Ain't Nothing Wrong With That

Back in April, someone stole my bike. It was chained to a tree. I presume they took the bike apart because all that was left was the lock, still secured around the tree. I was very upset; this was the replacement for the bike that had been stolen in November and it happened the day before the first anniversary of my Mom’s death.

When I posted something about it on Facebook (because, of course, you gotta post this sort of thing on Facebook), I wanted sympathy and understanding. I wanted people to say “that sucks!” and “I’m really sorry.” I wanted support.

  • You need an ugly bike (clearly mine was too shiny, new, and tempting despite the fact that it was used and rusty).
  • You need a different kind of lock (despite the fact that every kind of bike lock can be foiled and despite the fact that they left the lock behind).
  • You need to get this kind of bike and that kind of lock and lock it up this way and over there or leave it at home or take it into the building with you. All of which came out sounding like (1) this happened because you made and mistake and (2) we know better even when we know nothing about what actually happened.

Apparently, you can’t offer sympathy until you know all the facts. Your heart can’t engage before your brain is sated. It hurt and it made me angry. I suspect all those friends were trying to “help” me with their advice but it mostly came out like they were blaming me. News flash: it was not my fault my bike was stolen, it was the fault of the thief.

These kind of advice-giving / subtly-shaming conversations aren’t limited to stolen bikes or even Facebook.

They happen in doctor’s offices. I’ve had a few visits with new doctors in the last year. Without any actual knowledge of my actual health (because we haven’t gotten that far into the conversation yet), they start talking about my weight. I’ve never initiated these conversations. I generally refuse to engage in them.

I had a chiropractor enthusiastically tell me I need to try the new paleo diet – not that we were talking about weight, mind you, nor were they suggesting it would help with my chiropractic issues. When I started asking question, it turned out they didn’t have any practical or critical knowledge of the diet. They were giving me this advice based on reading about it in magazines and on newsfeeds.

Sadly, this happens in massage rooms as well. When I get a massage from a new therapist, it’s not uncommon to be chided – oh so gently and humorously – about my weight, water consumption, stretching routines, etc. I’ve never asked for that advice or input.

Unsolicited advice based on nothing more than a personal bias and random information from mass media. It doesn’t help. It mostly hurts. When it’s not blatantly insulting.

I don’t ask you about your weight, fluid consumption, your stretching routine, or anything else that I can’t apply to the massage session we’re about to have. Because here’s a news flash: I like your body as it is! I don’t look at it as broken or problematic or insufficient or inappropriate. Your body is a beautiful thing because it is still allowing you to live and breathe in this time and space.

Your body is doing the best it can to navigate the reality it finds itself in. Just as you are.

And there ain’t nothing wrong with that.