Friday, June 5, 2015

Watch Your Mouth!

I have spent many hours listening to the trials and tribulations of people and I find that once in a while it proves healthy to stand up to one's full height and laugh at the absurdities we see around us in even the most frustrating situations.  Gazing upon all that I have heard, I find one of the most amusing aspects of dealing with overly contentious and even verbally abusive people is the unparallelled art of actually taking them seriously.

Let me explain.  A dear lady friend related her history with her significant other, who on top of being physically and verbally abusive would top off his fits of hysteria by threatening suicide when his temper flared particularly high. My friend was of a naturally compassionate and gentle temperament so she of course would try to calm him down.  After many years of this and after having taken much abuse, the man's counselor called her into his office for a chat.  The counselor looked at her with intelligence and compassion and told her point blank that the next time he threatened to kill himself, her job was to let him do it.  Period.  He argued that this man continued to threaten suicide so that he could maintain abusive control, and that the reason he hadn't changed was because he had never had to taste the consequences of his actions.  So the next time he began to get heated she warned him that her orders were to let him commit suicide.  He was stunned and his temper immediately began to abate.  Much later he threatened suicide again and she reacted by calling the police on him.  She condescended several hours later to pick his much humbled self up from the mental hospital that the police mandated he ought to go.  

Another lady friend had trouble with her husband on very similar terms except that he had continually threatened to divorce her when his temper raised itself to a certain pitch.  She struggled, pleaded, and cried for years. Finally she applied to her mother, who advised her to tell him that it was perfectly fine and that instead of threatening, he was certainly quite free to go ahead and do it.  He never threatened to divorce her again. 

My last and absolute favorite anecdote arises from one of the most devastating cases I have ever witnessed and I confess an involuntary grin spreads across my face in pleasing reminiscence.  A man had spent over a decade abusing his wife and she sought for many years to maintain a calm and peaceful atmosphere for her children by taking whatever he dished out at her behind closed doors.  He had a habit of telling her he was leaving forever in the morning and returning by evening either repentant or still sporting a foul attitude.  Finally one good day his shouting and temper reached the point that she could no longer hide the fact of his abusive nature from her children.  Yelling, throwing things, and cursing God he made for the door and immediately before slamming it in her face, scowled at her and said, "Have a nice life!"

So she did. 

He had no idea at the time that because of his outburst he had deeply traumatized his innocent, trusting children and when he attempted to return to the house he found his family gone.  The lady had become accustomed to protecting her children no matter the cost and when he became the danger to them he found in her not the trembling, silent woman he had known but a fireball of matriarchal ferocity.  She understood that as a single mother and having no masculine counterpart to help her she had to take extremely good care of herself that she might be a pillar of strength to her crying, frightened, disillusioned, miserable little ones.  They held on to God and to each other as never before and the man was the one who lost.  She never struck him a blow; she merely dodged his attack and let him fall with the inertia of his own swing. 

Let's watch our mouths, my friends.  Let us make sure our language reflects kindness, for our most vengeful words just might also be our last.

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