Monday, August 29, 2016

Random Rant: If I Want Your Opinion, I'll Ask For It

Yesterday we went to a friend's house to help out with housework and other stuff. One of the members of the household suffered an injury over a week ago. Since then, she's been in the hospital and rehab. About 20 minutes after we arrived, another woman arrived. She's a good friend of the family and has been a mentor to one of the members of the household. I had met her the day of the accident. I didn't exactly get warm vibes. In fact, when I called Lisa to let her know what had happened, I remember saying, "She made me feel like I wasn't wanted there."

She was there. Everything was under control. Shoo fly shoo.

There we were. Lisa was cleaning the kitchen. I was talking to a member of the household. She walks in. Same vibe. At that point, I had a decision to make. Leave or stay.

Why should I leave? 

The longer we stayed, the more irritated she seemed by our mere existence. She kept giving me that look. 

Finally, she broke the ice and asked what I did for work. I told her.

That's when it happened. She gave me that look again and said, "You must sit a lot, huh."

I sucked in air through my front teeth.

"Yes. Yes I do. That's why I'm fat. I barely exercise, I survive on about 3 hours of sleep a day, I'm a total java junkie, and I probably drink too much wine."

She saw that as a window of opportunity to lecture me about being fat and unhealthy lifestyles and she threw in some snitchy comments.

To which I replied back.

"I'm 42. I have no problem with the way I look. I happen to like myself. I love my life. I've come a long way considering the poor choices I made in my early adulthood. You don't know me. Don't judge. That's the problem with society. Too much body shaming. Too much judgment."

We went back and forth.

At one point she said, "I hope you have someone who will take care of you when your health fails."

That's when I knew. I was banging my head against the wall. There was no use. She had already formed her opinion of me and had my future all mapped out.

We exchanged a few more words before I left.

Once home, I felt a roller coaster of emotions. Empowerment. Anger. Frustration. Accomplished. Mentally exhausted.

On one hand, if there was any doubt in my brain that I could defend my motto of "I don't give a shit what anyone thinks about me," in any given situation, that doubt fizzled away. My confidence was rejuvenated.

On the other hand, I was angry and disgusted. Could the situation have been handled better? Yes. Absolutely.

Amid the two certainties, I was hurt. Yes, I stood up for myself. Yes, I spoke my mind. Yes, I let her know that her attitude and judgment was wrong. Yes, I walked away when I knew nothing was going to be solved. However, I was hurt because she judged me by appearance only.

She has no idea that sometimes, getting through a single day is painful. It's a struggle.

I know what I look like. I know my appearance isn't always up to par. I live in my body every single day. There is nothing anyone could point out that I don't already know.

So why do it? 

If my existence and appearance makes anyone uncomfortable or disgusted, turn the other way. Walk away. Ignore me. I don't care. What I do care about is if you cross the line. That line is the difference between keeping your opinion to yourself or having the audacity to voice it.

If you choose to voice it, I'm not going to sit or stand in silence. I will speak out. I will defend myself. My wife. My family. Our decisions.

I don't care who you are.

There are no exceptions. If you have an opinion about my life, our kids, the amount of "dog" hair on my clothes, the decisions we make about our life, home, and family, or anything between, keep it to yourself. If I want your opinion, I'll ask for it.

Until then, zip it.

On a more positive note, the woman who I went face to face with gave us a card with a lengthy and heartfelt, handwritten message inside. Today. She apologized and gave some insight as to where she's coming from.

I respect anyone who can take the time to reflect, own wrongdoing, and apologize...especially in the form of a handwritten note.

I did the same. I am not too great, too big, or too wise, even at the age of almost 43, to admit the situation could have been handled better.

Empowerment isn't just the tone or the words spoken in a heated moment. It's what happens afterwards.

From the mouths of the wise...

"My soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty, and peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things, we are united, we are the same, we are one."


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