Difficult People: You never really know what someone's dealing with
This new nurses aide at my pain doctor's office was really intrusive. And not very friendly. She was barely talkative or making eye contact. She seemed like she *really* didn't want to be there AT ALL.
I asked to go to the bathroom, she said to wait, because the doctor might want a urine sample. Ok. No problem.
Then we get in the room. I say if we're going to need a urine sample, can a get a glass of water?
Here's where she gets weird.
"Why do you need water if you just said you need to go to the bathroom?"
"I just want a glass of water."
"Didn't you just say you needed to go to the bathroom? Why do you need a glad of water?"
I was pretty taken aback.
"Never mind why I want one, will you just get me one?"
After a few rounds more of this she agrees to have the other aide get me one. The other aide. Yeesh.
She takes my vitals, some history questions, etc., then she finished. I'd been irritated the whole time about the bathroom/water incident, so as she finished, I felt like I had to say something ...
"You know, you might want to not ask people questions about their bathroom habits, I have to say, I really didn't appreciate that."
Anyway then she tried to explain-argue, repeating the BS about "you just wanted to go to the bathroom then you asked for water"... and finally I just told her, "Look, the issue isn't any of that -- it's that it's none of your business what I do in the bathroom or why, so please just stop!"
Finally she left the room with an attitude of "okay I'm stopping this conversation now, crazy person," even though, well, you know.
So on my way home I started thinking about how you truly never really know what someone is dealing with what they've been through or how much they're struggling to interact with you at the moment.
Remembering that years ago I used to be so incredibly anxious, insanely and brutally self-conscious, profoundly insecure, and often just a few steps away from a full-blown, crawling on the floor panic attack. To the point that a lot of the time I could barely finish a sentence talking to a person, especially if I didn't know them well, without being obsessed about what they were thinking about me, and how I was coming across.
Talking to people constantly put me on the edge of a panic attack, and often over that edge. And often that made me come across as being very awkward, very weird, "off" in some odd way, or even a little bit "creepy" because of it. Which of course sucked for me. I felt like people constantly misjudged me. I felt horrible about myself.
Ok, sure, I'm still weird and awkward, but at a WAY lower volume. And my anxiety, insecurity, self-consciousness, and panic is a tiny fraction of what it used to be.
So when I interact with someone who really rubs me the wrong way, I try really hard to remember how I felt, and keep in mind that I have no idea whatsoever how much they're struggling to interact with me in that moment and what sort of pain, anxiety, compulsive or horrible thoughts they're struggling with right then.
Who knows what was going on in that woman's life in her head in her heart. I certainly don't. And she definitely didn't seem happy from the first moment I saw her.
Of course I fail at this small kindness all the time, but I do try...
All that said, I still told the doctor about it though, lol. Not to be petty, but because this woman needs to know that that's not how you treat patients and that's not how you act professional in a doctor's office, regardless of your issues.
And that's some of what I learned for myself too. Is that it didn't really matter how I felt in a lot of situations, What mattered was how I was perceived, or what got done or what didn't get done, or how I made people feel.
And I learned that it wasn't fair but that's how life is. We may be damaged and hurting but the world doesn't resolve around us.
But also whenever possible, be as kind as possible. Because the world is chaotic and often cruel -- and our kindness can make a difference. Both to others, and to ourselves.