so i’m about to explode, it’s been days since the stupid incident and i keep trying to talk myself into putting it to rest but it’s not happening. i’ve been confronted by this type of person before and while it’s super uncomfortable i’ve always left the situation with an uncertainty on how i could have done things differently. that uncertainty seems like a black hole and the black hole puts thinking about it on hold. however this time is different, i finally know what i wish i had said but i pretty much want to tell the whole story. I need to get it out me.

there’s a local chain that we’re talking marketing pictures for. i worked for the company 8 years ago when it was starting out and the founder/owner was still very hands on. because i was 22 at the time i was a little too transparent and talked loudly about train hopping and veganism, blah blah blah. for whatever reason the owner appreciated my transparency and we’d have ‘real talk’. i’ve cried in front of him more times than is appropriate, once due to a conversation about styroform killing the planet (embarrassing). my point is that he knows what to expect with me and consistently has honors my judgement. he’s a really really great guy. we’ll call him Mr Awesome.

so we’re taking pictures of a handful of customers who volunteered to participate in this project. we’ve taken a dozen pictures over the last few months. last week we’re in this strangers house taking his picture in his kitchen. his wife is home, his little kids are in their room and all is well.

after the picture he signs the photo release and as he hands it over he says “i just wanted you to know that you’re welcome to come to our church, we go to the watermark, i don’t know if you’re familiar…” i cut him off, “oh, yes, i’ve seen that church before” i have a big stupid grin on my face because i think what he’s saying is incredibly polite, i’m honored and a little surprised but then he picks back up. “i don’t know what your religious background is…” i cut him off again, “i’m 100% jewish” i say with my stupid grin. historically speaking a lot of christians assume my star of david is a satanic symbol so i figured he was thinking i was satanic and in need of something better or whatever. (when i was 22 and on the clock a christian woman told Mr Awesome that she thought it was interesting that he had a witch working for him then he connected the dots and clarified what my tattoo actual represented and i was indeed not a witch). so i say i’m jewish and he zooms pass that. he starts talking a million miles a minute, every run on sentence grows longer and there’s no space for me to get in and say anything. he repeats “we’d really like it if you came out to lunch with me and my family” and his invitation to church maybe 3 or 4 times. he told these run on sentences of stories about what god has done for his marriage and mentions his friends drinking problem, mentions something to the tone of what kind of man he would like to be but fortunately for god keeping him straight he’s a better husband. he quickly asked how long we had been married. when we said almost 5 years he pretty much said that we must be a struggling with our young marriage then went back to the vague reference of him being a inner creep, trying to relate his nasty desires to what he imagined we must all be going through. my face instantly sunk, i fucking had tears in my eyes. i could barely hear over the voices in head saying, “fuck do we cry?!? do not cry! wait, maybe crying would take him down a notch. no, fuck that, do not cry.” the chemicals in my body were saying “you’re being attacked” with large sirens going off in my head. everything he was saying felt too personal, i felt like i wanted no part of it.

it wasn’t purely what he was saying but how he was saying it. he was talking in a way that was specifically to ensure that he got all of his words and thoughts in my head and that i couldn’t politely say anything. for 15 minutes he talked straight, he didn’t ask us anything for the sake of getting to know us. he baited a few times with loaded questions to further his golden opportunity to talk at us. he didn’t ask how me and mark met, he asked how long we were married so he could segue into saying more of what he wanted to say. i could have said anything, truth or not, i meant nothing in the moment. it’s fucking disgusting to have a conversation where you know what the other person wants to hear, it’s a total set up conversation. why even have it?

if a stranger asks me very private and personal shit that is a complete red flag and my brain will sound the fucking alarm, “we’re under attack! retreat!”.

what are we going to talk about my sex life next? maybe my childhood?

in my heart with my values i know that “god” pretty much trumps EVERYTHING. there is nothing more personal and sacred (and universal and maybe even mundane?) than something as literately wholly as that and you think i want to talk about that with you? that doesn’t even fucking compute… but neither does wearing clothes and having a job but i’m beyound civilazed enough to play along. i understand what is really going on, i’m being talked down to and being talked at. i’m on the fucking clock and all i can think is “if Mr Awesome or my father or another “real” adult was here this conversation wouldn’t be on this level. this stranger would likely invite them to his church but it completely felt as though this guy was crossing boundaries that he wouldn’t do with someone he had more respect for.” that’s my assumption. i felt completely disrespected.

this guy thinks he’s pulling one over on me, he thinks that if he uses smiles and the polite gesture of inviting me to spend time with his family that saying nice things in disrespectful ways some how makes it okay. if you treat me like a piece of shit by talking at me then you acting like a nice guy is just manipulative. i don’t need your approval or your family’s company. that sounds like the worst fucking self serving idea ever. hell no.

just to get on a high horse real quick, this guy doesn’t know me, doesn’t know what special little relationships live in my heart. since he doesn’t know me he’s taking the high road of assuming that he has more answers than i do. and assuming he knows what my questions are in the first place. let’s see, he had answers for shitty marriages and alcoholism…if i was god i would have fired him in the moment, “take your shit and get out of here. she doesn’t even drink you asshole”. you’re not a palm reader, i’m not asking you to guess my sign. we’re talking about THE TRUTH, i don’t need your bullshit guessing games. go work on your marriage because i promise you’re using me to distract yourself from your own issues.

am i really all bent out of shape with this religious version of being tele-marketed to? no, the frustration is pretty much 2 things which have to do with me.
#1 in my head it feels like the person talking at me is silencing me but it’s really the voice in my head that says if i speak up i will be written off. if i say that i think something they’re saying is bullshit they’re just going to do a character assassination. it’s the devil in my that i closing my heart or some shit they may assume so i feel defeated, unlistened to and unheard then silence myself.
#2 some of the frustration i chalk up to the growing pains of the shoe being on the other foot. how many times i have i posted some stupid article on facebook as an indirect way to talk at someone. it’s belittling and i was doing it because i didn’t respect the person i was secretly hoping would see it. (again, embarrassing)

so here is what i’ve figured out:
1. i do have a voice. if someone is playing the run on sentence game i can either scream or walk away.
2. if someone is saying some crazy stuff to me vaguely about god and i can contest. i’m not contesting god i’m contesting every word in the sentence except the word god. i don’t have to be scared of people attacks and fear tactics. if i’m not credible to listen to then why act like we’re having a discussion?

if i could go back in time here’s what i would do, i would interrupt the guy and say this:
“no, you’re taking advantage of me & you’re belittling me by trying to just slide this conversation past me with out even checking in to see if you’re crossing any of my boundaries. No.”

if i’m in your house then the ball is in your court. if i’m on the clock and us speaking to each other is required as part of my job then you’re taking advantage me.

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