Beauty Journal

To The Woman Who Came To My Door And Broke My Heart

To The Woman Who Came To My Door And Broke My Heart www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Stacey Philpot

I sat on the couch, curled into a tight ball, circling the fringe of my blanket around my fingers, absorbed in a novel by one of my favorite authors. My four-year-old daughter sat at my feet, playing with Legos and singing a made up song. Yes, it had been a tough day, my various chronic illnesses tag teaming me with success, but we had made it. My husband would be home in just over a half an hour. I’d even showered, played a round or two of My Little Pony and put something in the oven for dinner. A friend had taken my oldest for a driving lesson, so all things considered, this day had been a win despite the overwhelming pain and fatigue.

The doorbell rang. This was a somewhat rare occurrence since we generally knew when someone was heading our way and they knew better than to bother with formalities. The only people who rang the doorbell were the sweet neighbor girls from across the street which my daughter adored. She would be thrilled and delighted to play with them. She rushed to the door and only slowed down as I admonished her once again, “You never answer the door by yourself, only with Mommy.”

My daughter threw open the door with excitement but instead of three little neighbor girls an immaculately dressed woman stood in front of us. Upon seeing me, she immediately stepped back. “Are you okay? Because you don’t look okay. You must have been sleeping. You were asleep?” The problem was none of what she said seemed to be a question or motivated by concern. She shifted her body in order to look past me and get a better look into my house. Disdain oozed from her being. I couldn’t find words. Who was this woman? Why was she at my door making me feel so small? “You didn’t answer me. You are fine?” she barked.  I nodded vaguely, attempting to retreat inside of my body. A man appeared behind her and began their speech, explaining they were realtors, looking to sell houses in the neighborhood. I wondered if she realized her approach was not the way to win friends or business? She continued to stare at me and in the end, I took their business with a shaking hand, closed the door and began to sob.

I went to the bathroom mirror, and I studied my own face. Was I some sort of monster unknowingly? Was my appearance so startling to all who were not accustomed to it? Did this woman not realize I was doing the best I could? While I couldn’t answer any of these questions with any certainty one thing I did know was, I never wanted this woman to come to my door again.

 My sense of victory of over the day, over illness, had quickly evaporated and in it’s place was a deep sense of shame over who I had become. I wanted to hide from the world forever, never face another human again. I never wanted to see that look of disdain, of judgment again.

When my husband arrived home, I cried as I explained the unexpected visit, my desire to hide, my shame at who I had become. I asked him to call the agency and to ensure, this woman never offered her services at our door again. He did.

What he could not do is promise me that no one would ever treat me this way again. He cannot assure me that no one will ever look at me again and assume that I am lazy, that I do not care for myself because I do not want to, that I sometimes sleep during the day simply because I lack the motivation to do otherwise. He cannot stop people from making these assumptions or from voicing them, even as I fight with all I have.

So today, I appeal to you. Don’t assume. When you come to my door, or you see the messy, tired mom, and it seems like she’s been sleeping in the middle of the day. Don’t assume she isn’t caring for her children well. Don’t assume she’s lazy. Don’t talk to her like an unruly school child. In truth, you know nothing of the battles she fights. You know nothing of the wounds you are ripping open.

So when you are tempted to assume she is sleeping in the middle of the day, or skipping work––––when you want to assume she is lazy or self-absorbed? Just don’t. Don’t assume. And if you must assume? Assume the best.

About the author

Stacey Philpot

Stacey is an author, goofball and avid reader. You can find her blog at http://chronicallywhole.com/ where she endeavors to encourage other warriors like herself along in their journey of battling for health and discovering wholeness. She is mom to Hayden and Avery, stepmom to Julie and wife to Ryan (a smarty pants who works at NASA and logs their whole life on spreadsheets and pie charts, true story!) She has a strange affinity for eating whole meals in bed (don’t tell anyone) and is convinced smelling old books will make her smarter.

  • I’m so sorry you had to endure this woman’s harsh words. I wish I could hug you.
    but yes, I’m sure I have been guilty in the past of making assumptions based on little information 🙁

    • Stacey Philpot

      Haven’t we all. Thanks for your loving words.

  • Robin Lee

    “If you must assume, assume the best.” Wise words. Painful words. I may not ever be immaculately dressed knocking on someone’s door, but I do assume a lot. Often. Thanks for making me think.

    • Stacey Philpot

      Robin Lee, I have been historically prone to assumption as well. But these years, they’ve taught me to choose grace filled assumptions.

  • Allison Pickett

    Uuuuuugggghhh! Why do people do this?! I pray that I have never made another human feel so terrible.
    A similar event happened to me just a few weeks ago. I was home alone with my three children and there was a knock at the door. I had been in bed while my kiddos played because of severe sickness. I (unlike you) hadn’t showered, looked frightful, no bra, and after I answered to door, realized that I had a piece of cucumber stuck to my face. The man looked at me with shock and fear. Lol!! I quickly said, “I’m sick. I’ll be sick for a long time. Sorry. Bye.”
    I just didn’t care at all. I owe nothing to these people outside of my home. Just the people inside. I’m doing my best with what I’ve got! I didn’t feel guilty or ashamed. Just a little embarrassed about the cucumber.
    Here’s to forgetting about others opinions and doing our best!
    And here’s to praying we never make another person feel small.
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Stacey Philpot

      This may be my favorite thing on the internet. Both the inclusion of the cucumber to the face and your lack of sorrow over his shock. And while this women’s reaction would have seemed more appropriate had I found a strange additional head attached to my own or a random cucumber farm spouting up, I found no such thing. I think that was part of what made it so hard, it was just me that seemed so scary to look upon. But maybe next time I’ll add some fruit and veggies to my face before answering just for kicks! 🙂

      • Allison Pickett

        Yes. You’re right. I would have had a very “What is so wrong with me?” moment. I’m hoping to learn big time from this. Sometimes, I want to be helpful and what if I’ve come off this way? Help me, Jesus! xo

  • I appreciate this! For a long time I was the Mom who was late getting her kids to practice, didn’t always pack the greatest lunch or sent my kid to school with his pajamas on under his uniform (he dressed himself that day!). Little did anyone else know but my home life was terrible. I was under a huge amount of pressure, my husband was an addict and would periodically go missing (but everyone LOVED him- he’s so nice)… it was really hard. I wasn’t friendly and I certainly didn’t bother making friends with other Moms. I know they thought I was snotty and irresponsible but I was living in chaos and doing the best I could. I appreciate this post.

    • Stacey Philpot

      Your comment makes me think of the saying, “Be Kind for everyone is fighting a hard battle.” The thing is, so often we have no knowledge of these battles. We only see the scars, the disheveled battlefield on which they live and make our assumptions from there. The cry of my heart is that we would speak to people’s hurts instead of judging them for behavior we don’t understand.

  • Marie Wikle

    Hate when this happens. People assume way too much. I hate hearing “you know how thoooose people are” – thank you for all you are doing to help those who deal with chronic illinesses.

    @spreadingJOY
    spreading-joy.org

  • Some people are lacking in empathy and compassion. It is tough but they are not worth even giving the time of day to. Focus on you on those who love you. No-one else matters. The fact is you are very clearly an amazing mom, wife and are kicking ass despite all of the challenges you face with you health.

  • Kami

    It breaks my heart to read of others encounters like this! I am sure I have been guilty of assuming and putting my foot in my mouth in the past. But these last few years of fighting a debilitating illness has opened my eyes to how far kind words can go. How deep careless words can hurt. Thank you for writing this. I think it is both comforting to those in the illness community as well as a heartfelt encouragement to all to choose gentle words and assume the best. Hugs to you, Stacey. <3

    • Stacey Philpot

      Thanks, Kami. Gentle hugs to you!