One recent Sunday, I ran into a couple that I haven’t seen in a while. Things have been a bit strained, somewhat awkward whenever I have seen them, though at one time, we were quite cheerfully connected. Not close, not friends that would go out for dinner or hang out on weekends; truth is, I’m not even sure I know where they live. Our kids don’t hang out, we don’t know one another’s birthdays or ages… but from the connection we’d have here and there, I liked them. We were at least chatty when we saw one another, and friendly when our comments would overlap on the pages of mutual friends on ye olde Facebook.
But somewhere along the lines, someone said something to someone and maybe things got twisted. Rumours of my eeeevilness or moral decline or wicked witch of the east end-ness had been flying about all manner of things for a long time. And so, if I were to guess, I’d say that chances are, something they heard changed how they think about me.
There have been some messy issues in our community over the past number of years that have complicated a lot of relationships I’ve previously enjoyed. Some of that has, I’m sure, been my own stuff. I’m not perfect, I’m certainly not walking around with a glowing halo over my head, I fail, and I can hurt people, same as everyone else.
For a while, there was a lot of drama, a lot of things written and sent around… none of it was kind, much of it was untrue, and what was true was slanted. Not a lot of people thought to ask my view on things, to check facts or to just ignore it all, so I have felt kind of burned. Because a lot of things were done anonymously, I’ve also carried certainty about who said what, about who has judged what (correctly or not) and about what the heck is going on. I’m not interested in debating any of it, and to be honest, I’m so tired of it all that I keep trashing this post, lest it all start over again.
This blog isn’t about all that.
It’s about the fact that when I encountered the couple, the woman wouldn’t even look at me, and the man’s return to my “Hey! how are you guys?” was a very terse, “We are fine” before they both turned and walked away, but not before giving me among the dirtiest looks I’ve ever received (hereto referred to as The Look). Believe me, that rating doesn’t come easily—I have had a lot of dirty looks sent my way. I’ve probably deserved some of them.
It’s about the fact that up until that minute, I had been having a tremendous day. I’d come to work filled up to overflowing with the love and happiness of home. The sun had defeated the persistent rainclouds outside, all the traffic lights had been very green and cooperative, and my tech team were as awesome as ever. For once, I was not only completely ready, but there wasn’t a single technical error happening.
The day was great. And then, I encountered them. And they walked away like I have the plague. Like I slaughter babies in my spare time, run a whorehouse, robbed their grandmothers, sell drugs to nine year olds, am an evil scientist, trying to bring Hilter back from the dead, and when I’m looking to relax, I poke the eyes out of puppies.
I walked away from that encounter biting back tears. I felt slighted. I felt judged and stung and lonesome.
I wanted to go home.
Instead, I went to the washroom, stood at the mirror, fighting back tears. I got scared. I got worried. I got nearly frantic with the fear that somehow, something I had done was bad, that some big trouble was coming my way, and that true or not, there was nothing I could do to stop it.
i got angry
We went to the Drive In and watched The Avengers on Friday night. It was tremendous. Go see it. Preferably at the Drive In.
Standing there in the handicap washroom, looking at myself in the mirror, i got Bruce Banner-turned-Hulk angry.
I had enough.
In fact, I’ve had more than enough. I’m so sick of people judging me on what rumour tells them. I’m so sick of people taking tidbits of what they know of my life, patching them together and coming up with an opinion. I’ve had it with feeling worried and sick and holding my tongue.
I walked out of that bathroom with Hulk-green flashing from my eyes.
I looked for that couple, because what I wanted to say at the time, but didn’t, because I didn’t see them, and because most of the time, I only think of these things afterward, at 2am, was this:
What the hell is wrong with you people? All of you. Not just the couple who think they are clean and that they’ve found some great tidbit of dirt on me that gives them the moral higher ground. But ALL of you. All of us. You, me… I’ve been there too. So don’t start writing me a list of the amount of times I’ve given in to gossip or the times I’ve been a bitch. I KNOW. I’ve had to ask myself the same question.
I guess I’ve just had it. I’ve had it with all the people who have their eyes all over someone elses’ life. All the people, religious or not, who think they have the right to decide what another person can and should do. All of those who weigh one another out on scales all day long.
What the hell is your problem?
And don’t start telling me it’s because I’ve done some horrible thing and used someone or am a failure in my walk as a Christian or because you think you know whose bed my boots have been under or you think that I should be held to a higher moral blah blah blah than you because I’m a Professional Christian (Baby Jesus Inc. Prayer Factory Division).
I can tell you something—I’ve met Jesus and he’s no where near as worried about the length of my skirt, the size of my boobs, the friends I keep or the height of my stilettos as you are. He’s not losing sleep sharpening the swords he is about to stick in my back. He’s not freaking out because when I was in high school I had sex with a boy… or any of the other men I either did or did not have sex with over the years. In fact, I’m pretty sure he forgot all about it the minute the “sorry” fell from my quivering, heartbroken lips.
He’s not wandering around all stressed-out because my car is messy (it is), or holding his head in his hands wondering if I’m out too late (I’m 38 years old, I’m asleep on the sofa by 8:30pm), if the books I read have sex and swear words in them (they do) and how much time I spend kissing the man I love (plenty, and it’s wonderful). He doesn’t get his holy knickers in a knot because my grass isn’t cut yet, my friends are not Jesus freaks and my kid doesn’t attend church (why would he?).
So don’t you dare say you’re doing it on his behalf.
And for the record, while you’re wandering around judging me in church on a Sunday morning, talking about me and my fellow sinners all week long at Slum Hortons and around your holy huddles, I’m out there with my dirty hands and all the supposed-dirty-little-secrets you assume I have, doing what Jesus actually asked me to do—care for those who are broken, whose lives are messy, whose hearts are broken and who need love. Not judgment, not your stupid measuring system of cleanliness (you’ve got blood on your hands, my friends) but love.
And guess what? Sometimes, I really suck at it. Sometimes, I trip over myself when I’m reaching into the pit to help someone, and I get hurt, too. Sometimes, I can’t get them out because one of you keep pouring dirt on them.
What sucks about all this, and what actually is the reason why I am so Hulkishly Juliet-ed out at the moment is this—you are in a church when you’re doing this. You’re walking past me in the lobby like I bear a big scarlet letter and am carrying on sin orgies and then minutes later, you are singing songs about how amazing the grace of God is.
Do you not see that if you treat me like this, in the place where you suggest that the broken people, the “lost” and dirty and forlorn come, why would anyone want to know your God?
And really, really, really: do the clothes I wear, the food I eat, the car I drive, the relationships I have really, really, really affect your day-to-day life at home? Does it change how you love your wife? Feel about your husband? Do your laundry? Pay your bills or drink beer on a Friday night with your friends?
About a year or so ago, when I first started blogging, I wrote My Scarlett Letters and outlined all the bad things you might feel like judging me about. I know I’ve failed. I know I have fallen sometimes, sometimes been tripped and sometimes jumped headlong into sin. This morning, having once again encountered The Look, the Hulktress raged again. I was tempted to take that post down. I was tempted to replace it with “My Life = Not Your Business”. But I won’t.
Because I found something better this morning.
I found out that I don’t care anymore.
Hate what I wear.
Assume my friendships with men I know are torrid affairs. In fact, go ahead and spread that with your friends. (They don’t keep secrets well, by the way.) Tell people that you know the real-story. Tell everyone at Slum Hortons that you know where my car was (that filthy, disease-filled travelling den of iniquity). Judge the reasons why I love the man I love (is he the one sitting on the millions and I’m the gold-digger, or am I the rich one this week? I can’t remember).
I do not care.
Those who know me know me.
The man I love knows my every strength and weakness and loves me.
Our children think I’m rad.
My friends are loyal and beautiful and strong and true.
And I am me.
I don’t care anymore.
I’ve had enough.
And you know, I’m very happy about it.
Enjoy your day.