I had a bad weekend.
I am learning something about myself after repeated headbutts with the mysterious underbelly of a persistent pet peeve.
One of the common themes of my many pet peeves is that I cannot stomach feeling invisible or like I don’t matter. This explains why it bothers me exponentially more than it bothers others, when people consistently don’t say hello or if they talk OVER me. Or if they act like I simply don’t exist. Like I don’t matter. I am not talking about when someone is having a bad day (or days), completely unrelated to me. (I check myself all the time, to make sure I am not taking something too personally).
I’ve been in a toxic work situation where the co-workers treated me like I was invisible since Day One, when I, as the excited and hopeful new girl, had to go up to each of the other attorneys and introduce myself instead of the other way around. It escalated from that bad first day to stories you would accuse me of making up.
I talked myself into staying for the full year despite the emotional distress and stress on my new marriage. I was close to tears every Sunday night (at the very least) and even Fridays couldn’t cheer me up as Monday was a’comin’.
As the office elevator took me to my floor, I would place my palms up towards the sky, praying for strength to get through the day. I see pictures of myself from that year, my face with so many shadows cast upon it that I look like an abstract painting.
Those punk asses didn’t even have the decency to call me a racial slur so that I could have had a basis to sue. Dirty bullying at the junior high level, but nothing actionable, unfortunately.
Back to this past weekend. I was on the phone, talking very heatedly in Korean, while pacing back and forth on the streets of Manhattan, near Union Square. I realized I was talking pretty heatedly but I didn’t care because I was in a lot of pain.
I never have the luxury of talking freely, at any decibel, in our own home because it is so small. I could wake the kids. This, and the constant construction and turbo leaf-blowing outside my window for hours on end, does not make for great mental / emotional health these days.
A white lady in her 50s, with her two grown sons, pops out of their fancy Manhattan apartment building. I am about to cry at this point as I continue to talk into my phone. She stares at me like I am a wild animal, a total beast, or more accurately, a piece of trash that happened to fly under her snotty nose. She proceeds to stand there and stare at me, frowning.
This is in broad daylight on a public sidewalk. While I realize I was being loud and emotional, it was not to the level of disorderly conduct.
She walked away ever so slowly, overdramatically, as if to show me that it is very hard to walk away from such a spectacle and 3…2…1, bam! Her sons pretend to turn around to look at something but they turn to look at me, the low-class banshee that their mom was horrified by.
For some reason, her look has made an impression on me more than the rest of my shit weekend. Or maybe because it’s easier to focus on her look more than other things that have hurt me.
When I see someone practically crying on the phone on the street, desperately unloading, I do the decent thing and LOOK AWAY, suddenly busying myself with my very fascinating third fingernail or that cool new billboard, to give them some privacy in their vulnerable moment, even on the public sidewalks. I also say a quick, silent prayer for them.
My heart goes out to them because EVERYBODY hurts. Life is messy.
This lady’s look. It made me want to run down the street after her and call out, “Hey! So what, I was having a very emotional outburst in public. What gave you the right to look at me with such disdain and disapproval? Are you not human, do you not bleed? You entitled, privileged bitch! And why you gotta be so passive aggressive, you coward. You didn’t have the balls to say anything to me. Was my language offensive to you? My cacophonous Oriental speech?” (Yes, a lot of unhealthy mindreading and projecting).
Whole lot to unpack from a brutal weekend, including why this stranger’s look had the power to unmoor me.
Also ironic that our pastor preached on “Drop Your Stone” yesterday, a sermon I have yet to listen to as we were at a Baby Dedication class during service.
A sermon I could very well be avoiding and not quite ready to hear.
My most repeated prayer for my kids is that they may find their worth in God and God alone – how God views them, not how the world may view them, and not based on fleeting accomplishments or failures. That they may be wholly anchored deep in His love.
I suspect their mama needs such prayers, too.