Monday, August 31, 2015

Misery Loves Company

We all know people who seem miserable for miserable's sake. Meaning, they seemingly have most everything they want or need, yet still find reason to (at the very least) complain or (more often) attempt to drag others' to their level. For those of us who aren't equipped with the insight, knowledge, and/or mental energy to fight it often succumb. In fact, most people who get caught in this relationship are joyful, happy, and at peace-feelings miserable people realize are missing in their lives. Those who surrender can become miserable themselves, perhaps not only perpetuating this pattern with the original miserable person, but also other people in their lives.

It is a vicious cycle that most understand as "misery loves company." I think it's safe to assume everyone is familiar with this person. This is the friend who only has negative comments when you share good news. This is the family member who monopolizes entire evenings with "woe is me"-type anecdotes that are decades old. This is the co-worker who consistently shatters your good vibe by implying your job isn't secure.

This is not the person currently going through a tough time or the person attempting to cope with mental illness or the person who has a random vent session. Sometimes, those lines are blurry and the understandable reaction to grief, anger, frustration, or anxiety is considered misery. I am suggesting that is dreadfully incorrect.

As someone who wears my feelings as an armband, proudly and openly, when I am upset, it is usually very clear. I often worry that I come across as negative or miserable when I am having a tough time. I will obsess (out loud) if given the opportunity, if I feel safe and understood. I will cry and scream to release my tension, again if the opportunity arises and I feel safe and understood. Admittedly, I am too trusting with these emotions and when I am faced with opposition, I feel not only hurt, but betrayed. It is a bit dramatic, I agree. But dramatic or not, it's how I feel.

Having grown up with a large family (half of whom keep every unpleasant feeling inside until they snap, half of whom will tell you exactly how they feel-who, what, where, and why), I sometimes couldn't make heads or tails of how I was supposed to cope with my feelings. So, I learned by trial and error (what upset people, what got their attention), as well as a profound interest in psychology. I'm sad to report I also picked up several negative coping skills along the way, BUT I'm certain every human on this planet has at least one of those.

Being so open with my feelings has led to many disappointments, particularly from miserable people themselves. In turn, I have experienced most conflict with such people, usually after finding myself in a most frustrating dynamic of negativity, pessimism, and (of course) misery. Sometimes, when the cycle reaches epic proportions, an onlooker cannot distinguish one miserable people from another. And THAT continues to be a wake-up call for me when I feel myself slipping back into that relationship.

Sadly, this means I have had to adopt a new attitude of loving indifference to said individuals. To protect myself from being another casualty of the "misery loves company" war. Loving indifference (I have no idea if this is actually a term-I literally just made it up-but if it is please don't sue me!) means I love this person. They are my [fill in the blank] and of course I want nothing bad to happen to them. I want them to be happy and joyous. Sadly...they are anything but and therefore I need to limit my interactions, reactions, and (most sad of all) expectations of change.

Having spent years studying psychology, counseling, and then putting those studies into practice as a therapist, it is beyond disheartening to concede that some people will not change. Ever. Like, EVER ever. And sometimes miserable people are not individuals you can simply cut out of your life. They may be your boss or co-worker, your child or parent, even grandmothers can be miserable people. And let me take this moment in time to assure you, I acknowledge that many miserable people are unaware they are, in fact, miserable. They may just believe they have a few "difficult" people in their lives who "don't understand" them and they move onto the people who don't challenge their miserable behavior. That being said, when a miserable person has been told numerous TIMES by numerous PEOPLE they are miserable, it might be time to take inventory of your life. Or, as some may do, keep living in blissful ignorance.

So, when all else fails and you've come face to face with a miserable person-one who will not acknowledge they are, in fact, miserable and consistently attempts to drag you into their web of negativity-just remember...



  1. I love this. Describes me & my family perfectly. I have been caring for my Dad for the past eight years, and hating every moment of it. He fell back in July & has been in a rehab facility for the past two months. I almost feel happy again. Almost. Now I have to put some boundaries around my daughter & her expectations of what I should be doing in regards to caring for my two beautiful grandkids. I am going to get my life back, whatever that means. I am snatching it back, it is mine & mine alone. I want to live the way I want to, answer to no one & be left the fuck alone. Watch out people, it's gonna be ugly & IDGAF. Love you sweetie.

    1. Gail, I could not agree more. Some people in my life are making my plan to move to Portland, OR VERY easy! So sorry you have struggled, but I am inspired by your resolve! <3

  2. Beautifully written! I think many people should be reading this blog !!! ♡ liz

    1. Thank you, Liz! Means the world. <3