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Dori Hartley Headshot

Self-Esteem: The Best Insult I Ever Got

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A few days ago, I was told something that was so insulting, so unbelievably insensitive -- that my ego literally popped. The insult was vile on it's own, but the idea that a person would say something so potentially damaging to another was beyond me. Somehow, I immediately knew that it wasn't about the words as much as it was about the messenger. Though, let me tell you -- the words were off-the-chain, out-of-the-ballpark hurtful.

Point: Some people should never open their mouths. Ever.

Let's take it back; give you some history on me. Bad, bad, bad, bad cancer experience in 2001 -- survived nicely, divorced soon after, lost health insurance, moved twice, went broke, house foreclosed, got taken in an internet scam, yada yada and ten years go by without me having sex. Okay, now you're up to speed.

So, I start dating again. Nice guys, here and there. Nothing spectacular, just drinks, din din and some interesting conversation. I'm not really a sex puppy at this point, so all those previous years of no sex kind of works in nicely with my present style, which is sorta Buddha-dork-celibate-monk-nerd-writer-chick. Of course, guys seem to always want sex -- which is fine, because there are loads of women on the planet to have sex with -- I'm just not one of 'em.

And why? First of all, I haven't found anyone who turns me on and second of all -- it's hard being a cancer survivor; something happens to you after your body's been torn to shreds, rebuilt, ruined and reconstructed, y'know? Maybe for some women it's no biggie, but for me it was enough of a biggie. I just don't want to be manhandled anymore, emotionally and literally. Hey, it's my body and my life -- I do what's right by me. Unless, of course, you're so damned hot that I can't resist -- then we'll talk.

Nevertheless, I go and get myself semi-involved with this man who's totally into me, yet not quite ready to be totally into me. So, silly me, I mention this not really readiness to him and before you know it, we're eyeball deep into our first major fight. And that's when he hits me with the greatest insult I've ever received. I could not believe my ears.

"I'm making a concession for you. You -- a cancer survivor without insurance! Certainly I could have made a better choice."

So, I'm basically being told I'm damaged goods, a potentially massive burden, and that he's doing me a favor by being into me -- because how could anyone love a cancer survivor with no insurance? You're making a "concession" for me? You mean you've cleared aside something in your consciousness that will allow you to smooch something as awful as me? You're doing me a favor??? Oh no. No. And isn't that just the confidence booster that I needed on my first "real" excursion into the world of dating? I don't care how you try to rework this line to mean something less offensive -- all I register is evil. That is evil stuff, yo.

My ego, as I mentioned earlier, popped. I wasn't hurt -- I was incinerated. It was like the Big Bang, and the really awesome part about it was that after this ego-centric condition basically exploded -- it instantaneously contracted, really, really fast. My mind suddenly became "no mind" -- it felt like I'd been shot out into space where I was totally free from both the insult and my own reaction. I was having a spiritual experience!

One minute later, with the guy still on the phone, I no longer cared. Elvis had left the building. In my exalted state, all I recognized was that there was a negative energy on the other end of the phone and that I had to be rid of it. It was over. All of it. Him, the rush, the experience. Time to hang up the phone and contemplate.

Being a breast cancer survivor is a pretty amazing thing to be. Yeah, we go through a lot of body issue weirdness, but rarely do we end up hating ourselves as much as others might think we do. This guy focused on my survival as a thing that could potentially bring him down someday. Imagine if I felt that way? What would be the point of surviving if all I ever thought about was how I'm going to die of cancer -- someday? That's no life.

I love myself, just the way I am. I love my body and my choices. I have no regrets and because I don't dwell on all the things I don't have, it was surprising to see that others do -- or that others would even want to.

To life, to life, L'chaim. And, buddy -- don't let the door hit you on the way out.