The Sting of Being Replaced by a Younger, Prettier, Thinner, Nicer Woman

To protect the innocent and silicone enhanced, some names have been changed. Well, one name……okay, two.
 
It’s weird how every time I go to scoop out my cat Callie’s litter box, she seems to instantly materialize in front of me with this horrified look of betrayal, as if to say “How COULD YOU??? Those creations are precious parts of who I am! And you’re just going to discard them with the used Q-tips and coffee grounds? Why don’t you toss out my soul and your Grandma’s wedding band while you’re at it!?!?”

If she gives me the shaming stare long enough, I usually cave in. I’ll start whistling a tune to break the tension (like my gynecologist does) and pretend I’m just raking around for entertainment and stress relief, as if her litter box is an over sized, super-clumping Zen garden. After a couple of intimidating seconds, Callie will skulk off to begin her 37th bath of the day. Then I hastily and guiltily remove her artwork and pray that one day she’ll find it in her heart to forgive me.
 
Today is Day Four of my “sort-of-on-purpose” unemployment/stay-at-home-mom assignment.” And, thanks to a run-in with a former work associate, I feel like one of Callie’s litter box clumps.
 
ME: “Replaced? Already?” (to be read in a shaky, vulnerable voice) "But it hasn't even been a week yet."
 
SERENA: “Oh yeah, Baby Gurl, they done replaced you like a busted catheter. And she purty too! And seem like she real sweet.”
 
ME: “Just shut up! And my name is ANGELA!!!!! We worked together for over 2 years! And you NEVER bothered to learn my name…..choosing instead to create a nickname for me that obviously came from the seat of your daughter’s sweat pants!”
 
(but I didn’t really say any of that.)
 
ME: “What’s her name?”
 
SERENA: “It's Stephanie. Everybody say real good things about her.”
 
ME:  (staring incredulously, like Callie at the litter box, thinking ‘you know her NAME!?!”)
 
Clearly this is how a newly divorced woman must feel when her former mother-in-law tells her about “Britney,” her ex-husband’s 19 year old fiancé, whom he met last week when she made his caramel latte at Starbucks.
 
Abruptly, my homemaker bubble of bliss was violently pierced by the mocking thorn of jealousy. The job that had become an anvil-weighted albatross around my neck, from which I couldn't wait to escape…..suddenly didn't seem so bad.  Just like my old, matted-haired Teen Talk Barbie, left abandoned in the closet until my little cousinwanted her. How DARE she!?
 
Immediately, dozens of thoughts bred from insecurity and feelings of failure bubbled up into my brain.
 
-         - She’s younger, thinner, prettier and more medically enhanced in the torso region. And here I sit, wearing my husky pants and about to turn 40!
 
-          -What if she’s a glowing success at the job I essentially gave up on, deeming it too much of a challenge with not enough resources to work with?
 
-          -What if those few doctors who never gave me the time of day, actually DO tell her what time it is? And make eye contact with her? And give her all their hospice business? And include her in their wills?
 
-          -Even worse….what if the doctors who referred ONLY to me (because I was me)….what if they like her MORE? And think she’s more professional, and knowledgeable and charming and gives better service and tells funnier jokes?
 
-         - What if the grumpy woman who runs three personal care homes in town, the one who treated me and all other reps as if we were hemorrhoids or pantry moths….. well, what if she adores Stephanie? And takes her to lunch? And brags to anyone who will listen about how much better Stephanie is than Angela was?
 
Given this self-directed assault on my confidence, I’m sure you understand why I spent the afternoon with a bag of Oreos. Double stuffed.
 
To add insult to injury, I realized too late that we were out of milk. Trying to convince your overly competitive ego to just let go of the situation and move on is about as effective as telling yourself that Oreos really do taste better with orange juice.
 
For a second, I could hear my mom’s voice in my head saying, “Move on, Angela. You wouldn't go back if you could. Now clean all those black crumbs out of your teeth and go do something productive.”
 
So I did..... sort of.....

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