somethingaboutblue: (got a cig?)
[personal profile] somethingaboutblue
Today a... thing came up and I remembered a story from my college days, from a psychology class I was taking. We worked together in small groups, I believe four people, and one day this other girl in my group freaked out to the tune of a full-blown tantrum. Tears, hysterics, everything, and no one knew what had caused it. After she finally calmed down, she pointed her finger at me and started telling the teacher that it was my voice that did her in, the sound of it, the tone, she couldn't handle it, couldn't stand it. So here I am, a college freshman or maybe sophomore -- I forget what year I was a psych major -- watching the teacher comfort this girl (who I have to say was a complete and total spoiled rotten little shit of a person, a huge chip of rich-kid entitlement on her shoulder) and telling her it was okay, it was okay, he understood, he'd fix things so she didn't have to deal with the things she couldn't deal with.

And I got the glares. I got that whatever had set her off was completely and utterly my fault, and that there was nothing I could do to make it right, that I was the evil villain in this production and that I ought to be glad they didn't kick me out right then and there for having a speaking voice that -- I guess -- annoyed her to the point of tears. Had she ever said anything about it to me before the outburst? No. Had anyone else ever said anything to me about it? No. Did the psychology teacher let me in on his insights as to what was "wrong" with me and my voice? No. All the sympathy was for the girl having the tantrum; all the scorn was bundled in my direction. In that instant, I was completely and utterly alone, left to twist in the breeze.

I'd never even done anything. It wasn't like we'd had a disagreement or that I'd stolen away something of hers or even said anything to make her feel badly, intentionally or not. But from that moment on in that class I was marked as the bad guy because I'd upset her so much. In effect, I was tried and found guilty without even being asked to present my side of the case.

Fortunately for me, I switched majors to something entirely frivolous for a while and got the hell out of the psych department. In fact, I didn't take any more psych classes after that, because once burned, twice shy was a very good motto to live by. I want to say that the next time I saw that girl she was a giant brat, pleased as punch that she'd "won," but I might be remembering wrong. Truthfully, I can't even remember her name and never had any interest in finding out who or what she sabotaged next.

My first reaction when it happened, of course, was that I would just never say anything again in the class. It was a gut reaction born of hurt and of that feeling of complete lack of support. I did try talking to the teacher about it but he shut me out -- way to go, psychology teacher, thank you for making me realize what a complete and utter dipshit you were -- so I stumbled numbly through the rest of that semester and got the hell out of psych. I knew it wasn't for me, at least not in that setting. I did go ahead and do my thing for the class as we all do, because it's all we know to do, but I didn't and couldn't do it with any conviction or joy after that.

These days, I rarely think about it but as I said, something came up today that made me remember and I thought perhaps other people could learn from my experience. That in turn led me to think about the inherent silence that's a part of my chosen profession (although most massages really do involve a fair amount of conversation, at least with my clients who like to talk during appointments). I wonder if there was something from that instance that led me to subconsciously choose massage simply because it's largely quiet. Or writing, my other and even greater love, where the voices are all left up to the imagination and no one has to hear the tone. I don't know. At this point it's blind (and deaf) musing.

I am, however, a pretty thoughtful person and generally consider my words before I speak. I wish everyone did. The world would run so much more smoothly.
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somethingaboutblue

May 2011

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