To the man in the van who called out of his window at me on my way to pick my son up from school. To the man in the van who yelled the words, “Oi oi, sexy! – beeping his horn as he did so – Aww, smile love! Cheer up!!! It’s not the the end of the world”. To the man in the van who thought this was perfectly acceptable behaviour. Let me explain to you why it’s not . . . . . . . . . . .
I don’t feel sexy. I don’t feel sexy because less than five months ago I gave birth to my daughter who never came home from the hospital with us.
I don’t feel sexy because my hair is in the postpartum hair loss stage and although I’m not an overly vain person, the fact that my body is still going through changes relating to my daughter’s pregnancy is a constant reminder to me of what I have lost. The fact I have scars across my stomach that were made by her is a daily reminder of my little girl.
I don’t feel sexy because last week was a ‘bad week’. Last week I felt more miserable than I ever thought possible. I can only pressume from the way you so nonchantly yelled from your van that you live a pretty carefree life and maybe you have never gone through a similar experience? I hope you haven’t and never will.
I don’t feel sexy because last night, I didn’t sleep too well. You see, sometimes I have dreams that I’m back in the hospital or I dream that Evalyn is home with us and everything’s as it should be only to wake up and realise that the nightmare isn’t in my dreams but in reality itself.
You tell me to smile? I’m sorry, but I can’t smile right now as I am still grieving. And maybe my smile moving forward will always be different now? Maybe my eyes won’t crinkle at the edges like they used to and my lips will part with a little more force than usual. I don’t know. Time will tell.
You tell me to Cheer Up! It’s not the end of the world! Actually, it is. It is the end of a chapter in my life with a climax I never asked for. A little bit of my world as I knew it has ended. But that’s ok! Because you’ve just informed me that it is, in fact, not the end of the world and despite everything, I suddenly feel so much lighter that you were on hand with your ‘drive-by newsflash’!!!!
Instead, let me tell you what does make me feel good (I’m sorry to break this to you, but it’s not you and all that charisma you’ve got going on)!!
I feel sexy because when my husband comes home from work, the first thing he says as he steps through the door each night is ‘I love you.’ He works hard to make a good life for his family and I love the fact that I was blessed in life to not only meet a true gentleman, but to marry him also (please take note that a true gentleman, like my husband, does not feel the need to shout out of his car window at random women. FYI).
I feel sexy because the other day whilst trying on dresses to see if my post-pregancy body would still fit into them, my four year old son entered the room and exclaimed ‘O, Mummy! You look beautiful!” With five little words he made me feel like a queen.
I feel sexy because there are days, not every day, when I feel a little bit stronger. And there are days when I start to feel like nothing can get to me or drag me down (apart from, of course, men in certain vans with loud voices)! . . . . . . .
Of course, you don’t know any of this. You just saw a young woman walking along the pavement by the roadside and probably thought to yourself, ‘I know what would MAKE her day! A fly away comment shouted through a passing window! And you know what? She looks a little glum so I’ll tell her to cheer up too.’ You didn’t know that that was the first time I’d left the house that day or that an hour before I actually felt a bit anxious about doing so. You didn’t know that it actually takes the smallest thing to set me off at that moment. That the smallest bit of anger or frustration can multiply itself within seconds and I then spend the rest of the day trying to bring myself back to a ‘happier state of mind’ (or write a blog post – that works just as well)! You didn’t know any of these things. And that’s completely OK. . . .
But you didn’t THINK.
You didn’t think about how a comment like that can affect somebody. To you, it’s a laugh. To me, it’s bad timing and unnecessary. I’ll let you in on a secret . . . women don’t really like being shouted at from car windows. We don’t really like having crude comments being flung our way through the air. I didn’t like the fact even more that, as you drove away, I caught a flash of your wedding ring. Of course, it depends who your target is that day.
You may target a woman who’s having a good day and she may just shake her head, inwardly call you a prick and forget you in the next breath. That would’ve been me before November last year. Or you may target the wrong women. The me post-November. You may target a woman who really doesn’t appreciate your words. You may target someone who really doesn’t appreciate being told their world hasn’t ended. You may, unknowingly target a grieving parent.
Or someone else of a different suffering. You may target, uknowingly, someone who has been bullied their whole life. Someone who’s already suffered name calling and being harrassed. You may target someone who looks fine outwardly, but who has inner demons and is just trying to ‘get by’. You may target someone who’s having a bad day and could really do without ‘smark remarks’ from a stranger.
To the man in the van . . . . THINK!
Ok, so shouting out of your window isn’t really going to affect your day. You’ll drive on and never think about it again. But maybe, just maybe, it might affect someone else’s. Those words don’t really need to be said, do they? They’re not going to make your day instantly better or make you a better person. And yeah, maybe it is just a flippant comment, but it doesn’t really need to be said. I was brought up with the two Golden Rules of childhood. 1 – Dont talk to strangers. And 2. If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all. . . . I can only pressume you weren’t brought up with the same values?
To the man in the van. THINK! Think before you speak. Think back to the times in your life when someone has said a comment in jest, yet for you, it felt like so much more.
To the Man in the Van. Let me leave you with this quote. Maybe one day you’ll somehow stumble upon it yourself and maybe the words will register with a part of you. Just maybe . . .
Be careful with your words. Once they are said, they can only be forgiven. Not forgotten.