how to be happy #347: don't judge someone's story


2009 was not my year. 

It was a very bad, awful, no good year. Almost every part of my life was upside down. I was trying to figure out life and how to handle things that weren't going my way. I was grouchy/difficult/angry. I felt claustrophobic and in general "prickly." I was basically a two year-old having a tantrum meltdown in a grocery store. I had emotionally thrown myself on the floor in defiance. I couldn't stand to be with myself and I'm pretty sure my husband would have been very happy setting me off on an ice floe, happily waving goodbye and saying "See ya, sweetie!" I was a terrible version of myself.  

Looking back I feel sorry for L, my husband, who had to deal with his prickly wife but also for anyone new who entered my life during this period. They didn't know who I had been. They didn't know the Taylor from before everything went wrong during Annus Horriblis. Before everything went to hell, I felt in control of a very cool, happy life. When things dissolved, I felt like I had zero control. The only thing I could do was react and I'm afraid I didn't do that very well. I was stuck in the "I didn't deserve this! Why me?" phase. It was easier to not take ownership for the failures in my life than to examine my own life and come to the realization that I was not blame-free in the situations. I had contributed to the way things had played out. Perhaps, everything wasn't entirely my fault but still, I had to shoulder some of the responsibility for my own life. Once I realized this- that I owned this situation, then I could take the next steps and make solid plans to change the things that were wrong in my life. 

It was a challenging time in my life. It is SO much harder to take actual steps to changing your life, than it is to wallow in the wrongness of it all. It would have been easier to stay in, seclude myself, eat mac & cheese and scowl at anyone who tried to enter my fortress of solitude. So, I made a plan. I am a logical girl. I went to Catholic school which means I like structure. I created a master plan for what I wanted my life to be, including the steps needed like finding a nutritionist and a trainer, going back to school, focusing on fostering my relationship with L, who had so deftly handled his wife's temper tantrum.

During this difficult time, I hated who I was. I feel sorry for anyone who met me during this period (and the period leading up to 2009. Things just didn't boil over overnight.) The only story they knew was the chapter they walked in on, which would be the one where the heroine is in her darkest hour before she finds the strength to turn her life around. 

I try to remember this when I meet someone who is "prickly." A couple of weeks ago, one of my closest guy friends was being a jerk, or perhaps more kindly, not the best version of himself. I said "So, you're being kind of prickly. What's going on?" In typical fashion, he said "Nothing. I'm fine. What's wrong with you?" I replied "OK. Well, I'm here if you want to talk but dude, seriously, your sharp spines are out. Can you reel them in a little bit?" The thing is, because he is one my closest friends, I know his heart. I know he's a great guy who is kind. Had I met him now, I wouldn't want to go past saying "hello" once he barked at me like he did. I know he has things going on in his life that he's working on. All I can do is say "I'm here" and be thankful that I've read all the chapters prior to this one and I like his book. 

If you have someone in your life who is prickly at the moment, keep turning the page. This is just the chapter where the hero evolves. Spoiler alert: the book is worth reading. Keep going. It's aways OK in the end. If it's not OK, then it's not the end.