what the mirror cannot see
I’ve spent the better part of the last six months working to develop my “professional” identity – improving my business website, adding a blog and writing about business stuff, polishing up the look-and-feel and getting my avatars in order. (Social media is important these days, you know.) But a professional presence doesn’t allow for writing about emotion, reflecting personal experience, discussing opinions that are difficult to express, unless you just vomit it all right out.
So, hello, A1 Great! I knew I kept you around for more than opportunities for sticker vandalism. Vomit sentiment, coming right up.
Oftentimes, I will hear, or read, that people are angry about whatever, and I often think that that’s a pretty strong word for what must surely be a lesser emotion – miffed? Peeved? Bothered? Pissed off? I recall only a few times where I was ever truly angry about something, most notably sometime in the summer immediately following grade six… just turned twelve, which indicates the maturity level of all involved in this anecdote.
I was being goaded by a few of the neighbourhood bullies to get into a fight with a sort-of friend who I was hanging out with a friend behind our school one evening. All the usual inflammatory language came out, as was always the case with these jackasses, who were a known entity at that point – faggot, pussy, homo, and so on. I don’t remember exactly why I reached the boiling point, or how long it took to get there that night, because my usual MO was to get the hell away from people who were intimidating to me – avoid, avoid, avoid. So maybe my fuse blew after only a minute or so? In any case, I shoved the lead villain in this story, knocking him over, screamed like a motherfucker, grabbed his bike, sent it tumbling down the hill on top of which we were standing. I remember that tumble seeming to take forever, as the bike flipped end over end, crashing to the bottom of what seemed, as a kid, to be a huge hill (but what actually is barely a rise in the horizon – I checked. See it there, behind the walking path and trees? Spatial memory is tricky stuff.)
Anyway, that forever tumble gave me time to contemplate the ass-kicking I was sure to receive after having pulled that stunt, but what actually happened was that those three kids looked at each other and walked away, leaving the bike at the bottom of the hill for another time. My sort-of friend and I stood there for a minute, amazed at whatever energy it was that I had tapped into in that moment, and kind of felt jubilant at having won one encounter, one time, with the sorts of people who meant to make our lives miserable as often as possible.
Then I went home.
That my most memorable experience with anger is so distant in the past – some of you should be able to do the math on this – is indicative of a life that is being pretty well lived, I think. For the most part, I have surrounded myself with people that are easy to love, easy to spend time with, easy to find the good in. Professional contacts are usually of my choosing, making it simple to discard those whose money is not worth my time. Persons on my periphery are treated as such, acknowledged as they draw near, and left to their own devices when they fade from view. It’s all pretty OK with me.
Disappointment, however. Yeah. Disappointment is difficult for me to handle.
Everyone who knows me knows that I like to have a plan. I like to know what’s happening, where people will be, what needs to be done in order to have the optimal experience at any given time. I’ve sort of always been like this, though being too close to tragic situations over the past few years have sharpened this wish – need – to be spending my time with the right people, taking advantage of opportunities, and doing my best to reject any attitude of “we’ll do it another time”. Another time is not promised to you or I, and it’s not a promise any of us can make to anyone else, either.
So, when a plan falls through, disappointment tends to hang over me. And when disappointment hits because people are aloof with their respect for my role in their lives, that turns, for me, into feeling like I am being taken for granted. And fuck, if that one isn’t a stone that’s I just can’t pass, dear reader. Being taken for granted. I’m burning up just thinking about it.
Because being taken for granted causes you – me – to take stock of what I thought was in place. A quick list is taken, favors and kind gestures become points of resentment, and you – I – start to wonder why I have given so much time, energy, money, love. Days, months, years. Is the gratitude I have received in the past genuine, or am I just kind of convenient to have around sometimes? Do I not ask the right questions, talk about the right subjects, show that I’m listening? Am I not there when I am needed, make commitments and mean it?
Are we family, or what?
Yesterday was my birthday, and yesterday I was made to feel as though I am being taken for granted. The exact details are unimportant, and the reason why doesn’t matter much to me, either – I can’t believe anyone would be thinking of ways to make me unhappy, but in my mind, “whoops, we just didn’t think of you” is worse than a specific person having a specific problem. I can shove a specific problem, throw it down a hill, cause it to fall over and fade away.
I thought I was already doing all the right stuff. This disappointment, this feeling of being taken for granted, has me taking stock. Maybe not.