Day 867: Difficult

I try not to be difficult; honestly, I do.

However, it’s difficult for me to recover from cardiac surgery AND put in a full week at work  AND be a good-enough mother and girlfriend, all at the same time. As a result, I’ve been more difficult than usual lately.

So, I had this difficult thought:

Because of my recent surgery, I now have a terrific excuse to be difficult. So why not seize the moment and write a  difficult post?

Look,  I get a lot of praise at WordPress for my positive attitude. But, I can be as difficult and negative as anybody else, sometimes.

Here’s the most difficult thing that has ever happened to me:

When I was 10 years old, medical treaters of my congenital heart condition suddenly decided that — in order to save my life — they needed to implant a cardiac pacemaker. To make this more difficult, nobody prepared me for how difficult the surgery was going to be or for how much the pacemaker was going to stick out of my body. To make this more difficult, the first person to change my surgical dressing lied to me about the pacemaker sticking out when I asked her about it (she said, “That’s just your hip, swollen from the surgery.”)  To make things more difficult, nobody dealt with that lie, for several days. To make things more difficult, my family and friends could not visit me in the hospital — outside of the difficultly limited visiting hours — during the many long days I stayed in the hospital after the surgery. To make things even more difficult, that surgery took place on November 22 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was killed, and nobody told me about that, either.

One reason I am so focused on this most difficult memory from my past, right now: as I am healing from the surgery where I got a pacemaker/defibrillator 13 days ago, I am finally realizing how BIG this device is. At this point, I’m thinking it might be even larger than that first pacemaker I got, more than 50 years ago. 

Here’s what makes it MUCH less difficult for me to deal  with getting a large medical device today (compared to when I was a child of 10):

  • I was warned it would be large.
  • Because of my access to the Internet, I can find out, after I post this, the exact dimensions of my new device.
  • If the actual size of the device is smaller than it seems to be in my body, I  can let my doctors know about the amount of post-operative swelling I’m experiencing, and
  • I am an adult now, with adult coping strategies, not a small, vulnerable, scared, and hurting 10 year old, dealing with all of this alone.

Not to be too difficult, but my writing about those most difficult memories from my past was not  my original difficult intention for today’s Difficult post.

Instead, my difficult plan was to share with you difficult things people have said directly to my face — without too much apparent difficulty — over the years.

Yes, at some point in my long and sometimes difficult life, some actual human being has said to me, “Ann, you are:

  • messy
  • clumsy
  • stinky
  • not smart enough
  • too smart
  • too skinny
  • not skinny enough
  • selfish
  • clumsy
  • disrespectful
  • too shy
  • too much of a bother
  • foolish
  • disappointing
  • too much of a show-off
  • not funny enough to be a stand-up comic
  • disorganized
  • too quiet
  • too loud
  • too outspoken
  • too sensitive
  • not humble enough
  • not athletic enough
  • too competitive
  • not a good hugger
  • too indiscriminately loving
  • not loving enough
  • too sexy
  • not sexy enough
  • inappropriate
  • too much to handle
  • not good looking enough to reject ME
  • too spontaneous
  • provincial
  • not supportive enough
  • too fucking supportive
  • crazy
  • thoughtless
  • too concerned about other people’s feelings
  • unsophisticated
  • impatient
  • too warm
  • too cold
  • insecure
  • pushy
  • too cautious
  • not cautious enough
  • not worth my time
  • spacey
  • not a good enough singer
  • not a good enough writer
  • not a good enough photographer
  • too focused on yourself
  • too focused on others, and
  • weird.”*

Hmmmmm.  That wasn’t difficult, at all,  for me to create that difficult  list today, probably because I carry those negative words around with me.

As I’ve often written in this difficult daily blog, the negative can stick with people, drowning out the positive.

Imagine how less difficult all our lives could be, if we let go of difficult and unhelpful messages from others!

To promote that in myself, I will now present all the difficult and non-difficult photographs I took yesterday, as I spent some time with my amazingly non-difficult 17-year-old son:




I took those last three photos, above, because that was a particularly difficult parking meter, for everybody.

After my second difficult encounter with that difficult Arlington Massachusetts parking meter yesterday, I did the difficult thing of striking up a conversation with a total stranger, simply because I liked his t-shirt and his cap:

That’s Mike, who told me he saw the band Cake in Chicago, even though he doesn’t live there. When Mike asked me, “Did you want to take my picture because you like cake or the band Cake?” it wasn’t difficult for me to admit the truth.

Would it be difficult for you to guess what my truth was, about that?

Speaking of difficult guessing, the next photo shows the movie I have found the most difficult to watch, of all the difficult movies I’ve ever seen:

Any difficult guesses about that?

I hope I’m not being too difficult if I ask one more difficult question: What difficult music did I choose for this difficult post?

That’s Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, well known as perhaps the most difficult piano piece ever written. I assume it might be difficult for you to take the time to listen to the whole difficult thing.

So, what did YOU find most difficult about this post?

Easy and difficult thanks to all those who contributed to my creating today’s difficult post. Also,  special thanks to you, for experiencing whatever personal difficulties you did, to read it.

* In case understanding that giant list is difficult, I want to be clear about this: Those difficult things were said directly to my face by many different people, over the course of my life. Honestly, I don’t think any one person I’ve met could actually be THAT difficult.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 56 Comments

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56 thoughts on “Day 867: Difficult

  1. Ann, as to “the list”. Reminds me of this:

  2. Most difficult was the list – and the idea that all those comments had bitten into your memory. Thanks for the concerto. I listened to it whilst doing other things in other windows. I guess the difficulty here was in the playing, not the listening

  3. It was difficult for me to read that list of things people have said to you, and to think of your experience as a 10 year old. It was not difficult to see the lilacs and ice cream and hot fudge and the goodness of people raising money to help. I hope the positive continues to drown out the negative making life less difficult. Here’s Monty Python with their take on how to handle difficulty

    • I love looking at the bright side of life, especially when Monty Python tells me to do that. Thanks for making life brighter, Lisa.

  4. I hope you do not carry out your difficult thought (at the beginning of the post) too often 🙂

  5. I have no idea why people would be so rude to you. The fact you’ve been accused of too much or not enough means most people don’t know what they properly mean anyhow. And too smart? What’s that all about?!

    • Indeed, Alex! What IS that all about?!? I dare say that girls and women hear some difficult things that perhaps boys and men don’t have to deal with.

  6. How beautiful is Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, and yes, I agree that overcoming difficulties can be compared with learning how to play this Rachmaninoff concerto, which many great pianists do have to learn in order to be successful. They use his music as a measuring bar. You have used a beautiful example to demonstrate the difficult time you’re going though.

    I don’t know whether the doctors gave you a “timeframe” to wear the device and evaluate heart function; or whether they left it up to you to try it and decide whether you chose this method vs. the surgery. I suppose it may be the combination of both. I suppose it’s a question of getting used to it. Nevertheless, remember that doctors need a chance to see how it’s helping you, so I suppose it’s useful if you try to adjust to it to give the doctors a chance to reassess. I suppose you’ve had to take PT or OT to exercise and adapt to activities and watch your precautions with that arm? You may have to do more with your right UE until the Left side heals and you’re more comfy? I think you’re a champ Ann, and I truly believe you can adjust. ❤️

    • I think you’re a champ too, Maria, and your wise and helpful comments make things less difficult for me.

    • I forgot this: ❤

    • And I forgot to tell you that there’s no PT or OT and you’re right about my doctors and I giving it time to assess how this is working and I hope I’m not being too difficult!

      • You’re too sore for therapy now, unless your doctor orders it. Wish you the best ❤️

  7. Oh, Ann! I had tears in my eyes the entire time I read this post. What a difficult life you have had, yet you persevere. I have the utmost respect for you and what you do with your Life. YOU have encouraged me today, on a day that I had been seeing the difficulties instead of the beauties. Bless you! Love, Amy ❤

    • I think WordPress is being difficult because I thought I wrote a reply to your wonderful comment and now I don’t see it. Thank you from the bottom of my ❤ , Amy.

      • Hmmmm ….. I abhor when WP has “hiccups” and misbehaves. These words are just as good, Ann, believe me. You are so very welcome, my friend. (((HUGS))) Amy ❤

  8. I found it difficult to read about your experience when you were ten years old Ann. I’m sorry you were alone and did not feel prepared. Why do we humans think that some lies (you’re just swollen) are better than the truth.

    As for your list of how you’ve been described? I would use words like: caring, loving, curious, playful, artistic, brave and smart. ❤
    Diana xo

    • Thanks for that wonderful list of descriptions, Diana, which is making my day less difficult. And based on the rest of your comment, I know you’re not lying! ❤ xo

  9. I enjoyed listening to the Rachmaninoff piece…not a difficult challenge at all. It was a very relaxing way to spend part of a Sunday morning, the perfect accompaniment while reading the Sunday paper and sipping my coffee. It did bring to mind my late mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, who was an accomplished pianist and often spoke of that difficult Rachmaninoff concerto. She was also a very difficult person to deal with (all who knew her would agree…this not just a run of the mill stereotypical mother-in-law comment). So that also fits in perfectly with your theme today.

    Through all the difficulties you have listed and tbe challenges you have faced, your positivity still comes through. You have a wonderful outlook on life. Keep smiling!

  10. You are one brave and wonderful lady ann. Thank you for this gift, showing others that life is indeed what we make it…. but we can not smile all the time, we have to find the time to embrace all of ourself. I’m going to enjoy following your journey Ann take care, love Barbara and p.s. you know now you are never alone… (looking back on your beautiful self all those years ago, brings a little bit of peace to her.)

    • It’s difficult for me to express how very grateful I am for this beautiful comment, Barbara. I’m so glad you visited and commented here today.

  11. The phrase that comes to my mind when I read your difficult list is: Opinions are like a$$holes; everyone has one. Sorry to hear that your recovery has been difficult. My mother would have loved the Chopin list. Right now I’m getting my mojo going and spirits lifted listening to a Boston album. Ahhh. Classic rock.

  12. I agree that the hurtful things that people say can stay with us a long time, Ann, and I was saddened to read that list of hurtful things. I’m sure I and many others could write a similar one. I’m so pleased that you have risen above them because they’re worthless and generally said by people without forethought. You are admired and loved by many people for the way you move forward at every stage and make the positive drown out the negative. Your lovely photos and super music are evidence of you doing that still.

  13. That certainly was one pip of a day for a 10-year-old, with adults that should have known better treating you badly, Ann. And the Draconian rules and treatment certainly snowballed from there. Difficult is a very tame word for it.

    And on you went to live a life where you could be diverse enough to be complimented with all those phrases on that long and exciting list. Sure they were compliments. Because it’s a list of opinions all, and for every fool who thought “A” there surely was a wiser soul whose judgement would be “B.”

    Have a great audition, Ann, wiser and more ready than ever.

  14. Mike A.

    This is Mike, from the photo. It was nice meeting you yesterday, Ann! And yes, that *was* a difficult parking meter.

    • Mike! I’m so glad to see you here. Thanks for being so kind and friendly and thanks for validating my experience with that *&^$%!!*+!! difficult Arlington parking meter

  15. It was difficult for me to read about the things that have happened to you and the things that people have said to you. But it’s not difficult for me to say this: the world needs more difficult people like you.

    • The world needs more people like you, too, Maureen. Thank goodness you’re here in this WordPress world.

  16. That’s a great list and will help all of us a I am sure we have most of us had many of them thrown at us. How differently we treated children back then. When I had my totally minor operation in the early 18950’s, I waited by the hospital gate for my mother, because they promised every day for three days that she would the me home.

  17. So difficult … yes.
    You are not your thoughts.
    You are so precious Ann.
    Let others take care of you.
    Let go of the roles.
    Listen to your inner guide instead.

  18. First up great list it tells me you are Human……………….just saying
    Second up hard to imagine there was a time when a child would be in hospital and the parents could not stay with the child around the clock if they wanted to, but I know it took place but what the hell when a child is sick or recovering from surgery they need their parents mostly their mum but dad too.

  19. If this is not difficult, then I don’t know what is. This has gone way too far. A PETA representative is on its way:


  20. Being labeled, discounted, bullied, ridiculed, negated, are the weapons of people who fight a demon within them self that they cannot tolerate. They see something in us that reminds them of their own vulnerability, and we therefore become the target of their indignation.

    People will attack a loved one before they will attack a stranger. We are “soft” targets. We fulfill a need. (Pathetically, but still something they feel they need.)

    It’s terribly painful to feel discounted. Personally, I feel assaulted only by those I love and trust. Strangers cannot subtract value from me, I give them no power to do so.

    Sometimes we can forgive those who perpetrated the injustice, especially if we step back and look at what might have caused them to strike-out at us. However, their are times that we cannot understand why they would want to injure us. People do, and say crazy things, and sadly there are simply people who get some perverted enjoyment out of seeing us hurt.

    When we are down we are not able to gather enough wind beneath our wings to soar above the pain. We ruminate over words that many times we know to be falsehoods. Yet we wallow in them, accepting them as truths because of who it was that said them.

    I’m so glad to see this post today. It was a difficult one to read. No doubt it had each of us running through our own listed inventories, but in doing so it has allowed us to vicariously feel not so negated. We come together to understand that things are said that injure, some momentarily, but many for life.

    Each one of us deserves to write our own inventory. Who, better than us, knows the truth and where it comes from?

    Thank you for being you, for your vulnerabilities and your strengths.

    I have a mental illness. It is impossible for my husband to overcome the stigma associated with me being mentally ill. I can tell you that I felt crushed by his inability to understand it, tell you that it almost destroyed me to think he thought of me as a failure. It wasn’t until I learned that I could openly talk about it that I knew I had value even if I had an illness. The stigma still holds him back, but I am free.

    • I am going to echo back to you a couple of the amazing things you wrote in this comment: thank you for being you, for your vulnerabilities and strength. [What you wrote] has allowed us to vicariously feel not so negated.

      Thanks for all the gifts of this difficult, beautiful comment. I am so grateful to know you here.

      • And I am very thankful to you for building a sense of community that allows each of us to be our true selves. Thank you, Ann. I hope you have a lovely week.

  21. Hi Ann, first I’ll say that I loved the memo pad (Gone Chopin, be Bach soon) – 😀 !

    Second, yours was a difficult post to read because the difficulties you continue to face are not of your own making, but circumstances that either genetics or an unfair universe have placed upon you.

    It was chastening, too, because it made me realize how many of the difficulties that I face are self-imposed. I’m a difficult person and sometimes make life difficult for other. It’s difficult to face that, and will be even more difficult to remember to lighten up – but I’m going to try.

    Another wonderful post from you – and this is why I continue to visit. I hope you have a less difficult day today. 🙂

    • I find it EXTREMELY difficult to believe that you are a difficult person, Kate. Thanks for making my life less difficult, every time I meet you here.

  22. From the short time I’ve come to know you here on WP, I can say that you are gifted at writing, photography, and have a unique and splendid sense of humor, Ann. As for the rest of your difficult list, now that you’ve put it in writing, I’d wipe it off of your personal hard drive. No one needs to carry that around. ❤ Van

    • I am wiping it off my personal hard drive right now, Van. Thanks so much for such a beautiful solution to a difficult problem ! ❤

  23. While hot fudge makes life a while lot sweeter, it was quite difficult to hear about your hospital experience at 10 years old and to read the list of things people have said to you. I did find it cathartic as I can relate to having felt alone, betrayed, insulted, frightened, etc

    I am certain this particular post has spoken to many and I thank you for your honesty and vulnerability.

    warmly, Linda

  24. Pingback: Day 2213: Incapable | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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