Stuckish or Suckish?

painted into a corner, Maggie McReynolds blogA couple of years ago, my son became entranced with “suckish,” a term coined by him and other tweens. He’s moved on by now, as kids will, but suckish has remained with me as the perfect phrase for circumstances that are challenging and painful, but not epically tragic.

Suckish = having someone without insurance back into your car. Having to work around an illness, disability, or handicap. Taking a pay cut. Finding out your spouse is having an affair—or finding yourself having one. Breaking your foot just before the marathon.

I find “stuckish” an equally useful descriptor. Stuckish is just what it sounds like. Working a job you hate for the paycheck you need. Sticking with friendships, relationships, or partnerships that no longer serve you. Stuck in the pain of your circumstances and unable to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Clutter, binge eating, compulsive shopping, destructive behavior patterns. Loneliness, disconnection, lack of purpose or clarity.

And when you’ve got stuckish and suckish together on the same dance floor? That’s a true tango of frustration, anger, hopelessness, even despair.

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golf ball, maggie mcreynolds blog

Play the Ball Where It Lies

I haven’t hit the greens since I was in high school, but I’m no slouch at miniature golf. I play with my 11-year-old son, who has gotten much better at the sport over the years—and much more graceful about losing. Nonetheless, in the years since I’ve been watching him play, I’ve noticed the parallel between wishing reality were different and wishing one’s ball had landed somewhere else. Both are useless endeavors. Cliches exist because they have wisdom in them; “Play the ball where it lies” is one of the smartest pieces of advice I know.

Smart, and yet also oft-ignored. How many of us waste time and energy wishing we hadn’t landed in the sand traps or water hazards of our lives? Bemoaning how unfair it is that someone else landed right on the green while we’re off and lost in the woods, our ball buried or richocheting randomly off trees?

I could pretend I am not disabled. I could wish my marriage hadn’t come apart. I could get stuck in the “unfairness” of being a single mom, or having one kid instead of a tribe, or having short fingers, or whatever it is that didn’t come out like I thought it would.

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