Sunday, March 22, 2009

On the other side of the glass

Had a Buddhist study meeting at my place last night. Found it easier to tolerate the inappropriate remarks from one member who always seem to set my teeth on edge. There's always one. I'm starting to understand her a little better. She's had a hard life and she doesn't quite feel comfortable around a certain set of people that she has judgments about. I get that. Who doesn't have opinions about other people on the other side of the glass? The haves vs. the have nots. Does this strike a chord? I've longed for a child so long, peered through the window of those who enjoyed baby showers, and shopped for nurseries and bought cute outfits for their bundle of joy. I felt resentful, felt bitter, felt sorry for myself. Why them and not me? I wondered why I had to be outside of that particular bubble of joy. Why did IVF work for her the first time and not me? I did everything they told me. I worked so hard, prayed so long. Frig, even a woman with no arms and legs and a crack addict can get pregnant and have a child. What's wrong with me? Where's my miracle?

When you know people who NEVER have to worry about money and price tags and the price of gas, it puts things in perspective. It's all relative. People just look on the surface and think they know you.

I've been on both sides of the glass - and guess what, it's better being one of the "haves". In this city, there are homeless people all over the place. I can't walk 2 blocks without having at least 5 people sitting on the pavement ask for spare change. They have no idea that though I've always worked and always had a roof over my head, I used to search every pocket I had for bus change on occasion. Some jobs I couldn't take because I couldn't afford the bus fare to get there. One time, years ago after moving here, it was all the rage to go to welfare when you ran out of money. So at the urging of a friend, I went to the local welfare office. I couldn't get a job, the temp agency wasn't calling and the unemployment cheques failed to show up in my mailbox. Needless to say, I felt like shit, they made me feel like shit, and I slunk out of there empty handed (government cutbacks) wondering where my natural head was at. What a blessing that was! One of the best things that ever happened to me! I had always made it through on my own, so I just left it to the universe to take care of my sorry ass. Well the universe and my pretty head. Long story short, I used my brains and talent, and an emergency loan from my actor's union to get me out of trouble. I temped in office jobs, I nude modelled for the art school, and lo and behold the unemployment cheques finally materialized in my mailbox. I worked to pay back that loan. I used my department story credit card to buy gift certificates and then I would buy one cheap thing and take the remainder in cash. I even used those gift certificates to buy food (fancy food of course!). I booked gigs and made more money in one week than some people do in a year. If I were to lose what I have tomorrow, and trust me in this hard times, that's always possible, I would survive. It's in my genes. Thank you, mother.

But that woman doesn't know that. She just looks at my fancy apartment and shoes and thinks I'm ostentatious. She thinks I've never known suffering or loneliness or unappreciation. She thinks I don't know what's like to feel defeated by things beyond my control.

Having money doesn't make your life perfect, it just makes your misery a lot more comfortable. It's nice having to distract yourself from your troubles by going on vacation or buying shoes. People with all the money in the world aren't immune to living in hellish conditions. It doesn't protect you from illness or loneliness or crazy families.

As the Buddhist say, oh, you have problems? Congratulations! You're about to grow and challenge your fundamental darkness! Congratulations again!

Newflash: We got another enquiry through our local agency, hardly any details of course, but we're submitting our profile. Oh yeah, but they had the details of the fees, though. Uh-huh.


Liz said...

Yeah the grass is always greener, and some people are always green with envy. I know what it feels like, there is so much that is brilliant about my life that I'm sure some people envy me, but they don't know the half of it - the history, the pain, the longing for a child etc, etc

Shit, this has turned a bit morose. What I clearly meant to say was I'm here from ICLW and I like the cut of your blog!

OHN said...

Like you, I have been on both ends. At one time I had regular cleaning help, and others I was the cleaning help.

Money does not make you happy, but it enables you to not be as unhappy as often.

Guera! said...

Very well put.

Wordgirl said...

It's funny, I was thinking just about this the other day -- about my own relationship to things and what a sort of 'reversal of fortune' has meant for me -- and how strange it is to be in this place now -- so separate on the outside from the other world I used to inhabit. I read you and it always resonates with me Deathstar --in a deep place. Thank you so much for your support. Without your urging me to move toward the fear -- I'm really not certain I could have. It feels me with gratitude to have found you, and I wanted to tell you that.

Oh and I so wish I could walk in heels --if I could I would become a shoe-aholic...but for me? Coats. Of course, I live in the arctic....



Evergreen said...

Great reminder to not assume you know someone, and to not judge, because you don't know the real/whole story.

I just read your post about the name Deathstar - incredible to read about your love and commitment to your mother, and the sense of hope you are hanging on to, that out of the ashes, the phoenix will rise again.

Beautiful Mess said...

I, too, have been on both sides of the fence. I've been judged for my "perfect" marriage when we are FAR from perfect. I hope this woman realizes her mistake and learns that there is more the meets the eye.

♥.Trish.♥ Drumboys said...

All of what you write is so true
like they say don't judge abook by it's cover
I like what you say too and yes the 'green with envy'

Here from ICLW...No. 103
My Little Drummer Boys

Flower said...


IF is so unfair. I feel your pain. I still don't understand why conceiving comes so easy for some.

loribeth said...

Dh & I get lots of little digs from his cousins about how much money we must have (because we don't have kids, of course!!). (It couldn't be that we just make better decisions about spending & saving our money than they do, could it??) It really bugs me, because of course, no amount of money makes up for the lack of a child in our life (& we certainly spent more money than most of them ever did, chasing that particular dream), but people don't see it that way or think before they open their big mouths.

Anonymous said...

I've been on both sides of things too and am finding it uncomfortable being on the haves/parent side of things since adopting our daughter.

Before we adopted last year, I was a special ed teacher for many years and being with my blind students always helped me keep things in perspective.

I like the Buddhist thought you shared about congratulating you for having the challenge of hardship. Thanks for sharing that.


Mrs. Gamgee said...

I've been on both sides too... and honestly I think I was less stressed when I was on the poorer side of the street. Thank you for the reminder to be thankful for what we have.


Pamela T. said...

Things are never quite what they seem and that's what makes life so interesting and weird at the same time. I've been guilty of making bad assumptions and now work very hard to gather more information before drawing conclusions...

luna said...

very interesting.

I think when we're unhappy it is so much easier to view things in such a negative light, to judge others. maybe it makes us feel better, but I don't think that's it. I think when you're unhappy to just can't see the good, because life is hard for whatever reason, and you jump to the worst thoughts.

we have friends who inherited a lot of money, own two lovely homes, work PT and complain about it, and oh they had 2 kids in 3 years, on the 1st and 2nd month of trying. they always seem HAPPY. it's easy for me to feel frustration at how EASY things have been in that regard.

but I know there's more to it -- his father killed himself when my friend was 6, his only brother died when he was 18, and his mother has serious health issues. sure, he "deserves" some happiness in his life. but don't we ALL?!

there is always more to the story. but that doesn't keep us from feeling like we're on the outside looking in, and that's never a good feeling.