This is the first in a series (2 part, more?) called, “Just don’t touch me.”
A couple of weeks ago I was walking home from work in the afternoon. I was wearing one of my favorite dresses, black and sleeveless with multi-colored print around the hem. Is this relevant? One never knows.
I was deep in thought; lost in the twists and turns of my mind, but beginning to unravel and straighten things out. I came to an intersection where the fast road meets the city roads and things slow; sort of the awkward convergence of residential and business, sidewalks in pieces and people sparse.
Up ahead, a man approaches. He’s wearing a hat, sunglasses, somewhat clean clothes sans much style. He looks younger than me by a bit. We’re heading towards each other. Typically, you might imagine the scene unfolding in the following way:
- Our paths meet
- We look at each
- One or the other says hello, or nods, or doesn’t
- We both continue on our path
- The end.
But it didn’t go down quite like that. As I approach the man, who I would characterize all around as blasé and non-descript, I can tell he’s staring at me hard, despite the sunglasses. We’re even with each other now and instead of walking by parallel to me, he seems to block my path. An altercation is imminent; I can feel it.
Then, with a gross mixture of authority and insecurity [bravado], he says, “You’re coming with me,” to which I reply, “No I’m not,” scoffing and attempting to walk away. He sort of side follows me, like walking backwards beside me, and says, “Yes you are. I’m going to take you by the hand and you’re coming with me.” So I sort of side look at him and feel a spout of words erupting: “Don’t touch me.”
“Alright, alright, settle down,” he says. I should settle down. True, my blood pressure had gone up. He was right. Thank goodness he was looking out for my well-being.
“Settle down. I’m not going to touch you unless you say it’s ok.” Wait, are we having a discussion about this? Is there a world in which he thought I was just going to say, “Ok, yeah. I’m ready. I don’t have anything else going on. Also, I trust that your hands are clean and that you’re going to lead me somewhere safe and provide an interesting conversation – let’s go!”
That’s crazy. Just like the man who was now following me.
So what’s a woman to do?
He says, “I just want to get to know you better.” Better than what? Better than absolutely not at all? Better than my favorite black dress?
“That’s nice,” I said. Nearly walking out in front of traffic to get away from him. “What, you don’t like me?” he asks(?) still following me.
Now here, I could have said one of two things (or nothing, which may have been the safest choice, in hindsight). I could have said what I did, which was, “I just have other things to do.” This was true. But what was also true would have been, “No, I don’t like you. I am experiencing strong dislike for you. In fact, this is a prime example of how someone feels when they really can’t stand another person.” Why did I have to give him a pleasant excuse? Why did I have to protect his feelings? Is it because I’ve been so conditioned by the patriarchy that I am complicit in appeasing others over speaking my truth? Maybe a little, but overall, I would say it’s because he posed a threat to my physical security and taking care of myself necessitated placating him.
I hurried across a street, dodging traffic. He didn’t follow me, I don’t think, but the rage he ignited did. My thoughts had been completely hijacked. He’d exerted his power to distract me from my world and insert himself as a centrifuge of anger and fear. It is hard to get much done when one is spiraling in anger and fear.
What does this have to do with diabetes? Nothing and everything. As I mentioned in a previous post, diabetes is inextricably part of who I am now – so it makes more sense to me now to blog about life, which inevitably includes diabetes. Autoimmune conditions involve a self-attack, the body’s immune system going into overdrive and turning on its own cells, etc. In the case of Type 1 diabetes, the body attacks and destroys its insulin-producing cells (beta cells). In opposition to emotional autoimmunity* (term created), I don’t intend to let anger wreak havoc inside of me. Instead of swallowing my anger, you could say this post is a way of releasing it – so that I can get back to what I was doing.
3 thoughts on “Just don’t touch me, part 1”
I have not been able to stop thinking about your post since I read it early this morning. I empathize with this story because as a woman incidents like this happen way too often & can turn a normal day in your favorite dress to feelings of violation and fear. Add living with a chronic condition to the mix and I can only imagine how your mind & body were reacting.
On another note, I discussed this w/Josh and he had another take. He discussed how the guy may have seen you & thought I -have- to talk w/this woman. I cannot miss the opportunity, kind of like a love at first sight encounter.
You have us both on the edge of our seats for part 2.
Oh my. I am so upset this happened.
As always, thanks for reading. And thanks so much for your empathy; it really means a lot!