Gloom, Despair and Agony on Me

This is kind of going to date me a bit, but some of my earliest memories include watching “Hee Haw” at my grandparents place on Saturday nights. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit that I actually still know all the words to some of their regular songs, this one included:

Gloom, despair and agony on me
Deep dark depression, excessive misery.
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.
Gloom, despair and agony on me.

It was a lead in to a set of jokes about just how bad life can get. Of course, there wasn’t anything really bad and that was part of what’s funny.

When Hubs and I were dating and I was going through some difficult times, I looked forward to seeing him so I could “unload.” I’m a venter. I don’t really want anyone to fix things for me, I just need to get it out. In fact, there’s nothing more annoying than telling a story where all you really want is a “oh no!” or “That stinks!” but what you get is a bunch of “maybe you could try…” or “Have you ever thought of…?” He learned pretty quickly that I didn’t want a Mr. Fix it, but he still wasn’t one to just let me dump my emotional garbage on his proverbial front lawn. Instead, He started asking “So what’s good about it?”

The first time he asked it really threw me and I did NOT appreciate it. Honestly, there were some of those circumstances where I just could not find anything good about it.

And besides, I didn’t want to.

I just wanted to unload.

But he kept asking. So finally, as a matter of defense, I started looking ahead to have an answer to the inevitable question. Surprisingly, after a while, it changed my outlook. I started planning my “what was good about it” even while I planned my daily complaint. It was good to have a new perspective.

What Hubs did right was he didn't try to tell me what was "good" about it; he let me see it for myself.

It’s rapidly becoming a pet peeve of mine when I’m explaining something that I just wish was different and having someone tell me “well it could be worse, you could…(fill in the blank with their "more bad" scenario of the day).”

Yes, it’s true; it could pretty much always be worse. But oddly enough, pointing out to me that someone else’s circumstances are worse than mine doesn’t really change the fact that in that moment I’m bummed about my own circumstances. And I think part of what bothers me is it’s often the other person explaining that their circumstances are worse--a kind of reverse one-up manship. (One-down-manship?) There’s a subtle but VERY important difference in helping someone find a silver lining for themselves and telling them what they should see as a silver lining.

Which kind of person are you? Are you the “gloom and doom’er” whose clouds are lined with lead instead of silver? Or are you a “little Mary sunshine” who goes around blowing away everyone’s clouds (even the ones that might have brought much needed rain or shade)? Are you the type that sees the rain for what it is and can listen to someone else's downpour without judgment? Which kind of person do you most appreciate or maybe most need in your life? How do you maintain a sense of optimism even in the midst of dark circumstances?


Genny said...

It always helps when we can figure things out for ourselves, doesn't it? Even though sometimes that takes longer than it should for me. LOL.

Oh, and, by the way, we took Amtrak. It was great.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Definitely not a mary-sunshiner or gloom and doomer. I operate more in the real and float within the extremes of others. I appreciate those who can do the same. Let me vent...let me laugh...let me be me without judgment. I want to be around people who offer me their heartfelt listening and probe me to ponder the deeper.

I'm not into trite or religious speak. That being said, I'm into God, and there are timew when a well timed "Jesus pump me up" is my necessary. I need more faith and less negative self-talk.

Anyway, just some random thoughts on a day of blessed Sabbath rest.

I enjoy coming here.


RefreshMom said...

Genny and Elaine, thanks for both of your comments. I have to laugh at how God will lead me to write something here only to test me on my own words within days!

I spent some time with someone this weekend who did just the opposite of what Elaine described--and that "let me be me without judgment" is sooo what I needed! In trying to just summarize some of the real struggles we've faced lately, I kept getting "preached over" (as I explained it to DH). I never did get a chance to actually explain the circumstances to get to the point where some genuine, relevant encouragement could happen.

Ah well. Yet another reminder to be careful how I listen to others!

Thanks for coming by. I appreciate both of you here and on your sites as well.


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