Hatred aimed at you is most likely not about you. It is about the person aiming hatred at you. Usually that’s what it’s about when it comes to any sort of bias. My older daughter had called me on Mother’s Day which also was the timing for her once a week call together on the phone as she was now on the west coast.
We discussed her exams that have passed, others coming up, her work environment and friends. In that conversation she’d brought up something about a man we’d both known—yet had few interactions with. Her one experience was when she was age eight and her sister aged six. The man’s daughter was younger than both our daughters and was being friendly and showing her dog to them. The man yelled at his daughter as if to scold her for showing the dog to our daughters. My oldest said she felt that was odd. And that the few times she saw him, it was an odd stare in her direction that he gave. I expressed to her I’d had similar experiences concerning that man.
After our oldest told me the story, which I was unaware of. I expressed my feelings to her about the man. How he appeared to hate me. He expressed one day that he thought I was stupid. I never forgot it, as it was when our daughters were ages seven and five. It was Halloween. It had to do with my intense training at the time. And of course, in a small town like ours which I’ve considered as a throwback to the 50’s and 60’s—being who I am just might be unacceptable to most. It may even be challenging to most in our town.
Challenging like different. Not criminal, far from it. When people are challenged by differences sometimes they can be educated, taking ignorance away from the difference. Once the ignorance is discarded that is usually half the battle to reducing animosity about the difference. The other part is a challenge to change. The questions as to why the difference or why the hatred should be fleeting yet remain. As they become judgments which are often harmful to society as a whole and spiritually to the individual doing the judging.
By my being who I am and who I had been was different from most in this world. Being an ultra-runner, a full-time working mom, a fighter. And someone who avoided most gatherings within the town due to busyness. A type of busyness many could not comprehend. The zeal with which I ran my business, my home, child-rearing and my athletic careers were beyond most comprehension in our county, let alone our state. To the degree I had a woman-runner who was about ten years my senior in 2001 tell me that my exorbitant amount of running would cause divorce. I knew that was coming from a point of jealousy. I remarked, “My husband runs.”
Then it was implied to our oldest as she was in fourth grade in 2012 that her mother was a ‘lady of leisure’ by another parent in town. Meanwhile, I was slaving over bodies whilst my hands had pained me since 1998—shoulder, chest and elbow issues ensued as well. This while helping heal the broken. There were people every week who couldn’t afford me, especially during the Great Recession of 2007 and 2008. As well I was now working later whilst our daughters slept to get more work in. Not getting home till eleven or midnight a couple nights a week from my office. It was the only way I could pay the overhead and keep my business alive, as well as helping pay off our mortgage early so we could save for our daughter’s colleges.
When you’re in business for yourself, you realize you have to go to where the business is. You cannot dictate that, especially in a recession like the financial crisis in 2007 through June 2009. I remember I expressed to my husband during that time, “I will scrub floors if I have to.” My husband, a teacher, a well-educated man with multiple degrees remarked, “I don’t want you to do that. That won’t happen.” I commented, “It’s a job that earns honest pay.”
My athletics paid for themselves. My running long I could do at any time—like at one in the morning. I’d done plenty of that. Although shy on sleep by many hours per night. I wore my running shoes sometimes recording well over 2,000 miles on them to save money. It was recommended by a couple of physicians who knew running, that no more than 700 miles should be on a pair of my running shoes.
My fighting career stemmed from nearly a year of intense self-defense training in an all-men’s fight gym. It was a necessity most didn’t envision my reasonings for. People made assumptions, thus jealousy/hatred from that ensued. But they weren’t me. Many didn’t understand how my husband could encourage and allow me to become a fighter, especially as a working-mom and at such a late age. He understood who I was. Fighting was the healthiest thing I’d done in that time of my life. Again, hatred, jealousy ensued in my direction from those who thought otherwise and whose ideologies were being challenged.
Also, my oldest pointed out that people didn’t understand how someone could be a mother through adopting children. She picked up on this, as both her and our other daughter were adopted as babies’ way back. I actually had been accused of taking the easy way out in becoming a parent. I was accused of never feeling pain and having a pain-free life and motherhood experience too, all free of pain. But they either never asked why. They were too busy making assumptions and insults to my face. And I rarely if ever fired back.
One would think that with all this hatred/jealousy thrown in my direction, what was it about me? I wondered one day to my fight coach, Phil in his gym. Phil who’d known me since 1994, told me. “…people think they can’t handle what you’ve experienced. Therefore, they’re angry at you that you did not show them your pain. Instead, you picked yourself up, dusted yourself off like nothing happened and did more than survive. You thrived, even when I wondered if you could survive. You thrived.” He shook his head in near disbelief in his own words that day. And continued, “You disappointed them by not falling apart. Not asking them for help. Not crumbling under the pressure.” I volleyed back, “I only wanted understanding from them. I guess it was too much to ask.”
At the end of the day, no one is like someone else. When someone announces that they are like me. My response now will be, “I think not.” I won’t let that comment slide anymore. Because the truth eventually may lead to their bewilderment. Then hopefully their questioning, and becoming educated about themselves and their own bias’. From there we either change our minds or we remain stagnant in our own ideologies reducing our bandwidth for love.---Jody-Lynn Reicher