Do you ever have to deal with negative people? I mean, people who get under your skin and ride your patience until it’s at its thinnest? I do. Many days, in fact. Not saying that each of us isn’t pessimistic or a naysayer at some point or other, but you know who I’m talking about. It’s the guy who always thinks the worse, and actually enjoys being able to say “See, I told you this would happen” when crap eventually rolls downhill and falls on your head.
I mean, shit, dude! Obviously bad stuff is going to happen from time to time, but why dwell on the fact that death lurks around every corner, crime is bound to catch up with you, and taxes are going to go up next year? You could be hit by a bus tomorrow, and all you’ll have to show for your time on earth is a list of complaints and a bunch of people who hated to hear you open your mouth!
I can have a short fuse when confronted with shortsightedness and negativity, especially if it’s that time of the month. However, since I know that my last nerve is a lot closer to the surface than some people’s, I make a conscious effort to not let the anger get the best of me. When I notice my jaw begin to clench, my brow begin to furrow, my foot begin tapping, I sit down, take a breath, think of all of the ways the situation could be interpreted, and choose the one in which I will be least offensive to others within earshot.
That’s why it was a surprise today to hear myself explaining a situation to a friend and painting for him this picture of me as an no-good loser. Why the negativity? You see, my car disappeared from the end of my block sometime between 2pm, when I got back from my swim lesson, and 8pm, when I left for band practice. When I realized it was gone, I told The Man. We looked at where I had parked it (another car was there now), and it was obvious that the car was either stolen or towed. Maybe, I thought, it had been towed because I parked too close to the fire hydrant, though that parking spot is always in use, and there are no markings or signs to show the distance the car needs to be from the hydrant. As it turns out, I was parked about 12 feet from the hydrant, and regulations state that you must stay 15 feet back. Yes, I was towed by the city of New Orleans, who eventually charged $193 to retrieve the car – $150 for towing/storage, and $43 for the ticket.
As I explained this story to my friend, I looked at myself through The Man’s eyes, as I often do. I thought of myself as I imagine he thinks of me, and was ashamed at my stupidity, and how I was going to irritate him and also cost him money, since I didn’t have that much cash in my bank account. My stomach rolled. I hated myself. When I got back home and The Man and I went to pick up the car, it seemed that I was right. He was angry, short, business-like in the way that I hate, disappointed in me for doing one more stupid, irresponsible thing.
At first I was apologetic.
Then I realized that I would never think ill of him for parking too close to a fire hydrant, getting towed, making me drive out to the middle of nowhere to pick up a car at 11pm at night. I would never think ill of him for forgetting to put the dishes in the dishwasher, or take them out, or not cleaning his stuff off of the couch, or any of the hundreds of things I do every day that annoy the shit out of him. Because I know that he does lots of stuff right, and he works very hard to keep his shit together – just like I do. So why do I feel like I can never be up to the task of being a good enough girlfriend?
The answer? I’m a negative person. I can’t help but look at him and think “I’m going to screw this up.” So I’ve projected all of this crap on him, some of which is true (he’s crazy about organization and cleaning) and some of it is untrue (I know that when he’s being short and business-like, it’s just an efficiency thing, not an attitude thing). In essence, I’ve gotten under my own skin and am working at my own last nerve, just blaming it on my boyfriend.
Maybe it’s because I’m hormonal. Maybe it’s because I’m nuts. Maybe this won’t work out, after all of the work I’ve put into trying to be perfect for the last five and a half years. Because I’ll never be perfect. I don’t want to be perfect. I want to be sloppy and crazy and sing to myself while I’m cooking and park in inappropriate places and keep my Garmin in the glove compartment without getting reprimanded for being careless.
I want to be careless!
I don’t want to lose. But part of me (the negative part?) believes that it’s inevitable. And what can I do but keep trying?