“My Mental Gatekeeper Takes a Hike”

I used to be reasonably happy being a curmudgeonly sourpuss. Well, happy is probably too positive a word. I used to be…comfortable…that way. Then, I turned over a new leaf. Changed my life, my habits, my daily routine and started living more fully and with more zest. I discovered that choosing to be less of a hater resulted in a more joyful me. As a result, I started professing many more inspirational and upbeat beliefs, observations and thoughts about myself and the world around me.

That’s the good news.

The bad news: I revert to dramatic negativity when I am exhausted and overwhelmed. I immediately change from “mentor” and “positive influence” to “that scary biach in the next room”.

You know that ability we humans have to monitor what we are about to say, then censor that thought in favor of saying something more socially acceptable? I like to personify that faculty, calling it my “Gatekeeper”. When I feel overwhelmed, overstimulated, and overtired my little lederhosen-clad (don’t ask why lederhosen, just accept) Gatekeeper takes a hike. Nowhere to be found. AND, he leaves the gate wide open, completely unguarded. I say things I wouldn’t usually say, in a more negative manner than I might actually feel. There is a certain relish that comes with exaggerating my snarky-ness at these times.

As a public service, I feel duty bound to present a list of things you should never bring up or ask me about at such moments*, unless of course you wish to hear the harsh reply nearly guaranteed to drop from my lips:

(*and right now is such a moment)

1.  Work

If you’re lucky, my head will just explode. If not, my lips will flap with a list of complaints so tedious and long that you’ll find yourself wishing you had never done more than nod at me in passing.

2. My nonexistent love life

If I bring it up, and (unfortunately) I probably will these days, just let me vent and express my sadness. Otherwise, you may prefer to avoid this one altogether! The other night the wide open gate resulted in a tirade something like this (sorry, Molly):  “You can’t have it both ways. You cannot, with one breath, tell me I’m not trying hard enough and, with your next, tell me ‘it will happen when you relax and stop looking for it’. These things are opposites and I cannot be/do both at once. Also, they both happen to be total bullshit. Yes, I said it. Do not tell me that we’re all alone, when you really think about it. Or that I’m not alone because I have friends. Most of you have been with your spouses since you were both toddlers, so what do you know about being 51 and single?” Yeah, it was brutal.

3. 50 Shades of Gray, the Twilight saga, or anything by Ernest Hemingway

Hated it! (And I will give you more than 50 reasons why, if you get me wound up.)

4. That you feel bad telling me about your happy marriage, new relationship, great sex life

If we are friends, we’ve probably already had the conversation at #2, above. Which may lead you into this error at #4. But if we ARE friends, of course I want to know what’s going on in your life. I don’t want to be told that you hold back from sharing because you don’t want to make me feel bad, as if my jealousy (very real, it’s true) is both valid and important. Because it isn’t either, and I know it. Don’t make my Gatekeeper-less self take up this rant in your direction!

5. Your love for _______ (if it is one of the things I dislike)

There is a long and ecclectic list of such items: hostas, sour candy, cockatiels, “Caddyshack”, cheeseburger pizza, lol cats, Two and A Half Men, Nicki Minaj (and those little British girls singing Nicki Minaj)…for starters. Some friends find it funny when I rail against these things, and slip them into conversation on purpose.

When I am without a Gatekeeper, I don’t even care if you’re making fun of me. That’s how much perverse satisfaction I get from letting my mouth run away from my good sense.

Don’t worry, though. My Gatekeeper will return (as will my more positive and happy demeanor) as soon as I can catch up on my sleep and/or grab a little down time. Until then, this crotchety old sourpuss can hardly hold it against you if you hide around a corner until I pass by!