Shame

We don't shame people.

I have to repeat this to myself on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.

Before I am allowed to react to anything, remember...we don't shame people.

This has been a month of learning about who I am and learning about who other people are.

Almost 4 weeks ago, I joined the gym. I joined the gym because I hated my body. I called it my "depression" body. I spent a year barely getting out of bed. I drank a lot of stout beers. My recovery process involved sitting in one place, for a very long time, painting. So...depression body.

I knew I was starting to get really uncomfortable in my own skin, but I kept on thinking that it was going to magically get better.

Probably because I believe in unicorns, I think bodies can just "magically" get fit and healthy.

Turns out, that's not a thing that happens. Bogus. So I joined the gym.

Going to the gym is hard. I feel gross. Out of shape. Unattractive. I'm awkward around people. I try to have conversations with new people who don't know that I'm awkward and anxious and trying to fake my way through it...and I usually say something that causes them to stop and stare oddly at me for a minute before getting away from me as fast as they can.

There are people who will tell you that they don't see these interactions with me and other people, but trust me when I say that EVERY interaction with people I'm not close to feels this way.

Anxiety is SO much fun. Especially at the gym.

But shame is what we were talking about, right?

So there's an elderly woman who is in the gym locker room around the same time I am a couple of times a week. I don't know if it's me, I don't know if there are some issues with her, I don't really know what's going on except...every time she sees me she calls me a "fucking bitch" under her breath.

I'm not even kidding.

The first time she did it, other people heard and we all just kind of stopped and stared, with no one really understanding what or why or who it was directed at. The woman just said it and walked out of the dressing room.

But after a few weeks, it seems like this is directed at me. The other day I was walking behind her, at her pace. She must have sensed me behind her, so she turned around and then she moved aside as if to let me pass....so I thanked her and I passed by. And as I passed by, I heard her mutter "fucking bitch."

You guys...I have anxiety. I think that everyone hates me. I'm nearly sure of it, all of the time. So this keeps happening and I'm freaking out. Like ...what? What did I do?  And I wanted to ask other women in the dressing room what was wrong with this woman. And I wanted to go to the front desk and describe her and ask if anyone has complained about her. I wanted everyone to know that I am just fine and NOT a fucking bitch and why is this woman so terrible every single time she sees me?

But here's the thing. We don't shame people. Whatever is going on with this woman, it isn't about me. And due to the oddness of the situation and the woman's advanced age, I would guess that it has more to do with some brain wires getting crossed for her. And that sucks.

I can bring everyone's attention to the exchanges between this woman and I, and potentially cause a big scene and make other people look at this woman as though she is crazy and somehow "less than." I could definitely do that.

Or I can remember that we don't shame people. And this is more than likely a complicated issue that has nothing to do with me. I can remember that I know who I am. That this woman and I have SO much in common. My brain tells me that I'm horrible. Her brain tells her that I'm a fucking bitch. Both of our brains are wrong. And neither one of us deserves to be shamed for it.

Who knows...maybe eventually I'll work up the courage to talk to her and we'll become super best friends! Right? Maybe?




Lessons, you guys.  Every week life is teaching me some hard ...and interesting...lessons.


1 comment:

Karen Cassidy said...

OK...so many, many years ago there was a woman who used to wander around West Peoria and wander into our church. She used to point at me and say I was a murderer, and that she knew who I was. She would try to spit at me- and she would yell that she hated me. It messed me up a lot, because like you I have anxiety and I think everything is about me. Of course I realized she had schizophrenia and it was not about me- but it still bothered me. One day I had my son with me who was in a wheelchair- she saw him and started over to us- I worried what she she was going to do. But she leaned down and looked at him with so much compassion, and then at me- she reached out and stroked my cheek. She cried. I cried. After that I was her favorite person....who knows. Who cares. We were friends.