Thursday, November 19, 2009
Then I made the mistake of telling one of my friends here about my plan. Her response, delivered with a dash of judgment and a soupcon of scorn, thinly masked behind a smile: "You're so good at doing things for yourself!"
Out of context, her words may have seemed supportive, but her tone and her expression conveyed her real meaning: You are selfish.
I hasten to tell you, and am almost embarrassed to admit, that this weekend trip represented the first nights I had ever spent away from Big Boy, with the exception of my stay in the hospital giving birth to Tiny Baby. (Oh wait, I did spend two more nights away from him when Tiny Baby was hospitalized five weeks after his birth. The evidence against me mounts.) Yes, Husband and I had left Big Boy with a babysitter for plenty of dinners out and nights on the town (i.e. ice cream cones followed by a Kroger run) and I even read a book every now and then, but, in general, I had spent the prior two-and-a-half years pregnant, nursing, or both. My hair was too long, my nails were too ragged, my muscles were an unappealing combination of atrophic and smasmodic.
I did not feel that a focus on myself was my problem.
I've read a lot lately about women and happiness. About how we're less happy now despite objective improvements in the quality of our lives. About how we have too many choices. About how having lots of kids makes us happier. And I'm interested in these ideas. Maybe I'll write about them someday. But what I'm thinking about today is how we feel about other people's happiness, especially if we're unhappy ourselves. How the structure of someone else's joy casts a long shadow over our own gloom and makes it that much more opaque. How the idea of a friend enjoying a relaxing weekend makes the drudgery of a life without change, without decadence that much more lusterless. How chipping away at someone else's shine can add some sparkle to our dullness.
Schadenfreude in reverse. Freudenschade. (Six years of German, and I'm not sure if I did that quite right. Es tut mir leid, Frau Mueller.)
Just inchoate thoughts today, my friends. Ideas percolating, but not yet fully caffeinated.
Do we feel bad (worse) when other people feel good? Do our judgments of others more often than not reflect a void in our own lives?
Posted by Kristen @ Motherese at 6:57 AM