The Bitch Slap: On Being Human

bitch slap human

my balls are bigger…

It’s 11PM on a Monday night and I’m one glass into a bottle of red, fresh off an unexpected panic attack. The day? Productive. My clients? Wonderful – always. Meetings? Great. Friends? Treasured. And yet around 10PM tonight I expected something to happen, it didn’t happen and here I am at 11-fucking-o-clock (an official measure of time in Fuckedville) starting glass number two of red and wishing I weren’t so goddamned human.

So this Bitch Slap is for me – a discourse on being human.

I’m not a nut job or some other whiny twit who lacks direction and bitches about her status quo. In fact, you could likely look up “Shit Howdy” in the thesaurus and it would read, “See also: Erika’s life.” The panic attacks are new (thank you, 2010) and a gift life’s given me after Jason died, but without fail and at every moment, they remind me that I’m human. And they remind me how often I seem to forget, take for granted or gloss over this simple fact.

As humans, we don’t cut ourselves a lot of slack, do we? We awake each morning with a set of preconceived notions that we’re supposed to adhere to throughout our day and the damnedest things is…the universe never got the fucking memo. So we sit and wonder why we’re not living up to our own expectations and then simultaneously wonder the same of others in our life, and all the while, the universe is giving some bullshit dog ate my homework excuse. You’re supposed to be that way/do that/have that/make that/be loved by that/earn that/give that? Whodathunk? We spend minutes, hours, weeks and years blaming what to us is a very irresponsible universe when what we should be doing is letting out the slack on the rope with which we’ve decided to hang ourselves.

Business, relationships, life in general – none of them have a direct line to the universe. We’re the only ones who have that. And no, this isn’t some The Secret/Celestine Prophecy metaphysical spew. If ever I believed in something, it’s the universe. What we put out, we get back. Karma perhaps. Shit out, shit in. Brilliance out, brilliance in. I think it really is that simple. But sometimes that payback – it ain’t immediate. We have to be patient (and dear Christ on a skateboard, if there is one thing I suck at, it’s patience). So we become impatient and we wonder why the fucking universe didn’t get the memo that assholes should get their comeuppance and brilliance should be summarily rewarded. We forget to breathe and feel entitled. And while I feel all would be right with the world if Donald Trump and Sarah Palin were revealed to be having a torrid affair (their children would look like this), retired to the South Pole and were devoured by sea lions during an icy tryst, a (now) glass and a half of wine can’t hide the fact that I am, unmistakably, human.

And there’s nothing right about that.

But you wanna know the funny part? So are you.

Yeah, you. The ones thinking I’m nuts or half in the bag, even though I’m not even remotely tipsy on account of the adrenaline coursing through my veins counteracting any perceptible buzz I might have (shit).

You’re human, too.

How many times have you beaten yourself up because of everything you should, could or would have done? How many evenings have you spent on your sofa – alone – thinking life didn’t turn out how you planned?

*pauses to issue herself a little boo-fucking-hoo*

Lost count, eh? Yeah. Me, too.

So why do we do it?  We’re human. Completely fallible. There is no cyclist who cannot crash, no writer who doesn’t hit writer’s block and no fisherman who never comes up with a empty hook. So why do we hold ourselves to a standard that no other human can achieve (much less ourselves)?

Maybe it’s for the illusion of control (of which we have little in many cases). Perhaps it’s because we’re operating under a set of edicts engrained upon us after a lifetime of other people’s bullshit. Whatever the reason, maybe you and I need to square some things away, life ASAP.

In 29 minutes, I’ve pounded out 700+ words – all the result of a sneaky little panic attack and my personal hated of any admission I’m human. And as if to reinforce the fact that life doesn’t turn out how I planned, Cat #2 just puked on the brand new rug I bought today. Maybe the universe did get my memo and it’s just issuing me a perfunctory fuck you. Goddamned cat.

Back to the words. There’s a better use for my words this evening and it’s this:

Erika, you’re human. You need to cut yourself some slack. You’re gonna get curve balls and rabid sea lions are never going to eat Palin and Trump, so it’s time to own up to a few things:

  • Shit you’ve done: You can’t change it, but you can do your best to make sure you find new shit to do (instead of the same stupid shit).
  • Shit you thought would happen: It didn’t. Get over it. It doesn’t mean it won’t eventually, but if you build your life around shit that didn’t happen, you’ll never appreciate the shit that does.
  • Shit that happened: As with the two examples above, shit happens. And I mean real shit. There’s no one that goes through their term on this mortal coil without running into some serious shit. And while it’s passed, it’ll sneak up on you from time to time (cue panic attack). So fucking breathe already. You’re not special because of your shit. Everyone has shit – the difference is in how it smells and whether you choose to wallow in it or step in it every goddamned day.
  • Shit you can do: Yeah, you can do this stuff (even without a cabana boy, though I am accepting applications – purely a 1099 position, however). Excuses are for assholes who want to continue to deny that they’re human. Human beings cop to what they own, what they’ve got and what they can do – and to hell with anyone who gets in the way.
  • PS – You’re still human: No matter how many times you fall, you get up once more. You cry, you wail, you hide in a blanket cave and then you cowgirl the fuck back up and deal. And guess what? The likelihood that your neighbor is doing the same damn thing? Astronomical.

So tonight, I slap myself. I’ve had nearly 2 glasses of wine, cleaned up cat puke on a brand new rug, borderline hyperventilated and written a 1000+ word blog post. Love it or hate it, it’s what I’ve got today. I can only hope that when I wake up tomorrow, I’ll decide to be a bit kinder to myself and cut myself some slack for the fact that I was born human. Meant to feel and fuck up equally – that’s my destiny. And the best I can do along the way is acknowledge my fuck ups, hug ’em like a big, fat puppy dog and love the shit out of them. If I can’t love my fuck ups, there’s no chance of reminding myself that I really love the me I’m becoming and that I’ve got a lifetime left to figure out what I can do with this me that’s capable of more than I’m generally willing to admit.

So the slap? Yeah. This week, it’s on me.

69 comments
Erickson Jeff
Erickson Jeff

Where have you been all of my life? New reader. Great post. Thanks for sharing. Jeff

Carrie Leigh
Carrie Leigh

This made me want to: Thank you. Hug you. Dance around. And share with you a very small very simple thing I wrote, not too long ago and must practice. "I’m human! I make mistakes! Yay! I am wholeheartedly loving and learning to love this truth. I am being brutally honest with myself. Right now." I feel ya. I agree with you and I am so happy that you are allowing yourself to feel. It's beautiful. It's human.

Campbell
Campbell

Your words just slay me. Thanks for articulating reality SO FREAKING WELL. xo, a fellow redhead

Rachelle Wells
Rachelle Wells

Amazing, I just stumbled across this site (fellow redhead!) and this is the first thing I read. Wonderful writing, in this article especially it's like vulnerability with a naked sort of macho-ism. Climbing the mountain or some such thing. I'll be reading here more often.

Jim Raffel
Jim Raffel

Ah yes, human - me too. Best part is that as long as we wake up tomorrow the rest of it can be fixed of dealt with in other ways. Life sweet life :) Oh, is that cabana boy position still open? Oh wait, I think on Facebook you mentioned it was filled....damn!

Cloudrocket
Cloudrocket

Just get back up, yeah.  When you get back up the world has to give you what you want. Lay down and stay down and the world runs you over without even noticing. Get back up so the world respects you--it can't not--'cause you're not giving it the choice.  Cowgirl...

rachel
rachel

Eloquent as always. "Meant to feel and fuck up equally – that’s my destiny."  That should be a new bumper sticker.  

Bizkap
Bizkap

You suck. Ok, but I read the entire blog and just kept thinking... This is what winners do, they take their shot in the nads and keep moving forward. Down but not out. In the muck but not stuck. Wilting but not dead. The ability move forward. A survivalist. Taking that seed that is in our core and giving it a few drops of water. So yes two glasses in and you suck but your a winner. Great article.

Annie Sisk
Annie Sisk

Oh, girl. GIRL. I feel your pain. No, I mean seriously, like on a regular basis. I have chronic pain. I've been near homelessness -- like, "two days away and I'm seriously contemplating a homeless shelter" near homelessness, with an eleven year old in tow -- and clawed my way back to a much saner form of instability (now I'm around three weeks away from homelessness - hey, shut up, it's progress), and I STILL kick myself now and again. I don't DO enough. I should do MORE. I COULD do more. Of course I could. I could do a shitload more if I were willing to risk mind-warping, soul-crushing opioid-not-touching pain for the ensuing five days. But that's ... what's the phrase? Right - not productive. So I give it up to God and I say "OK, tomorrow, I'll be better." And the next day, inevitably, I start with all these plans (which, let's face it, are probably unrealistically optimistic in the first place -- I mean, is there ANYONE on the planet who could get all this shit done? Maybe Gwyneth) and I end with the big D - Disappointment. In myself. And I turn it all over to God, and I say ... well, you get the picture. Lather. Rinse. Repeat until enlightenment or just some freakin' PEACE comes my way. I'd toast you if I could drink wine but it doesn't play nice with the opioids. So. There you are.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Glad to meet yet another human, Nikki :) Thanks for stopping by.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Can't add anything here, Tim, except a thank you.

Stacey Plants
Stacey Plants

...a Universe inspired timely message I needed to receive today.  Thank you.  Your slap is my slap.  How about we appreciate and anchor for future reference the fiery finger imprints across the face on this one about being human.  You're not alone, Erika.

Darien Goldman
Darien Goldman

Without the fuckups, we would be unable to learn. It's much more difficult to learn without mistakes than it is to have our noses rubbed in it and figure out a better way to do things, even if only  to avoid getting our noses rubbed in it.  I know that having my belly button surgically removed doesn't make me less of a human, but it makes it easier to tell people I was hatched from an egg with a straight face. *raises the rum and coke and salutes*

SL Clark
SL Clark

I just looked again, that 1099 position is not in the Kama Sutra. Try the Heart Sutra next time: "O she who has gone, gone, gone beyond, gone altogether beyond, oh what an awakening, All hail!" Another brilliant post Erika, thank you!

Cab
Cab

Ah, yes. I have a PHD in masochism. It’s a great way to be unhappy. Now I just think to myself, “Would you treat anyone the way you are treating yourself right now?” The answer is always no. Deep breaths, Cab

Shauna Stacy
Shauna Stacy

Being bold and trail-blazing does not obligate anyone to perfection. :) Thank you for sharing yourself here.

Leon Noone
Leon Noone

G'Day Erika,  Y'know, when I read posts like this , I'm filled with an almost uncontrollable urge to say something profound and insightful. Fortunately this temptation evaporates quickly when I can't think of anything  deep and meaningful to say. As I said to my daughter , mother of three young children, recently: "Hey, they're you're children. You're supposed to enjoy them." Like the man said, "I really enjoy flying. It's the taking off and landing that scares me to death." Regards Leon

Janine =
Janine =

You said it: "be a bit kinder to myself." I don't know how to be good to myself, but I can try to be kind. Sometimes that means an extra-long hike with the big dog. Sometimes it means an extra glass of wine. Sometimes it means letting go of the "should" and substituting "want to." And if that leads to me being kinder to someone else? Or someone else being kinder to me? Wouldn't that be a kick!

Amanda Morris Johnson
Amanda Morris Johnson

Ha ha. I write poetry about this kind of shit. Today I dedicate this one to you:  AuthenticityI have never been a patient personWhile red sassafras risesIn gracious tradition,And the lizards hangOnto the screen door as ifThey own it.More like the rage in meBuzzes like wasps afterYour picnic in late summertimeWhen they know the winterIs coming and they hadBetter get to it.Where does myImpatience come from?Feeling late for all of lifeI would rather beForced to sit on thisFront porch nowBy a timpani of hailUpon its tinny-tin roofSo I can holler atThe top of my lungsWhy can't I get anything done? And, hurry up!I’d rather be stuckwith a long-suffering task at times,Than choose sitting here,Listening to cicadaian harpsMake rapturous love toThe night skySo if I look calmPerched on this chair smiling,Don’t stare too closely.You may discover that my ankles,Strapped to the legs, areBeginning to bleed.Copyright © 2011 Amanda Morris Johnson

The Redhead
The Redhead

Fine words...and great to see you, as always :)

Laura
Laura

I am a relatively new reader, so I am not sure who Jason was in your life, but mine was George.  He died suddenly about two years ago and that is when I began visiting Panicville.  So, yeah, I think I can relate.  Thanks for being so human with your readers and saying things some of us say to ourselves late at night when we can't sleep.

John Falchetto
John Falchetto

Thanks Erika, I slap myself regularly. Let me rephrase this, when I started to play the little 'Self pity concerto in E minor' I give myself  a big whack (that would be a triple slap on the rocks) and move forward. Your posts have a huge role in this process.  You are right we are humans, we fail, we mess up but we owe it to ourselves and others to keep going.  One step and then another.

Michael LaRocca
Michael LaRocca

Love or hate it?  Well, I just so happen to love it.

Jahnelle Pittman
Jahnelle Pittman

You're "own up to a few things" list? ... yeah, it's one of those things that bring tears to the eyes. I get the idea you'd recognize the "so tired my eyes burn with tears not cried" syndrome from trying to keep up with the all the things we "should" be doing.  This isn't a sharing session, so let me just say, *Hugs*. I wish today's Bitch Slap didn't apply to me, too, but it does. Yeah, you're not nuts... you're just human.

Gurl
Gurl

Erika,  It is amazing how much we expect of our selves. I can forgive things in others that I beat my own self up over. I am getting better at being easier on my self, but it is a long hard road. Glad to have some one as interesting as you on the same road, even if we might have to pick up our smart phones to communicate with each other.  I sincerely hope you master your panic attacks in the near future. I've only ever had one or two, but it is something I will never forget. Jenn

Julie
Julie

You MUST know my oldest daughter . . . She's a student at UT in Austin and if anyone needs to read this, she does!!  Thanks for the words! 

Twojoeyp
Twojoeyp

Huh? You mean I'm human too!? I laughed so hard I was crying.  This is just sooooo true. And much more colorfully put than I could ever attempt. Love it. Joe

Gcmandrake
Gcmandrake

Isn't that why we have friends?  Perhaps I should qualify that, 'good friends.'  Why else would we go to all of that trouble?

Sandi Amorim
Sandi Amorim

I can so relate to these late night, wine-fueled words. And then, because I'm a coach, I add a heap more self recrimination on top: I help people with this shit, I should know better and blah, blah-fucking-blah. Sigh. If I treated my friends the way I treat myself, I'm pretty sure I'd have no friends. So thanks Erika, for the slap I've been needing myself. This morning it's more appreciated than coffee!

Ellen Berg
Ellen Berg

Love this, the reminder that we're human and we fuck up.  I used to beat myself up when I had regular panic attacks~why are you such a wuss?  Why can't you handle this?  What's your damn problem?  As if yelling at myself like a banshee was going to calm me down. Lemme tell ya how well THAT worked. What did work:  welcoming the attack.  Inviting it in like a slightly annoying house guest and saying, "Okay, you want to run me over? Be my guest."  Passive aggressive little asswipe that it is, it usually opted out of the invitation. I needed this article today as I spent the weekend beating myself up for being something I'm not.  Blessings to you.

Kel Hinkle
Kel Hinkle

Huh.  My shrink just told me much the same thing last night.  I could've saved myself the $95 and read your damn column. But it's true.  We have shove so many "haftas" down our gullet that we shit out "shouldas" when we're done.  I am definitely a culprit in this, and it's something I have to work on every fucking day. Happy Humanity.  Have a drink on me!

Bryce Alan Katz
Bryce Alan Katz

You can add "See also: Bryce's Life" to your thesaurus's entry on "Shit Howdy". So, thanks! I needed this one today.

David Zemens
David Zemens

…the universe never got the fucking memo. // Good stuff Erika.  Very nice article.

Jillian Wernick Livingston
Jillian Wernick Livingston

Dear Erika, with 3700+fans you are doing alright. You are a pioneer in your field and hilarious at that. Right on for the bitch slap! You're just going through a hump and those humps can bring you down into the mudslide, just ride it my friend and keep on being your own best friend cuz you know you gotta it goin' on!! and....you know...red heads always rise to the top.

Susi Schuele
Susi Schuele

Erika - this too shall pass.... breathe.... and it's definitely OK to be human.

Nikki Jeske
Nikki Jeske

This is excellent and while you wrote it for yourself, it's something I needed as well. Thanks for the bitch slap, Erika. We're all human (most of us).

John Lutter
John Lutter

Thank you for this Erika... You are always my example of someone that is kicking life in the nards and walking away giggling... Its nice to see that sometimes you wallow down here with us mortals. :)

Robin Wilson
Robin Wilson

seems we were in the same boat last night at about the same time (but I was out of wine!).  I needed to read this, this  morning.  Thank you