said...

Hi-ya Fi-va (from Borat), dear Phoenix. :-)

I've lived long enough to know that there is karma and that swift gratitude is the sweetest. I try to live Thanksgiving every single day of my life. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don't, but hey, that's life.

I'm grateful to know you and to call you my friend. (We're visiting my daughter in TN and I just got back from McKay's Used Books with DOZENS of new books to add to my poetry collection. Fresh material for my blog. Yea!)

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow (and every day)!

Love & Blessings, my friend,


Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

I love this post- such a rush of emotion- I hate going out of my way for someone and having it blow up- I get very bitter-

have a good Tday

Lori ann said...


Take care of yourself okay?
keep your neck warm and drink ginger tea with honey (good for sore throats).

It's easy to live a life of gratitude when you (try) to do everything with love. (and that just comes with practice, i'm twice as old as you).
Happy Thanksgiving dearheart,
♥ lori

p.s. sleeves on the way this morning.

Dave said...

I'll take all the crumbs I can get! :) I think it's quite possible to be ambitious and grateful all at once....I'm grateful for my lowly job that doesn't have sick pay (I feel your pain!) but I'm ambitiously waiting for the next opportunity. Happy Turkey Day!!

kj said...

that's it...i'm following your blog from now on. and not just because we are both lori fans. you mix humor and wisdom in a wise ass way that is too compelling to pass up. :)

glad to make your acquaintance, ms. phoenix. i'm GRATEFUL. no guilt, just grins.

happy thanksgiving


Heather Taylor said...

Happy to hear you're feeling better. I behave the same way when I'm sick, trying to go about my everyday routines and be as productive as possible. It has yet to show any effects of productivity in my lifestyle.
If I'm not doing that, I'm lying in bed wishing the world would stop for just one second and acknowledge that it's center (moi) is currently not pleased with the rotation it's taking on ;)

Nick said...

It's always good to "love your neighbor." I love mine so much, I wishe he'd move into a better neighborhood.

Dionne said...

Happy Thanksgiving. I know all these myths like they're my own children. Especially the "no good deed goes unpunished" one. Ugh! But for all of those deeds that backfire, there are deeds that make someone's day - so I guess it's worth it.

Thanks for this reminder to be grateful, we really are so blessed. Great post!

Eric W. Trant said...

Hope you're feeling better, now.

Gratitude, eh. I suppose that's something we should all have a little more of.

My brain is dead and lacks anything witty to say... we had the baby and I haven't slept much and neither has the wife.

So I'll echo some of the other posters and express my gratitude for your site. I love coming here, and I always get a bit more excited than I should when I see one of your posts on my site. You're heartfelt, honest, a little bit neurotic, and a lot talented.

All of those things make you a great woman. From my personal annals, if you care to look, here is a quote on being crazy and talented:

I believe you can't have true genius and be completely sane. They're mutually exclusive. Genius, by its nature, is an uncontrollable and insatiable obsession, fed by a mind bent into a shape most folks cannot conceive.

I have no idea what that means, but it sounds good.

- Eric

versus said...

Nulla dies sine linea .Indocti dicunt omnia. Doctis est electio et modus.
Nice Blog !
Versus Versubtil from France.

Ed Pilolla said...

high five!
that was hysterical. great timing:)

i so dig your ying and yang take on the universe.

Darcy said...

I love this blog, especially the poignant thoughts about gratitude! you are so right and said it perfectly.

Carissa Thilgen said...

great post as usual. you always make me think. I love number 3. realizing you are not the center of the universe does have its pros and cons as you say! but most of the time I relish the fact that there is only so much I can do and that's it. I'm done. my mom always told me that if you give your all, that's the best you can do, so no one can fault you for trying. you did everything you could! and I guess that gets back to your number 2. sorry to hear that your good deed blew up in your face! that's awful. but as you know, at least you made the effort with the best intentions. that's what counts.

anyhoo, I'm rambling. and I know this post was written last week and Thanksgiving is over but I still want you to know that I am grateful for you! :)

p.s. I think that's amazing that you wake up asking God to make you useful and love better. I think that is a prayer everyone could use. I know I could.

Maggie May said...

i fall into both camps too. ;)

feel better. xo

Deech said...

Well here is hoping you are feeling better. I wish that there were some words of wisdom that have not already been posted that I could write to put a smile on your face!

Keep the faith Chica...in the end, we are pretty much all the same in many respects.

Robin said...

I tagged you on an award yesterday. The title is misleading: B IS FOR BOUNDARIES AND BULLETS. Yeah, I know it doesn't sound like an award, but it is. Congrats.

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