The Bitch: a Paradox

I once worked with a woman once who was a complete bitch. Actually, make that Bitch – I think she deserved the capital! Name anyone, and provided they weren’t within earshot, she could denigrate everything about them from their taste in shoes to their great-grandfather’s propensity to abandon his wedding vows. OK, perhaps the Bitch didn’t quite know everyone’s great-grandfather’s peccadilloes, but what she didn’t know she wasn’t afraid to invent.

I will say one thing for her, though: when I needed a shoulder to cry on, she was there. Now, I don’t know whether everyoneheard afterwards that I’d been bawling my eyes out; maybe they did, maybe they didn’t – I certainly never heard about it, which given the general level of gossip around that joint may indicate the Bitch chose to keep her mouth shut on this occasion. Regardless, on one day when I felt quite alone in the world, she stepped up and was there for me. (I left that job soon after, anyway; who needs that level of poison in their lives?)

We like people to be consistent, don’t we? Life is easy when the goodies remain good and the baddies stick to their evil ways. We like our friends to be always on our side, our enemies to be eternally foul, and Bitches to … well, be consistently bitchy. Perhaps this is one reason why I still remember her, over ten years later: she demonstrated a capacity to break the mold.

On that day when my depression pressed in, when I had to get away and bolted to the loos to cry, it wasn’t the peer I shared an office with who was there for me; it wasn’t my supervisor; it was this woman, the Bitch, who put aside her snarky manner and listened in a non-judgmental way. She passed me tissues, told me about her sister’s struggle with depression, and validated my misery.

You know what? I can’t even remember her name. All I can remember is feeling grateful as we hugged, my arms around her bony shoulders and my tears on her shirt, and the blessed relief which came from being listened to in that dark hour.

Nameless Bitch, thank you for being there that day. I think I could forgive you everything else, for those minutes of sweet comfort.

15 Comments

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15 responses to “The Bitch: a Paradox

  1. It’s interesting how comfort works, isn’t it? I remember when I had my breakdown how all my “friends” deserted me. I would have gladly had the Bitch lend me her bony shoulder, too. The pen became my comfort.

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  2. Interesting posting. Good job. Hugs, Barbara

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  3. Stories like this one inspire me. It’s one of the reasons I try my hardest not to gossip about people I don’t like, or be bitchy back. I recently started thinking to myself after someone commented on one of our most hated co-workers saying “he’s so bi-polar.” It struck me, and I asked myself “well…. what if he is? What if he doesn’t know it and needs help?”

    Everyone has a story and causes for their behavior. Sometimes, that story runs very deep…

    Thanks for the thought, as always.

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  4. wow – i have to admit when i first read the title and the beginning of your post, i was expecting just a vent about an office bitch. because don’t we all have had to vent about an office bitch or jerk at one point in our lives? :p i know i have! but this post took me completely by surprise. thanks for sharing.

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  5. Maybe the ‘bitch’ was just a front. When people speak it is generally because they want to be heard. And when she saw you, maybe you spoke to something inside of her.

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    • Yes. The whole experience was a reminder of just how complex each human being is.
      Speaking generally … I can imagine wearing a ‘bitch’ front to get through a difficult time – and then finding it stuck in place! There are a lot of human personalities I can imagine I have some understanding of (without, I hope, actually sharing them); I can understand narcissism, for example, or the over-protective behaviours you see some parents exhibiting. One personality trait I simply can’t get my head around is deliberate obnoxiousness. I just don’t understand people who go out of their way to make life difficult for others.

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