The Race

I stood in a puddle with water seeping into my shoes, judging her. Wrapping her life into a neat little box to enable me to dislike her. As I stood there, I wondered why I was doing it. 

Why was my default emotion towards her to pin myself against her, like a race?  

Why was I placing her and I into an invisible rivalry? Why do we humans do that?? Pitch ourselves against one another?  

She hadn’t done anything to make me feel less than. She hadn’t looked down at me or said anything derogatory to me, yet I was standing in the rain full of animosity for this woman I didn’t even know. The only thing I knew was that she was different to me. That’s it.  

And when someone’s not alike, my brain tries to work out why they are different to me. I list why we should remain on different planes, hoping our differences are what will keep us apart.  

I was judging a stranger on how she looked and on how I imagined her life to be.

I wonder why I want to make people different rather than find common ground? Instead of making a friend or seeing good in this woman, I was automatically creating a competitor. I was conjuring the worst in my head instead of giving her an equal, fair start. 

I was judging a stranger on how she looked and on how I imagined her life to be. How ridiculous of me! I almost wanted to slap myself around the face to snap out of my negative opinion of her because I knew it was irrational and unfounded. 

As I stood there, I took in a deep breath and I decided to change tack. 

Instead, I imagined her screaming into a pillow at night along with the rest of the tired mothers on the planet. I thought of her struggling with shyness or trauma. I imagined her feeling the things I felt, suffering like we all do at times, hoping for better and trying to fit in. 

I realised she was doing her best just like me, probably trying to impress her mother’s group, trying to keep up with life, with kids, with being good enough.  

I had empathy instead of judgement and I felt my mood lift. 

Before I knew what I was doing, I called her 

“Hey! Excuse me, you dropped this.” 

I handed it over. 

“Oh, thanks,” she said with a big smile. “Would you like a lift somewhere? That rain doesn’t seem to be slowing.” 

I blushed. 

“It’s OK, my husband is on his way.” 

“Well then, take my umbrella. You can keep it.” 

And without a word, I took it. 

Then she was gone. 

We can spend our lifetimes refereeing life and looking for faults. But what good does it do when we don’t actually know? 

I put up the umbrella and waited for my husband. 

In the car I said, “A nice lady gave me an umbrella and now I feel all warm inside.” He just looked at me and said, “Did you get the chocolate puddings I like?” and drove home. 

It just shows, my daughter was right. We can spend our entire lives guessing and judging who people are, what they are like and how they feel. We can spend our lifetimes refereeing life and looking for faults. But what good does it do when we don’t actually know? 

Let’s face it, everyone has a story, no matter if they seem happy or rich or have perfect children in the back of a Range Rover eating bliss balls. Under every happy surface lies a history, some pain and low self-esteem. Some sadness and some trauma. 

Realising this, listening to my negative chatter made me kinder that day. I turned it around, stopped myself in my well-worn tracks. I changed my thought process and like my daughter, I am trying harder to start each interaction with equality until I learn otherwise. This might be a sober thing, being more aware of how I treat people, but whatever it is, it feels better. I’m hoping these small changes will mean this race doesn’t have to feel so fucking long. 

So, I admit: 

I was wrong about her. 

I’m wrong a lot. 

But I’m trying to do better. 

I’m trying to be a bit more umbrella. 

Victoria lives on The Sunshine Coast on the East Coast of Australia. She has three uncontrollable children, a very patient husband and a dog. She’s been sober for 2 years and writes about her zig zaggy journey in her blog www.drunkmummysobermummy.comVictoria is currently writing a book about parenting, alcohol and life as a sober mum. 

You can follow her (in a non-stalky way) on Instagram and Facebook.

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