There is a woman in my town who I probably only run into once a year or so–and I haven’t known her long, so I could probably count on my fingers the number of times I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with her.
I do, however, associate with people who know her well, and so her name and/or projects she is working on frequently come across my radar.
What bothers me is how much she bothers me.
Because I like to think of myself as this broadminded, non-judgmental, forgiving type and the only thing she has ever done to me is, well… pretty much nothing. Yeah, I could point out a few insensitive comments here and there, but if you took those comments and set them down beside other offenses I have long ago completely forgiven significantly more villainous people it would be like comparing, I don’t know: this bit of fluff I just picked off my sweater to a woolly mammoth, fully reincarnated.
And yet I cannot like her. I cannot even hear her name without some inner uhhhg-meter buzzing off the charts.
It’s ridiculous. Because If I had to, I could get up in a public meeting and give her a glowing introduction; she is a fine specimen of motherhood, civic service, all-around girl scout extraordinaire.
Is it jealousy?
Uh… nope. Just did a soul-searching inventory, and I wouldn’t trade places with her for anything.
So what is it that makes my lip involuntarily curl when I hear her name? What is it that makes me excuse myself from any conversation that involves her or from commenting on anything she has ever had a hand in? For a long time I’ve been perplexed by this question because I’m not accustomed to loathing people and yet I cannot shake this one.
But I think it just came to me–as I was wandering around, trying to understand why I hate a lint-dropper as though she were a mammoth. I think it’s the same feeling I have toward certain other individuals in my life whose effect on me really isn’t up for examination because I never associate with them and so pretty much forget they exist.
People who cannot, but attempt, to disguise their antipathy toward me: my social class, my life choices or whatever it is about me that makes their uhhhg-meter buzz of the charts.
(How dare everyone not adore me? I mean really.)
Are those the people we find the hardest to love? The ones who make us feel somewhat less than human?
And is it okay to co-exist like that–just accept that there are people you will never see eye to eye with? Are we under any sort of obligation to actually love those enemies or can we just avoid them? Hmmm?
Ha! And how many of you, reading this, are suddenly seized by a dread that I might be talking about you?
Relax: I guarantee that if you’re reading this, you’re not her; she would never stoop to reading the banality of commoners such as us.