But lately I’ve been feeling under-blessed—I’m not getting what I want—and it’s periodically turned me into a sad, desperate mess or a petty, competitive bitch, depending on the day. And worst of all, the same little voice that hopes maybe I did do something to deserve all the good stuff now wonders what I did to fuck up my chances of more good stuff. Knowing this is bullshit only helps a little.
I’ve been really mean to myself, feeling too exhausted to indulge in the stuff that makes me happy on a deep level (writing, exercise) and denying myself the shallower indulgences that can be cheap fixes (a haircut, frozen yogurt with circus animal cookies as topping—two desserts, but you can call it one!). I’ve been hard at work punishing myself for things I have no control over because of some deeply ingrained belief that life operates on the merit system.
Maybe I should pause a moment to add that, most embarrassingly of all, I have not been dealt some terrible hand by fate. My not getting what I want is the blandest, most common bump in a well-maintained road. But I see people around me getting what they want, getting what I want, and I feel hugely, helplessly, unabashedly covetous. Or rather, I’m quite abashed, but the helplessness overrides my shame.
I actually logged on thinking I’d write one moody little paragraph and follow it up with a lighthearted list of things I’m thankful for, such as frozen yogurt with circus animal cookies as topping. But mood trumps gratitude, apparently.
Is it possible to be thankful for blessings you know you don’t deserve (even if you know you don’t not deserve them either)? Can you be thankful even if you believe that life is a big fat lotto and whatever you get or don’t is pretty much random? If you believe that there is a God, but she/he doesn’t see us as separate enough to carefully make sure we all get the same number of presents under the tree?
I guess what thankfulness does is empower you. When I’m feeling grateful and confident, I write, I exercise, I visit my mentee, I ask my friends how their days were, I remember to bring my reusable coffee cup, I (occasionally) write my congressperson. The false notion that I’m blessed—that there is such a thing—makes me a person who creates more blessings in the world. (Which is not to say that I think doing 20 minutes on the elliptical machine is a blessing to anyone. I mean, I guess it keeps the collective rates for my health insurance company low?)
I’m not sure where this leaves me. I want to say I’m going to try to be thankful for all that I have—and there is so, so much—and that this attitude will help me get what I want eventually. Except I don’t believe in that kind of cosmic math, and every time I think I’m on my way to a good attitude, I plummet back into the self-pity pit. Chances are, I’ll continue to agonize melodramatically for a while, then get what I want eventually, then feel sheepish about all my bad behavior (if also a little older and wiser), then go back to questioning why I have all this great stuff in my life. At least, I’m hoping that’s what will happen.