Author Topic: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption  (Read 11053 times)

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Germane Jackson

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Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« on: July 23, 2008, 07:53:09 PM »
As some of you may or may not know from my other posts, I am a volunteer at an animal shelter. I started there in March and left for a while at the end of April, due to one my own kittens dying from FIP. It was never determined if she had it already or I brought it home from the shelter..

Anyway, when I first started, I told the woman in charge of the cattery as well as the head volunteer about my skin condition. Basically, it's excema...It's very very very bad on the bottom of my feet and a lot of people get wigged out when they see them. I also have splotches of missing pigment all over my arms and legs, so I look like an appaloosa horse. It was a very hard thing for me to come to terms with because it drastically effects my appearance and for the first year it was a major blow to my self-esteem. I told them what it was right away so they wouldn't be alarmed.

So I've now been back there 2 weeks and out of the blue, my boss takes me aside and says there were several complaints about me from other volunteers as well as staff members, and one volunteer doesn't want to work on the same days as me at all because I look 'dirty'. As the shelter is indoor and outdoors, my skin does get exposed to the elements and parts of me tan but the splotches don't ,so my arms and legs do look obviously different. I also don't wear my best clothes there either. So people assumed that I was just a dirty, unkempt woman who doesn't care about her appearance. I was floored. I told the boss that all this time I was happily working away, oblivious to all the backstabbing. She said everyone was afraid to aproach me to ask me about it. I told her I would much rather them take a closer look at me than assume from a distance that I'm a dirty person. As an example, I walked over the the sink, took a scrubber and rubbed it up and down my arms. I said 'Do you see that? It looks exactly the same as it did before and IT DOESN'T WASH OFF BECAUSE IT'S NOT dirt! She was actually embarrassed to be in that situation where she had to ask me why my feet looked freaky and my skin looks the way it does. How do you think it made me feel? I had already explained what it was months ago, and now I find out that people are avoiding me because of the way I look.

It is a major setback to my self-esteem. I don't go out in public much  because of it, and an animal shelter was the last place I expected to be judged. The cats don't seem to mind , after all.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2008, 07:55:15 PM by KittyBass »

Bibliophile

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Re: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2008, 08:13:19 PM »
I'm so sorry that you had to go through that!  Some people have no clue, although that's not an excuse. 

((((((((((((((((hugs!!)))))))))))))))))))

Thank you for caring about the kitties and taking care of them!!!

“Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.” ~ Groucho Marx

Shoo

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Re: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2008, 08:18:01 PM »
Kittybass, your post makes me so sad.  And mad, too.

I certainly hope your boss apologized to you.  Are you still volunteering at the animal shelter?  I can't believe they'd insult someone donating their time and energy for free.  It's unconscienable.


Minmom3

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Re: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2008, 08:33:59 PM »
Could you put on sunscreen so the tanned parts wouldn't be quite so distinct from the not-tanned parts?  Is the not-tanning from the exema or from vitiligo?  My grandmother had vitiligo on her face, neck and chest, and she favored a lot of low necked garments.  So, it showed.  She ignored it, but she also didn't do outdoor work like you do, nor did she volunteer with small minded people like you do.  Good cause, just some chumps where you are.  My husband has psoriasis on his elbows, hands and scalp, and he has it badly.  Not pretty, and not something he can do anything at all about. 

I'm sorry they've hurt your feelings so badly, you must feel like somebody walked up and slapped you.  Not a lot of fun.  I hope you have opened the eyes of the silly people you work with.  Surely they would have thought that if you were that dirty, you'd also be that odorous, and - you aren't? ? ? ?   ???
Mother to children and fuzz butts....

geordicat

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Re: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2008, 08:43:12 PM »
I'm sorry this happened to you. It sucks that people are so hooked on appearances and will think the worst instead of seeing what's really going on.

big hugs to you
Light travels faster than sound.  That's why some people appear bright until they open their mouth.

RedRuby

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Re: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2008, 09:05:54 PM »
That's horrible! I can't believe they'd talk about you like that! You said you had already explained it months ago, so if they had any questions they should have asked you or done a search on the internet to find out more about your condition. I'm truly sorry you had to go through that.

vorbau

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Re: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2008, 09:08:01 PM »
KittyBass -

I sentence the idiots to a thousand whacks with the ClueBat.

And many many hugs to you. I have a good friend with vitiligo and a coworker with severe eczema, so I understand, second hand, your pain.

Vorbau

PS my 4 kitties send you lots of love and purrs as well!
Let's roll. (And you can't scare me; I've had teenagers.)

Brentwood

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Re: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2008, 09:13:36 PM »
I'm so sorry. How hurtful that must have been! ((HUG))

Alida

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Re: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2008, 09:16:23 PM »
{{{Kitty}}} Standing in line with my cluebat to get at them.

Germane Jackson

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Re: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2008, 10:04:39 PM »
I had explained it back in March or April, and the head volunteer is one of the ones who complained about it because she 'forgot' what it was that I said was wrong with my feet.

I believe the vitiligo/excema thing began as a tiny patch of skin about 3 or 4 years ago but by last year it had changed dramatically. I had a very very hard time coming to terms with the change in my appearance and it was a major blow to my confidence.  I still have a hard time being in public . Part of the reason I started working at the shelter was to boost my confidence and do something good. I SHOULD wear sunblock but I often forget to, but I had since accepted my new look and haven't really thought about it for a few months. I'm ok with it now, or so I thought I was.

My boss did call me up at home later and asked how I was feeling, she felt terrible that she was put in that situation. She also didn't remember what it was that I said I had so when she was asked she didn't have an answer for them. She is going in tomorrow set things right and tell them that I have a medical condition that is not a threat to others. She says she will definately complain about them if it continues afterwards.

I would have been more than happy to answer questions about it because I know it's very obvious to look at and I know people will naturally be curious.

Funny thing is, the head volunteer is a grandmother and she sometimes brings her daughter down to the shelter. Does she teach her daughter to be tolerant of others and to not judge on appearance? I bet you she does.

And when it comes down to it, the cats don't seem to mind. And people outside of the animal group think my skin is a 'cat disease' because I have 10 cats and cats are nasty animals. (other people's opinions, not mine)

It really really hurt me in a way I didn't see coming. I told her I was ready to quit there for good but then I thought I'd be depriving the animals that I care about the attention they need, and it wouldn't be fair on them. I'm sort of the 'special needs' cat volunteer. Any time they have a skittish, abused , or otherwise anti-social cat, they ask me to sit and work with them because I am actually pretty good at that, and 2 of my own cats were abuse cases and they are doing well.

AprilRenee

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Re: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2008, 10:19:51 AM »
Don't let closed minded people get to you. You are doing a wonderful thing. You ARE beautiful.

Zenith

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Re: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2008, 10:24:30 AM »
I'm so sorry, some people can be so hurtful and clueless (((HUGS)). You are doing a wonderful job with those kitties. I don't think I could do it I'd want to take them all home and my cat wouldn't like that one bit.


Germane Jackson

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Re: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2008, 11:49:36 AM »
I feel a little bit better about it today, I'm not going to give up the animal shelter , or stop wearing clothes that show my arms and legs. For a start, covering up my arms and legs while working outside in the heat is very stupid, and also why should I be made to feel ashamed of how I look.  My friends and family love me the way I am, as well as my kitties, so nothing else should matter.

My boss totally related to how I felt and she will definately make sure it ends there. She has a deformed finger on her hand (I never even noticed it until she showed me yesterday) which has caused her a whole lifetme of hurt because of ignorant people.

When I was a teenager, I became friends with a girl who was blind in one eye. Everbody picked on her in school too, but she was a great person with an awesome sense of humor, we were best friends for years and years. I never asked her why she was blind in one eye,  and we never talked about it, and it really didn't matter to me . Some years later we were visiting my  mother in the hospital when an aunt of mine (she had never met my friend before) said 'What's wrong with your EYE???' I was so shocked and embarrassed at my aunt and hurt for my friend, but my friend calmy explained it was because of a corrective eye surgery she had when she was 3, the doctor messed up the OP, and she lost her eyesight because of it.  My friend was ok about it, but I couldn't apologize enough for my aunt's terrible behavior. It was still a sore point with my friend , because even in our 20's, people made fun of it.


Bethalize

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Re: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2008, 01:04:19 PM »
I feel a little bit better about it today, I'm not going to give up the animal shelter , or stop wearing clothes that show my arms and legs.

I'm so glad. People just don't think about what they're doing or saying. They can be the nicest people in the world, but they can be utterly clueless.

sparksals

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Re: Hurt and embarrassed over an assumption
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2008, 02:20:43 PM »
I'm so sorry you were treated so horribly.  You have every right to be upset and hurt.  What was that woman thinking?

It takes alot of courage for you to continue to work there.  Even though they hurt you terribly, you are thinking first of the kitties for whom you are caring.  That says alot about the kind of person you are inside. 

Personally, while the woman has apologized, you were discriminated against based on your personal appearance because of a medical condition.  Since you are a volunteer, it's even worse you were treated that way.  If I were in your shoes, I would write a formal letter of complaint to the head of the organization to let them know exactly how you were treated.