An Open Letter to the Guy Who Screamed at Me for Letting My Dog Poop on a Church Lawn

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Dear Guy Who Screamed at Me for Letting my Dog Poop on a Church Lawn,

I was just minding my business, walking my 17-week-old puppy, Alfie. Now, Alfie happens to like the front lawn of the church that’s on my block; he considers it his own personal poopy palace. For a few days, I tried to discourage him from going there, and to choose another lawn, but alas — the little guy knows what he wants. He won’t go anywhere else. At any rate, I always clean up after him, promptly and thoroughly, and usher him off the lawn quickly so as though not to linger inappropriately.

But today, you came out of nowhere, storming across the street, screaming and waving your hands. “Excuse me!” Originally I ignored you, because I thought, who would be screaming at me? I’m just minding my business, walking my dog. “EX-SCUUUUUUUSE ME!” you bellowed, waving your arms and walking towards me rapidly. My puppy cowered behind me, frightened (do that to me again in 3 years and see how my much larger, much stronger DOG reacts, pal).

“What?” I asked, while literally in that exact moment picking up doggy doody.

“Why would you do that?! It’s disrespectful!” You screamed.

“Why would I do what? Pick up my dog’s poop?!” I asked incredulously.

“No, why would you let him shit there?! Bring him somewhere else! This is God’s house — you can’t let your dog shit here! Even if you clean it up, it’s disrespectful, have some respect!”

As though approaching a young woman walking her new puppy while waving your hands and screaming in her face is the height of respectability, right?!

“I assure you my puppy can’t differentiate between God’s house or anyone else’s. He poops where he poops. I don’t get to choose.” I said, trying to remain calm and not provoke you (an obviously rude and slightly unstable man) any further. Besides, it was true. I HAD tried to get Alfie to poop elsewhere, but you try explaining nuance to a 4-month-old puppy. The only things they understand are: treats, pooping, playing and sleeping. Beyond that, I’m shit out of luck. Pun intended.

“Well don’t do that! Come on! This is a church! HAVE SOME RESPECT!” You repeated angrily one last time.

And then I delivered my final blow, “I’m pretty sure God knows that dogs poop. And I’m also pretty sure he would forgive my innocent puppy for doing so.”

You seemed blown away by my level of “disrespect” but I could tell I’d won. For now.

I walked away wondering, am I really so bad? Does he have a point? Am I being disrespectful? Alfie’s just a puppy and he’s rather particular about where he poops. Besides, there are tons of animals all over the place here — geese, squirrels, birds, other dogs and cats — shitting on every lawn (and surface) imaginable, not differentiating between churches or schools or houses or parks. It’s a wonder that some alarm doesn’t sound off in their heads; “I musn’t go potty here! God would be angry! It would be much more respectful to go elsewhere, wouldn’t you say?!” The thought is mind-boggling! Plus, judging by the number of dog dookies I’ve seen on that very same church lawn (that nobody bothered to clean up, I might add) I’d say my level of disrespect is at worst mild-to-medium.

Not 15 minutes later, as Alfie and I made our way back home from our walk, I heard your voice again and stopped dead in my tracks. You were standing on your balcony, directly across from and in plain eyesight of that very same church, catcalling a young woman who was walking with a female friend and her two young children.

“Is that your wife?!” You yelled down to her, making an exaggerated gesture towards the other woman she was walking with.

“No, just my friend.” she said uncomfortably, keeping her eyes on the ground.

“You should be MY wife. You Guatemalan?!” You cooed down at her, your voice dripping with condescension. The woman began to shuffle away when you suddenly caught my eye from across the street.

I didn’t say a word, because now I know exactly how you are — controlling, domineering, misogynistic; potentially dangerous. I CAN’T say the words to you because, as a woman navigating the streets alone, I must always put my safety first (thanks to assholes like you). But I know you saw my death stare, and I hope it conveyed the exact thought that was crossing my mind:

Have some respect, man. You’re right in front of God’s house.

#DearMe — An Open Letter to My Younger Self

Some of you may have seen the #DearMe campaign that recently debuted. It features the famous ladies of YouTube addressing their younger selves with life advice. It’s basically an “It Gets Better” campaign for ladies, taking aim at the insecurities that hold us back from being ourselves and reaching our potential. Check the video below:

A dear friend posted this brilliant and important bit of viral goodness to a Facebook group I participate in, and proposed the simple question: what advice would you give?

Obviously, I couldn’t resist writing a little something up. I love talking to Past Chelsea (as evidenced by last week’s essay), So I wrote these words to my former self. Younger me really, really needed to hear them, because she certainly wasn’t taking any of her mother’s brilliant advice.

Check it out, and let me know in the comments what advice you’d give your younger self!


Dear Me,

You will spend your entire young life trying to be cool and proving your worth to others. Don’t do it. Your worth is inherent; it’s as fundamental as your propensity to breathe. 

Stop questioning yourself at every turn, and throwing yourself into the fire each and every time a person who can sense your willing vulnerability sets out to take advantage of you. They will. They will control you, manipulate you, rape you, discard you and throw you to the wolves. They will isolate you from the people who do love you and see your worth, and make you unrecognizable to everybody; including yourself.

You are not a savior.  

Learn to read their signs and to love yourself enough to walk away from them. 

And if you can’t — because lord knows with your bursting heart, you can’t — forgive yourself when they hurt you.

What they do says everything about them, and nothing about you. Go on loving and being the open-hearted, sensitive, hyper-empathetic, love-seeking writer that you are. 

You may not fit in with your family or your peers, but you will find people who love and appreciate you for you. Thing is, you will never find those people if you aren’t authentically yourself. 

Stop playing the “cool girl.” You’re not her. Not by a long shot. The “cool girl” doesn’t exist, and if she did, I doubt she’d cry into her journal after pretending to be cool with being a side piece. 

Listen to your mother. She sees what you can’t yet see. Her wisdom will speak to you when she’s long gone. One day, you’ll learn to read those subtle signs, too. 

Take care of yourself. Stop worrying about your body, and whether you’ll find love. Love will come when you learn to love yourself and stop giving yourself away to those who are unworthy. Your body won’t matter when that love comes. 

Let yourself be a writer. It’s ok to follow your calling, even if it won’t bring you riches or a steady career. Don’t let anyone convince you to give up something that is essential to your happiness and to who you are as a person.

Don’t let them make you feel not good enough.

You are enough.