Once upon a time, I enjoyed the ups and downs of the swing set. Who am I kidding? Give me a decent seat that doesn’t dig into my grown up backside. What I don’t enjoy are the ups and downs of life. A large part of “adulting” has been learning how to deal with the often routine oscillations. Ride the highs, survive the lows. Did I say routine? Sure, the amplitude and wavelength varies, but for every peak, there is a valley.
What I Wrote Last Night
It feels like the cycle repeats itself, but I am very aware that my energy feeds it. Regulating the ups and downs can be tiring. It becomes even more so when I anticipate that the downside is approaching. If knowing is half the battle, it is also half the reason the lows get lower. Or that is how it was in the past. Now, I know it is coming and have learned that I can help the positive bounce along by dealing better with the low moments.
It has been an odd couple of weeks. I popped out of one shallow valley to a heady high, then suddenly found myself pushed over a cliff. It set me off in a way I didn’t expect. While I am past it now, I’m still steaming a bit. Nothing bothers me than being justifiably upset and receiving indifference in return. It offends me to the core. Not just because I am hurt, because there are others receiving the same treatment.
A Realization on Ups and Downs
This morning, a memory popped into my head that helps explain why my mood changed so drastically a couple of weeks ago.
I was sixteen when my first grandfather passed away. To attend his funeral, I would miss a “required attendance” activity with the high school band. I was told, in front of most of my classmates, that I would be getting an “F” for the semester for missing the activity. I remember my gut twisting in anger, being completely unable to control my expression, and someone saying, “Is he crying?” Yes, I was. Uncontrollably.
Forget all the biological and neurological issues with being sixteen. Forget about every teacher preaching the importance of a good GPA to get into college. Focus on this edict from a teacher I had a great relationship with for seven years. He was a friend, a mentor, and a trusted ally. Sorry about your grandfather but you get an “F” if you miss this event.
Ups and Downs and Round and Rounds
Reflecting on this memory, I understand why I fell down such a huge hole two weeks ago. People I trusted basically told me, “Sorry about your grandfather but you get an ‘F’.” It was entirely in their control. The rules were clear. They were on display. On a careless whim, hard work put into a fun challenge became meaningless. My complaint meant nothing. The evidence of a mistake meant nothing. I meant nothing.
Was being “accidentally” omitted from the event such big a deal? Not really. It was certainly not a big picture issue. But, I thought I had a chance at some fun recognition from my peers. Most people never got to see what I created. Those that did had nothing but raves to share. But my work was unfairly excluded and I was given the adult version of, “too bad, so sad.”
No, I didn’t cry, but my gut was certainly twisted in a way I couldn’t explain. Comprehending why I was so angry and felt so defeated was beyond me. I allowed it to eat away at me for the better part of a week. Now, looking back to sixteen-year old me, I get the emotional flood.
Getting past the knotted gut anger of being treated unfairly will likely never happen. I do not enjoy feeling blamed for something beyond my control. I do not appreciate legitimate complaints being brushed aside to avoid uncomfortable conversations. That will never sit well with me.
This morning, I better understand the origins of the intense emotions I felt. It wasn’t just that someone ignored the established rules. They managed to dig up primal emotions I try hard to keep buried. I do not like myself when I am angry. Being angry pisses me off more. It is a whole different level of ups and downs.
I’m over it. I’m good. For now.
We all deserve better than being ignored.