Poor Poor Pitiful You
*Photo by Justin Patterson

Poor Poor Pitiful You

Or self-pity is THE worst color on you, and it smells bad too!

Something went wrong in your life. So what are you going to do? Your parent cheated and you found out about it, or your pet rabbit died, or you didn’t win the competition, or you got broken up with, or you didn’t become president of the PTA. What are you going to do?

Moping around and feeling sorry for yourself is at best… unproductive. It doesn’t move you forward in any way. In fact, I know people who fall so in love with their self-pity that they do it for twenty or so years. It becomes their whole reason for existing. Then eventually, it just comes becomes deep-seated anger. Think Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, wearing her wedding dress for the rest of her life because she was left at the altar, and then trying to turn a beautiful orphan girl into a heartless monster as revenge. Then she was burned alive in her wedding dress. People like this wake up one day and they have wasted their life and have built nothing. Self pity becomes their MO. Don’t do this. Don’t be Miss Havisham. Don’t die in your wedding dress.

Instead, you get a day. If it’s really bad, maybe you get a week. You get to eat ONE tub of ice cream, binge on terrible TV, cry, scream, moan, stay in bed, and grieve. AND THEN YOU HAVE TO MOVE ON. Put on your shoes, and go back to work. Working on you, I mean! Because if you don’t…whatever did this wrong to you, WINS. And I’ll be damned if I let some asshole who broke up with me, or some rigged competition, or that cheater, lying person, or that thing I didn’t get, ruin my WHOLE LIFE! That thing does not deserve this power over you.

We’re in the thick of “audition season” now, and sometimes you go into a room and just bomb. Sometimes someone behind the table asks you an awkward question that gets you off your game, or you have a cold, or you don’t like your dress, or this, or that, or the other…any number of reasons causing you to do less than your best. Well, I hate to be the one to tell you, but really, it’s just you. Anything that happens in that room is on you; good or bad. You are responsible for your success, and your failure. It goes for life too. That’s the wisdom I’m gleaning lately from my showgirl life.

One other point on recovering from a crisis or let down is figuring out your contribution to the problem. Sometimes it is really hard to take responsibility for actions or situations we feel the victim of, however not taking responsibility for your part in it prevents you from moving on. Recently I took myself out to see “I, Tonya”. Brilliant movie. Tonya for me counts as a Bette as the skating world of her time seemed to be more show business than anything, complete with creating false rivalries and judging skating costumes nearly as importantly as skill. For the entire movie, I watched Tonya refuse to take any responsibility for her lack of success with the judges, or even just take some real lasting action to get away from the toxic and dangerous characters in her life. NOT that she was responsible for ANY of the abuses committed by her mother and husband, or the psychological prison that said abuse put her in, but once she experienced what they were capable of and had the local community on her side, and got the restraining orders and divorce, did she have to take him back? She had a coach who loved her and would have helped protect her and keep her on track to do well at the Olympics. Instead, she allowed people back into her life who were truly, NO GOOD. As I’ve said before in “The Company You Keep”: If you lay down with dogs, you’ll wake up with fleas. Those toxic buffoons and their poorly planned crimes cost her the most important thing in her life, skating. And for the second woman (the first American) who had ever pulled off the triple axle…it’s tragic. I can guarantee that just a little action stemming from taking some responsibility for herself, Tonya could have possibly saved her career.

If you are really having a tough time moving on, which can absolutely happen…find a good therapist. Even if you have supportive people in your life, really good therapists, that you “click with” can help you process whatever you need to, and move forward in a way that friends and family can’t. Or if its more your speed, a Priest or Rabbi, or another style of healer. Whatever you do, don’t turn your friends or family into your therapist. Professionals are trained for the job, so trust them! Don’t let your ego get in the way of seeking help in a rough moment, because that’s all it has to be. Therapy shouldn’t be forever and this one event doesn’t get to rule your life. (I’m not speaking about people who are dealing with a true mental illness, of which I am absolutely unqualified to discuss.)

In crisis, we get some precious opportunity to decide how we are going to shape ourselves going forward. Crisis can be the best catalyst for change. The nice thing about struggle is that how you solve that problem and move ahead to overcome it becomes part of you. And if you are really diligent about it…it can become the inspiration for something amazing.

Bulletproof Bette shares her wisdom in the first ever Showgirl’s Guide to surviving and thriving in a city and industry that wants to eat you for lunch. Get exclusive content when you sign up below!