Handing Back the Hate

Published April 26, 2010 by Fat Heffalump

Yesterday I got an email from a friend (you know who you are *waves*) terribly upset because she’d been yelled at by some douchebags in a passing car again, and wanted to talk to someone who knows what it’s like to be on the receiving end of such bullshit.

My heart hurts for her, because yes, it happens to me pretty regularly, and I know how it can really pierce through to a very vulnerable spot.  I remember the humiliation, the hurt, the shame, the tears, the shock very clearly.  And I remember just thinking “Why?  What do you have to gain from being so hurtful to me, a complete stranger?”

I sent her an email telling her what an awesome friend she is, and how the opinion of random douchebags on the street is no reflection on her as a person.  But I know it’s still hurting and that her self esteem has taken a pretty full on hit.

The thing is, knowing why someone has to randomly hurt a stranger doesn’t help.  Even if you were given the opportunity to ask knowing that the answer you would get would be honest (and let’s face it, douchebags are not really forthcoming with the honesty huh?) the answer wouldn’t be enough to you and I, to those of us on the receiving end, to justify being targeted with such hate and humiliation.  Because usually, it’s such a pointless reason that we can’t imagine someone would hurt another person for it.

My friend asked me how I stopped it happening to me, and how I got to the point that it doesn’t hurt any more.

It doesn’t happen any less to me now that I have stronger self esteem and confidence.  It still happens pretty much on a daily basis.  Sometimes it still hurts for a bit, usually with the shock, you know?  Though why I still feel shock when it happens, I don’t know.  You’d think I’d be used to it by now.

But what has changed is me.  I’ve found a resilience I didn’t know it was possible to have.  Though I didn’t just lift up one of the sofa cushions and there that resilience was, I had to learn a lot of lessons and practice.  I still do, believe me, I fall off the resilient wagon from time to time.

Plus any of you who blog will know, having a presence on a blog as a fat woman is always target to trolls and douchebags.  Thank God for WordPress huh?  It cleans up so many of them so effectively.

A valuable lesson I learnt is that when someone treats you badly, it’s not your fault and it’s not your baggage to carry.  It’s not about you, you’re just the whipping girl/boy they’ve singled out to dump their baggage on.  You’re not the one that is flawed or broken… THEY ARE.

I have an analogy I like to use.  I was sharing this one with another friend recently, it’s a little more blunt than most therapists and other professionals would express it, but it works for me so I’m going to share it with you.

When someone is hurtful to you, think of that hurtful behaviour as a big steaming turd.  I told you it was blunt!  Think of the hate, or anger, or nastiness they are slinging you as a big steaming poo.  Now ask yourself “Did I do anything to earn this big steaming turd?  Was I nasty or rude to this person?  Did I say or do something to them that would have hurt them?”  Usually the answer is no, because hey, they’re a random douchebag right?

When the answer is no, as it usually will be, think to yourself “No, that is not my big steaming turd.  I didn’t produce it.  It’s yours.” and metaphorically hand it back to them.  Refuse it in your own mind “I am not taking on your shit.  It is yours to carry.”  Imagine yourself handing them back that big stinky poo, on the end of a shovel so you don’t get any on yourself, and washing your hands of it.

It works.  In two ways.  Firstly you hand back all the hate, negativity, anger, prejudice and bad behaviour to the person who owns it.  And secondly, I always get a giggle out of thinking of some douchebag standing there with a bit stinky turd in his or her hand!  If the douchebags of the world knew what I was thinking about them!

It’s wrong that we have to deal with this.  It’s wrong that we have to suffer through people treating us badly for whatever reasons – but it happens and you can only deal with it as best as you can.

Feel free to try my method – if it works for you, I’m really happy to have shared it.  If not, have you found another method that helps you get through douchebaggery?

20 comments on “Handing Back the Hate

  • If the douchebags were honest, the answer would be something like “Because I get my jollies humiliating people who can’t fight back”.

    I get this shit now and again, but no doubt females cop it more.

  • That’s one of the answers, yes.

    Sometimes it’s “I feel better about my own sorry self when I am nasty to you.” Or “I am jealous of you.” And a million other reasons that simply don’t justify their shitty behaviour.

  • I like your analogy 🙂

    For me, accepting that I am fat took a lot of the sting out of calls of “Fatass”. I’m a bit surprised by it myself – but when someone calls me fat on the street, I think “Yeah, I’m fat. Your point is…?”. I know what their point is – to hurt. But since I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m fat and realized that “fat” is just a descriptor, it doesn’t hurt me anymore. I know people who are calling me fat in public are tryin to tear me down, and they always strike me as people who can’t win a fight by use of arguments, stamp their feet and say “Well, you… you… YOU’RE JUST STUPID!” or something. But that might be because this happens most often in what I’ll call “traffic disagreements” 🙂

    “Ugly” is a whole other can of worms, though. That’s an insult I fear and that does really upset me. The only thing that slightly helps when someone calls me ugly is realizing that it’s just a go-to insult for people who want to tear a woman down, because a woman’s worth is supposedly only in her looks. But “ugly” stings.

    • I hear you Stacey. My comeback for the ugly line (and I get it fairly regularly) is “I’m not here to decorate the world, I’m here to change it.” I heard a nice one the other day too “I don’t owe you pretty, arsehole.”

      • Ooh, those are good! Will think of a snappy, easy-to-yell-back translation into my native language for both of them.

  • People who do this shit are not just ‘getting their jollies’. If you do not have low self-esteem & insecurities within yourself, there is no need to abuse others. I know a few confident, reasonably emotionally healthy people, one in particular quite intimately, who do not feel the need to reassure themselves of their superiority to every fat/disabled/conventionally unattractive person they meet by shoveling out random abuse.

    I am fat & have beenfor the majority of my life, but I live in Maine, which has a large (no pun intended) fat population, so my public abuse has almost never been about body size. I was born with cerebral palsy & have a very noticeable limp, easily seen physical differences in movement/body control, etc. THAT has been the target of the ignorant, insecure, very unhappy jackasses who wanted to make themselves feel better by dumping their shit on someone else. Make no mistake about it…when a person is nasty & abusive to random strangers, it is because HE is excessively aware of HIS OWN inadequacies. I have long suspected it, much as the remarks & ridicule hurt, but it has been really imprinted on my mind & soul in the years that I have loved & been loved by a self-confident, caring man, a stereotypically tall, dark, handsome ex-jock who has always been at home in his own body & comfortable with who he is, &, as such, is able to live & let live & not ridicule others for their differences, & who is even self-confident & secure enough to allow himself to love someone who is very ‘different’, a classic weirdo/nerd/freak, or, as one charmer called me in high school, a “fat, ugly, crippled, four-eyed freak.” And you had better believe that THAT was about his own adolescent insecurities, his fear that he didn’t measure up, that he wasn’t really one of the cool, popular kids.

    BTW, I was also very bright & bookish, a talented writer, possessor of the highest English grades in the history of our small high school, & popular with teachers. That in itself virtually guaranteed abuse & ostracism.

    • I think they mask the real reasons with “because it’s fun”. They kid themselves that they’re only doing it for sport, rather than being honest with themselves, as I said to Wriggles above.

    • Patsy, I was unaware you live in Maine as well! Very exciting to see a fellow fatosphere lady from my home state!
      Despite our large fat population, I haven’t escaped the public ridicule about my body size. The younger years of school were some of the worst for it, and it reared its head again when I got to college and out into “the real world”. Imagine my surprise, after gaining some confidence in my high school years, not having to deal with my fat being a public issue, when random hosers would take it upon themselves to tell me I wasn’t welcome in places, or scream “Go to Subway, fatty!” when I was catching the cheapest burger my broke student ass could afford so I didn’t go hungry that day.
      What the hell is wrong with these people? I thought we were adults by now. You’re absolutely right that it’s their own insecurities, and their dumping on anybody is just personal deflection. I’m so sorry to hear that your differences in movement were the target of that abuse. How petty and heartbreaking.

      • Just an aside… I’ve always wanted to go to Maine. Maybe when I get back to the US in November.

      • Oh gosh, if you do come here, sleepydumpling, please let me know! I’d love to meet up and show you around/talk being-awesome shop! haha!

  • The crap random strangers deal out doesn’t bother me in the least anymore, mainly because I know I don’t know them, I don’t have to live with them, and I don’t have to interact with them for hours on end on a daily basis. Most of the time, I know I’m never going to see them again, so who cares what they think and say? All they’re doing is showing their ignorance, intolerance, and insecurity, and since I so out-rank them on all those levels, I can ignore them (unless I feel like handing out a smart-ass come-back, which I’m fully capable of doing if I’m in the mood).

    • As someone with strong self esteem, I feel the same way.

      But I remember in the days when I hated myself, when I thought that all the world’s problems were my fault because I was fat. I didn’t have the confidence to shrug off the douchebaggery and I carried that pain very deeply. Thankfully now I have the tools like those I mentioned in this post to help me do that. With time, I hope to never let it bother me at all.

  • let’s face it, douchebags are not really forthcoming with the honesty huh?

    In general maybe, but to be fair to the real bona fide douches, they usually are forthcoming about their reasons for hating, they tend to tell you flat out that it makes them feel good to see you hurting. They enjoy your pain. They need it.

    I suppose if you see someone going about their business, and you say something to them and see the pain register, you know you’re alive.

    Finally they can exert their power, and in their minds, decide what kind of day you’re going to have, and if they’re really lucky, to haunt you for much longer in absentia. Power indeed.

    This in a world where they feel pretty powerless-although they may kid themselves about this, with some big talk.

    In fact, the distance between the latter and the former is maybe what really provokes the urge to strike, to reassure the self that, yes, they are as great as they want to think they are.

    You’ve told the way to get over that, and that’s not to be their ally inside yourself, by learning to no longer reject your own self. To become your own best friend.

    The problem for me is the way fatness has liberated everyone else’s inner douche, it’s the good people who are really lying to themselves because they know better, so they lie to quiet their conscience.

    In their case, I’m trying to reframe their urge to keep telling us how fat we are as an overwheening urge-a kind of mental tick-to mention it to dispel their inner angst by altogether now;

    Telling us how fat we are!!

    • Wriggles I’m not sure the root cause of it though is just for fun. They do it because it makes them feel powerful, or boosts their self esteem, or because they’re jealous of you. Though they mask it with “because it’s fun”. They can’t even be honest with themselves, let alone the person they are targeting.

  • I can’t even begin to fathom why someone wold do this. I was never the kind of person yelling things to random strangers passing by. If I did, as I try to imagine, I would feel terrible about myself knowing that I gained some sort of giggle out of hurting someone else.

    Were these young boys? I think they tend to do things like this to impress their friends and get a laugh out of them. Not that it’s right, but that’s what they do out of immaturity. Unfortunately, I can recall back to high school, riding the bus home, and boys would yell at the fat girl getting off or shaming the girl who wore short shorts and a tank top telling her to put some clothes on. After their peers laugh at the comments, you can tell that the kid is enjoying his 15 seconds of fame with the crowd. Often, I think it’s also about that. Sad, but true.

    I applaud you for handling things the way you did and I love that turd affiliation. I also have to say that you seem like a great friend to your hurt friend. Hopefully, she will gain the confidence you have over time. It IS wrong that you have to do it, but it only makes you the better and stronger person.

    • I guess you and I can’t fathom this sort of behaviour because we’re not douchebags. We’re people living our own lives and minding our own business.

      Not young boys at all. Grown men in a car in this particular case. But I’ve had everything from young guys (say 18-25 years), older men, women, old people… you name it, douchebags pop up in all age groups. However it usually tends to be men more often than women. But that’s not to say women don’t do it. The worst culprits seem to be men under 40 though.

  • Sweetnfat, I intend to spend another 3 months or so over there, but you know, it’s a damn big country! But if I can, I will!

  • Hey there. Reading this post has made me smile and taken a weight off my shoulders. I have had this happen to me several times but one time always stands out. I was downtown, walking around by myself, enjoying a lovely cool, gray day, just shopping and whatnot. I was happily walking in the streets, feeling good, and also wearing a cute outfit in my opinion. Well, of course, a car full of young douche nozzles drove by yelling things like “fat is not your color” (oh yeah, seriously) and other such oh so clever and nasty remarks. I didn’t cry. I still have never cried about it. I don’t think my jaw even dropped. I rolled my eyes, shook my head, and gave them big fake sarcastic “I know you’re an asshole” smiles.

    It…. scares me. It scares me that people not only look at me and feel that way but are confident enough in their nastiness to yell out of a car so that anyone in the area can hear them. They don’t worry about how THEY look because they are so sure that bullying me is just totes awesome.

    I may not have ever cried about it, I may laugh it off in a “Wow, some people sure are horrible” way, but it’s still amazing, when you really think about it. You’re analogy made me feel tons (heh) better. Thank you.

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