When I graduate.
When I get a better job.
When I find true love (or true sex).
When this move is over.
Of course, none of these joys last very long. Actually, I did bask in happiness for about ten days after we moved to this house. What a horrific move it was, 10,000 pounds from two stories and a basement, and Tom couldn't help with any of it, partly because he couldn't do stairs, partly because he's a man. But we got moved in, staged the old house, sold it, and then - his polio doctor told him he was never going back to work. Post-polio syndrome advancing.
There went that. Now I had a man around the house all day long. And a morbidly depressed one at that.
But that was ten years ago and we adjusted to that and found other Big Problems to ruin our lives.
Today though, the weather is beautiful and I wasn't noticing myself brooding on a Big Huge Overwhelming Problem. Instead I noticed myself criticizing myself in pretty much my father's tone, "Shut your mouth, you'll let the flies in." Something like that. So maybe I had allergies as a kid, too. Today the pollen was getting to me and my slender aristocratic nose was having a hard time streaming air, I guess. I kept finding myself semi-mouth breathing. Ah jeez.
But that was only the beginning. Then there was how fat I've gotten (30 lbs. over my high-school weight), and how lazy too, really not active enough in everybody else's opinion, and how I forgot what I came here for, and oh, the mess in the front closet and the kitchen floor and . . . I began to ask myself, When will I be happy with myself?
Actually, on a good day I am basically happy with my privileged first-world life and myself, though little things like that intrude. Go back under the bed, monster. On a bad day (which today was not) the self-criticism really flows. I'm more aware of it now than ever, as I've been working with a book that had me look harder at how I do that. This is much like Zen - dark enlightenment, it's sometimes called. This is the part about spiritual practice and personal growth that nobody tells you about, and nobody likes.
So bringing this out into the light, I thought, I'll be happy with myself - that is, I'll be perfect - when I meditate twice every day, clean out the frig, hang up all my clothes, oh, the kitchen floor, get my manuscripts out and published, iron that scarf....
In short, I had a to-do list headed by
Lose 10 lbs.! Maybe 20!
With at least 100 other things on it.
And that's how women are.
I haven't even touched on the faults other people probably think I have, which I am blithely unaware of.* So that at least is something to like about myself, that little streak of ignorant bliss.
* The old prescriptive grammar said, "Never use a preposition to end a sentence with"** but I have a PhD in English, and a rebellious streak, AND I'm not paid for this, so I write what I want.
** I know - I'm joking.