there used to be a woman at my yoga studio who i could not stand.
she was the kind who, while waiting in line to use the restroom, would say things like, “what’s taking them so long? come on, people,” or interrupt conversations with non-sequiturs to refocus the attention on herself.
her endgame seemed to be enlisting others to participate in fussiness and complaining.
not even class was safe, as she’d respond to teachers’ rhetorical questions, which is jarring, obnoxious, and largely frowned upon.
topping it off, she kept a bottle of eucalyptus-scented essential oil open during class. since it was soundless, i found this behavior least offensive, but others were irritated by the scent.
i can only speak for myself, but from my observations no one seemed enthusiastic about having her around.
she sent out so much energy, all the time. it was entirely too much. just writing about her is exhausting.
and although i’m not happy about it, i dutifully disliked and avoided her, thwarting any attempts at conversation or chumminess. perhaps what’s worse is i barely thought about the judgment i passed.
one day after class i wanted to thank the teacher, who was leaving the studio. the annoying woman was ahead of me and as i lingered, waiting for her to finish, she said “i’m so glad i'm back to class. i’m two days sober.”
the teacher and i were the only other people in the room. we sort of looked at each other, then at the floor but we both pulled off sincere “congratulations!”
meanwhile, i thought, whaaaaaaaat? holy shit! you’ve got to be kidding me! i feel terrible!
so her very presence was actually an indication of her sobriety, her ability to function enough to be out in the world and take care of herself through yoga.
the realization was beyond humbling.
i’m not writing this from a wholesome place of “ya just never know what other folks are goin’ through!” but because her situation knocked me on my ass. i spent the next few hours thinking, i didn’t mean it, rewind! it was a mistake! i had no idea! i’ll never be so mean again!
yet even thinking i’d have been nicer if i’d known she was an alcoholic is flawed, because what if there hadn’t been anything else to know? what if she was both irritating and had a healthy relationship with alcohol?
the higher state of mind is cutting others some slack and generally being kinder, no qualifiers needed.