I will never understand why it’s so hard for me to accept the compliments from loved ones, yet it’s so very easy for me to internalize the hurtful looks and snide comments from strangers.
I suppose this is just one of the many things I should be working on in therapy.
This past Sunday was grocery shopping day at my house. So while my post talking about being strong and brave was making the rounds, I was going from store to store to stock our cupboards and fridge.
Grocery day always wipes me out, and I’ve been nursing a tender Achilles’ tendon on my right ankle, so by the second store, I was ready to break down and use a motorized cart. Except they didn’t have any available. So I leaned heavily on the cart as I limped my way through the store. By checkout, I was toast.
I don’t know if it’s this way for anyone else, but as my pain increases, all my defenses crumble. That shield I hold up to keep out the judging stares? Yeah, it becomes dust as the pain and exhaustion overwhelm me. Scotty knows this, and so he took me home to regroup after that second store, even though we had a few more stops to make.
I rested up, re-sorted my coupons and shopping list, and then we headed back out.
I should have known better.
But I’m stubborn, and wanted to complete our list instead of pushing it off to another day.
Now Walmart isn’t generally known for its warm and fuzzy clientele or staff, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised. But I like to keep thinking there’s a bit of good left in the world, and so I was surprised.
As I limped into the store, I gasped in relief to see there was one motorized cart left. And then I crumpled as another woman approached the cart. What ensued was nothing short of shocking. She offered for me to take the cart, but then proceeded to act like I was stealing right from under her. Scotty’s hackles were raised as he squared off with the woman, trying to explain my condition and pleading for understanding. The woman stormed off after yelling at me, “I have problems, too!”
I sunk into the seat and held back the tears.
Only to turn the corner and see the Walmart greeter (who had surely witnessed everything) glaring at me with contempt.
Y’all, I nearly broke right there.
I wish I could have screamed at everyone watching, “I don’t want to be here! I don’t want to NEED this damn cart! I DON’T WANT TO BE SICK AND HURTING!”
Instead, I mustered what little dignity I had left and apologized to the employee as I rolled past.
I made it through the rest of our shopping and into the car before I let the tears come.
I know this isn’t new to any of my #spoonie pals. We’ve all faced judgement and scorn in the face of our invisible illnesses. The surprising part to me, I suppose, is that incidents like this could still hurt me. I’d like to think I’ve built up a pretty thick skin these past three years. Goodness knows I’ve had plenty of practice at it.
But I was hurting, badly, and exhausted with it. So my defenses were down.
And here’s where we are. It’s Tuesday and her actions are still bothering me. The dirty looks of all who were watching are flooding my mind and eating away at me. All the good thoughts and happiness that has been poured over me in the last few days is soothing, but the hurt is still there.
My therapist, not to mention many of my dear friends, always tells me to write things out when they’re invading my mind. It doesn’t take the hurt away, but sometimes it helps me process it a bit better. So here I am, sharing this hurt with the world. Knowing that I’m not alone, and this probably won’t be the last time something like this happens.
All the while praying I’ll be stronger next time.
What do you do when a stranger hurts your feelings? What would you have done in my position?