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Recovery: Leaving The Pity Party

18 November 2015 Written by 

When I was growing up my father kept a ledger in his head of what I cost: school, crooked teeth, music lessons, college, etc. It drove me nuts as the numbers mounted over the years, and I worried that he might be resentful or think I wasn’t worth it. For me, his cost counting (and unfortunate habit of telling me) had a personal and emotional impact he never intended. For years, I worried about how I would pay him back. My Dad, however, was not trying to hurt me by talking about money. The truth was he loved his ledger. He lived by numbers and counted all the costs in his life and business exactly the way he counted mine. He had come from a very poor family. Counting pennies was the way they had survived. Being able to earn a living meant a great deal to him. His true wish when he talked to me about money was simply to be appreciated, and not taken for granted.

Did I ever understand him? Unfortunately, I was a child, not a mind reader. He taught me to think about money, not appreciation or gratitude. I’m sure he thought I was ungrateful. Many parents think their children are ungrateful when their children simply don’t know what’s needed. Take The Blame Game Quiz

Feeling Unappreciated Hurts

At the pity party, the caretakers and providers in the family so often feel taken for granted, and unappreciated. It’s a painful feeling. Those constant brooders about not being appreciated enough may not see themselves as accountants, but they’re doing the same thing my dad did with money. They have a list that gets longer and longer as the years go by and they keep adding up all the things they do and have done for others without getting back what they deserve.

Feeling Shortchanged Hurts Too

The pity party is by no means limited to providers. Those being cared for often feel they’re not getting what they really deserve either, that they’re not actually cared for or loved enough for a complete rescue that would make them all right and whole. The pity party is not limited to family and friends and loved ones. There are thousands at the party who have few resources or loved ones, may even lack jobs and homes, and feel isolated and singled out for catastrophic results that may keep on happening over and over. There are many forms of feeling alone, vulnerable and at risk both emotionally and literally.

The pity party is certainly not defined by those who have resources and those who don’t. Feeling sorry for oneself from time to time is human. I’m alone. It’s my birthday; I have no one to celebrate me. I wrote a book; it’s been rejected by every publisher in the free world. I’m not as attractive or smart as I wish I were. Others are far more successful. I keep getting arrested; it’s so unfair. There are millions or reasons to feel badly about something. It’s completely normal. But when woe is me is the default feeling, it’s become a bad habit that prevents forward motion, release from unhappiness, and the ability to receive help and love from others.

Feeling sorry for oneself pushes people away. It’s a fact. Others don’t want to hear about it. That’s the reason the happy song has become such a world sensation. Even if you feel horrible, when you hear that song, happiness tends to take over. Just the word happiness can make the feeling happen. Smiling works that magic, too. So leave the accounting to the money-minded and exit the pity party with a song. 


Reach Out Recovery Exclusive by Leslie Glass

Read 2492 times Last modified on Friday, 04 November 2016 14:45
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Leslie Glass

Leslie Glass is the winner of the American Society of Addiction Medicine 2016 Media Award for her groundbreaking documentary "The Secret World Of Recovery." She is a journalist, playwright, the author of 15 novels and the founder of Reach Out Recovery. She is the producer/director of "The Secret World Of Recovery," and the teen addiction prevention documentary "The Silent Majority" which was distributed by American Public Television to all PBS stations in 2015. Leslie is currently developing more websites and technology to further the recovery and healthy living cause.
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