For the longest time, I hated Mondays with, as a friend of mine would put it, “the white-hot passion of a thousand suns.” My hatred of Back-to-Business day was almost pathological.
I wasn’t just greeting the Monday morning sun by moaning and pulling the covers over my head. My reaction went much deeper than that. Like clockwork, I’d start getting knots of queasy, sick anxiety in my stomach on Sunday nights. My head would start hurting and all the positive thoughts and feelings I’d focused on over the weekend would fly out the window, leaving me with a big lump in my chest and a seriously overblown feeling that I was a doomed caged animal. I’d go to bed early, and toss and turn all night, unable to sleep because of to-do-lists and work worries clamoring in my brain.
By Monday morning, my stomach was so upset I couldn’t drink coffee. Now how frickin’ cruel is that? We all know that 8-to-5’ers survive the grind by mainlining java, especially when we only sleep 3-4 hours the night before. Taking even that small comfort away from me was Monday’s way of kicking me after it had already knocked me flat on my ass.
I understood my cycle of anxiety and depression. I knew that by the end of the day on Wednesday, I’d see the weekend on the horizon and start coming back to my happier, friendlier self. But for the first few days of the workweek, I was a sad and bitter bitch who felt like stepped-on dog doo, and no amount of pop pyschology could change it.
I gave myself all the pep talks. I told myself the weekend would return, that I should be thankful to have a job in a time when so many didn’t, and yada yada yada. But I was suffering from big-time burnout. With the exception of vacations, I’ve been working an average of 50 hours a week without a break since my early 20s, dealing with stressful jobs and often, an overload of responsibility. Monotony, routine and constantly focusing on the demands of my job rather than the other priorities in my life had worn me down.
People who walk around full of negative energy are a drain on the rest of us. Spending time with a perpetual sadsack makes me want to drink vast quantities of jager. So the last thing I wanted to do was be one myself. However, it seemed I couldn’t help it. I knew poor Lee was brought down by the way my switch flipped from “happy girl” to “psychobitch” come Sunday night.
So instead of moaning to him, I started my Monday morning Facebook update ritual. Each Back-to-the-Grind day featured a sarcastic, biting status update about how much Monday sucked. It was a horror novel. A hamster cage. We needed to invent Monday repellant that worked like Raid on roaches. It was a dementor out of Harry Potter. A punishment for some unknown crime I’d committed in another life. The schoolyard bully who beat me up and took my lunch money. Each week, the Monday Miserable Experience got blasted to my friend’s news feeds.
Then one Monday, I was off. There was no stress, no anxious knot of snakes twisting in my stomach, no headache. My coffee tasted wonderful. I had no Monday Morning Moan. “I’ll give my friends a break,” I thought, “and for once not be Ms. Negativity.”
Then the questions started coming in. A lot of my Facebook buddies, especially those who faced “back to work” on Monday mornings, were looking for my damn moan. When it didn’t show up, they were annoyed.
It had become part of their Monday morning survival ritual. Without realizing it, I had been capturing what many of us felt in those silly little vents. They had become little cries out to the universe that helped my friends smile a little in the midst of their own Monday hells.
When I told the inquirers that there was no moan because for today, at least, Monday wasn’t biting me in the ass, one of them said “But … I NEED your Monday moan!”
Because vacation had me all mellow and happy, I couldn’t come up with a thing. No dementors, zombies, cages or soul-sucking aliens. Since words wouldn’t come, I took the picture above and posted it on my page, with an explanation that it was my “Monday Moan” face for those times when I didn’t give my fellow daily-grinders a dose of sarcasm.
I learned something out of this whole thing. We’re always told to be positive, to look on the bright side, to be thankful and always remember that it could be worse. All of that is good advice, and true. But there’s also something to be said for acknowledging what sucks, as long as we do it in a way that reaches out to others rather than in a me-me-me-me-me sort of way.
None of us like to feel alone. None of us want to be the only one struggling with something that mades us angry, frustrated, or sad. It isn’t that we want others to be as miserable as we are. We just feel better knowing that our feelings are normal. Seeing our attitude captured in other’s words lightens the load.
For those who aren’t in love with their jobs, Mondays are often a struggle. Bitching and moaning get you nowhere. But my attempts to vent by capturing the essence of Monday in silly little capsules had made others laugh, taken some of the stress off their shoulders, and thrown just a wee bit of good out into the hectic day.
Looking on the bright side is a good philosophy for living life. But sometimes, to get there, you first have to poke the bad stuff with a stick, prodding at it and putting it out there in all its ugly colors and making fun of it. Once you do so, it doesn’t seem so big and nasty anymore. The monster under the bed is just another shadow.
These days, I don’t have the urge to moan on Mondays all the time. Sometimes I even sleep well on Sunday nights and enjoy my coffee in the morning. I think the change has to do with the fact that although I’m still burnt out and sometimes overworked, I have stopped letting that fact keep me from reaching for my other goals. I am finally making my tired ass plow onward in my out-of-work life anyway. That gives me hope.
But I still try to post a Monday Moan at least once or twice a month. Because when you can take your own boogie-men and use them to make others laugh and feel a little better, then they serve a purpose.
Moan on, my fellow Monday-haters. Then let’s get moving and kick the ugly wench in the arse before she beats US down.