I’m guessing the guy who sent me the disgusting message at work on Monday didn’t take a minute to think about how his words, emoticon, and “lol” would make me feel.

He probably didn’t expect me to cry in the women’s bathroom. He probably doesn’t know that I left early and my best friend at work walked me out, gave me several hugs, and was concerned that I was too upset to drive. He probably didn’t expect that I wouldn’t be able to get my schoolwork done Monday night because I was so upset and couldn’t focus. He probably didn’t expect that as a result of not getting it done Monday, I had to get up early Tuesday morning to finish it.

He probably didn’t expect that I would feel so anxious standing in front of my closet to get dressed for work and didn’t know what would be hideous enough that he would leave me alone, so I left my pajamas on and worked from home. He probably didn’t expect that I would end up with my laptop in bed and crying throughout the day because I felt so gross and violated.

When I went back to the office on Wednesday, he probably didn’t know that I would make a beeline for an empty cubicle downstairs. I opted to work without a mouse and monitors, just so I wouldn’t have to see him. He probably doesn’t know that I pinged my friend upstairs asking her to bring me my water bottle, so I wouldn’t have to go to my desk.

He probably doesn’t know that after I saw him sign off for the day, I ran up to my desk to reunite with my teammates and finally put lip balm on lips that had been dry all day.

Thursday morning, in a moment of empowerment, I went directly to my desk and settled in. I didn’t raise it up to stand as I usually do in the mornings because that would reveal too much of my backside to him. Instead, I made myself as tiny as possible and shielded myself with the back of the chair. I smelled the red rose on my desk. It was the sweetest smell. It reminded me to be courageous. Then I opened an email about an interview loop I was participating on that day and saw his name on the email, too.

He probably doesn’t know that I panicked. I couldn’t be in a room with him. I couldn’t make nice conversation with him and a young woman who wants to work here. My eyes filled with hot tears. Luckily, it turned out all right because we weren’t in the same sessions with the interviewee, so I just had to make eye contact with him as I was leaving the interview and he was coming in.

He probably doesn’t know that later in the afternoon, I wanted tea. I saw that he wasn’t at his desk, so I hurried to mine to get my mug and green tea bag. I considered going upstairs to the weird kitchen for hot water, but again, didn’t want to change my life because of this incident, so I went to the regular kitchen downstairs.

He probably doesn’t know that my heart raced ask I neared the kitchen. What if he’s in there? Is that why he wasn’t at his desk? He doesn’t know that I carefully peeked around the corner and breathed a sigh of relief when the café was empty. While pouring my water, I heard someone come in and tensed up. I carefully turned my head and again was relieved it wasn’t him. I hurried back upstairs to my makeshift desk.

He probably doesn’t know that today I’m exhausted. All the crying and panicking has taken a toll. Again, I stood in front of the closet wondering what I could wear on this hot day that wouldn’t encourage him to stare. I also have the feeling that it’s going to be a hard day because most of my friends at work who know what’s going on aren’t there today to run interference.

I just wanted you to know that there’s a real person on the receiving end of your words and actions. Next time take a minute to consider that.

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