Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Can't Help But Hate

I was having lunch with my colleague/confidant/social adversary, Blythe*, recently when she casually announced she was moving to Chicago to work for Oprah.

“Oh my God- Congratulations!” I squealed nearly choking on a french fry as I gawked at her in amazement.

Unable to further conceal her excitement, Blythe gushed on about the details of her big break, oblivious to the fact that although I seemed genuinely enthralled by her nauseating salary and one degree of separation from Barack, I couldn’t really hear her over the tiny, red-horned version of myself perched on my shoulder flooding my ears with all kinds of despicableness.

“She’s not even qualified and she doesn’t need any more money,” the imp snarled. “This bitch better hook me up for O’s ‘Favorite Things’ show.“

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” I inquired wondering why she allowed a full round of drinks and an appetizer to pass before revealing such groundbreaking news.

“Well,” Blythe hesitated before continuing, “I know how you can get sometimes.”

I pretended to take offense to her statement, but I knew she had a valid point. I felt guilty for thinking such awful thoughts about Blythe because I truly wanted to be ecstatic for her. She worked hard, put up with a lot of crap and survived a twelve-hour interview in a dungeon with Oprah’s evil minions to earn her position. I only display such acts of perseverance when trying to maintain dysfunctional relationships with my boyfriends. But I just couldn’t curb the venomous emotions I bore towards Blythe. I have a disease. It’s not really a disease in the terminal, go to the hospital, take some meds sense- it’s more of a mental condition. I am a HATER.

Why would I admit that? Well, because it is a problem and the first step to conquering any issue is to confess. Though I am pretty sure everyone drinks his or her share of HATERade, I’m concerned that my consumption of the bitter beverage is about three gallons more than average. No one is immune to my askance glares, heavy sighs and silent verbal attacks. I hate on everybody- friends, enemies, men, women, babies, married people, rich folks, educated people, stupid people who are doing “better” than me, superheroes, aliens - need I go on?

Most of the time, my adverse emotions aren’t even intentional or rational. I will see or hear about something at random and suddenly SNAP, like that time I went all ballistic when I overheard an executive at my job bragging about her newly adopted Asperger Syndrome baby and went on a ten minute tirade about how rich that kid would be for the rest of its life. Meanwhile I’m destitute and living paycheck to paycheck because nobody wants to buy me. I’m in desperate need of an intervention.

While researching my condition I learned that “hating” manifests itself in a variety of ways. As a matter of fact, has approximately seventy-three definitions for the word “hater.” With a term this broad, I am definitely not the only person suffering from this disorder. I pinpointed the strain of “hate” that plagues me most as:

“A person that simply cannot be happy for another person’s success… they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person.”

Sometimes my hate is justified. I refuse to give props where none is due. For example, as hateful as it might sound, I think most reality stars are untalented media whores who are not worthy of the attention, money or dates with Z-list celebrities they attract. That’s clearly a casual observation, but it could easily be misconstrued as “hate.” I have a tendency to say what’s on my mind- negative or positive. I do not know or care about reality stars anyway. The simple cure for that form of hateration would be to heed to the old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”…even when it needs to be said and it’s true and everybody agrees with you.

What really troubles me is when I go all Kanye on my friends and loved ones. A situation this dire requires a professional’s diagnosis; therefore, I turned to my BFF, Renee for a more in-depth analysis of my disorder. Not only has she known me for over a quarter of a century, but she also has a Ph.D in clinical psychology, a car, a house and a loving husband, who also happens to be a doctor. You’d think with a best friend like that, I would’ve performed hari-kari already, but I take solace in the fact that she’s plagued with a terrible case of IBS. Not to mention the ego boost I get when I tell people that my best friend is a “dawkta.”

According to Dr. Renee there is no concrete psychological definition for the contemporary condition of “hate.” In other words, she probably thinks I’m making stuff up.

“I think what you are referring to is jealousy or envy,” states Dr. Renee using her best clinical voice. I thought I was already quite knowledgeable about jealousy and envy; but to be sure, we checked and found their definitions pretty similar to my symptoms.

Jealousy can be used to describe feelings of “resentment or anger against a rival or another’s success.” Okay that sounds like my hate. Envy is a “feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another's advantages, success, possessions, etc.” Bingo. For further elucidation, Dr. Renee and I also looked up the word hate, and lo and behold- “to feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward” jumped right at me like a silicone booty on the cover of King magazine (I hate King too).

Apparently I suffer from a jealous-envy-hate cocktail of “Hate.” Those emotions are completely natural and fairly easy to cope with on an individual basis. However, the hybrid of them all- under the dark cloud of “Hate” is more potent than the eggnog at a Paula Abdul holiday party.

Dr. Renee assured me that although jealousy is a part of human nature, the amount of jealousy one possesses and the effect it has determines whether or not it is healthy or normal. “Small amounts of jealousy may serve as motivation to do better; however,” she continued sounding all smart, “if you are so jealous that you’re experiencing a significant level of distress, then that is a clear indication of how unhealthy jealousy can be.”

Gosh, all she needed was a pair of black plastic frames, a lab coat and a clipboard and I might’ve handed her my insurance card. It’s impossible to believe this was the same girl who was forced to spend her junior high school afternoons in Power Hour catching up on remedial literacy skills while the rest of us were free to go to the park and experiment with drugs and premature sex.

The envious feelings I direct towards strangers is usually superficial and fleeting. The malignity that usually lingers and affects me most is the “hating” I dole out to my peers. Dr. Renee cited some textbook mumbo-jumbo about the Appraisal Theories of Emotion- Frijda (1986), Lazarus (1991), which suggest “that emotions are a result of people’s interpretations and explanations of the events. Specifically, an individual’s emotions will be based on the good or bad implications that the event has for the individual, as well as how the individual explains the cause of the event.”

“When your friend announced her Oprah-tunity, right away you interpreted this situation as a threat to your success, which caused you to have negative emotions,” surmised Dr. Renee. She was right. Blythe and I work in the same industry and I sometimes feel that I could- or should be in her shoes- especially now that they’ll probably be O’s crimson soled Louboutins.
My professional circle is rather intimate, so I’m constantly hearing about somebody’s career gain. I get so frustrated because I tend to compare my status to theirs and project my shortcomings on them. Dr. Renee suggests that if my friends and I were in totally different fields, I would less likely have negative feelings about their success.

I explained to the doctor that sometimes my hate gets so severe, that I lose sleep due to my ruminating thoughts. One night after seeing one of my peers in a ad; witnessing another in a movie (the dude who dropped an air conditioner on Greg Kinnear in “Ghost Town”); and hearing about yet another’s twenty-pound weight loss, I actually broke out in hives! Dr. Renee confirmed that an excess of negative emotions could indeed cause both psychological and physical ailments. “Jealousy leads to stress and stress has been linked to a number of physical illnesses including severe headaches, common colds, heart attacks and strokes.”

The very thought of my hate causing serious damage to my overall health is quite unsettling. How tragic would it be for my cause of death to be a green-eyed monster as opposed to the moronic alcohol-related demise I often imagine? I definitely need to take immediate action.

Dr. Renee says that my self-awareness is already a good start. “If you become aware of your hater ways, then you are in a position to do something about it.” She recommends that haters try identifying the positive aspects of their lives and focusing on achieving their own goals instead of on someone else’s prosperity. Absolutely! I should definitely concentrate more on writing ineffectual humorous prose to share with my three blog followers and magazine editors who reject me.

In a case as severe as mine, Dr. Renee thinks speaking to a professional to help deal with underlying contributing factors would be a good idea. Duh, isn’t that what she’s here for?

Hating in excess is not healthy or beneficial to anyone- no matter how natural it may be. Although, I sometimes feel that my hating is uncontrollable, it would behoove me to get a handle on it to at least avoid hurting my loved ones. I definitely don’t want be forever labeled as a hateful, jealous person who can’t appreciate a friend’s accomplishments. I’d much rather be the supportive person who can ride the coattails of their friends’ success. Armed with my newfound understanding of “hate,” I am on the road to recovery.

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