One of the overlooked bonuses of being a writer is that it can provide more entertainment then you could pay for. In the height of burning the candle at both ends to try and make deadlines I am trying to keep up with the notes on the poem and for whatever reason, decided last night, exhausted and unable to see very clearly, that it was time to try and type them up.
“Beloved of me, my heart weeps.”
“Beloved of me, my heart tweeps.”
Which sent me into such gales of laughter I was actually sitting there with tears running down my face. I tried to recover and go on but my “blind despair” turned into “blond despair” and I just shut the computer off and played with the cat until I passed out and got almost 9 hours of sleep.
I do not have auto correct engaged on the computer because my writing style drives it crazy and then I get very upset at my inanimate objects. Not to mention “tweeping” and “blond” are words, although I have no idea what a “tweep” is.
Its easy to forget, in all the froufra and urgency of the days; the daily barrage of horror and injustice – that life is basically enjoyable and has its moments of high humor. Even in our darkest days, to lose sight of ones joy in living, to become unable to laugh – is inconceivable. For the nature of love lies in a recognition of the thread of life and possibility that runs through everything.
Shame, too often, overwhelms. Shame and embarrassment, those two are often from very irrational interpretations of events. Humiliation, which is generated from an interaction and based very much in rationality, while painful, can also be redeemed through seeing its humor.
Aaron Lazare gave an example of the transformative power of humor to humiliation at that ethics forum I went to, “The Psychology of Humiliation and Shame in Healthcare.” He told the story of how he was the Dean of Psychiatry at a prestigious university and at the start of the each staff meeting, when he entered the room, the head of the school would greet him by calling out: “Oh look! Here is my Dean of Psychiatry. I don’t believe in any of that stuff, its just a bunch of excuses people make up to not have to take responsibility for themselves and face reality. But here we are and I have to have one.”
Every time, every staff meeting that was how he was greeted. And he was humiliated to the point of not being able to say anything. He could feel the hot flush of shame and embarrassment on his face in front of the entire staff each time and could think of nothing to say that would not sound defensive or insulting. The man, after all, was merely stating his opinion. It didn’t help that because of his office hours, he was always the last one there so the entire staff was witness to his humiliation again and again.
Finally, he had enough, and he thought through what he could say and more importantly, he practiced it for a week. At the next staff meeting, as he was the last to enter the room, the Head of the School looked at him and called out: “Oh look! Here is my Dean of Psychiatry. I don’t believe in any of that stuff, its just a bunch of excuses people make up to not have to take responsibility for themselves and face reality. But here we are and I have to have one.”
And Dr. Lazare replied, “Really, and how long have you felt this way?”
And the entire staff laughed. The head of the school never said it again and two months later offered to Dr. Lazare the position of assistant Head.
People who humiliate, whether it be with direct insult or sarcasm, are often unaware of the impact of what they do because they do not think it through. They think they are either proving a point or being witty. And they continue doing it because it is so shocking and catches you so off guard you cannot respond and thus, permission is granted, the door is propped open and the pattern begins. When we do not establish or maintain boundaries with people or, let them define what our boundaries should be; they revert to acting like children who are testing how far they can go. Not because they are necessarily bad people, but because a dynamic has developed in which there is a lack of requirement of respect, which is necessary for all adult relationships.
But you can close that door at any time by thinking through and practicing how you will handle situations that you know will be humiliating or fear the potential of being humiliated.
A little touch of humor goes a long way.
Shake, rinse, repeat.
c.2010. Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.