Friday, January 30, 2009

Bossy Betty's Trip to the Pity Spa.

Sorry You Missed It.

Oh, it was a short spree into the normally forbidden Pity Spa located on the shores of beautiful, gorgeous, outstanding, better-than-anywhere-else Lake Ego, but it was a good one.  Since Betty doesn't normally even think of going there, once she knew she was on the train bound for this beacon of self-importance, she made the most of it.  

It was early morning when I started with a delicious mud bath of self-sympathy.  It was a full-out, rolling around, lolling, splashing about, with flecks of that mud flicked in the direction of all who had so wronged me and offended me.  This was followed by a long shower in the hot liquids of victimization.  Then it was time for a rich massage with the lotion of self-absorption in which it the muscles of martyrdom were loosened and set free to flex over all emotions.  Drinks and a snack?  Why yes, thank you.  I'll just sit here at the bar with the ever-fascinating self-commiseration

The ego is an interesting creature.  We need it to function and yet we need to rule over it as well. When we get in that certain mood, it is tempting to look for reasons to be offended and there's plenty to pick from when we're in that mood.   Even a simple trip to the grocery store can yield big results: the man who took the cart we were headed for, the woman spending too long in front of the Raisin Bran, blocking our way. At our lowest, even the developmentally disabled bagger can supply us with what we are looking for. "He's putting my bread in the sack with the oranges and he thinks I won't even notice.  Well, think again."  

Driving presents a smorgasbord of opportunities to be hurt and offended.  Put it on the agenda at a meeting at work because it can be there at any turn, at any time.  Even a certain look from a total stranger can be food for the starving ego trying desperately to assert its importance.   

A mid-morning snack when we are feeling low might consist of a fattening roll of "I'm the only one who really does anything around here."  A yummy snack of  "I would never do to that person what he/she has done to me" is good for late afternoon.  However, the real Powerbar of the ego, the one we have tucked away for immediate use when we are feeling at our lowest and need that instant insulin shot of self-pity is "No one, no one, appreciates what I do."  

There are some among us who, unfortunately, are on permanent late-checkout from the spa.  They may even try to live there.  (It's a pretty safe place, really.  Maybe that's why they stay.)  Some feel the need to bring a friend along for the trip.  If you've ever been that friend, you know there's only so much nodding and commiserating you can do.  Pretty soon, instead of really listening you start noticing how the person is starting to prune-up, wrinkling from staying too long in the hot, murky baths of being the victim, their souls starting to dry out and crack.  

For the rest of us, short trips to the Spa will do until we finally transcend the need for them at all.  My own Pity Spa experience lasted about half a day.  By that time the ego had been inflated, sated and massaged enough.  By noon, I was pretty sick of myself, to be honest.   It was time to snap out of it, get some perspective and get to work.  

So Betty's back here in the real world where we create our own realities and the ego hangs around like a really cool uncle instead of a mad dictator.  Here there's no time for the self-indulgence of narrow-mindedness. There are lemon cookies to make, bottles to recycle, people who need us, and whole world to help to heal in one way or another.   

(So, did I sneak at least one little bottle of that good-smelling, but easily over-powering lotion of "Delicious You!" out of the spa?) 

I'll let you guess about that one.

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