Competing for the Misery Crown

Dear Robin:

In the last year I lost my 14-year job, my youngest was arrested for drug possession (he’s in rehab now and doing well) and my husband decided he’d rather not be married any more after 23 years.  

My friend KC has had a pretty decent year, at least compared to mine in that nothing really bad has happened. We’ve known each other since high school and she’s had a habit of this thing but it never drove me quite as crazy as it does now:

She’s always trying to “one-up” me when I try to talk to her about the miserable state of my life right now.  I’ll give you a perfect example:

Last week another two friends of ours and KC took me out for drinks and dinner to try to cheer me up.  Every time I would try to share something with the girls KC would butt in and complain how she had been through that before or her life was worse.

When I was describing the humiliation of being served with divorce papers at my work (3 days before getting laid off – nice!) she said,

“I know exactly how you feel.  When we were sued by a contractor the lawsuit was listed in the paper.  It was so embarrassing.”

Describing my son’s drug arrest and problem was hard but her response blew me away:

“My cousin’s son is far worse off than yours and he’s been in rehab twice.  I wouldn’t worry so much.”

Then she complained (immediately after I told her how financially devastating the divorce is!) about her husband and the car he bought her for their anniversary which she didn’t like as much as the more expensive one she thought she was getting.

What’s your advice on making her shut the hell up and listen for a change?


Dear Misery:

There are some women so competitive that they have to win at everything, even losing.  

KC is one of these women.

Thanks for the chat over email, in which you confirmed my suspicion that KC is also the first one to diminish the accomplishments of others by touting her own, despite the tiny little problem that she doesn’t have any.

KC is that most interesting of human white boards: totally blank, never written upon, never erased.  

Readers: behold KC’s life:

  • She has never held a job
  • She has never volunteered
  • Her children avoid her like the plague
  • Her husband tries endlessly to please her but cannot
  • She was the quintessential “mean girl” in high school and even in college (where she obtained her MRS degree)
  • She is a former pageant queen

KC has a reputation as a fierce competitor in imaginary competitions existing only in her mind.  If I were in a kinder mood I would attribute some of her excessively competitive behavior to her mother, who coaxed her into pageants at the tender age of 7.

I’m not in a kind mood this morning, as I must finish this blog, Chapter 7 (Flexibility and Co-Parenting), prepare my house for a party, go shopping for said party, work out, and walk the damn dogs today.  

Jesus Christ on a crutch, Misery, you think your life is tough!


I’m also not convinced KC is capable of change or worthy of your efforts, which are really my efforts because I am the one giving you advice.

Oh for fuck’s sake; I’ll give you the script but don’t expect anything from it.

KC, I’ve had it with your conversation domination.  This has been a terrible year for me.  I expect my friends to listen to me and offer support and guidance, not to diminish my problems with comparisons to their own or those of others.

If you have things you want to unload, that’s fine.  Let’s do that lunch and I’ll listen to you.  But your insensitivity and self-centeredness is brazen, hurtful, and shows a troubling lack of both empathy and self-awareness.  

Until you are ready to be a true friend to me, I’d rather not take your time and mine to participate in these Pageants of Contretemps.  Enjoy your crown.

If she apologizes, asks for another chance, and exhibits better behavior, perhaps she can be fixed and I have fixed her. If that happens, please tell her husband and children to send me $367,000 because I surely deserve it.

I predict she will react defensively and cry, “You have no idea what I’m going through!” In that case, dump her.

Dump that bitch.

Dump her by the side of the road like the trash you can’t afford to pay to have picked up.

Dump her in the river like the kittens you can’t afford to feed.

Dump her like her husband will someday when he realizes there are women out there who will love and appreciate him.  Hey, is he cute?  You never know…

Dump her like I dumped the Queen of Pain in my life, rapidly and with no regrets, because immersing yourself in purposeful victimhood, self-pity, and bizarre competition is counterproductive to leading a happy life.

As for you, Misery:

I’m sorry you’ve had a terrible year.  

Sometimes life throws us not just a curve ball or two but aims a baseball machine right at our heads and doesn’t stop until it’s empty.  I know it’s hard, but you are going to be OK.

Take a moment to appreciate what you are doing right:

  • You are interviewing for new positions and just got an offer on your dream job; something you’ve always wanted to do but lacked the courage to try.  Take it!
  • You are researching drug addiction and working with your son on his plans for the future but firm on conditions that must be met for him to continue receiving your help.
  • You’ve started dating, you little vixen!
  • You are questioning relationships in your life that have little value to you.  That’s great.  

Again, I have to go.  

I’m really busy and I have a hangnail that’s bothering me, not to mention menstrual cramps and a touch of constipation.  Please don’t bother me again until you have some real problems like mine.




This Post Has One Comment

  1. Keith Stone

    Great job Robin… I have a KC that needs this treatment ($367,000???!!?).

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