I spoke to a Very Angry Person on the phone at work a few nights ago. And while she was not irrationally, wtf lady angry, she also was not accepting my information, apologies and suggestions. I was at a loss – one of those times when I was genuinely stuck as to resolving her problem and was fumbling and inarticulate on the phone. It was a terrible, diarrheal shit fuck of a situation and at the end of our conversation came a dreadful, soul-crushing pause.
“I see. And you said your name was Phyllis?”
I at once wanted to laugh (Phyllis? How did she hear Phyllis?), sigh (complaint naming me specifically a’comin!), and rage (I was nice to you, lady. I didn’t have to be. But I fucking was). Instead, I ended the conversation, scraped this little encounter off the top of my conscious mind, and slathered it onto the shit cake I’ve been baking in that hot, angry place deep inside of me.
And instead of detaching myself from it, I retracted into that particular hole and threw myself in, funeral-pyre style, so that I could self-immolate in my misery and gorge myself on my perceived failures and shortcomings as a human person. I let it blind me to everyone else: me! me! me! I am miserable! I am the worst! Nobody likes me! Guess I’ll go eat worms!
One three-minute conversation is not to blame for this, of course. I am not myself these days.* In the past days, weeks, months (?), to those whom I’ve seemingly ignored, blown off or acted anything less than warmly toward, I am sorry. I have recently been reminded that I am never, not ever, alone in this world and am taking itty-bitty-baby steps to straighten out my sometimes neuro-chemically-confused head. In short: It’s not you, it’s me.
But I still blame Phyllis.
*With apologies to Josh Kilmer-Purcell, from whose memoir I stole this line. You should read it. I’ll lend you my copy. It’s very, very good.