Saturday, July 11, 2009


Hi, my name is Plaid Sheep and I am a control freak. It has been less than 24 hours since I last felt entirely responsible for a nasty event while simultaneously imagining the worst possible outcome.

What has prompted this? I'll tell you. (WARNING: Some soul searching ahead.) I joined an online group (a private group, entry must be approved) that had formed to deal with a problem created by a part of the state government. The members of the group were discussing how to deal with the problem and they were getting a little heated. I wanted to inject a bit of practical thinking. I spent about an hour crafting a message that would offend as few people as possible in the group while simultaneously getting my point across. Then I spent more time debating whether I should post it. I am in fact always very careful when writing anything online. Once it's there it's there, for anyone to see. What I did not anticipate is this message being forwarded to a reporter of a major newspaper who was doing a story on the said government problem. My words got hacked up, mis-quoted, and taken completely out of context. The upshot being that I am made to sound like a snarky bitch. And not only is my name there but I am listed as representing my place of employment. After reading it yesterday I spent the whole afternoon wanting to vomit.
Do you know someone who is always laying the blame elsewhere? Their parents didn't love them, their co-worker is out to get them, they never get given a chance? Well, I am the exact opposite. I invariably blame myself. I should have known better. I should have foreseen every possible outcome. I made the mistake. Intellectually, I know that this is not so. We cannot plan for every possible eventuality, we cannot live our lives forever anticipating the worst and trying to correct for it. We cannot, in other words, live in fear.
I have spent the morning thinking about this, about why I feel like my heart is being squeezed. It is quite clear that I am taking on all the responsibility. It's a bit like someone who gets mugged and then blames herself for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sure, it may be inadvisable to walk around in a sketchy neighborhood at night but the mugger is actually to blame. So why do I need to control everything? Perhaps it makes me feel safer. After all, if I can't control it then heaven knows what might happen. It's at moments like these that I feel the lack of a faith. How comforting would it be to say, "it is God's will and all is for the best"? I am also wary of taking this too seriously. There must be countless people who have been in this situation and there will be countless more after me. It is hardly the end of the world and if I have to deal with negative consequences then I will do that. Repeat to self: do not suffer future pain that may never come.


Cosmopolitan Omphaloskepsis said...

I can sympathize. I feel like Boxer from Animal Farm: if I work just a little bit harder, if I'm just a little bit better, if I'm a little more in control, things will be better...

LMP said...

What a crappy reporter. At the very least, the paper's editor deserves a letter containing your full comment and your thoughts on its disembowelment. It won't take back the bad, but it might help you feel a bit better.