SOUR CHERRIES AND HAPPY FACE

Bad days are like sour cherries. Even in a great batch of fruit, you hit some duds. As you munch, you’re going to get some berries that are overripe, sour, or bitter. You bite into them, make a face, and put them aside. You don’t eat them because they don’t taste good.

Life is like this. Day follows day. Some days suck.

Yesterday sucked. Finding I’d been hacked, that our money was gone. That after being so careful, we were back in the red through no fault of our own. It put me into a lousy mood.

I did not feel a Pollyanna urge to discover a bright side. I was pissed off. Outraged at what happened, doubly so by the cavalier way the bank made me feel marginalized and helpless in the face of their corporate indifference.

me with debbie's camera

I suppose I could have smiled on through, but I didn’t want to, anymore than I feel like eating the sour cherries. I had every right to be angry and saw no reason to pretend otherwise.

Was I wrong?

I don’t think so. The people who care about us will understand, cut us some slack. Leave us space to get over what’s bothering us and what’s more, they should. You’d do it for them, wouldn’t you?

The whole “stay positive” thing is out of control. If the proponents of permanent smiles are to be taken seriously, no one will ever frown again. No tears, no sadness, no anger. Ever. There will be one acceptable emotion. Happiness. We will all wear a Happy Face. Happy, happy, happy. No matter what. Has anyone read or seen The Stepford Wives?

So, what’s your problem? Losing your home to foreclosure? Got cancer? Heart Disease? No job? No prospects? Don’t be mad or sad. You’ll be fine. No matter what those doctors are saying, no matter that you don’t have a place to live. Or a life. Or a future.

According to the proponents of Happy Face, no problem is so big it can’t be overcome with a positive attitude and a bright smile. I’m betting most of the people who believe in Happy Face have never confronted an intractable problem. One day, their fake smiles will catch up with them. They will crash and burn. The corners of their mouths will turn down and their faces will shatter on impact.

I’m not suggesting we all walk around sneering, sulking, and grumpy, but we need to be allowed to express what we actually feel. Otherwise, life is a total fake.



Categories: Anecdote, Life, Personal

Tags: , , , ,

41 replies

  1. The next time someone tries to blow a little sunshine up my ass when I don’t feel like it, I will return the favor with a giant boot. But then, the Happy Face would win because that might cheer me up…

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    • There’s nothing wrong with acting happy when you feel happy, or making the best of a bad situation. It’s plastering that permanent smile on your face and denying that anything is wrong — all the time — that’s a problem for me. Besides that, sometimes I want to indulge my bad attitude. As long as I don’t turn into a giant green guy and start tearing up the town … you know, “You won’t LIKE me if you make me angry … “

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  2. I am surrounded by people who believe that, by being positive, you can ya know, turn your frown upside down. After reading this along with the post I wrote the other day along with my inkling to always feel “bad’ about posting some negative feelings on my blog, I realized that by people telling you to just feel positive are completely invalidating your feelings. Is it the end of the world if I have a bad day or does it mean the depression is back or that I ate the wrong food for lunch? No. Thank you for reminding me of this, dear friend.

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    • We ALL need reminding. I believe friends and family can feel threatened by your negative feelings because they aren’t dealing with their own. But we have the right to feel what we feel. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend my life pretending. Anyway, when did feeling bad about things that ought to make you feel bad become wrong? Did I miss that?

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  3. Sounds like Happy Face is a movement of some kind. Haven’t run into it where I live. It also sounds a lot like personal dishonesty – i.e. being dishonest to one’s own feelings. I don’t believe that emotions should be glossed over; if they were then we probably wouldn’t have been given the ability to experience them – God/dess would have created robots. Good thinking and writing, Marilyn.

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  4. “Happy Face” people can really get on one’s nerves. And it’s worse when they try to push it onto you.

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  5. Stepford Wives is right. “find the silver lining” “look at the positive” I want to tell people with advice like that to shove it sometimes.Sure there is always someone with problems bigger than my own but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a right to be mad, feel sad, sorry, pissed off or cranky with what’s happening to me. I’m a believer in being true to how you feel, not covering it up. And what’s with BOA? Aren’t they stepping up to resolve this?

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  6. I believe absolutely that good ‘can’ be found… even if it is a long term, abstract learning … even in th worst situations. Doesn’t mean we are going to find it right in the middle of the manure pile and come out covered in crap but smiling with our eyes on the long term goal… If I personally fall in head first, I’m not going to enjoy it, or be happy about it, or expect roses to start blooming around my head… but it might serve to make me pick up a shovel and deal with it… or bury the person who left it there in it.

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    • Things can work out even if you are in it past your upper lip, but do I have smile and say everything is hunky dory while I’m up to my lip in shit? I don’t think so. We watched Monty Python’s the meaning of life last night and I laughed myself silly. It was SO appropriate.

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      • Brilliant film..! And yes.. quite approriate 🙂
        No, I think that’s one of the problems.. you can find the good in something, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be fun or happy, not does it mean pretending all is well when it damned well isn’t.
        A lot of the so-called negative emotions get a bad press… and rightlfully so if you allow them to consume you and your life.. but without anger, would anything ever be changed? I think that’s where the happy face falls down… it isn’t about not feeling stuff, we seem to live in a time when showing emotion (other than fluffy sweetness) is frowned upon and seen as intrusive, bubble-popping self indulgence, when actually, a little real passion goes a long way.

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        • I think it’s because a lot of smiling people are walking around suppressing a lot of rage. If they acknowledge the validity of YOUR anger, what does that say about THEIR feelings? Fake feelings are fragile things. We all have to pretend to believe they are true or they shatter and suddenly, all that ugly stuff is there, simmering, waiting, unresolved. You have to express it, face it, deal with it sooner or later. I think sooner is better. Hell, life IS a roller coaster.

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  7. Reblogged this on ALIEN AURA'S BLOG: IT'LL BLOW YOUR MIND! and commented:
    I woke up this morning feeling pretty pissed off and snarly, but feeling, as I so often do, obliged to put a happy face upon the inner growl. Then, flicking through blog posts from friends, I found this one. Written by the fabulous Marilyn Armstrong, it expresses perfectly something which many of us, I suspect, secretly feel. A must-read post, in my opinion. Thank you, Marilyn, for articulating this so honestly.

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    • Nah. Snarl and growl away, my friend. Use the anger to get something done! There’s a lot of energy locked into our suppressed anger. You know the old psych saying that depression is anger turned inward. Because we don’t let ourselves express it, it eats us up. Express some in the right direction at the people who need to hear it. Just don’t expect them to thank you or be nice about it.

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  8. A magnificent post, Marilyn, honest and getting right to the heart of something I suspect many of us sense/feel but cannot quite express. You are, in my opinion, absolutely right – and I love your attitude, always have done: You tell it the way it is and that is SO refreshing.
    The Happy Face Brigade, in my experience, can verge upon Emotional Fascism.
    Hugs to you and Garry.
    And carry on being just who you are; we wouldn’t want you any other way!
    Reblogging (hope you don’t mind): this kind of sense, in a world of relentlessly cheerful emoticons, needs to be read by all!!!
    xxx

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    • This whole “smile and it will all be okay” thing has gotten worse and worse. They say shit like this to people with terminal cancer, too, you know. How cruel is that?

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      • F***ing awful, to put it bluntly. It has always struck me as being patronising, insensitive and more about the person demanding a smile with covert menace than the actual poor sod doing the suffering.
        It is also a horribly clever way of ensuring that the sick/depressed person does not ‘corrupt’ the listener’s ear with his/her inconvenient suffering. I feel very strongly that those who are suffering have enough to cope with without feeling they have to reassure others/cheer everyone else up and downplay their own pain.
        xxx

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        • The worst is when you are horribly sick, in a hospital and everyone is telling you to stay positive. I thought that was a specifically British thing, that ultra stiff upper lip thing. Anyway, you only get the good medications when you admit how much you hurt!

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  9. Hacking into your account is one of those personal violations that angers everyone. It’s no better or worse than armed robbery at gunpoint or an invasion of your house/car. It leaves you feeling so very vulnerable, not a good experience. Regardless of the end result being no financial loss you were still attack by some faceless low life that deserves time in jail with “Bubba”.

    I had my credit card hacked a few years ago and monthly charges from a porn site in Berlin, Germany taking my money. I called the card’s fraud line who froze the account, reimbursed my money and sent me a new card. They were happy I kept an eye on my account and notified them so quickly. They caught the bastards. I went through the shock and horror of being violated and experienced the whole pleasant deed. I empathize with your situation.

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    • This is getting really complicated. I notice there’s a “recurring charge” on there for which I’ve been temporarily reimbursed and I’m assuming, now that the offending bank card has been deactivated, it will stop all that activity. But now they’ve given me credit for the original stolen money, but made the original withdrawal vanish, so I’m UP a couple of thousand dollars and if I try to straighten it out, it will get worse, I just know it. I’m going to go totally ostrich and hide my head in the virtual sand.

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  10. You have every right to be mad and sad. I would be too if that happened to us. I do believe in being positive because life would be unbearbable if we gave in to all the sadness in the world but if someone does something bad to me or someone I care about it does make me mad. Sometimes it’s good to be mad, Being mad makes people take notice and sometimes it even changes things.
    I hope you will both be OK. It must be pretty scary not knowing if or when you will get your money back. Wish I could help.

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    • Anger is actually pretty motivating. Angry people get a lot of stuff done pretty fast using all that energy. Depression sucks, but anger is a weapon. Right now, in an unending effort to “fix things,” BOA made the fraudulent withdrawal vanish without a trace — BUT they gave us a temporary credit against the now non-existent withdrawal, so it looks like we have a lot more in our account than we really do.

      They’ll eventually take it away and I have to remember to not use it because it isn’t there. Anything I try to do will only make things worse. Talk about inept handling. WOW.

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      • Is there such a thing as a banking Ombudsman you can go to for help?

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        • I’m just going to let it sort itself out. Right now, they have given us a big credit which, I’m sure, they will take away eventually. And the originally hacked card is disabled, so anything drawing against it will bounce. If I try to interfere, things will undoubtedly get worse … so I’m putting it in the way back of my mind for now. Next week I’ll check back in, see what’s happening.

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  11. I’m very sorry that happened to you! I’d be mad and I would not feel any obligation to put on a happy face. I also think that the kind of twisted “positive” thinking that’s entered the mainstream through such egregious works as The Secret is not only facile and shallow, it’s cruel. It has added another element to the general “Brave New World” reality into which we seem to be moving. One of the things I was more or less supposed to teach during my summer lit class was about WW I and the literature that came out of it. To teach this I had to teach history because my happy faced students were abysmally ignorant. The second to last week of class one of my student complained because learning about WW I was “depressing.” I wanted to slap her. I did the closest I could to that and just walked away. I think that happy face crap is different from the largely useful and constructive activity I learned from my Aunt Jo the summer my parents were gone and I was 7 and staying in Montana with my aunt and uncle and cousins. I was very homesick and my cousins were mean and my brother hit me in the head with a hammer — he was 5 and didn’t know the difference between cartoons and life. After supper my aunt took me to sit with her on the front porch and taught me to count my blessings. I think that little skill was one of the most important gifts anyone has given me. I try to do it when I sense that it’s the only way I’m going to get my mind out of a hole.

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    • Thank you. There is a place for positivism … but there’s a place for sadness, anger, outrage and even depression. Take these emotions away and we increasingly resemble robots. Counting up the positive things in ones life is important too. That’s how we achieve balance and proportion, realizing that not every event is the end of the world.

      It is appropriate to feel what you feel and act on your feelings. and it makes me crazy when people seem to think if I’m not happy all the time, there’s something wrong with me. I think there’s something wrong with THEM.

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      • I agree with you, Marilyn. There is something wrong with them. And we do increasingly resemble robots. Ruthless, cold-blooded, unimaginative, entitled, egocentric robots.

        Like

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