I just got back from the beach, where I lived in splendor: high soaring ceilings, glorious water views, and big humming American appliances.
When I came back, I realized The Awful Truth about my Portland domicile.
The Awful Truth: it is tiny. I knew that. But it turns out that it is also cramped and crowded and dingy and ridiculous and embarrassing, andI am a total pathetic loser for living here, and I might as well live in the back of my van.
Except I don’t even own a van! Or a microwave! And I am too embarrassing to live!
OHMYGOD. Does your mind ever do this to you???
I hope not, because it feels awful.
Since you are a much more balanced, sane, enlightened individual than I, you should probably stop reading immediately.
But IF you ever covet your friends’ Architectural Digest homes, and feel sorry for yourself because YOU have to live in a hovel because you’re clearly a loser and didn’t invest early or work for Goldman or come into money or write a bestseller and therefore are human dung and don’t deserve to live–
if you ever have the intellectual equivalent of meth running through your synapses–
then keep reading.
I had a major attack of self-pity this week, brought on by my return to Portland with 18,000 boxes, 24 bags, and 4,200 floating bits of stuff.
Throw all this into my place, plus beloveds and their luggage, and it looks like this:
See, my apartment is lovely and tiny in equal proportions.
I find this quite delightful sometimes, but this weekend I had a shame attack about living in a shoebox.
I decided it meant I wasn’t a real adult and that everyone who knows me is mortified on my behalf, but they’re too nice to say so, and they pretend to be listening to my stories and nodding at my jokes, but really they’re thinking about calling one of those reality shows to do an intervention.
So! Here’s how I turned this around. It took about 20 minutes, because I have a black belt in mental jujitsu now. This is better than before, when a shame attack could level me for 20 years.
Here are The Five Commandments of Conquering A Pity Party.
There are only five because Squirrel!!!!!
And by the way, a Pity Party is just a shame attack in a different flavor. Salted chocolate ganache!
1. OWN THY OWN SHIT
Recognizing that I was in the throes of a pity party was the first and most crucial step.
2. EXAMINE THY CHOICES
Guess what? I chose to live here!!! I had the chance to move this spring, into a perfect-on-paper house, and decided that I liked my current space better!!! I chose a stellar location, exquisite touches, and a certain golden quality over the bigger, more logical, didn’t-speak-to-me space.
3. FOLLOW THY JEALOUSY
Okay, so I’m lusting after my friends’ homes. Hmmm, what does this tell me? Hint: It’s NOT that I need to move immediately or that a big house is the key to my happiness.
4. EXTRACT THE ESSENCE
Because what I really really want is to live in a way that feels gracious, open, and beautiful. I want to feel calm, nourished, and cosseted. Those are qualities, not marble counters. Which is good news.
5. GIVE THYSELF THY TRUEST DESIRE
When it comes to qualities, *I* am in charge. Feelings are free. So what would make me feel gracious, open, and beautiful? Why, putting away all the shit that’s lying around!!! Making at least one spot really gorgeous, and then remembering to look at it!!! Savoring that beauty by taking a photo or deliberately breathing it in!!!
So it’s not exactly rocket science.
But if you’re anything like me, you can spin out quite quickly when you’re in the throes of this. You will become completely convinced that the source of your misery is your neighbor, or your child or partner or boss, or the hideous green wallpaper, or the busted axle.
This is rarely true.
In the meantime, if you feel sluggish and ashamed and morose about something in your life, try using the five above steps. It might be helpful if you carved them somewhere visible, like those marble tablets you have hanging above your period art deco anvils. What??? No anvils?? Well then, your palm will do.
Hey– do you ever wonder why I keep exposing my embarrassing innards to you on a weekly basis?
It’s because they’re no big deal. Our foibles and crazyparts are part of our quirk; they’re our glorious humanity in full color. It’s our souls clearing old crud and making way for something with a mysterious glimmer to it.
The more you shine the light in those mortifying bits, the quicker you’ll reveal something beautiful.