Pity Party


“Life changes fast.

Life changes in the instant.

You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

The question of self pity”

Joan Didion


I think I have been leading up to this post for a while. It’s not one I want to write, but I need to.

See I have the outstanding character defect of self-pity. I know this to be true, it’s on my inventory (where all is true, or at least as close as I could come that day). I feel very sorry for myself. And I have some justification, or at least tell myself I do, but I also like to hold on to it. “Feeling sorry for myself” sounds better than “full of self-pity”….sorry is nicer than pity maybe, I don’t know. I feel sorry for myself a lot. I could list the reasons, there are a slew.

Maybe I should….then I could get some agreement. Maybe. Or if I don’t get the agreement I want I can turn the self-pity  into anger, which at least is more active, easier for me to deal with and easier for me to let go of. The problem with the anger, or whatever else is manifesting itself in the moment, is that in the work of letting that go, I come back around to the self-pity. The root.

Last Sunday night in my yoga group we chanted OHM and worked on letting go of 2 things that did not serve us well. My first choice was fear, because , well, it’s obvious. And easy. Who wants to hold on to fear, and who isn’t touched by it, whose life isn’t hindered by it? Pretty much everyone has let fear rule their lives at some point, has allowed it to stymie them to the point of immobility, has let it be so paramount in their lives that they collapsed and did nothing, isolated and acted the ostrich, hiding away from the world.

Right? I mean, I’m not the only one, am I? RIGHT????

But self-pity. That just came up, out of nowhere, grabbed me by the throat and tightened it so much I choked on my own OHM. (hah…I crack myself up). The truth is that the self-pity is no longer serving me, and now it is starting to drive me a little crazy. And might I just add…today is Thursday, the yoga was Sunday night. 4 days. It’s taken 4 days for it to start really bugging me, for me to start to think that I am going to have to find a way out, a solution for this. I have been feeling sorry for myself forever, and in 4 days I’m writing about it and willing to look at it.

HEY!!! Quite frankly I need a fucking parade! ONLY 4 days, that is awesome, sorry.  And do not tell me pride is a character defect..not tonite. This has been a long time coming….”and it’s gonna be a long, long, long, long time..gone” (CSN, right?)

It will take time to work through. I don’t really know where to begin besides with this post for accountability, guess this will have to do for now. But it’s like anything else, once you KNOW, you know. And then you either change or you don’t but responsibility steps in.  And the ways that it hurts me are clear, so if I stay in it I stay in willingly. It’s on me.

It kind of goes back to the idea that I now know how to die (well, by my own hand). I just have to start drinking again and it will happen. And if I sit in this self-pity, if I can’t start working my way out of this hole, then I’ll drink.

You know, when you stop hiding, when, in my case, I stopped drinking away my feelings, they come back. Full force. I thought I had worked a lot of shit out and it seems I haven’t. That’s why the holidays have been hard. Why I just don’t want to celebrate or be forced into jollity. I want to hate them, not give presents, not enjoy the tree or the lights. Or, what I do…which is go look at the Xmas lights, by myself, and remember the times we did it as a family and cry. I want to reach thru the phone and strangle someone who says to me how they would kill for some peace and quiet like I have (yeah, really…pissed me off). I blame thankless children and their girlfriends for my un-ease. I let things I know will get to me…get to me! I cry through a movie and bitch about the leads voice (I’m sorry Hugh, but you are nasally!), when the fact is that no one can sing those songs like Tom did. And I am floored by self-pity every step of the way. Why, why, why did this happen to me? How can I go on without my love? This is so sad! I am so pitiful!

I am pitiful.

I can’t spend the rest of my life like this , I just cannot do it. Right now it feels like I can’t spend the next five minutes like this, but I am reasonable and respectful of my defects. They go away and come back when I need them.  But I get it. This one is killing me slowly. What’s  the point in living? Why wouldn’t I pick up that drink and start the process? I mean, it may come to that, who knows, but it won’t today. It won’t today because I am sitting here writing it out, letting it go,a little bit, a teeny bit, into the interwebs. That’s nowhere near enough work, but it’s a start. OHM-ing it out was a start. Believing that it is detrimental to me rather than defining, that is a huge start.


I have a journal I started nearly seven years ago where I wrote almost exactly the same thing that Joan Didion wrote above. I hadn’t read the book, in fact I don’t think it had been published yet. But it was a comment, a question in my head barely 2 weeks after my husband died.  When I opened that book and read those lines I gasped because I realized I was not alone.

The question of self-pity


Seven years later I’m ready to tackle it.

It takes what it takes.


(Oh, and as an aside, in the same yoga practice my word for 2013 revealed itself to me. That’s actually what I sat down to write about, but the next thing I knew….)




Add yours →

  1. I choked on my own OHM.
    I love you.
    And I can’t wait to hear your 2013 word!!! The suspense… I can’t take it…

  2. Or in the words of George Saunders, “You’re maudlin and full of self-pity.
    You’re magnificent.” Go, girl. Can’t wait to hear what the new word is.

  3. Such and amazing and honest post — thank you. I LOVE Joan Didion, and that was a really good book, too. I don’t know much (don’t have it in me to go there yet) about self-pity, but this, this describes what I’ve been seeing and realizing lately, which has been tempting me to drink it is so painful to acknowledge:
    Pretty much everyone has let fear rule their lives at some point, has allowed it to stymie them to the point of immobility, has let it be so paramount in their lives that they collapsed and did nothing, isolated and acted the ostrich, hiding away from the world.

    Anyway, I’m rooting for you. xx

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