Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dear unknown person,

 
I saw your message scratched into the top of the metal toilet paper holder.
 
I saw your message and it reached my heart.
 
The ladies room at the grocery store was completely empty when I went in.
 
I was drawn to the handicapped stall as I always am when it's not occupied.
 
I know I'm not supposed to use it.
 
I know I'm not handicapped...
 
But sometimes, if I'm being honest here...
 
I limp a little bit on purpose and use it anyway.
 
Oh, don't give me that look.
 
It's not like I knock over people in a wheelchair to take their stall or anything.
 
Geez.
 
Anyway.
 
Where was I?
 
Oh, yeah.
 
Bathroom at the grocery store.
 
I started to go into the handicapped stall, but instead ended up going into the middle stall. 
 
 
I don't know for certain if this fact is relevant to my story here, but it feels like it might be.
 
The small stall was very quiet.
 
The entire large, tiled restroom was very quiet.
 
The subdued overhead lighting made the top surface of the silvery metal toilet paper roll holder gleam.  I noticed some words scratched lightly into the surface.  
 
I leaned forward to read them.
 
"I HATE MYSELF", someone had written in all capital letters.
 
I touched the words.
 
"I HATE MYSELF."
 
I felt the pain come into my finger tips.
 
"I HATE MYSELF."
 
I've seen those words in bathroom stalls before.
 
Sharpied or gouged out of the enamel covering of the stall dividers.
 
But this.
 
This.
 
I'm not sure exactly why...
 
...but those words, written in that way, ripped my heart apart.
 
"I HATE MYSELF."
...
 
I remember feeling that way a few times in my life.
 
Lost.  Unsure where to turn.   Unsure whether there was anywhere to turn.
 
"I HATE MYSELF."
 
I found inner strength to turn away from the darkness in those times.


But it wasn't easy.   The pit of self-hatred can be easy to fall into and the steep sides can be difficult to escape.
 
It's not easy.
 
It's really, really hard when you feel alone and when you forget there are options available.
 
"I HATE MYSELF."
 
This feeling grows so large sometimes that it eclipses everything other possibility...every other may be and might be.
 
Maybe you can hate some choices you made.
 
Maybe you can hate some circumstances you're in.
 
Maybe you didn't choose wisely or maybe the choices were made for you.
 
But don't give up on yourself.
 
Because...
 
Hating yourself fills up every corner of your being with defeat.
 
...
 
...
 
I could have taken out my own keys and scratched out those words.
 
Scratched deep and hard until the words no longer existed.
 
But the emotion of those words would still exist in the world.
 
Because we are all really, really hard on ourselves.
 
Because we are all really, really proud about asking for help when we need it.
 
Because we are human.  And all human beings fail at something sometime.  In small ways or in  spectacular ways.
 
...but...
 
Please.
 
Please, dear unknown Person.
 
Look again.
 
Look again at the things that make you individual.  
 
Don't seek to find validation in the masses...find your worth based on your deeds and actions and how you choose to live your life from this day forward.
 
Life isn't easy.
 
And you really need to be your own best friend to make it through.
 
And it can be really, really hard to be best friends with someone that hates herself.
 
Today I am sending out a prayer into the universe that this soul in torment finds peace, finds joy, finds a way to make it through life without trying to vent her pain in scratched words in the middle stall of the grocery store bathroom.
 
These words have haunted me since I read them.
 
And perhaps this post is an exorcism of sorts.
 
Or perhaps it is just recognition that in some dark days past I might have been the one wanting to scratch those very words about myself.
 
post signature

47 comments:

Holly said...

What a touching post Jenny. There is so much sadness in the world. I was reading Lamentations today and the best part of the book was the "hope" section! We always have hope!
I pray that this person finds out that she is a wonder, created by the amazing Creator, and that at this very moment, a smile is stretching itself across her face.
I really love this post and the words of hope you give.
The part about the pain reaching your fingertips as you touched the words...beautiful.

Ms Sparrow said...

I hope your post sent out a ray of hope to the universe that resonates with all those suffering souls who can't define the source of their pain. It gets better!

Maggie M said...

What a wonderful post...you may never know if it helps someone but I feel it will. Much feeling and emotion I felt as I read. You are a loving, care soul sweet Jenny. My family will never forget you and your kindness. Hugs

Theresa said...

If ONLY that person could read your post:) I know that in my lifetime I have felt that way! What makes a huge difference is being able to get beyond that feeling and for that I am thankful! I will say a little prayer for this person, God knows who it is:) Have a blessed day and thanks for sharing! HUGS!

ImagiMeri said...

Dearest friend....
You are and always have been a wonder to me. I count myself exceptionally blessed to have you as a dear friend in my life. I can remember, vividly, the times in my life I felt that way. I thank God for all the blessings in my life now, and for the fact that I won't feel that way ever again.

Love you,
Meri

Teri M said...

Wish that person could see what you wrote, and I can only hope they are having better days now.

Sarah Evans said...

We are so hard on ourselves - you're right. We say things to ourselves we would never ever say about anyone else.

I hope the girl who wrote that can come to maybe hate her circumstances but love herself.

Sarah
http://acatlikecuriosity.blogspot.co.uk/

Ms. A said...

This one touches me deeply, because I know that feeling, even if I've never scratched it on a hard surface.

shannon i olson said...

joining you in prayer for this person, for all those who feel this way...for an extra measure of grace for them, and for God to send someone beside them to lift them up. Beautifully written.

Bookie said...

Extremely moving and well-written, Jenny.

edenhills said...

It really is sad that someone should feel such pain and find the only release to write it in a bathroom stall. I've known many young people that this could be describing. I do hope your prayers reach this individual.

Lois' Laughlines said...

Your heart does hurt for the one who etched those words. What has occured in her life to warrent such a statement. Thanks for the reminder to think outside myself and pray for the wounds of others.
blessings to you.

Judy SheldonWalker said...

What a deeply touching moment(s). I know it haunts you. I remember walking into the ladies room one day and seeing someone I know crying. When everyone left but her and I she whispered to me, my father used to molest me. Sometimes the pain is more than I can bare. Pray for me. Of course I do and for him. It is unfathomable to me. My father was abusive, but never sexual. It is just too much to comprehend. Blessings for you and your secret messenger. She reminds us to stop and pray and to be empathetic.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

Thank you Jenny! Thank you for your words of wisdom from someone who knows that dark place. Thank you for your caring of an unknown person who feels like no one cares. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for being you!

xo
Linda

Stef said...

Wow! I should go into the grocery store bathrooms more often.
Powerful post!! That person was crying out for help...but in the wrong place. Poor thing.

Kerri @OhMann! said...

So very sad, all of the lost souls wandering around without hope. :/

summersundays-jw said...

We've all felt that way one time or another. Maybe that's why this makes us so sad because we've been there. One of the good things about getting older is I've learned to accept & like myself. God knows who she is & I promise to say a prayer for her everytime this story pops in my mind & I'm thinkin' it may be often. Thanks, too, for the gift of your wonderful writing. Jan

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

It really does give your reason to pause...and wonder. What brings someone to write that in a public place. I think about how blessed I am and how much I love life. Thanks for a thought provoking post and for your visit! Sweet Southern hugs, Diane

ArtMuseDog and Carol said...

Powerful post ~ I practice 'detachment with compassion' ~ (A Creative Harbor)

Ames said...

This made me stop and think. I think it was an angry teenager. I can't see an adult doing this. Regardless it saddens me so much. People need love. People need guidance and encouragement. Not everyone has that in life. And those that don't feel lost. They feel judged.This is a very sad situation. ~Ames

Mary said...

I intend to have someone I love very much read your post. Thank you for writing the words that I have wanted to say but just could not get them together the way that you have. Thank you very much.

Mary

Jo said...

life isn't easy or fair for everyone ... i hope peace and love and guidance find those who are lost in their self hatred ...

Susan said...

Hi Jenny...Isn't it true how we are often the hardest on ourselves than anyone else could be? Thank you for your post.

And thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting, too! Wow, it was great to see that you visited. Come by any time! Susan

Pam D said...

Oh Jenny. This post touches me, deeply. I've felt that way too, at times in my life. I hope that the unknown girl/woman can someday cover those words with one word... REDEEMED. My path of redemption has come through walking with God, but I realize that others find redemption on other paths. I just pray that she found it... somewhere. Blessings, friend...

Carol said...

I made Adam read your post...he is in a rut. He thinks life is kicking him around. I hope he felt the message, like I did when I read it. Thank you for posting it. You are always an inspiration to me. Your words are always so beautiful. I love that about you!

anitamombanita said...

wow! That was truly poignant...and deeply sad. I've had dark days. Haven't we all? But I've never felt that kind of despair. And I hope I never do.

Have a great day...even just a good day. xox

McGuffy Ann said...

Wow...what a very important, amazing post. I hope it makes to the person who did that, or someone who has done such a thing. You reached back, and that is such an important human gesture. Bless you for it.
And please don't use the handicapped stall unless you have to...I am one of those who needs to, not by choice. It is hard to "wait"...just sayin'...
Hugs!

pasqueflower said...

What a deeply moving post!

Sandy said...

Jenny,
Powerful Powerful post! I so can relate....first meeting with the new counselor today, I think I will like this one.....I have a ways to go....actually a long way to go, but I know I won't ever get there is I don't take this first step.....58 and just starting to work on myself again....the counselor says "I'm worth it!"...I hope so...:)

H said...

I hope that this has been an exorcism for you Jenny - and also that your prayers are answered and this lady finds hope.

Just a little something from Judy said...

Sometimes in life, we read words and they don't register with us. You took the time to read, register, and then to share your heart in a heartfelt way. It was a reminder to me that when I read words like that, I take the time to say a pray for whomever wrote them. This was so touching.

J. Kwiatkowski-Schuler said...

I got into a welfare/drug test debate and I started to think that half of the population on prescription "mood alterers" is wagging their finger at the users of street drugs, and if you add them all together, that's a lot of people that just can't operate in the world as it stands. So maybe it's not the people, it's the world as it stands. We sure have built a miserable place here.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

This is such a touching post Jenny. Haven't we all had days when we feel like scratching those words in the wall. I certainly feel for the person who was feeling that pain.

Leslie said...

A poignant way to smooth the harsh edges of those three words a bit Jenny
Compassion in the smallest degree helps

Naperville Now said...

heartbreaking. adding a prayer to yours.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Wow. very touching Jenny.
I agree, we have all hated our actions/words/feelings at times....but we must never give up on ourselves. You are a smarty like that.
XOXO

Brenda said...

That's so sad. I too will say a little prayer for her...

Brenda said...

That's so sad. I too will say a little prayer for her...

writingmuscle said...

Dear Jenny,
Amazing post. I've been there too. Well said.
Liz

Judie said...

I saw something scratched into the wall above the sink in a restroom at La Cocina, a restaurant in Old Town in Tucson. I was compelled to phogograph it. You can find that photo if you scroll down on my right sidebar.

Hope everything is o.k. there.

xoxo

Sue said...

Beautiful post. And I am adding my prayer to yours, Jenny.

=)

Debra said...

Way to go / make me want to cry:(

Makes me think about when you are young.
Just worrying about your looks alone was terrible...

I remember being a size 5 or 7
Long wavy hair, fair skinned...hated my looks because I had small boobs and couldn't tan
( red head )

If only we'd had Nicole Kidman and others in my day as models for fair skinned girls...

So I tried to tan , and continued being very unsure of my looks etc for probably half of my young life when I was genuinely good looking!

I was but never knew it :) Can anyone relate :)

I never would have scratched that in a toilet stall...it never got that bad so I can barely imagine what that person ( who I am SURE was young ) was going through

Esther Joy said...

Wow! What a touching post to come from an unexpected place! My prayers go with yours...

Betty (picture circa 1951) said...

That was so well written. I couldn't help but wonder if it was a teenage girl momentarily mad at her parents, best friend, or boyfriend. Hopefully, by now she's forgotten how much she hated herself and is busy off having fun again.

Pat Tillett said...

Jenny, I'm going to start off by saying that you are an amazing writer and truly multi-talented.

I FELT this post as if I was there seeing the words myself. I FELT it as if I was the one who left some of my pain scratched into that stall.



Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

Thank you for sharing this post...your insight and if only we were able to reach out and touch every soul that has felt this way...I loved when I taught art for a period of time to some children and was able to lift their confidence and encourage their creativity...and it is such a blessing to me when I am able to encourage or lift someone else emotionally.

Blessings & Aloha!
Dear friend, thank you sooooo much for your sweet, sweet words! Alas, I am once again late in entering this week's link up!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I hope the same, Jenny. So many teenagers seem to be depressed these days. I think it is a btproduct of a materialistic society and bullying plus a lack of faith. When I was a teenager i always felt I had god to turn to when times were rough. Prayer really helped me many times.