Confession: I start every Monday with a confession. This is getting ridiculous. It’s not like I go all Charlie Sheen over the weekend and you guys are my priest. And yet, I had a very eventful weekend! Thus far I’ve learned:
3. Gym Buddies Krista and Daria do not like sushi, a fact they told us after we’d all been seated at the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet. Also, Sensei Don can drink a liter and a half of sake (but not all in one sitting).
While I haven’t watched TV in 4 years (See me get all uppity about that? Coming down in 3…2…1…), every once in a while I get really into watching shows on the Internet. And by addicted I mean I can’t stop watching until I’ve seen every available episode even if it means staying up until crazy hours of the morning and enduring endless repeats of the same idiotic Swiffer commercial.
Further injuring my pride, I never manage to get addicted to something like, oh, Nova
. No it’s always something juvenile and cheesy and poorly staged (“reality” my sandbag-sore hiney – as if every teen sits down their pregnant friend to ask her, “So, like, do you think you life is going to change now that you’re a mom?”). I won’t further humiliate myself by telling you past addictions (Seventh Heaven, Judge Judy, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, 16 and Pregnant, People’s Court, I Used to Be Fat – oops that just slipped out) but right now I’m totally into Teen Mom.
Last night found me with my eyelids propped open with toothpicks, procrastinating a major article deadline, and watching the gazillionth episode – you might have seen it: it’s the one where a high-schooler with a funny accent (do only southern girls get knocked up?) and an adorable innocent baby realizes her boyfriend is a d-bag and her friends don’t want to hang out with her anymore because all she does is whine about her kid and parenting is a lot harder than she thought? – when a profound thought came to my mind. How do they all have such skinny thighs like 2 weeks after popping out a baby? It’s not fair!
I sat up and slapped myself. For the love of little green apples, I’m watching a 16-year-old high school dropout get “proposed to” by her teen-aged “boyfriend” and I have the gall to say “It’s not fair”?! Thank heavens you have those cellulite-free skinny thighs, sister! Use them to walk yourself right out of that trailer park! (Yes, I know what he said about y’all havin’ your own home an’ finally bein’ a famly an’ all but trust me, he’s sleeping with your best friend who also believes the pull-n-pray method is birth control.)
This isn’t the first time I’ve been sideswiped by an “It’s not fair” attack. Usually they sneak up on me when I’m feeling particularly low about myself. Like when I see a family whose kids all sit quietly through church. Or when I see a friend’s gorgeous new house (or new boobs, ahem
). Or when my husband goes to work and has 9 hours to himself while I’m at home working without the benefit of childcare. Or when I see a really thin woman eating a waffle cone with 3 scoops of ice cream at the mall, pushing infant triplets in a stroller. Heck I even think it’s not fair
looking at celebs on magazines knowing full well that they’ve been photoshopped within an inch of their lives, not to mention they’ve been on a diet since they were 5 and all they eat are granola bars and yogurt.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who sings the “It’s not fair” blues sometimes – it’s normal to want something better – but I’ve found that if I don’t stop them right away, they can send me into a serious funk for a long time. By golly I’ve listened to enough country songs to know that I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wanting what I don’t have (looking at you Garth Brooks!) Here are some strategies that I’ve found help me think more positively:
1. Identify the “It’s not fair” attack for what it is. Sometimes it just takes recognizing what you’re doing and acknowledging the futility of that train of thought to stop the cycle.
2. Focus on wanting what you have, not having what you want. It’s may be a cliche but it’s a cliche because it’s true. Counting my blessings is a one-way ticket back to happyville.
3. Help someone else. Not only does it help you appreciate what you have but it makes you feel so good that you forget all about what you were worrying about before.
4. Do something else. I’m a magpie – oooh shiny! – so distraction usually works well for me. Playing the piano, calling a friend, tickling my kids, wasting an hour on Facebook… you know, whatever it takes.
5. Reason through it. During a really pernicious attack, sometimes I’m so far deep into my own self-pity that I can’t do the above tactics. So instead I call up my sister and she helps me take apart my simplistic thought and understand why I’m really upset. It turns out I wasn’t really jealous of the mall mom’s physique but rather I felt slobby and incompetent as a mom with my screaming kids and sweat pants and to me her perfect body represented the super-organized and put-together mom I wish I was. Plus, Super Mom probably has her bad days too. Maybe she’s chugging that ice cream because the triplets kept her up all night and she can’t have a Diet Coke because she’s nursing (oh land, can you imagine?) and so she’s going for a sugar rush? Eh, I know it’s a stretch but it makes me feel better.
Do you have an “it’s not fair” trigger? How do you survive an attack? Can anyone tell me why I love/hate Teen Mom so much?? Oh MTV, you minx.
Written with love by Charlotte Hilton Andersen for The Great Fitness Experiment (c) 2011. If you enjoyed this, please check out my new book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everythingfor more of my crazy antics and uncomfortable over-shares!