I am an emotional two year old.
Rolling through the lobby of the hotel I saw a woman nudge her friend and then point to me. They both shared a horrified giggle. My weight combined with my disability obviously put me in the 'freakish human' category.
It hurt. I let it hurt. I don't deny that it hurt. I know that I am more and less than what they see. I know that my worth is determined on a different set of scales than the one they used.
But it hurt.
I am an emotional two year old.
Joe and I went to lunch at the break in the conference. We went down to the cafe in the hotel (although you can't really call a place that charges over 20 dollars for a hamburger a cafe). The fellow sat us at the table right by the entrance/exit because it was easy access for me. I appreciated it. I sat looking into the restaurant. I noticed said woman, the finger pointer, and saw that she noticed me. She was with a different group and I saw her, brazenly as if she didn't care if I noticed, point to me and they all turned to look. Laughter ensued.
Over the course of lunch, as if the cosmos wanted to right the situation, I was approached several times by people who knew my work or who had been affected by something I had written. I shook hands with at least 10 people, signed one autograph, and waved greetings to several others. I was distracted by the attention of those who knew me as a person of worth so that I forgot the attention of someone who valued my worth so little.
But then, I noticed her looking at me. Differently. She had seen the people stopping, the genuine smiles on the faces of those who spoke with me, the graciousness of many towards this one.
And emotions crossed her face.
But the one that ... remember I already told you I'm an emotional two year old ... pleased me most - was envy.
This is just un-frikking-believable! Since when finger pointing and laughing at the others become acceptable behaviour?
That woman was the real "two-year-old" in this story.
It never ceases to amaze me how cruel people can be. Over the last couple of months I have been reminded a few too many times, but still, I am always surprised by it.
I didn't get a chance to post on the days you wrote about the conference in the Falls, but I wanted to say what a great conference it was!
The first monring, before the opening speeches, I went out of the room to get a coffee, and I saw you there by one of the tables, I think maybe you had your books out? I am not sure. I saw you, and for a second we made eye contact, and I was about to say, "Hi Dave" like we were old friends, then I realized that although I know you well, you don't know me at all. So I just looked away and went to get my coffee.
I was also impressed by the young man who was the volunteer you wrote about, and I have to say that over the two days I watched his confidence grow. I was very impressed by all the self advocates at the conference, especially the ones who spoke, but also the ones who sat and asked some very good questions. As I told my co-worker after the conference, I was excited to go because of all the speakers names I recognized, but ended up being much more impressed by the ones I hadn't.
Leilani Muir, what can I say? She is an incredible person, and I was much too shy to attempt to speak to her as well.
You may not be Stephen Lewis, but I was moved to tears by your closing speech and I loved hearing you tell the stories that I have read here.
As far as the woman you wrote about today, how sad her life must be to have to find value in herself by devaluing others. I do pity her, not that it makes it ok what she did, or makes it hurt less knowing she is simply an ignorant person, I know.
Hmmmm. She missed it, big time, on so many levels. Unfortunately, the meaness of spirit that she and her crowd carry, are the truly ugly.
I am reminded of the story, "The Picture of Dorian Gray." If she doesn't hurry up and change, there is a portrait somewhere that is being painted--and it isn't pretty--no matter what she looks like on the outside.
That woman was probably a bully in middle school and never left it behind. What a piece of work.
I so wish I'd been there. Ordinarily, I don't unblock my hearing in public, but in this case, I would have made an exception and come out in all my blunt autistic glory. I often have difficulty speaking with unfamiliar people, in situations with lots of background noise, etc., but when it's an issue of justice, I can somehow find the words (and many of them are not the king's English). Then I go home and hibernate in my loft for several days.
It does hurt, people's words and actions. Why is it that sometimes we can ignore it and sometimes not? What do we do to change this kind of behavior on every level, massive change? Not just self-advocacy, not just standing up to others (we should all speak up if someone at our own table or with us acts this way), but there has to be something more. Public awareness campaigns? More stories in the public eye? Gluten Free Girl wrote last week about her weight gain and how there is always a person and a story, though people are so very willing to judge.
People like that finger-pointing woman have the option of doing something good and something meaningful with their time or doing evil--I told my last bully that in person. And how is she going to deal with it when she or a loved one has to go on massive doses of prednisone or a beta blocker or some other drug or gets Cushing's or a thyroid disorder that causes massive weight gain? I've been too fat, I've been too thin, but I don't see people's need to be cruel to people who appear different.
I have to say, as much as I admire your ability to choose not to interact with that woman, not to get caught up in her game - if it were me I would have strongly felt that either you or Joe should have spoken to her about her behavior. That is beyond unacceptable. As an adult it is almost unbelievable. Misunderstanding or even willful misunderstanding about the situation another is in is one thing, outright mockery is on an entirely different level. She should be made aware of the effect of her behavior. If there is one thing I have learned it is that purposeful bullies or people who have knowingly done something to hurt another are the most embarrassed by their own behavior when confronted.
I know the feeling.
I would love to say I'm shocked by that woman's behaviour, but I can confirm from personal experience that this type of thing happens all too often. And no matter how thick your skin, no matter how well-adjusted and accepting of your body you may be, it still hurts. Deeply. However, my evil little mind came up with what would have been the perfect 'gotcha'. After all the well-deserved praise and attention, it would have been hilarious if you had approached her and said something like, "I couldn't help notice you pointing at me. There's no need to be shy, dear. If you would like an autograph, all you have to do is ask. May I autograph something for you?" I know...kinda twisted...but that's the way my humour cookie crumbles. And in this case, her envy was well-deserved. As you said...the cosmos was righting itself, in your favour.
And Belinda...loved the Dorian Gray reference. I'll be sure to give that consideration the next time I'm in a similar situation. I expect it will bring me some delicious comfort.
And I'll bet the envy kept her awake that night as she tried to get to sleep...
I'm willing to bet that far more people envy you than you'll ever know. Keep that in mind when you encounter acts of momentary unkindness. Most of us will spend our lives hoping to impact the world as positively as you have! I like to think we count more than those who discount you! ;)
Envy is good! In such people!
Many people would have you believe that I am, similar to you "the problem" or the "freak show" deserving of being Punished.
However I have moments of secret enjoyment which most times nobody knows about but for me form a secret bit of knowledge that at least I have done that useful to recall at silly person attack times.
For example I am in here
The bloke looking disdainfully back at the punks.
I have also had a Movie Director, stop literally millions of dollars worth of film set equipment in the middle of filming, walk over to me and apologize for underestimating what I could do for him.
So I have learned for all the small minded nasty evil attacking people in the world there are a thousand who will stop and bend down and pick up your cane for you.
Don't sweat the small stuff as they say.
Oh and IF you are quick you can see me selling rail tickets to a sheep, which may be more appropriate when thinking about that woman and her group.
Blogging Against Disablism Day will be on 1st May, 2010
You all should take part
"You're okay, she's mean." I learned that at a panel the other day. . . oh wait a minute, that was your panel. : ) Seriously though, grown-up bullies are the worst. They have no excuse. They make me so mad.
Two-year-old, nothing. No-one envies an un-person. Envy transports you right into the 'human' category...
... where, did she but know it, you were all along.
No Dave, you are not an emotional 2 yr old. YOu are just a normally flawed human. We all have moments of regressing and enjoying the (justified) discomfort of others.
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