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Complaining is futile
By Gloria Diaz
Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!
Fort Wayne Reader
A few days ago, a couple of people were complaining—one about a co-worker, the other about her health. A few minutes into their complaints, they apologized for complaining. I told them if they needed to vent, they should. And yes, I think I'm the only one in the world who would actually say that.
Like talking about how much money you make, complaining is becoming taboo. When Barbara Ehrenreich came out three years ago with a book called Brightsided: How the Relentless Pursuit of Positive Thinking has Undermined America, I practically drooled over it. Ehrenreich starts off the book by talking about her breast cancer. She was understandably upset, but when she posted about her emotions, nearly everyone commanded her to get some counseling, and to get a better attitude. Well, why not? It's only breast cancer, after all.
I think it's human nature to dismiss the troubles of other people, while concentrating on our own. I tend to freak out about small stuff, large stuff, and all the stuff in between. I was also in a bit of denial about my most recent health scare: bloody stools. Oh, it's just a one-time thing, I thought. A co-worker was furious that I hadn't had it checked out, but to appease her, I did. That led to a colonoscopy, a removal of a polyp, and more major surgery to come. (What kind of surgery? A total cashectomy.) It's a good thing I shared that particular bit of health info, and blessed to have a co-worker who gives a damn. Why didn't I go to the ER right away? Well, I'm broke. I didn't want to hear bad news. I don't want to spend money I don't have on medical bills. But if I'd waited longer, say five years, I would have probably heard the word, “cancer.” So thank you Kris Lantz. You saved my life.
Yes, I have insurance, but as anyone knows, insurance doesn't completely cover all of the expenses. I'm depressed about ever getting out of debt, and facing another surgery isn't helping my life outlook any. Yet, I was urged to look at the positive. Yes, it's not cancer. Yes, I'll be in debt for years. Yes, it could have been worse. I know that. But can't I ever catch a break? Apparently, no. I've told a few people if I get through this next health setback and my financial mess, I'm going to go back to school, and if I have to borrow every last cent, so be it. If I'm going to be in debt anyway, I might as well invest in myself, and not fund some specialist's new Bentley.
I can deal with some things. About two years ago, my water was shut off. I spent a week buying gallons of water and heating it up on the stove so I could bathe. (I can get myself clean using just one gallon of water; two if I wash my hair.) Not having tap water was a minor inconvenience, but I knew that I would be paid from my part-time job the following week, and I'd just have to wait until I had money in my account to get the water turned back on. I didn't share this particular problem on Facebook, because one, I was a little embarrassed about it, and two, well, since Facebook tweaked its system (I hate the new timeline, don't you?) everyone was complaining about that. I know in the grand scheme of things, not having running water paled beside Facebook's debacle. You don't have water? Big deal! But Facebook's new timeline? The horror. The HORROR!
But because of circumstances, I have to rethink things. Up to a certain point, I can deal. But one thing I pride myself on is not being phony. If things are going horseshit, I don't try to sugar-coat. I think a lot of people know of certain individuals who are seemingly happy, always positive, then they read in the paper that person committed suicide. At least one of my Facebook friends said his dad was one of the most cheerful, happy people you'd ever want to meet, right up until the day he shot himself. I jokingly tell friends and co-workers, if I ever snap, that they should tell the reporters I was a nut from day one, and they knew I'd lose it some day, and not say, “she was quiet and kept to herself.”
So that's why, when people have a gripe, I let them vent. I can't solve their problems, but I would like to think I'm there to say, “yeah, I hear you and that sucks.” Is that so hard to do? Are we so brainwashed and forced to look at the positive in everything to the point that it's become delusional? Because I was optimistic I'd finally get a good job and be able to pay off my huge debt, I went into more debt to get what I thought was a better paying job, only to lose it six weeks after I'd completed my training. My stubbornness led to financial ruin, but on the bright side (hah!) I landed a backbreaking job with insurance which enabled me to get my fibroid tumor taken care of.
If I'm ever diagnosed with cancer (and with my family history and eating habits, it's completely possible) I am going to pop the first person who says, “look at the bright side.” I guess I shouldn't just pop them—if I hurt them badly enough, I may wind up in prison—free health care, three meals a day, a roof over my head...hmmm.
What? I'm trying to look at the bright side!