I'm the queen of "it could be worse."
No matter how much my life sucks, I can always (and easily) come up with myriad ways in which it could be worse.
It's a long-held personal tradition.
My mom's in the psych hospital after attempting to kill her self? Well, it could be worse. She could have succeeded.
My dad's passed out most nights? Could be worse. He could be a drug addict. Or simply gone.
Best friend steals boyfriend? Could be worse. I could be dying of cancer.
And so on.
It was a great survival skill. I was like a Weeble who got knocked down but always ALWAYS popped back up, ready for another round.
And it's a skill I use still.
Kids driving me crazy? At least they're healthy enough to drive me crazy. They could be hooked up to machines in a hospital.
Dog poops on new Persian rug? At least I can afford a Persian rug.
Roof leaking? At least I have a roof over my head.
Husband cheats? At least my kids aren't dead (I trotted that one out a LOT. By all means, I told the universe, give me betrayal. But please don't take my children...as if I was bartering with Satan.)
Not that "it could be worse" is necessarily a bad thing. I'm the eternal optimist – always looking on the bright side of life.
The thing is, I'm learning – thanks to all the it-could-be-worse scenarios I've invented in the past few years, that it can also keep me stuck.
It's easy to stay in muck up to your knees when you tell yourself you're lucky it's not up to your neck.
And it's a great way to avoid getting out of the muck altogether.
And, I've decided, I want a muck-free life.
I'm learning (slowly...thanks to those survival skills which served me well as a kid...but now stand in the way) that it's absolutely my prerogative to say, "sure things could be worse...but they could be BETTER, too." Better might mean a husband who not only doesn't cheat on me, but also helps around the house and shares my values. Better might be a fixed roof. It might be a kids who behave more respectfully (let's remind ourselves...no-one will treat us respectfully until we treat ourselves respectfully). It might be a whole heap of things that could be worse...but that I don't want to tolerate any more.
I don't want the pendulum to swing totally the other way (those people are called pessimists/in-laws...and I avoid them the same way I avoid Tea Partiers and the Kardashians). I like seeing the glass as half-full. I'm just going to remind myself with a bit more regularity that, with some self-respect and determination and firm boundaries, the glass can be completely full...ideally with a nice Shiraz.