It was at the tail end of my son’s grade two year. It was hotter than hell outside and Shawn was making me lug all the lawn chairs from our car to a safe spot alongside the first baseline. I heard her call my name from the ball field. I knew it was her. I knew it was her because she had this special way of inflecting a “hint of witch” in her tone that made every fiber of your body instinctively seize up.
She’s the type of person that everyone says is super nice but you can’t trust her.
I see through you Karen.
“Aren’t you so glad to be here?” she asked.
I wrestled with the thick straps on the lawn chair bags that had dug into my shoulders, “Nope. Not at all.”
“Ugh, you are so negative!”
Another mom standing by swatted her arm, “That’s rude! It’s hot out man. I don’t want to be here either.”
Karen: No, she is negative. Like she is negative all the damn time. Like all the time.
*She was finger pointing at me*
Me: It’s really hot out.
Other Mom: You’re so harsh!
Karen: No she’s so negative.
Me: It’s hot out and I want to be inside where it’s cool. Your team is fantastic and ours is not so much. So how about your team just gets it over with and —
Karen: See! See!
She kept spouting off to her friends as I stood there. Anger bubbling inside my gut watching her stiff ramen noodle curls that framed her face barely moved as her head shook when she squabbled. Who puts that much mousse in their hair anymore Karen? Who?
Well, sorry Karen if I am tired and feel like staying home and sleeping rather than attending a long drawn out 7 year old baseball game.
Me: Enjoy your game. See I’m smiling and things. I’m starting to feel more positive as I’m walking away!
And I walked off.
What Karen didn’t know was that at that time of year, I was battling depression and anxiety. My son had been bullied to a literal pulp by his grade two teacher which had left him feeling like a shell of himself. We were fighting with the school and trying to get help. As a family, we were completely drowning and there was Karen….
There always seems to be a Karen pointing out when “I’m negative”.
So Karen, next time when I wake up in the morning and I’m feeling anxious or depressed, I will remember to snap right out of it and put on a happy face instead.
I don’t want to upset you.
I’m just kidding.
Here’s the thing Karen, I don’t want to feel this way. I didn’t choose to feel this way. Bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, PTSD – those are is a real illnesses that I and so many people on this planet have. I fight the thoughts in my brain every single day. Every damn day. That’s exhausting wouldn’t you say?
Do you go to the gym every day Karen?
Like from the moment you wake up till the time you go to bed? Sweating on the treadmill, feeling the burn in your quads, heart pounding, can’t breathe, your brain is telling you you are garbage because look at how slow your going or some crap like that, go faster Karen, everyone is watching you and you are a hot mess, and you want to quit but you have to keep on going until bedtime?
OK, just keeping my fight in perspective Karen.
I can’t turn off my brain – whatever bipolar episode I’m in, throw in the anxiety, I’m a mom, a wife, I dibble dabble in this writing thing, I’ve also got to think about what I’m cooking for dinner, laundry, doctor’s appointments, and tackling this voodoo textbook called grade four math homework I’ve got to help my kid with at night, etc. – so I am tired.
You don’t know what I’m going through because I try to hide it as much as I can and do you want to know why? Not because I am ashamed of my illness. No. But Because of you Karen’s of the world who make me feel like I’m a burden when I’m “like this” – when I cannot keep my shit together. When I can’t keep that “happy” face turned on for you. Heaven forbid I ruin your day by not smiling or laughing or by just being silent or keeping to myself entirely because you are all too much.
The fact that the negativity is coming out in the way that it is – the way I behave, things I say, if it’s coming out on you – that means that I’m getting really sick. The filter is off and I’m feeling weak. So thank you for pointing it out to me but I didn’t appreciate the ignorant way you have said it. I was hurt by it. Instead of saying things like “You’re so negative!” or “You’re being a bitch!” maybe you should say things like:
“How are you?”
“Are you doing OK?”
“Do you want to talk?”
“You sound upset today. Just know that I am here for you if you need anything.”
I would ask those things.
But that’s the difference between you and I – dear Karen’s of the world.
I actually care.
*Karen is not her name. Karen is just a random name I picked. Sorry if you are a Karen and you think I’m talking about you. But if the shoe fits….