A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Punching Bag

Ever have a month where you feel like the world is trying to make you its bitch?

Or more accurately, I think God it trying to tell me something and I need to figure out what that is exactly. It feels like I can’t get through a week anymore without somebody getting in my face in an aggressive (and sometimes completely inexplicable) fashion.

Example the First:

About a month ago I’m having brunch with my son and husband and realized my son didn’t have a set of utensils, so I slipped out of the booth and grabbed him a set off of a nearby table – when I sat back down, the back of the booth moved slightly, jostling the Crazy Woman sitting in the booth behind me.

Said Crazy Woman found this a perfectly acceptable justification to turn and holler at me. Since I did bump her, I apologized and then turned away to return to my meal. However, she felt that wasn’t quite enough and persisted, resulting in the following conversation:

Crazy Woman: “Don’t be bumpin’ me ‘cuz I’m a bitch!”
Me (annoyed now): “Maam, I said I was sorry.”
Crazy Woman: “Are you?!”
Me: “Yes, I really am and I hope you have a lovely day.” Upon which I turned my back on her for a second time.

She complained her way loudly all the way out the door, but thankfully she left and I was able to enjoy brunch in peace with my family.

Example the Second:

Two weekends ago I ran a LARP (Live Action Roleplaying Game) at a gaming convention in Jersey. Since I had brought 24 pre generated characters and had 23 of them cast and in play – I’d call it a smashing success.

However at one point I had a player ask me for something unreasonable and had to tell him no. Gamers can be emotional and a bit high strung, so he got upset, threw something against the nearest wall and informed me he hadn’t wanted to play my game anyway but “they” wouldn’t let him get out of it.

Since there were only two GM’s; myself and another person, and this was the first I was hearing about his mysterious desire to not be involved which seemed to have developed the exact moment he didn’t get his way – I inquired as to who his mysterious “they” were exactly. He pointed to my co-GM as the coercer, and I probably gave him a skeptical look since she’s not the type to force involvement from a reluctant player (both of us would far prefer players who actually WANT to be there), at which point he stormed off.

Not really an unusual thing since, as I mentioned before, gamers can be high strung – but the experience still left me stressed and irritated when I needed to be focused.

Example the Third:

Hands down the most mystifying.

Yesterday I went with some friends to acquire ice cream; and after myself, my husband, son, and friend (who is currently recovering from an injury) went inside the ice cream shop – two other friends remained in their car to finish up a phone call.

As I approached the counter my injured friend inquired as to their delay, and I explained that they were finishing up a phone call with a friend they’d had a problem with at the con last weekend (again, Gamers = high strung). We ordered our ice cream and I moved away toward the window to wave playfully at my two friends in their car outside.

A moment later, I had a strange, slightly scary looking, sixty-something year old man at my elbow.

Crazy Man: “Excuse me, I’d appreciate if you didn’t talk like that about my son-in-law where I can hear you.”
Me (utterly confused): “Um, I don’t know you.”
Crazy Man: “That young man you were just talking about over there, he’s my son-in-law and I don’t want you talking that way about him where I can hear you.”
Me: (very blankly) “(Insert name here) is your son in law?”
Crazy Man: “No… (insert different name here) is my son in law. If I’m mistaken then I’m sorry.”

It took me awhile to puzzle out what happened, long after the incident was over – but finally I think I’ve got it figured out. When I walked in, the Crazy Man’s daughter must have recognized me from seeing me once at a mutual friend’s party. Her husband (a nice enough guy that I don’t know well) was in fact at the Convention last weekend. For some (still completely mystifying to me) reason, instead of saying hello to me when she recognized me, she eavesdropped on my conversation and decided completely at random that the person I was mentioning when I said my other two friends were straightening out an issue with someone who’d been at the Con MUST be her husband, and sicked her daddy on me to put me in my place for speaking so ill of him in public.

Sound crazy? Yeah, believe me it felt pretty crazy too.

I was also really angry because Crazy Vengeful Daddy waited patiently until I’d stepped away from my three tall, male companions to come over and confront me well out of their earshot. What a brave guy.

On top of that, the guy’s a CHURCH PASTOR (as I later found out). So theoretically he, his wife and daughter are all supposedly my fellow brothers and sister’s in Christ. And this leader of the church, instead of taking the “blessed are the peacemakers” route decided it was perfectly acceptable to frighten, confuse and confront a young woman who was a total stranger to him after she’d had the audacity to say: “so and so are working out a problem with someone they had an issue with.”

Even if I HAD been talking about his son in law (which I hadn’t been) I didn’t actually say anything bad, certainly nothing that warranted that kind of reaction.

So… at this point I feel like I can’t get through a weekend anymore without crazy people getting up in my grill. So what is God trying to tell me?

My first thought was that I need to choose how I’m spending my time more wisely; instead of going to a convention I could have spent last weekend helping people who need it for example. But in the other two instances; I was having brunch and bonding with my family and visiting an injured friend who is like a brother to me, I can’t see God having an issue with either of those activities.

Do I just need to learn to stand up for myself? That was one of the things that left me feeling icky, used and angry afterward; I was actually pretty nice to all three of my aggressors when what I wanted was to punch them all in the face. Afterward I felt used and beaten, like people’s punching bag. But would God want me to learn to go with animal instinct and start socking crazy people in the face? Somehow I doubt it.

The best answer I was able to come up with came from my son; who pointed out “maybe it’s not about you. Maybe God is using you to teach something to others.” Like in the case of the Pastor, perhaps the man needed a lesson in humility and how to control his own misdirected anger. Perhaps after he’d realized his mistake, he felt ashamed. He SHOULD feel ashamed in my opinion.

I still don’t know, but obviously it’s weighing on me pretty badly so I had to get these words out of my head and onto the page. Nobody wants to feel like a scapegoat for other people’s anger with their own lives or like a free punching bag – and right now that’s exactly what I feel like.


  1. The first thing that popped into my head while reading the examples was, "she needs to be more assertive, those people were way out of line!", so it's funny that you said maybe you need to stand up for yourself.

    I find myself more and more surrounded by perfectly wonderful people who are so anti-conflict that they allow themselves to be treated poorly, or do crazy things to avoid any potentially tense situation. You are terrific, and you should treat yourself that way and not allow people to be mean to you :)

    I know this is coming from someone that most folks would describe as "high strung" or "crazy", but there ya go :) Take it in the spirit in which it's intended...

  2. I agree with Gloria...you should not allow people to be mean to you. However, there's a middle ground between being a "punching bag" and punching them.
    You can be assertive, firm and still polite and Christ-like. If someone is being inappropriate toward you...rebuke them, firmly. Explain to people how their behavior is wrong and tell them you don't appreciate it. That doesn't mean using cussing, swearing or physical violence. It just means standing up for yourself. Christ wants us to be loving, forgiving and compassionate...but not a doormat. Or punching bag.

  3. Carolyn, from what I've read, I think you reacted very appropriately in these situations.

    The Crazy Brunch Lady would only have escalated things more if you had continued, so you stopped, good for you, you didn't give her any ammo, she ended making stuff up, but that's on her, not you. If you ever need examples of people escalating things unreasonably, either just go outside and watch people, or watch a few minutes of "Parking Wars" on the History Channel.

    The Crazy Con Attender, also seemed to have plenty problems of his own, also making things up.

    And Crazy Ice Cream Dude, that is also not your issue, it seems to totally be his daughter's. He might have thought he was dealing with things Biblically, because Matthew 18 does say to talk to the person individually, then if it can't be resolved, to involve others. It seems that was resolved and he apologized. He probably should have started with "Excuse me, you're not talking about (insert name here) are you?" But again, not your issue, totally his daughter's.

  4. Yup to all comments here. Being assertive, I think is a strong way to think about it. Being confident that you did nothing wrong is something different (which, of course, only comes with actually doing nothing wrong...which you didn't). This is something that shows through...and it cuts people off from setting their sites on you.

    And BTW...you notice how (insert name here) didn't say a word to your co-GM about all this? He chose a target...that's all. You apologized all over each of these where it was appropriate, people can be self-centered idiots, and words can hurt. But in each, you were right and kind and thoughtful. THAT should be your strength.

  5. "I was also really angry because Crazy Vengeful Daddy waited patiently until I’d stepped away from my three tall, male companions to come over and confront me well out of their earshot. What a brave guy."

    Well, his daughter wouldn't speak up when she thought her husband was being maligned, and he wouldn't stand up to his grown daughter, so is it any surprise that he didn't want to confront you with the guys around? Courage is obviously not a strong trait in this family.

    Anyway, I'd previously thought of that kind of insanity as being limited to the Internet (and reality TV shows). Unfortunately, it looks like it's creeping into "real life" now. Maybe we'd all really be better off if certain people never left their computers and/or TV couches!

  6. The other commenters made good points.

    As to the first thought, "I need to choose how I’m spending my time more wisely," I think it's really extraordinarily hard to read God's will from circumstances, far harder than to read it from His word. Look at Paul, frequently jailed and beaten, with persistent illness (the "thorn in his side"). Hard to imagine reading his circumstances as anything but "Give up and go back to being a Pharisee."

    I think, if we look, we can often find a lesson in circumstances, an illustration of some scriptural point for example. But we can't use them as some kind of oracle from God.

    Maybe a relevant passage would be along the lines Gloria was suggesting: I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16, NIV.
    Maybe some of us are doing better with the dove part than the snake part.

  7. By the way, the injured friend really appreciates the visits. They're a big deal to me, isolated out here in the wilds of New Jersey.