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Posts Tagged ‘becoming conscious’

Dog-Bite1

I’ve been paying close attention to sarcasm lately.  I grew up in a world soaked in sarcasm so it wasn’t something that ever really blipped on my radar; it was commonplace.  Didn’t everyone everywhere throw these cleverly disguised statements around?  No, apparently not.  It took a student of mine to reveal that to me.  There have been times after class when everyone’s together, putting on their coats, and someone throws out a zinger.  Four of five people would be heartily guffawing while one sat looking confused.  In the most beautifully innocent way she revealed, “I don’t get sarcasm.  It goes over my head every time.  I just don’t understand it.”  That one statement gave me pause and invited me to really observe this thing we call sarcasm.

Growing up, my father was a very sarcastic man.  I would watch him throw out statements at my mother that silenced her instantly, made her cringe, and seemed to make her grow smaller.  All the while he laughed and seemed to expand.  The same thing would happen with me.  He would toss out a line that caused him to chuckle but hurt when it landed in my ears.  You see how that can be confusing to a child?  I desperately wanted to please my father, to gain and sustain his attention, so I picked up his habit of sarcasm, met him on common ground, and never gave sarcasm a second thought, except to know that when I used this verbal tool, I felt good.

What I never really solidly considered is that my aim to feel good was making someone else feel bad.  Not until recently, that is.

A short time ago I was wasting precious moments of my life on social media, scrolling through meaningless memes, trying to get to “real” posts written by people I care about, when it became glaringly apparent to me that everything I was reading was dripping with sarcasm.  All of it.  Political posts.  Current event posts.  Memes filled with cute little cartoon characters backing acerbic sentiments.  It was overwhelming.  Sarcasm seemed to be everywhere.  Strangers on the street spoke to one another sarcastically.  Friends would have exchanges over the fence and out came sarcasm.  It seemed inescapable like that clingy, freaky person on the bus who’s decided you’re their best friend.  I felt like I was going nuts!

My vision broadened from there and things became even more real for me.  I noticed two things:  1)  how sarcasm feels when it lands in the body and the psyche, and 2)  how often I used it as a tool.

When I am at the brunt of a sarcastic attack, I feel pummelled.  When I use sarcasm, I mean to pummel.  It is as simple as that.

I’m not sure sarcasm is as innocent as we make it out to be.  I don’t think it warrants cutesy little cartoon characters to back it up.  I think the picture above is far more suitable because sarcasm not only has bark, it has a serious bite.  Although it’s used as humour, I’m not sure the true nature of sarcasm is funny at all.  I think it’s a weapon.  The whole basis of sarcasm, if you look at it honestly, is to strip someone down, to humiliate them, to cause pain.  Sarcasm is a verbal sucker punch.  I know when I use it I’m operating from the lowest, most base part of my person.  I am feeling small and trapped and angry.  I am feeling helpless so I will use what I advertise as my intellect as a way to spin a web, to trap you, to slam you in your tender parts, to make you look stupid so that I can feel good about myself.

There’s nothing funny about that.

I know that when I am sarcastic what I really want to say is, “You’re an asshole/a bitch,” “You’re an imbecile.  In fact, you’re so stupid you won’t even know I’m publicly calling you stupid,” “You are inferior.  I am superior.  I am better than you,” “I feel helpless so I’m going to lash out at you,” and “You made me suffer.  Now I will make you pay by making you suffer.”  Of course, I know saying these things is wrong so I twist things around, I come in through the back door and I use innocent words to hide a vicious ambush.  No canned laughter can mask this underhanded reality.

One statement, “I don’t understand sarcasm,” leads me to a line of inquiry that ensures I will never look at sarcasm the same way again, and I will do my best not to use it.  I have made a commitment to myself to make my use of sarcasm conscious.  It will be a long road.  44 years of use will not end overnight.  What I do know is that every time I use it as a tool, I will feel it land inside of me, it will hurt me the way it hurts the recipient.  And if I can’t say what I mean directly because I know it’s a horrible thing to say, coming through the back door is also not an option – I will work to say nothing at all.

What shadowy parts of yourself have you discovered lately?  Are you willing to sit with it, to work with it, or are you shoving it back into the dark corners?

I wish us all the courage to dig deep, to shine the light into the shadowy corners of our Selves, and to heal.

Blessings,

Tabitha

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