I went to the doctor this morning (because I have a nasty cold that has settled into my chest), and something happened to me in that little room that I'm certain has happened to every single other human being in the history of time. Something insulting was said to me and, instead of uttering the response that I later realized was perfect, I sat in stunned silence and let the moment pass.
For those of you who are curious, this particular circumstance was that a walk-in clinic doctor (whom I'd never before met) told me that my anxiety (the panic attacks that I've been having on a weekly-to-daily basis for the past 9 years) and my nasty cold would be cured by getting more exercise. My first desire was to shout profanities and storm out (which I didn't do), because if he actually knew my medical history (or at least looked at my file before he made a snap judgement about my weight) he would have seen that 1. I have been trying to lose weight using diet and exercise for my entire life, and 2. I have hypothyroidism. Additionally, more exercise wouldn't cure my cold and make my lungs magically better. In fact, I think that my exercising right now would merely make me cough more.
The response that I *really* wanted to give, after pondering it for the past two hours, was this: "I appreciate your insight, but your assumption is that I'm fat due to lack of exercise and poor diet. As you've made very clear, you do not know my medical history. What I'm interested in is the diagnosis that you would give to someone that is skinny."
Not only do I wish I could have put him in his place for my own reasons, but also because he could easily say the same thing to another person and they could take him seriously, potentially overlooking a life-altering anxiety issue.
This experience today (which I've had thousands of times before) made me think. If I'd been writing the scene, I'd have gotten my heroine to say exactly what she wanted to. She'd have stood up for herself.
I also realized that I generally write strong, outspoken heroines precisely because I usually get tongue-tied or stunned into silence when I'm in these social situations. So while my heroines all have a little bit of me in them, I've made them stronger, more resilient, and braver; essentially, people that I want to be more like.
Here's to hoping that the next time someone insults me, I can think of the right response, or at the very least that I'll learn to not let it hurt me.
My name is Cheri. I'm a historical romance author, wife, and stay-at-home mom of four young children.