If you are feeling sorry for yourself for any reason right now, do yourself a favor and STOP feeling sorry for yourself. Feeling sorry for yourself will not fix the situation that is causing you to feel this way. It will not change the past or shape the future and it certainly will not make you feel any better in the long run. While you are busy throwing yourself a pity party, I can almost guarantee you that no one else even gives a shit about what is going on. When something bad happens to us, we expect other people to feel just as badly as we do. But, we forget that people are inherently selfish. While they may feel sorry that you are going through something, I’m sure most people are just thinking to themselves how happy they are that it’s not happening to them. Complain about something once or twice and you’ll probably get some sympathy from people. However, when you continue to whine, cry, and complain about something all the time, you become self-indulgent, self-absorbed, and pretty fucking annoying. After all, no one likes a Negative Nancy.
Take me for example. After my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in July 2010, I spent probably the next three years or more feeling so sorry for myself. I had just gotten engaged in the same month that she was diagnosed, so that only added fuel to my pity fire. I cried all the time. I thought my world had ended. In some ways, it had. My relationship with my mom as I had always known it was over. But, I was also at a very exciting point in my life and was about to begin a new chapter with my best friend/husband-to-be. I felt so sorry for myself that I could not even focus on the excitement of being engaged and planning a wedding. In fact, I would say that I was not at all excited about planning my wedding. All I kept thinking about was the fact that I was planning it alone. My mom was not able to help with any of the planning. I remember crying (sad tears, not happy ones) when I went home after saying yes to the dress. My mom, grandmother, sister, future mother-in-law, future sister-in-law, and niece/flower girl had all come to watch me try on wedding dresses. I should have been so happy and excited. But, all I could think about was the blank expression on my mom’s face as she watched me try on dresses. It was like she had no idea where we were or what we were doing or why it was such a big deal. I picked out save-the-dates, wedding invitations, flowers, jewelry, shoes, hairstyles, you name it, all by myself. I’m pretty sure I cried when I ordered my own “Soon-to-be Mrs. Dykovitz” zip-up hooded sweatshirt to wear on the big day. All I could think about was how my mom had gotten my sister one for Christmas the year before she got married. I was the definition of self-pity from the day I got engaged until long after my wedding day. I remember my husband asking me if I was even excited about getting married because all I did was cry that year. I felt so sorry for myself because although my mom would be there for my wedding physically, she would not be there mentally or emotionally because she could not understand what was happening. I was excited on my wedding day and I was able to enjoy every moment of it. I had the most perfect wedding. Everything went smoothly and it was the classy, elegant, and timeless wedding that I had hoped for. But, there were moments when I would stop and watch my mom. And, in those moments, I was filled with self-pity once again. She reminded me of a lost little girl, who absent-mindedly danced the night away all by herself. She did not seem to have a clue that this was her daughter’s wedding.
After my wedding was said and done, I continued to feel sorry for myself in many situations. Oh poor me, my mom can’t be a part of this moment or that moment and she is incapable of being there for me the way she used to be. Gone were the days of shopping and having lunch together or going to the movies. I mean we still do those things together, but it’s much different now. I am very much the mother and she is very much the daughter. I would look at other young women whose moms were always a part of everything they did and I felt completely jealous of them. I wish my mom could go to the mall and pick out a very special wedding/birthday/Christmas present for me. I wish my mom could bring chicken noodle soup to my house when I’m sick or surprise me by cleaning my house while I’m away. I wish my mom and I could go on a vacation together or even just a day trip. I’m not sure when it happened, but one day I woke up and realized that I had forgotten about all of the other young women. The ones whose moms died when they were young, or worse, left them when they were young. The ones whose moms were never capable of being involved in any part of their lives because of some illness or injury. The ones whose moms chose not to be involved in their lives. I thought about it and I realized that I was actually one of the lucky ones. I had 25 uninterrupted years with my mom, filled with love, laughter, joy, tears, shopping, lunches, movies, surprises, and presents. I still have my mom, even though our relationship is much different now. And, she did not choose for it to be this way. She did not leave me or ignore me. She has never done anything, but love me. Therefore, I am one of the lucky ones and definitely not someone who should be dressing herself in self-pity all day, every day.
I realized that I had become an annoying, whiny, sad, and weak woman. I was incapable of ever being happy about anything because I could not stop thinking about what I had lost. How could my husband even stand to be with me anymore? I was a far cry from the strong, sassy, hard-ass, smart-mouthed 23-year-old girl who he had fallen in love with. The girl who would always try her best and never gave up. The girl who ran her heart out and left most of the guys trailing behind her. I realized that I had to get that girl back. It was then that I signed up for a half-marathon to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association. I went from telling maybe one person outside of my family about my mom’s Alzheimer’s to telling the whole world. I posted about it on Facebook and began to talk openly about it to anyone who would listen. I saw the generosity of people who barely knew me, but donated to my cause. I realized that I had wasted a lot of time feeling sorry for myself when what I should have been doing was sharing my story with others. I should have been raising awareness and taking action against Alzheimer’s. The younger version of me would never sit back and allow herself to get beat down by anyone or anything. She would fight back. So, that’s what I decided to do. Rather than sit back and let Alzheimer’s beat me down, I am going to fight back. I am going to raise awareness by sharing my story with others. I am going to take action by raising money and participating in events that raise money for Alzheimer’s. And, I am never going to sit around feeling sorry for myself again.
Self-pity has its place and its appropriate time. If you continue to feel sorry for yourself for a long period of time, you are doing yourself a disservice. As far as I know, self-pity has never solved anyone’s problems. No one wants to listen to you whine and complain about something unless you are doing something about it. So, instead of wasting your time feeling sorry for yourself, why don’t you put your time and energy into doing something about it? There is always going to be someone who is far worse off than you. The sooner you realize this, the better, because self-pity looks good on no one.