“My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”
I thought my Monday was starting off pretty well. I had plenty of quiet time with God. My allergies were not acting up. I got in my two cups of vanilla flavored coffee. All seemed well.
I drove to church to print a few things off at the office with plans to drop off supplies to volunteers who help send letters to church members who have lost a loved one. It’s a wonderful ministry through Hope Through Healing that allows us to offer support to those who are grieving.
I put my mask on and went into the building. I stopped in the main office to gather supplies and headed upstairs to my office. That’s when I noticed I forgot my phone. I went through my purse three times to make sure I had not missed it. Well, that meant no GPS to help me find the volunteer addresses but I’d driven the route just a few weeks ago. No problem. I can do this. I opened my computer and got ready to make copies. Once I logged in a pop-up stated I needed to lock my computer and then unlock it so Microsoft could verify my credentials. I have no idea why I followed those instructions when I was already on my computer. I could have finished my task and then locked and unlocked the computer. But, like an obedient Microsoft customer, I followed instructions. I got locked out of the computer.
By this time, I was pretty rattled and forgot all about the staff directory I keep in my desk drawer. Instead, I panicked and drove all the way back home where my cell phone was waiting for me, as if it was a security blanket. I texted the IT guy, Adam, who reassured me I was not the only one experiencing the issue. I tried to log in to my computer at home and it worked just fine.
Trying to check just one thing off my “to do” list, I decided to place an order for more Hope Through Healing letters. I could not get the order to go through online. I called. The customer service lady was an angel and helped me place the order without any problems. (In fact, as of this writing, the order has already arrived.)
I quickly ate lunch before our team meeting. I went to log in to the meeting first through Office 365 Teams. Then, I remembered we don’t use that anymore. We went to Zoom. I switched over. I managed to get into the meeting but had audio only. No video. Not sure why, but I’d seen others have issues so I tried to dismiss it.
Then, I had a counseling session. I went to start that meeting and kept getting the message that it could not access my computer’s camera. After three tries I gave up. Sent an urgent message to Adam. And called the client instead. Talk about distracted. We closed early.
Fortunately, Adam had time. He got on my computer remotely and quickly searched for all kinds of reasons for it not to work. Finally, he got this notice that the camera was already in use. As he searched through programs to figure out where, I noticed he clicked on Office 365 Teams. That’s it, I thought. Sure enough. Once he cleared the camera from that program, all was well. We tried the video camera again on the counseling website and sure enough. There I was. Just in time for my last appointment of the day.
The next morning as I reflected on the day before I remembered one of my favorite movies to watch with my grandkids is, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” from 2014. It stars Steve Carell as the dad and Jennifer Garner as the mother. Ed Oxenbould plays Alexander. It’s a great family movie. In the story, Alexander has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. When he tries to tell his family about it, they really don’t pay much attention. So, he wishes that they could also experience a day like that and understand how he feels. He gets his wish! It’s a great story about how families stick together and support each other even when crazy things go wrong!
So, why am I sharing all about my Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day? I want to share two things with you.
First is to share the “Common Humanity” in my story, and Alexander’s. My perfectionistic knee jerk response to the whole day was to criticize myself for forgetting my cell phone in the first place, thus setting off a cascade of missteps and miscalculations. Then I remembered one element of the self-compassion I keep trying to work on this year. Dr. Kristen Neff explains on her website* that self-compassion has three elements. Self-kindness vs. Self-judgement. Common Humanity vs. Isolation. Mindfulness vs. Over-identification.
Although I kept trying to practice deep breathing and mindfulness all day, as long as I stayed critical, I stayed keyed up and anxious. Which only made things worse. It was the next morning when I finally remembered the movie. And was able to laugh at myself. So, I am human. Who knew? Most likely everyone in my family and all my coworkers! I survived. My clients made it through. Remembering that I am human also helped me feel less alone. I knew others were also struggling with days like what I had.
The second point I want to share is, as we go through these strange times of not having answers and grieving life as we knew it, we are all more likely to experience days like I did. This is okay. It is natural. As Dr. Wolfelt would say, “You are grieving. You are not crazy.”
So, when you find yourself in the middle of one of these Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days, grab some chocolate, sit back and breathe deeply. You are human. You are not alone. Share your story with a friend. Laugh with someone. It’s okay.
And what about children? After all, the focus of the movie was Alexander, an 11-year-old. With all the changes in their lives, children are just as likely as us grownups to have a few Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days. It’s okay to teach them to take deep breaths and slow down. Listen to their complaints. Reassure them that they are not alone in having days like this. If you can, watch Alexander’s movie! And laugh with each other.
I wish we did not have to have days like these. I really do. Even so, my prayer is not that you don’t have to experience this. My prayer is you remember God is with you when you do.
*Dr. Kristin Neff’s website is www.self-compassion.org.