Shit got real last Sunday: I had my wallet pinched.

I still don’t know how it was done. I was at the builders’ merchants, trying to handle too many items including 4x my weight in concrete, and when I got to the checkout I found my wallet missing. Looked around the shop, searched in and around the car, turned the house upside down, then admitted defeat and cancelled my cards. Got a phone call 8 hrs later from the store to say that it had been found – in gardening section (not covered by CCTV), stashed in a planter, and utterly devoid of cash.

The event per se is pretty much a non-event. I am, thankfully and at long last, in a position where the expression “minor financial loss” is not an oxymoron. I was a prime target – harassed person rushing through a busy shop, trying to juggle 6739487 things. The event is only significant because of what it revealed: I’m a complete asshole. In fact, I’m an asshole squared, because I know the “right” thing to do, then do the opposite.

What would I do if a friend got something pinched? I’d be sympathetic; go “there there” for a bit; swear loudly at the thieving bastards; remind her that, although beyond vexing, it isn’t the end of the world; try to cheer her up with something nice and jolly – icecream, chocolate, a movie; generally, I’d do my utmost to put the experience out of her mind, and make the rest of the day not about the fucking wallet. The wallet is gone; long live the wallet. We did what needed to be done and life goes on: how about focusing on getting the fuck over this?

For myself, however, I do the polar opposite. My go-to reaction if I break or lose or fail at something is to kick myself as hard as I can for as long as I can. That’s the way I was taught to react: it’s the way my mother and grandmother reacted. It probably goes back further – a long line of highly-strung women making people’s lives a misery for countless generations. It was sold to me as a teaching method: children must learn from their mistakes. If you give them the impression that it’s ok if they occasionally mess up, they may grow up to be, dunno, happy, resilient, and well-adjusted. We wouldn’t want that. They must carry the weight of their failures forever.

This time, luckily, I caught myself starting down that road, so I stopped kicking myself about the wallet. I started kicking myself about kicking myself, instead. I wrote a book about how to cope with trauma, for crying out loud. Ok, so losing a bit of cash isn’t on a par with getting raped, but shouldn’t that mean that it should be easier to put the right self-care plan into action?

I’ve spent years absorbing resilience skills from people who were damn good at it, because they’d needed to be. I trust my skills in times of emergency, yet I completely fail to use them for everyday events. This is all kinds of stupid. Practicing skills makes you better at them. Everyday events happen a lot more often than major emergencies. Not wasting your life crying over spilled milk is important. Having realised how stupid I’ve been, I’m determined to change.


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