Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Irritate - Irritating - Irritable

Warning: I have been tossing back and forth in my mind whether I should write this entry. It may really irritate some, even my closest friends. But then I thought about what the purpose of this blog is. It's to let others know they are not alone in their grieving process. It's been 3-1/2 years since Austin left us, and I often have to try and discern whether my feelings, emotions, and actions are still part of the grieving process or just a reflection of who I am as a person. Sometimes, as in this case, I think it's a combination of the two.

I started reflecting on this past year (2013), when deciding whether or not I should write this entry, and realized, "Wow! There's been a lot going on in my life, including a new grieving - for my dad. Most likely, I'm not the only one who's been going through rough times. In fact, I've read numerous Facebook postings from friends and acquaintances which indicate that 2013 was a tough year for many, and some may be reacting the same I have."

Before I jump into the actual entry, I feel a background of the end of 2012 and most of 2013 is needed:
  • Mid 2012 - I embarked on a 9-month contract job that turned into more than I expected - more hours and a much longer commute. It was a wonderful experience, I learned a lot and grew from it - both personally and professionally - but it was a huge stressor.
  • Thanksgiving / Christmas 2012- Due to other commitments, we did not make it home to visit family for the holidays. Little did I know that I would never spend Thanksgiving or Christmas with my dad again.
  • Late 2012 to January 2013 - my grandfather-in-law (98 years old), whom my husband was very close to, was experiencing significant health problems.
  • December 2012 - my husband had surgery on his shoulder.
  • January 2013 - my middle son was diagnosed with Pars Defect (fractures in the L5 vertebrae), and battled this all year. (Severe pain in lower back.)
  • January 2013 - my grandfather-in-law passed away.
Austin with his great grandpa (my grandfather-in-law)
  • January 2013 -My mother-in-law tore her ligament in her shoulder (this occurred the day before my grandfather-in-law's funeral.)
  • April 2013 - my dad passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly, from a massive heart attack.
Austin with his grandpa (my dad) at his technical school graduation
  • April 2013 (one week after my dad's funeral) - my mother-in-law was diagnosed with heart problems, and had heart surgery.
  • ~May 2013 - my mother-in-law had additional heart surgery.
  • July 2013 - my middle son broke his wrist
  • Fall 2013 - my youngest son had a concussion
  • ~Fall 2013 - my mother-in-law had additional heart surgery. (Dates for May and Fall are a little muddled in my mind, so these are approximations.)
  • Thanksgiving and Christmas 2013 - were very different. A huge hole was felt without my Dad and Austin. (This is for another blog entry, though.)
Whew! I didn't realize what a busy year I had, until I put it all on paper.

Pisspot: a mean, nasty person
Irritate: to make (someone) impatient, angry, or annoyed; to provoke impatience, anger, or displeasure it; to induce irritability in or of
Irritated: subjected to irritation; especially: roughened, reddened, or inflamed by an irritant
Synonyms of irritate: aggravate, annoy, bother, bug, exasperate, grate, irk, nettle, get on one's nerves, rub the wrong way.

Over the past year (possibly year-and-half) I found myself having a pisspot attitude, being irritated with everyone! Someone would call me with a simple question - I'd be irritated. Someone asked me to do something - I'd be irritated. Someone would offer to help me with something - I'd be irritated. Someone would call me to tell me something - I'd be irritated. Basically - I was irritated all the time. A true pisspot!

Before you get really irritated at me, let me assure you that nothing and no one was off-limits. It was nothing anyone had done. I was just irritable. Heck, I even irritated myself!

I have always held a philosophy, and often share it with my boys - there are times when someone is grumpy or curt with you, even though you have done nothing wrong. When this happens, you need to ask yourself, "Did I do something wrong or mean that would give this person 'permission' to be mad at me?" If the answer is "no", then you need to realize that it is the miserable person's problem, not yours.

All year long, the question I had to ask myself was, "Is this person irritating, am I irritated for a specific reason, or am I simply irritable?" I am ashamed to admit that ninety-five percent of the time, my answer was, "I am simply irritable." I had no specific reason, I was just irritated. This is probably part of the reason that, over the past year, I decided to stay more to myself than is normal, for me. (See previous posting.) After all, who would want to be around an irritable, pisspot person? Not me!

I knew there was something wrong. I knew I wasn't behaving like "myself", I love people! But here I was, always irritated. I can visualize clearly the day I realized I had to change. The day I did change.... I called the company that does maintenance on our heating system. I didn't like the answer the account representative gave me, so I was snippy - extremely snippy. I hung up the phone and thought to myself, "Wow! You were really a b%tch. What is wrong with you?"

A few minutes later I called back, profusely apologizing. It was freeing to apologize and admit I was a jerk. It was at this point I decided that enough was enough. Everyone has issues they're dealing with. What right do I have to treat people the way I have been over the past year (even if, at times, it was only in my mind).

From that day forward, I have found myself liking people. (The way I used to!) I have found a skip in my step and am enjoying life more than I have in a long time. The majority of individuals out there are good people and they deserve to be treated like it!

To all those I have been irritable to in the past, I am truly, truly sorry!

There are times in our lives that we start having a pisspot attitude. I truly believe that when we step back and realize it is our problem, not others, we can change. We can have the 'right' attitude, even in difficult times.

Don't be too hard on yourself, if you've found yourself irritable, but own that problem. When we are able to recognize this, we can then truly enjoy life, and bless those around us. Who knows, maybe they are going through a rough patch too. Why not add a little sunshine to their day?

We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them. -Epictetus