Retiring Blame

When you’re writing for a retirement newsletter that is based out of a long-haired, balding man’s basement at a desk which is a kitchen table, you sort of expect that eventually you’ll get screwed over. You feel like it’s a great opportunity; that you want to write… get paid… have an audience. And you hope, rationally or not, that maybe you can hold on long enough that the eventual disappoint will be outweighed by the gratification of having that thing be yours, if only for a moment.

That is the case of my experience writing for Retirement News Weekly. You see, the website eventually stopped paying me. I kept writing for eight months afterwards, thinking… hoping… that that might change. When their bill hit around $1,400 and I got too busy at the MS Society to keep going, I finally stopped. It took eight months before I put my foot down and said enough is enough. Eight months.

The only question I have is this: when you go into a situation like that knowing you’re going to end up disappointed and holding on to hope far longer than conceivable, who is to really blame?

I’m not one for subtle metaphors or vague parallels, so I’ll put it on front street. While this was the situation I found myself in at Retirement News Weekly, it also seems to be every relationship I’ve had in the last two years.

The girls are always honest. It’s always fun. I always see the cracks from the very start… the lines where things will eventually break. And I always invest just a little too much. I think, perhaps, that the foreseeable disappointment can somehow be outweighed by those moments of happiness that will eventually lead to heartbreak.  But when things don’t work out, when the truth of “I’m not ready for a relationship” becomes apparent, I’m always more disappointed than I expected.

I’m currently reading a book called “You’re Not That Smart” and they define this very condition as “self-handicapping.” That is: to enter a situation, pick out the foreseeable problems, ignore them, and when failure comes blame the external forces you foresaw. It’s a way to protect one’s ego. It’s not my fault that I don’t remain a paid writer. It’s not my fault she left. They were sketchy to begin with.

It’s also bull shit.

It’s a way to keep myself miserable. Not because I dislike myself. But arguably because I’m afraid if I really wanted to be happy… if I did my best and failed… my ego couldn’t take it.

(There’s also an argument to be made that I feel it necessary to earn love or happiness through suffering as a result of my Catholic upbringing, but that explanation would probably require therapy to fix so we’ll put it on a side burner for now.)

It’s January so the idea of resolutions is in the air. Resolutions are meant to be broken. So instead I will write my declaration… the Declaration of my New Constitution. That will come soon, but it will come later. For now, I’ll just say this:

I’m sorry for being a miserable dick for the last while. One must take ownership of their happiness or unhappiness and in this regard I have failed. I’ve complained ad nauseum (which is literally, and appropriately, Latin for “to the point of nausea”), while continuing on my path unaltered. And 2012 is the year that that changes. It is time for me to be happy… to let myself be happy and in so doing risk failure, ego-bashing situations, and the occasional embarrassment of singing karaoke.

It’s also time to forgive debt and disappointment. All of it. No clauses. No trepidation. Just forgiveness. Or, perhaps even harder, the acceptance that forgiveness is not necessary because with all the signs there’s no one really to blame.

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