If memory serves, it was the Stegosaurus in Dinosaurs Divorce who taught us that it’s okay to be angry over a breakup that affects you.
But if memory doesn’t serve, and just makes you go up to the counter and get your own recollections, it’s possible that it was the T. Rex. Or, I don’t know, maybe it was some other greenish creature who quite frankly looked a lot more like Arthur the Aardvark than a dinosaur (and Arthur the Aardvark doesn’t even look like an aardvark) who gave my kids that helpful advice.
Anyway, it’s really the sentiment, and not the species, that counts. So when I learned only just last week of a breakup that had happened many, many months before, I found myself casting back to the first dark days of my own divorce, when my ex and I turned to terrifying, extinct creatures to deliver to our children the sort of explanation and comfort that we ourselves were unable to provide.
And the words came roaring back: It’s natural to feel Sad.
And while I could also hear the long-ago complaints of my children (Why are you roaring, Mommy? Those aren’t even real dinosaurs. This book is stupid!), I’m not going to lie: I felt better just thinking of them. Because I was Sad. And Angry and Afraid and Confused.
But mostly Confused.
“I don’t understand,” I said to the Verizon “customer service” agent. “How did my Wireless bill get ‘de-coupled’ from my regular bill? What does that even mean? And why wasn’t I told about it before it showed up as a separate, past-due bill that threatened to cut off my service?”
“Could you spell your name for me again, ma’am?” the customer “service” agent helpfully explained. “I’m afraid I can’t find any record of your account.”
“I—wait: which name?”
“Ma’am? You have two names?”
“No, I have ONE name, now, which is my maiden name, but I used to have a married name. And now I have a bill from you and a bill from Verizon Wireless in two different names, and—“
“Ma’am, you’re not married? I see here that there’s a Mr.—“
“No, I AM married now, but I got rid of my first married name and took back my maiden name and didn’t take my new husband’s name because it was so much work to get my maiden name back!”
“So you’re planning to get divorced again, ma’am?”
“Wait, what? No! Why are we even talking about me? This is about you and Verizon Wireless and why I used to get one bill from both of you and now I get two bills in different names and different addresses and—“
“Ma’am, I’m going to have to put you on hold.”
“No no no, don’t put me on hold, please? Please, I’ll be good, I promise!”
“It’s just that this will be the third time I’ve been put on hold with you guys in the past two hours and each time you do it I wait and wait and then it rings for like, a minute, and then there’s a click and it HANGS UP ON—“
So then I was Sad again.
It’s okay to cry, I roared to myself, like a simplistic and badly drawn prehistoric creature. In fact, crying can help you feel better.
But here’s the thing: it didn’t. In fact, crying almost never makes me feel better. Usually, it just swells my eyes to little slits and makes my nose glow with the light of a thousand suns. Plus, I get a headache.
No, the only thing that was going to make me feel better, I realized, was to put Verizon on my list.
Which is when it occurred to me that I might have some self-help wisdom to impart to the world as well. After all, I am nearly as old as a dinosaur, and, when I feel yucky, almost as green! There’s not a lot to it, but then again, there isn’t a lot to Dinosaurs Divorce, either, once you take away the illustrations of mommy dinosaurs drinking martinis or daddy dinos carrying suitcases out to the car. But at least my advice rhymes:
When you feel Sad and Angry and Afraid and Confused, make a list and feel less abused!
It totally works. For real! Try it!
You can call your list whatever you want (I call mine “People of Earth: This is Why I Hate You”), but the important thing is to take all that rage and frustration and terror and despair and immediately scribble it, with great force, into a yellow legal pad.
“But, Heather,” you say. “I don’t understand. How could just making a list possibly change the way that I feel?”
To which I say two things: “Because you’re writing it on a legal pad, duh”; and “You are this close to going on it.”
Still, I recognize that you, for the most part, are actually me, so I’m going to hold off on putting you on the list for now. Let this be a warning, however: keep it up, Ms. Judgy McJudgerson, and I’m gonna have to buy another legal pad for all the things “you” do that piss me off.
In the rare event that you are a reader who isn’t me, though, I’m providing a (very) excerpted list (this one is pretty much from last Tuesday) to give you an example of how to get started.
Thus, without further ado, I give you:
People of Earth: This is Why I Hate You (Volume 1)
1) Standing in Doorways, Chatting or Texting. People of Earth, ask yourself just one important question: Are you a door?
Then get out of my way.
2) Saying “Worrying” or “Concerning” When You Mean “Worrisome” or “Of Concern.” Stop it.
I’m not kidding.
3) Swinging Left to Turn Right, When You Are Not a Great Big Truck or Even a Medium-Sized One. Not only is this a confusing practice, but it’s completely unnecessary and almost always makes me, stuck behind your pointless maneuvering, miss the fucking light and set a terrible example by swearing in front of my kids, you asshole.
4) Ignoring Me While You Chat on the Phone at the Register, Then Acting All Huffy When I Politely Say “Excuse Me, But Would You Mind Doing Your Job for a Couple of Minutes?” Self-explanatory.
5) Being Verizon. This includes the Gwyneth-esque de-coupling; the robo-calls; the mysteriously slow-speed FIOS; the bills with the taxes for the taxes and the triple-play that doesn’t include three things and the Wireless bill that somehow adds two $50 monthly service fees and makes them equal $130; the putting me on hold and then hanging up; the fulfilling my request for the return of the Voice Messaging that had somehow disappeared (leaving only its fee behind) by adding the option of “Choose Your Own Area Code” and making me spend at least fifteen minutes of valuable writing time by trying to figure out why anyone would want to do that (for disguise??); making my friend Jamie and her daughter Allegra waste two hours of valuable writing/studenting time trying to get Allegra’s mysteriously missing service back; making me pay over the phone for the stupid decoupled wireless bill and then sending not one, not two, but THREE “Important Information About Your Account” notices over the next three days so that the postman probably thinks I’m like some deadbeat or something instead of just someone who is Sad and Angry and Afraid and Confused about why you broke up with regular Verizon in the first place and whether I’m going to have to spend every other weekend being enraged by just one of you when it was so much easier hating you both in the same place, all the time.
There, I think you get the general idea. Don’t you feel better already? I know I do.
Now, if you want to try this yourself at home and don’t have a legal pad handy, feel free to go ahead and start your own list in the comments.
(As long as it’s not about me.)
(Because that would make me Sad.)
(And then I would have to start a whole new list, and put your list on it. And legal pads, like justice, aren’t really free. Plus I just sent all of my money to Verizon.)
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