Taking a quick detour from discussing books, I would like to tell you guys about something that I experienced today.
As usual, I spent my lunch break at Barnes & Noble, coffee in one hand, book in the other. This is my favorite way to spend my breaks and really helps me unwind after having people in the office bother me with requests all morning. Lately I’ve really needed these breaks. As if work stress isn’t enough, I’ve been going through some very challenging personal stuff this past year.
I’ve been in therapy for a couple of weeks now, working on recovering from my relapse into depression and my eating disorder. If you are familiar with mental health issues, I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how exhausting and frustrating the road to recovery can be. I’ve had some pretty good days since starting therapy. And some really bad ones.
I’ve been forcing myself to do all of the things I need to do to get back to a more normalized eating pattern and not be so obsessive over eating healthy. Some days I feel good about this, others I don’t. In addition to repairing my relationship with food, I’ve been trying to repair my damaged relationship with my body. After spending months of telling myself horrible things and beating my body image down to a bloody pulp, this is probably harder for me to fix than the food issue.
When I showed up at Barnes & Noble today I was determined to read my book and stay distracted enough that I wouldn’t let the negative thoughts start to creep out. It wasn’t an easy task though. Thoughts of what I’m going to eat for dinner tonight already started creating chaos in my brain. I was supposed to plan dinner out ahead of time, but I dropped the ball. I wasn’t feeling super confident in my appearance today either, having thrown my hair up in a messy bun this morning just before leaving the house.
As I sat there, struggling to focus on the pages before me and ignore the panic ensuing in my head, an elderly man in a wheelchair came up to my table and introduced himself. I’d never seen him before in my entire life, but I introduced myself and shook his hand anyway.
“Excuse me, miss, I don’t mean to interrupt you, but I saw you from my table over there and I just wanted to come over and say hello. You are absolutely beautiful and I just wanted to tell you that in case no one else has today,” he told me.
I’m sure there are a lot of people who would have gotten creeped out or assumed that the man was trying to hit on me. (This is often my first assumption also when strange men approach me.) He wasn’t though. He didn’t take his comments any further, didn’t say anything inappropriate, look at me funny, or ask if I was single. In the few more minutes we chatted he asked me about the book I was reading and told me how much he loved coming to Barnes & Noble, but given that he’s in a wheelchair, he doesn’t get out much. After that we wished each other a good afternoon and I left to return to work.
He didn’t say much and he didn’t know anything about what I’e been struggling with lately, but the kind words of that man made me smile. Part of me wanted to cry. Those few words that we exchanged were exactly what I needed to hear in order to pull myself out of the funk I was about to spiral into.
You never know what’s happening in someone else’s life. You never know what a few kind words to someone could mean to them. You could make someone’s entire day without even realizing it.