Saturday, March 24, 2012

Listen! Or Don't! For Your Own Protection!

I asked a woman recently to describe a time she thought she dealt well with an interpersonal conflict.

She said that once she had to deal with a special needs parent. She told the parent what needed to happen for the child but the stubborn parent wouldn't listen to her.

Something happened to my ears. Only for a minute, but it was surreal.

Have you ever had this happen?

My ears picked up an entirely different channel. For a minute, I could not hear this woman's story, which had started to demonstrate serious flaws in her reasoning and judgment.

Instead, my ears picked up on a drum circle. And a hazy radio signal that was going in and out of channels.

I refocused. Once again I could hear the interviewee tell me how this unreasonable parent had wanted her child to have "special" treatment and how that isn't fair to the regular kids, and I saw her catch herself and realize to some degree her answer was not a good one. It wasn't linear, coherent, or applicable, and it didn't demonstrate empathy or skills. I was clear as a bell as I watched the woman reframe and ramble back toward a semblance of an answer.

There were other, good conversations with different people that day, and in the days that followed, and never once did my ears do that funny thing again.

I wondered what had happened to me for that minute. Was I going crazy, hallucinating drums and hearing voices? Should I talk to my doctor about my ears?

Then, even more recently, I listened to people talk about a new movie that is coming out, a movie that is supposed to be funny. In fact, my husband's work even has a connection to this film, so I was listening carefully when the autistic jokes ensued. My ears did that crazy business again.

Oh, wait. It isn't drums. Wait! I figured it out. That is my heart. It beats loudly, into my ears, sometimes when my feelings become so big and crash so loudly on the shores of my being that I am too flooded for words. Usually somewhat articulate, when my system short circuits like this, I can't speak or hear momentarily, and I think my automatic response is to try to hear all the little voices inside me -- thus, the static of the untuned radio.

I am a firm believer in non-violence. I hate weapons. Sometimes words are weapons, though, and sometimes they feel like sticks and stones.

This thing my ears do? That is what I call self-defense. Not the kind of self-defense claimed in the news lately, used to justify murdering an innocent child. No, this is the self-defense against verbal attacks against innocent children.

I don't want to fix this thing that happens with my ears. I want to market it. Let's all tune out the words that hurt, and listen instead to our hearts, until we can regroup enough to voice our articulate counter attacks.

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