While at a dinner with some girlfriends recently, I was lamenting the fact that my daughters had passed “resistant strep throat” back and forth for the better part of 9 weeks. It never failed…one would get healthy and go back to school, and I’d get a call from the school to go and get the other one. It was like some bizarre, crazed, mind-numbing see-saw of care-giving.
My dinner companions listened patiently as I continued. After all, I’m busy. I have things to do. Friends and physicians alike are all convinced that I am now a chronic canceller, and so much for my 2011 daily gym commitment. And did I mention I’m diabetic? Resist though I tried, I had two rounds of strep myself. Any infection drives your sugars up, so you have to fight the infection as well as diabetes complications simultaneously.
My friend, whom I’ll call Sally, listened lovingly, furrowed her brow in all the right places, and generally concurred that I, a most dedicated mama, had really suffered…as all good girlfriends should do (it’s in the handbook).
When it was Sally’s turn to update us on her comings and goings, she began to talk about how her 4 year old son was struggling in pre-school with motor skill development. The problem was not unforeseen, as her son had battled cancer since he was just a year old. At 4 years of age, he is cancer-free, but is unfortunately behind in his development. When other children were playing with blocks and tricycles, he was in a hospital bed.
Sally repeated how grateful she was that her son was healthy, but that she just hated to see him have even one more struggle to endure after everything he had been through. She expressed that she knew it would be all right, but it was just a little tricky to move through.
And I took a big gulp of my chardonnay, as the ridiculousness of my whining began to hit me. Yes, pain is relative, and everyone is entitled to be frustrated sometimes. But when you hear a friend enduring something like that, it makes your own stuff seem a little less tragic. And it makes you a whole lot more grateful for the size of your mini-crisis.
So I listened to Sally, and supported her through her story. And I silently thanked her for reminding me of what matters, simply by hearing her perspective. I thanked her for her strength and courage; for the fierce love she has for her children and for me. For encouraging me to remember what else drives high sugars: stress and negative thinking.
I always heard that in a breakup “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone.” And it occurs to me that the best way to get over yourself is to get underneath someone else and lift that person up. It’s an immediate self-pity buster and gratitude inducer. And blood glucose reducer.
Think about something that feels really hard right now. Now think about a friend who is enduring something worse. Tell your inner victim to shut up, and go call that friend.