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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Damn right I’ve been wronged!

January 16, 2011

Why rehash when it was bad enough the first time?

Several years ago I collaborated on a project from hell.

(NOTE: I’m not disclosing which project, how  long ago, or with whom because my collaborator may still be a bit tectchy on the subject. On the remote chance this blog finds its way to said collaborator they needn’t worry about reading further because this isn’t about their out of line behavior, it’s about mine.)

Anyway, suffice it to say that our year-long working relationship had some monumental craggy bits and by the end the two of us were barely speaking, as in not at all. The final brick in the wall came with my words, hissed over the phone: “Let’s just finish the damn thing.” And we did, sorta. What I mean is that yes, we completed the project and delivered an award-winning result but we never successfully “finished” the real business between us.

As promised, I’m not getting into any of the dirt. Truly not important. But I want to cop to my reactions to the situation. At this time you may be thinking, “Oh, good! Annie’s now going to tell us how she rose above the animus and appealed to her Higher Angels to guide her through a cantakerous relationship.” Sorry, but that’s not where I’m headed so feel free to turn in your ticket stub at the box office for a full refund.

I will give myself some credit for having had the maturity not to air dirty laundry when I was operating in any professional capacity. But I will take full responsibility for compulsively talking about what happened with family and certain close friends.  I’m not proud of the way I vented without restraint for several years. Fact is, I’m down-right embarrassed as I now picture myself running my mouth as I did. Not only was I stuck in a pity party, I was gorging myself at a never-ending Outrage Banquet complete with Doggie Bags.

Why am I telling you all this? Because you’re not the only one who can’t quit gnawing at that old bone even though it’s dry, maybe a little rancid and actually turns your stomach. Looking back, I’ve gotta wonder, was I temporarily insane? A masochist needing to relive the discomfort, the feeling of betrayal ad nauseam? What was the point of all that re-hashing? Weren’t the first twenty servings of hash distasteful enough?

I’m happy to report that particular pity party is done. Yippee! I realize I totally overstayed my welcome. There’s now no doubt I could have processed my feelings more efficiently and saved myself and my captive audiences a ton of suffering. My apologies to all of you.

The next time I’m bonkers, brooding and blaming I hope to cut to the chase with a few well-directed questions to myself:

1. What happened?

2. How did my response contribute to the way I’m feeling now?

3. What (if anything) would I like to say directly to that person? (as opposed to talking about them)

4. What did I just learn about myself in these kinds of situations?

5. The next time I’m in a similar circumstance, what might I do differently?

OK, folks, party’s over… See ‘ya around.

Filed under: Cruel's Not Cool,Parenting,Tips — Annie @ 2:46 pm
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12 Comments »

  1. You, TOO!?
    I know the feeling of having stayed too long at the fair! What is it that is so alluring about the pity party? A friend was recently helping me with my own stuckness there… She likened it to a dog licking her wounds… Nothing wrong with it, but if we allow it to it can take on a life of it’s own. That helped me, since I was so angry at my wound licking. But it also helped me take down the balloons and move on. I like your list… Sometimes #1 is the hardest one to answer!!!! Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Dana — January 16, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

  2. Like, Dana, I also see myself in this–ouch. In my case I think the endless venting is me trying to get permission from someone (friends, family, the bus driver, anyone) to let myself feel bad. They usually give permission, but it never satisfies. Because, as good-intentioned as they are, they don’t have the authority.
    Only I have that.
    If I want the endless rehashing to stop, I have to give myself permission to feel the pain/betrayal/disappointment. And I have to gag that judgemental inner voice that is always demanding justification and expecting “better behavior” from me.

    One thing I’ve found that helps me is to stop and consciously say (out loud)–without judgement and with gentleness–”Well, I guess I’m just the kind of person who can’t stand X” (whatever X is). I don’t have to argue the case before the Supreme Court (though, oh, how I’d LIKE to).
    Your 5 questions, Annie, will help that process beautifully.

    Comment by MaryKat Parks Workinger, ed. dir. EduGuide.org — January 17, 2011 @ 6:46 am

  3. Thanks for this funny, insightful post. I still pull out old rancid, chewed-on self-pity bones from my jacket pockets. They’re usually stuck to old self-loathing bones. Your post helps remind me to throw them away before setting my teeth to them again.

    Comment by Frank South — January 17, 2011 @ 8:51 am

  4. Thanks for a few great pieces of advice! You Rock Annie!!

    Comment by Sarah Cook @RaisingCEOKids — January 17, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

  5. Annie you are a wise restorative woman in deed!
    Best wishes

    Comment by Michelle Crawford — January 18, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

  6. Annie,

    Love that u communicate such an intelligent message (to which we can all relate) w humor. I like Q5 The next time I’m in a similar circumstance, what might I do differently? Great post. Will explore it w our girls later today. TY so much.

    Lynne

    Comment by Lynne Kenney — January 19, 2011 @ 6:59 am

  7. Agreed! I have been blessed with “do or die” friends who I have known for years and am confident they would come to my side in a blink. Yet, through the years I have encountered people who were “good weather” friends trying disguise themselves as “do or die friends”. However, when the road got rocky or times got tough they bailed. Sometimes leaving behind in their wake painful experiences. After much reflection I have decided to term these previous “friends” as adult bullies. They are the ones who have decided to be unkind, exclusive or just plain gossipy for no reason other than it was too hard to maintain a friendship.

    I decided to rise above these adult bullies and press the proverbial “delete and purge” buttons where they are concerned. It helped to know that I should and I could. Life is too short to keep people who ar negative in it. I didn’t like bullies when I was young and I won’t have them in my life now.

    Thanks for validating my decision and I hope that we all will learn to be kind and better friends thanks to articles such as this one.

    See you soon, Annie-

    Louise

    Comment by Louise Sattler — January 19, 2011 @ 9:23 am

  8. And if you’re a divorced mom, watch out. Not only does nagging doubt surround you but guilt as well. What could I have done differently? Should I have just stayed? Will my kids need therapy? It’s never ending.

    Just about the time I’m at the end of my rope, a good friend shows up with wine and a time for a good laugh.

    Comment by i mean really — January 19, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

  9. I know exactly what you are saying! When I finally realized that self-pity is NOT my friend, life got much easier (and happier). Thank you for the reminder, Annie. ~ Lisa

    P.S. “Bonkers, Brooding and Blaming” would be a terrific title for a book or article or story!

    Comment by Lisa Rivero — January 20, 2011 @ 7:42 am

  10. Yup – been there done that and hated that I couldn’t seem to let it go for a few years – over it now thankfully. My mom just copped to the fact she has been brooding for over 20 years about how she responded to one particular situation – though she wouldn’t say what it was, she did say she was the offender, not the offendee and she still feels bad about it.

    At some point, I think we need to just say – yup – I’m human and I failed in that particular situation and I wish I had handled it differently and then move on. On the other hand – sometimes i think we just need to work things out in our heads.

    Comment by Jennifer Hancock — January 15, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

  11. Thanks so much! I laughed out loud (literally!) and had to read this to my adult daughter. Right on!!

    Comment by Muriel Rand — January 26, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

  12. [...] 3. We often feel sad and unappreciated when others treat us like crap so we throw a Self-Pity Party. [...]

    Pingback by Day 30: Kindness and Respect Challenge (What did we learn?) | Annie Fox's Blog — October 30, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

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