Mistaken Identity

There have been many instances in which people have made assumptions about me that weren’t true. I always find these experiences extremely disconcerting. I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. I think of myself as someone who is pretty easy to read. But of course, I shouldn’t assume that total strangers know how to read me.

Once, I was shopping for a purse and my hands were full, so I put all my stuff on the floor and picked up a purse and looked inside to see if it had well designed compartments (as you do), and suddenly this store detective grabbed me rather forcefully by my arm. I looked at him and said, “What the hell?” and he apologized and walked off. He thought I was trying to steal the purse.

That reminded me of the many times I was followed by detectives in stores as a teenager. Yes, I was quite visibly poor, but that didn’t mean I was a thief. I’ve never stolen so much as a stick of gum in my entire life. (Well, that’s not true. I have walked off with my fair share of ball point pens. But I swear to you that it’s never intentional.)

Then there was the time when my greyhound ripped up my couch at 3 in the morning and gashed his leg wide open on the springs. I rushed him to the 24 hour emergency vet. The vet was hostile and uncooperative. I was freaked out and still in my pajamas, but that didn’t mean I was neglectful or abusive to my dog. He changed his attitude when I gave him the long list of very expensive medications that dog was on. Suddenly he looked at me in a completely different light. “Wow, maybe she does care about her dog.” That really pissed me off, because this was an emergency, for crying out loud. I didn’t have time to justify my character while my dog was bleeding out in the waiting room.

Once, while traveling in Turkey, I decided to rent a car for a portion of the journey. Simply because I was female, they wouldn’t rent the car to me unless I test drove it with them. They made it clear that they’d have felt much better if it had been my boyfriend driving. I found that quite amusing, since he’d been in no less than 7 car accidents, all of which were his fault. That’s why I did all the driving in that relationship.

I can’t count the number of times 911 operators have assumed I was a crank caller. I’ve also been accused of cheating when I hadn’t (big shout out to one of my ex’s entire freakin’ loser family), lying when I wasn’t, and being part of a bigger conspiracy when I couldn’t have cared less. I’ve also been told that I really must want children when I don’t, and that there’s something strange about me because I don’t want to dress sexy every waking moment of my life. Don’t even get me started on the innumerable times I have been considered less intelligent than I am.

There’s nothing more frustrating to me than being misunderstood. This makes me realize, though, that I get to hide behind my white privilege quite a bit. Most people assume I’m harmless, which means these negative situations crop up rarely enough to cause me outrage when they do. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a minority and have to contend with this bs every single day.

mistaken

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2 thoughts on “Mistaken Identity

  1. Brian

    The difference between you and I is that we’re the SAME but I think we’ve dealt with this same issue in a different way. My prediction is that in your life, someone was psychology abusive but you managed to get the hell away from them. You succeeded to get them out of your life and that’s why you see no reason to tolerate anybody else’s… crap, which is fair enough. Your anger will be compassion-based and you’ll be an angel for people’s self-esteem and survival – Be proud

    My way on the other hand has been different. The abusive person in my life, their partial involvement… (Legal stuff) I wasn’t able to get rid of it. I wanted to, but I needed help and I couldn’t get that either. So I’ve had to embrace this abusive person in my life to free myself from the consequences of my resentment. Like you said, if you had to put up with it every day it would defo be bad. Thus it started to make me psychically ill and so, I had to get it sorted. Luckily, I’ve been able to use more a skilful way of thinking in real time to begin untangling it all. And thus, I understand with my heart, that defining reality with a confused emotional reaction is wilful self-deception. Peace at last

    All of this is relevant to what you’re saying because if I were in any of those situations that you’ve just described, I would genuinely feel free to not reduce myself to the ignorance of those people. There came a point with me where it was no longer safe to do so, and perhaps that’s what it takes before some people will learn..

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