Monday, April 11, 2011

Pity: Party of One (or, I Am Fat Goldie Hawn)

I allowed myself to indulge in some mild depression this past weekend. It was too easy to just stay in bed all day, Saturday, and watch movies on Starz and Encore, uselessly channel-flipping the day away. I have nothing to be seriously depressed about, but I wonder sometimes if it's just an inevitable part of my family's emotional legacy?

Usually, I consciously choose to fight my alleged legacy of clinical depression in any way that I can, even if it's just dancing to Britney Spears in my kitchen. I would rather drain that particular aspect of the gene pool before drowning in it.

I am lucky. I haven't had one of those get-nothing-done-because-I'm-depressed days in many years, not since I've met Domestic Partner. Even so, I remind myself on a regular basis that if I ever get to feeling sorry for myself I need to remember that there are those around me who are going through much worse.

Who am I to feel sorry for myself?

I remember a bout of self pity I had in 1994, at a time when a friend was losing her father to cancer. Another friend, a woman in my dance class, had just lost her grandmother. Her pain was made worse by her family's fighting over material property. Even our dance teacher was hiding her sadness over a miscarriage, bravely keeping her perpetual smile and motivation for her students in the studio.

Who the hell was I to feel sorry for myself?

Cheryl over at bread and bread is dealing with a fairly recent emotional roller coaster, a seemingly cruel ride of joy, at first, expecting twins - and then losing them early in the first trimester.

And a Disney friend recently posted a heartfelt note on facebook about how surprised she was to hear that her life was perceived as 'charmed.' In a flash, before verbalizing a response, she thought about how both her parents had died after years of living with the pain of cancer and other illnesses. Her young song was born with a rare genetic disorder, which she has often dealt with on her own while her husband was away on more than one tour of duty. She titled her facebook post 'Perspective' because that is what became clear to her when she looked at her loving and supportive family and their history through the objective eyes of her friend.

But I still hurt for her, and I hurt for Cheryl. I appreciate their willingness to share their pain so honestly, their willingness to be vulnerable so publicly. I appreciate the perspective they are providing.

Man. I have wasted a lot of my life feeling sorry for myself, and unnecessarily so. Did I mention that I'm lucky? (I know I've done so in previous posts - not just this one). I feel lucky because even on my worst days I can usually get to the point of laughing at myself, at how ridiculous I am being over petty problems. When I think about giving up, I immediately go to the extreme, and I picture myself turning into Goldie Hawn, the Fat Goldie Hawn in "Death Becomes Her." If I succumbed to self pity and depression, I know that would be me: 300 pounds and living alone in a small, run-down apartment, save for the twenty-three cats living with me, and eating cans of frosting as meal substitutes.

My worst year in life ever was 1995, when I was wasting time feeling sorry for myself, all but destroyed by Mr. Heartbreaker. I think of that time in my life every time the Fat Goldie Hawn scene opens with her bent over, a close up of her giant rear-end right in front of the camera. It always knocks me right into providing my own perspective, the one I need.

Even luckier still, I know I can never afford to spend too much time in self pity. I'm 45 this year, which means I have even less time than I used to, to work toward becoming Radiant and Ravishing Goldie Hawn in the scene of the book signing party, the one in which she's wearing that gorgeous, figure-hugging dress.

Yes, I'm a guy. I'm still inspired by Goldie Hawn, inspired by both images of her in that one movie. In a few years I'll be Fifty - and More Fabulous!


Cheryl said...

Thanks so much for the kind words. I feel lucky to know you. And for what it's worth, I think depression has only a tiny bit to do with circumstance. If it were just a matter of realizing other people had a rougher road, almost no one in the developed world would be depressed. It's quite possible to feel depressed, lucky and grateful at the same time--I know that's how I'm feeling now. :-)

Peter Varvel said...

Cheryl, thanks for the reminder: it's easy to forget that part of being human means being complicated and contradictory, with several simultaneous layers - and that it's okay to be that way since it's, you know, human.
We can't forget the joy, either. It should be comin' 'round the corner (once we turn it).
I feel lucky to know you, too.

Temre said...

Hey, I'm in your blog! I feel honored that you were moved enought to write about me! Now I'm following you so I won't miss anthing else! Thanks for getting me started on this blog thing!

Peter Varvel said...

Temre! Yes, you are! But I will be sure to ask permission (in the future) if I want to post anything that's specifically personal about you.
You move me too - and I look forward to more of it! :)

Temre said...

Oh sweetie, don't worry about the permission thing. If I'd been worried about that I wouldn't have posted it on FB! :-) I'm really enjoying reading your past blog entries. I feel like I've been sitting with you over a cup of coffee and we've just been chatting for hours!
I want to write more and more in my blog now...but the time to do it is so hard to come by.
Take care! ((hugs))