An incident, an epiphany, and a lesson

When I woke up this morning, I was in a good mood. This is significant because I haven’t felt that way in a long, long time. I had an early meeting, so I jumped on the call from home, and then finished getting ready for work. I was having a good hair day, I loved my outfit, I was wearing a new necklace which I’m quite in love with. In short, I was feeling myself. And I can’t underscore this enough, I was feeling good mostly because feeling good has been somewhat unfamiliar to me lately.

And then it happened. I got on the streetcar, as I do every day, and within minutes, found myself the target of someone’s wrath. I don’t know for sure, but I would suspect this young man was mentally ill, high, or both. He was clearly disturbed and muttering profanities under his breath, until he caught my eye, and proceeded to direct all that anger and nastiness to me, specifically. He came near me, stood quite close to me and started hurling every imaginable insult you could think of at me. He told me I was a slut, a disgusting fat hoe, a whore, a bitch, a cunt, and that I should get raped.

He kept banging on the streetcar pole I was hanging on to and towering over me. I just stood there, trying not to make eye contact, reminding myself not to engage because who knows what could happen and I didn’t want to escalate the situation. It didn’t take long for people around us to notice what was happening and intervene. Thank goodness. Someone told the streetcar driver and he stopped the streetcar and got the man off without incident. I stood there, stunned and humiliated, crying.

I know, rationally, that that had nothing to do with me. I just happened to be the target of his rage, and it quite literally could have been anyone else on that streetcar this morning. But, I can’t help it, I’m human, and maybe a little extra delicate these days, and I felt utterly mortified, shaken, defeated and beaten down.

I got to work, said my usual “good mornings” and when my colleagues asked me how I was, I looked at them and started crying again, recounting the story. They were wonderful and supportive, reminding me that it had nothing to do with me, and that I did the right thing by not trying to talk back to him, etc.

It did make me feel better, but man alive! What’s that saying? Two steps forward, one step back? That’s how it feels. I went to the bathroom to collect myself and try to reset for the day, and as I was looking in the mirror, I began to think that perhaps my hair didn’t really look as good as I had first thought, that my outfit is cute, but I wished I’d worn a different bra with this shirt, and that I should have shaved my legs today. I was allowing those dark and insidious feelings of failure and of not being good enough creep back into the well-worn pathways in my brain, undoing a lot of the work I’ve done to change those pathways over the last few months. And as I was staring at my reflection, mentally dressing myself down, I stopped myself. I stopped myself because I can’t let the randomness of that person’s rage (or illness) get to me. He didn’t care about (or even know) what he was saying to me, so why should I let it hold such importance to me?

In an effort to remain productive all day and, admittedly, distract myself from this morning’s events, I started to clean out folders on my desktop. In doing so, I stumbled upon something I had written to myself (I do this a lot, not sure if I’m alone in that) last year when I ran into an ex who had seemingly moved on with his life and is now married, with a baby. I guess I was feeling down about that. Here’s what I wrote to myself:

When you see or talk to someone who was in your life for a time, and you see that their life has changed, or moved in a certain way, by comparison, it can feel like you’ve been standing still.

But, that’s just perspective. And one’s life moving or changing in a certain way, during a certain period of time, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s positive or a move forward.

We have no idea what really goes on in people’s lives, you know? And comparison, while sometimes hard (or impossible) to resist, really isn’t very productive or healthy.

If it makes you stop and think for a minute about your own life and maybe evaluate certain aspects of it, that can be a wonderful thing. But, when we let it get us down, it becomes poison. I think it’s better to look inward and tally up all the great things I love about my life and be in the moment to appreciate that I am where I’m supposed to be.

Sounds a little Oprahesque, (she’s my girl though!), but I truly believe it. And I just wanted to share my thoughts with you to maybe, perhaps, just a little, steer you to more positive, encouraging and empowering thoughts about yourself and your life.

Obviously, they are completely different situations, but I think I was on to something. Reject the poisonous thoughts, embrace what’s good about you, and be thankful to be where you are in your life seem to be pretty solid rules to live by. And worth remembering when you’re randomly harassed on public transit.

f0782cdb581b028ca93d2446f47475d8
As my dad always says: smile, sunshine’s good for your teeth!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s