I tend to overreact to situations when I’m under duress about something else. Oftentimes, the things I choose to overreact about are probably things that would upset me under normal circumstances, but I normally wouldn’t snap.
For example: A year after my grandfather died, the mother of a good friend of my mother’s died. This friend used to host dinner at her house on the weekends. Often, she would invite my grandfather. My grandfather would come, and then (harmlessly) flirt with the friend’s mother, Shirley, and Shirley would (harmlessly) flirt back. She used to call him Mr. O’Connor. I never heard anyone address my grandfather so formally, at least not someone who had more than a superficial professional relationship with him. It was always “Harold,” or “Pop,” or “Dad,” or “Grandpa,” or “Hon.” Not “Mr. O’Connor.” I got a kick out of it. Shirley got a kick out of my grandfather.
As I said, it was about a year after my grandfather died. I had just broken up with my live-in boyfriend. My life was turned upside down. I missed my grandfather. Plus, not to mention, that I genuinely was sad about Shirley, as I really did like Shirley a whole lot.
I SOBBED through the funeral. An ugly, wretching, snotty sob. My cheeks were streaked with runny makeup, and my eyes were bloodshot. I couldn’t stop crying. It was a hot, humid day in June, and I was dehydrated from crying so hard. The more I tried to compose myself, the more I could barely hold it in. I was embarrassed to be making such a spectacle of myself at this funeral, when I had been a stoic statute at my grandfather’s. This made me cry harder. I was a wreck.
I was projecting.
The other day, Chris and I brought Finnegan to the “dog park.” For those of you who are local, you probably know what I mean. There is an open expanse of grass in Washington Park that is relatively flat and surrounded by pedestrian areas, making it relatively safe to let your dog run and play off-leash in that spot. It’s a popular hangout for the neighborhood dogs, and everyone who utilizes this space is friendly and, for the most part, a Responsible Dog Owner. However, no – it is not an officially sanctioned dog park, and the city technically has a leash law, though according to our city code, you CAN let your dog off-leash in city parks so long as you have it “under control” (which is, of course, subjective).
That day a number of less-than-brilliant decisions led to what happened. A friendly bulldog saw a man walking two dogs on the perimeter of the “dog park.” This man appeared to not have the best control over these two dogs. The friendly dog, we’ll call him “Nubs” (I don’t know his name, but he had nubby ears), went to approach these two dogs. Nubs owner was only sort of paying attention – if your dog is friendly and if he usually comes when called, I can see where you might become lax in a situation like this. Anyway, these other two dogs, who were leashed, decided they did not like Nubs, and attacked him. Nubs, naturally, fought back.
An awful scene ensued. Nubs finally broke away, clearly shaken, with blood all over his mouth. A police officer got involved, and started shouting that if someone didn’t grab hold of the dog he was going to shoot it. Because, yes, that is clearly an appropriate response. Other people began to argue with the cop, to defend Nubs’ honor, and the cop continued to shout at everyone, threaten to write us all tickets, etc. It was a mess.
And, so, how did I react?
I burst into tears.
Granted, this whole scene was upsetting. A couple of dogs were hurt, though I’m not sure how badly; the police officer was clearly trying to stir up an issue; Nubs’ owner was there with his young daughter; etc. The whole thing was overwhelming and upsetting and, given all of the things on my mind lately, I needed an outlet. This was my trigger.
I projected, again.
This time, though, the thing on my mind is actually really really good. I was offered a new position, in the private sector. The job is still in human resources, but it is doing compensation analysis, which is similar to the job I had a couple years ago (a job I loved). It’s not a transfer within the state – it’s a big leap and it’s scary. I’m 100% confident with my decision, and I am very excited for this new challenge, but to say I’m not terrified would be a lie. It’s a good terrified, but even still, it’s a big risk, an unknown, and my stomach has been doing backflips since I began this process a couple weeks ago.
I also have some internal demons to deal with. I went into State government for egalitarian reasons. I believe in government, even if recent events have jaded me to the process. I almost feel as if it is a betrayal to leave it behind. Obviously, in the end, I have to do what’s right for me and for my career. The organization I am going to be working for is one whose mission I can feel good about, even if it isn’t technically “public service.”
But. That doesn’t mean that this has been an easy decision. And it doesn’t mean I don’t have mixed feelings about it.
Of course, it also doesn’t mean that watching dogs fight and a cop threatening to shoot one of them isn’t really upsetting on it’s own, either.
Just so you’re aware, though, Chris brought Finnegan to the park a couple days later, and it was the usual, happy scene that he’s used to: