Many years ago I was working at the public library and a guy came in asking about “That collection of self-help books? They are yellow and are like ‘car care’ or ‘dog grooming’ or whatever…for assholes?”
“Uh…I think you mean ‘for dummies’?” I responded, trying not to laugh at him, but also loving the idea of a collection of self-help books for assholes. We are all assholes, just trying to make our way in the world, after all. It just works!
I am a true believer in the healing power of books and at many times in my life I have tried to read things in the self-help category. I shamelessly check them out of the library and hope that maybe this “Life Skills for Assholes” book might be the one to fix EVERYTHING for me. But I rarely get very far in those books. I like to keep them in a pile on my nightstand until I have to return them and I just hope that some of the wisdom is seeping into my brain by osmosis while I sleep.
I recently ended a nearly two year relationship with someone who professed to love me deeply, but I suspect that he really loved the idea of me far more than the actual human and 3-D me, which is not the same thing at all. I’ve been in this situation before, maybe we all have? It can still be kind of nice during the time when what’s actually going on isn’t yet clear. It could be real, after all. I thought I really loved him too, but it’s hard to know when you are trying to protect your own heart all the time. And that is what I did. And that doesn’t really work. But oh, how I hate that hopeless place between not knowing and knowing that your relationship is not working. That’s where I find myself walking on eggshells and trying to be good and not need too much from someone who may be a fine person but probably just doesn’t have a place in his heart for the actual me. I always end up fucking it up spectacularly somehow at that point, because I can’t be good forever…or even for very long. And honestly, I love that about myself. The real me needs to make herself KNOWN and it’s probably gonna get all kinds of awkward. Oh well.
But this has brought me to a place where I am sad. And I wonder how I got into this type of situation again. It’s somehow different from other failed relationships, and yet it’s also the same. I don’t want to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over until I die. And I am so tired of being sad. Is there a magic “For Assholes” book that would fix this for me? If so, please send me the title so I can check it out of the library and put it on my nightstand for three weeks to let that magic happen!
In the meantime, I love to read those self help lists on the internet which are all variations on “7 Ways to Make Your Life Magical” and seem both insane and promising to me at the very same time. Lists are so comforting to me. I make a LOT of lists, particularly when I am anxious. I have lists everywhere! So here is my attempt at a self help list. It’s a list of lists you should make so that you have ideas and good thoughts you can easily refer to when things feel bleak. It’s totally for assholes, so if you fit the bill, give it a try.
List of 11 Helpful Lists (for Assholes!)
Make these lists and keep them on hand or in your phone for easy access
- All the songs you love and get excited to hear. Make a playlist you can listen to them all the time. It will be the soundtrack of your building back to awesomeness.
- Your favorite tv shows that you can stream when you want to relax.
- Books that comfort you. Anything you like, who cares if other people think they are good? I ‘m on a total chick-lit train and loving it. Bawk bawk, bitches!
- Create a photo-list (ok this is an album, but it’s sort of like a list) on your phone of pictures that make you happy. It’s possible that mine are all animals in outfits.
- Favorite people in your life that you can call or text or see.
- Things that you love to do. This list can be surprisingly handy to have on hand.
- Things that you would like to do.
- Self care ideas like exercise you don’t hate, healthy foods you can eat, healthy habits you can practice.
- Treats you can give yourself that will make you happy.
- Things in your life that are going well. It’s always good to be reminded of what is working for you.
- Things you love about yourself. Yeah, that may sound silly, but my favorite poet, Rudy Francisco says, “Maybe we should love ourselves so fiercely that when others see us they know exactly how it should be done.” That is my favorite advice ever.
Feel free to send me cash, flowers or Starbucks gift cards if any of these lists work for you! Or send me a new list to try, if you come up with something even more genius. Thanks and good luck, asshole!