Posted by: innerpilgrimage | March 28, 2010

I Stood Up for Someone Today, and Don’t Know What to Think

      Weird afternoon.
      I went to the mall to have my glasses re-shaped by the national chain I bought them from last October. While there, a man had an outburst, and I called him on it. I don’t know if it was good or bad behavior, but it was something I have not done either before or in such a long time I forgot.

      So, I’m in this eyeglasses chain franchise with my husband. We both need our eyeglasses adjusted. They were busy, so I recommended my husband sit at the counter where people go to pick up their glasses so we can get ours adjusted.
      When we are served, a man walks up and says (in an agitated voice) that he was there before us. We bowed out, and he sat. This wasn’t a problem.
      He started yelling at the eyeglass service person about being there before us and started telling her that she needed to learn to be polite to customers. Aggressively. She was trying to be polite; she was apologetic and helped him. My husband was trying to wait politely, and this man was just railing on her about how she needed to learn courtesy, about how someone had better’d teach her. He would not stop.
      I had my back to him, and I’d had enough. He was tearing into this woman. It was like I felt her fear, her anxiety, her tension at not being able to manage the situation. My husband and I had a quiet, quick conversation about his behavior, assuming it would blow over as things like this tend to do. I did snark to my husband that there’s a 12 step program for everyone in compulsion. But it didn’t end. He kept laying into her about not being taught how to properly handle customers and it sounded like it was getting more personal.
      I turned around, excused myself, then told him to please stop assaulting her. He looked up at me, surprised. He told me he wasn’t assaulting her, and I told him that he was verbally assaulting her. I told him she was trying to help him, and I think added something about respecting her so she could do it. The manager came over and traded customers with the woman (who was equally surprised, like I was). And what baffled me was, the man lit into the manager.
      Another man joined me in my condemnation of the first man’s inability to let it go and accept help without tearing into someone to my husband, who stood to leave, adding a comment about leaving because of the man’s behavior (in more impolite terms). My husband and I left the store.
      I had a binge craving like mad as adrenaline surged and coursed through my body. I haven’t felt that much adrenaline punch since I almost got into a fist fight with another girl a foot shorter than me at a Taco Bell when I was 17.
      So, here’s the thing:
      Should I have stayed quiet like I always had before? I felt drawn to speak, because he really was laying into her verbally. He got what he came for, to be served first. She didn’t deserve the verbal abuse heaped on her as she tried to assuage his red-faced anger at her. She was staying calm, speaking calmly, had his glasses ready, and he just would not stop.
      The strength to stand up came from my Higher Power. I know it came from there because I always dreamed of being able to do it and I had always played it out after the fact. But I did it. Really did it. And I felt no fear when I did it, only a desire to point out that the conflict was over. He got what he wanted. That is when most people calm down and let the problem be resolved.
      But he broke the social boundaries when he just kept going. Like he was looking for a fight and she was his specially-intended victim because she (1) needed the job and (2) she was a sweet, unassuming woman.
      So . . . did I break social boundaries moving his attention from her to me? Did I break social boundaries by pointing out that he got what he wanted and she didn’t deserve the violent verbal dressing-down? That she was only trying to help him?
      I don’t know.
      What I do know, however, is that either I was courageous or brave–strong or simply stupid. I didn’t yell (though I may have talked loudly because I naturally have a loud voice). I was firm with him. And he went after the manager just afterward (and got that man who had commented about bad behavior to light into him after we left, apparently). I was afraid he would seek my husband and me out in the mall afterward, because he was not being rational. My husband would have defended me, physically, had the man come looking. He didn’t, thank HP.
      So, I’m still not sure what to think about my part in it. There’s a part of me that thought it was stupid, that it was outside of my place to even get involved. But something inside me still says that doing it was the right thing because the woman was fulfilling her side of the social contract and he was not fulfilling his.
      I want to attribute this 100% to my HP as a good thing. I was not mad; I was firm. I was insistent. I was standing up for someone who was being verbally battered. But I am worried that what I did was a reflection of a character defect which I never had the strength to indulge until I had my Higher Power’s strength of character to do something like this.
      I guess I am hoping that the next time I am called to stand by my Higher Power, I will not be in a position where I am not sure if the thing was right or wrong.
      I’m going to go with it being the right thing. She did not deserve the vicious verbal attack. I stepped in. While it was ineffectual, in the end, it did mark a change in me. I learned that the times I did things like that (while deep in the compulsion) were terrifying to those around me. I learned that even if I lost abstinence tonight and had to reset my OA birthday to tomorrow, I would.
      I cannot go back to a life like that. It is terrifying, and I would rather dust myself off and try again than lose the serenity that even this much recovery has rewarded me with.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food addict, recovering from a life I do not want ever again. And if tomorrow I am not abstinent, then the day after tomorrow I will be, for now that I know what life can be like with my HP’s presence and unerring love, I cannot move backwards into that place again.

I cannot.

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Responses

  1. Thank you for what you did. I would hope that if I were put in a similiar situation, that I would do the same thing.


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