So - I had this goddawful conversation with a neighbour the other day. It involved her, sharing the observation (aka surveilling) that I'd lost a ton of weight and that "I'd be perfect if I lost 10 more pounds." So right away, I'm not feeling all loving. But then, the conversation gets even better, if such a thing is imaginable.
"I was just SICK when I heard about your separation." She tells me. "Just SICK."
Now, I wish I could say that this is the first time I'd heard this reaction. It isn't. I get this one a lot. It's probably the most common response I get, in fact. In a way, I understand this reaction. L and I were the Toni and Clarisse (Dykes to Watch Out For reference there) of our cohort. I get this. From the outside, we looked a lot like the Cleavers. Actually, we looked a lot like that from the inside, too. At any rate. I understand people's surprise. I understand people's concern. I understand feeling slightly discomfited. But if one more person tells me that my separation is making them feel ill, sick or barfy, I will rain down hellfire and brimstone all over their sick selves! Seriously - how do people expect me to respond to this? "Gee, I'm so super sorry that my personal pain makes you feel uncomfortable?" or, "Sorry to have inconvenienced you?" or something along those lines?
Think about the fact that:
1. I spent so, so much time agonizing, heart up in my throat, desperately trying to figure out another way to be happy, be whole, be myself and keep my family together;
2. that every night I go to bed with my brain whirring with terror that I've split up my children's home and parents and security;
3. that I've desperately hurt someone that I greatly respect and who is a good and loving person, in order to save my waning self;
4. that I've lost several other friends because these things are uncomfortable and yucky and hard;
5. that I have no real security, very little income, no housing;
6. that I've taken a giant leap into some really, really fearful and unfamiliar territory;
7. that, in light of #'s 1-6, I often feel pretty barfy, myself.
In light of all of that - I gotta say - I think it's fucking nuts that when my life is in total chaos, other people would like ME to comfort THEM about it. C'mon now. Really?
When my neighbour uttered this phrase, (in a lovely one - two punch right after calling me fat,) I just turned and walked away. Didn't even bother with the awkward smile, or the sympathetic, "mmmmmm." Just walked off.
Next time it happens, I don't think I'll be nearly so kind.