A dose of my own (defensive) medicine

I stopped at my dry cleaner the other day to pick up some cleaning and to drop off a bright fuchsia silk shirt. It has about a dozen ruffles up the front, which is enough for me to pay the extra for dry cleaning, but the fact that the tag says, "professionally dry clean only" makes it a bit of a necessity.

That said, I'm always looking to save a couple bucks, so I decided to ask what would happen if I washed my little pink number in water. I have a ton of stuff from this same store which says, "Hand wash or dry clean", so I thought I'd just check and see if I could sneak this shirt into the same category. (Also - if you recall, I replaced my washer last year with a snazzy new guy, which is my new best friend...it has a "Soak" cycle and a "Hand Wash" cycle for this very reason...so I didn't want to miss an opportunity to use it!)

So I uttered my off-the-cuff, seemingly non-offensive question to the owner of the shop who was helping me, and boy, did I get a response! She raised her voice a few notches, clearly annoyed and somehow offended, and said gruffly, "You want to wash this? Okay - you wash this, the color will bleed. You will have an ugly, light pink shirt that you'll want to throw away. So you choose - either dry clean or throw it away."

Wow. Not the "Oh, I wouldn't try to wash silk. It will practically ruin your shirt" response I was expecting.

Clearly, I put her on the defensive, even though I had no intention of doing so. Maybe I was the 15th customer that day to ask if a garment could be washed instead of dry cleaned, maybe she was sick and tired of people trying to get out of using her services, or maybe she was just having a crummy day. Any way you look at it, I hit a nerve. I didn't mean to, but I did.

And that's what people used to do to me all the time.

I realize now, when people would tell me to slow down or take it easy, they weren't trying to be patronizing - they were just trying to help.

And when people would offer their help - they weren't trying to insert themselves where they didn't belong - they were just trying ease my burden.

And when people would simply ask how I was feeling - they weren't trying to be nosey. They were merely trying to express their concern. 

It wasn't out of pity that they asked, it was because they cared.

I hope I can remember that as I continue on my way to living well, accepting help, encouragement, and advice along the way. I just hope my dry cleaner knows how much I appreciated her advice. I should mention it to her the next time I'm in, don't you think?


Anonymous said…
Why is it we always feel we have to guard ourselves? I don't remember doing this before I had lupus. I feel the same way when people who mean well try to help. I am on the defense and try to analyze their behavior. People who have lupus build a wall around their lives and life is what your day dictates to you. Trying not to let people drain you is high on my list of priorities of being my friend. I had to drop a friend because she was just too much for me to handle...physically and verbally (thought she had the answers to all my problems). I'd come home and immediately know I needed a nap! Its sad when we look at friends as being high maintenance when we have our own issues.

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