Saturday, October 24, 2009

Behind the Scenes

A couple of weeks ago, I reposted my "R word" essay from last year. That reminded me of an email exchange that I had with my friend, R, this time last year. With her permission, I'm glad to share it with you here.

This means a lot to me now, just as it did back then. The fact that she took the time to write to me was huge. She didn't have to do that. It just reminds me that you never know who you're going to reach with your words. You never know what kind of difference you can make, one on one. It sounds sappy, which, if you know R, you know she's the anti-sap, but it is what it is. And a friend is a friend. Friends will hear you out. They may not agree with you all the time, but they'll listen. They'll process the information and reach their own conclusions. I think that's what we all want, right?

Personally, I don't feel this particular scenario could have gone any better.

Oh, let me stop rambling so you can read it.


To: C
From : R

Hey chickie!

I just wanted to tell you how much I've been enjoying reading your blog and learning more about D.S. Also, I've been meaning to send you a message to tell you something for the longest time now but, whenever I'm at work and actually have access to a decent computer, it always slips my mind.

I was really moved by your blog post last month about the word "retard". I'm 100% guilty of using that word a lot. I've never used that word in reference to someone who is developmentally challenged, I've only ever used it to describe people who are idiots. To me, there is a HUGE difference between someone who is developmentally challenged and someone who is "retarded". So, of course, in my mind I never felt like I was doing anything wrong because I didn't use the word in the same way other people did. Anyway, after reading your post, it made me realize that, it didn't matter that I was using the word in a different way, the word itself is hurtful to people, regardless of the context. And I felt horrible and ashamed after reading that post. So, since then, I have been making a conscious effort not to use it...period!


To: R
From : C

I know you are not mushy and making me tear up was not your goal and I don't like to look mushy either but...waahhhhhh!

Wow. Thanks for writing that. I mean, seriously. Sometimes I feel bad about things and then I write about them and I have no idea who, if anyone, even reads the stuff and to know that it even made a difference is just WOW.

I know that most people mean no harm whatsoever and I hope I was making that clear in the post, but I felt that I was doing my friends a disservice by not telling them that it was hurting me, y'know?

You're an effin' rock star.

Aw, crap. Now I'm crying.


To: C
From : R

What are you talking about? It was totally my intention to make you cry! My work is done here. :)

I think it was great that you wrote that post. I would MUCH rather have a friend tell me that I was doing something that upset them then not say anything at all. If you're doing or saying something that you think is harmless, and you find out that it's hurting someone you care about, you stop doing it. Period. And, in this case, it was a clear case of: "Wow, I never thought of it that way before." I hate to think that if you hadn't written that post, I wouldn't have known, and everytime I used that word (most likely to describe [a group of people], I'm sure), it would have hurt you.

There was an episode of The Office where Steve Carell's character said: "You don't call developmentally challenged people retards because they're not. You call your friends retards when they do something stupid." And that was always my mindset (retard = an idiot, regardless of age, race, IQ, etc.) so reading your post made me realize that, even if I didn't use the word in the mean hurtful way that some people do, it didn't really matter. The word itself hurts people and I'm glad you opened my eyes to that.

More importantly, I'm a rock star!!! WOOT!