Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Snub x 3. And Self-Love…


It happened first at the party of a friend. I was staying late. Someone was leaving. There were three people in the room when they came in to say their goodbyes. I was one of the three people left in the room when they came into it, offering a lavish hug and warm smile to one, and a joyful squeeze and a few words to another. Then they paused and looked in my general direction, but not at me, really. The gaze dispersed as if they were perceiving a pocket of empty air just above my head and a little off to the side. So full was the evening (apparently), and so warm the night, that even a pocket of air, full of glorious nothingness, in itself was worthy of generous acknowledgement! But I, the person sitting in the chair below and slightly to the right of the empty air, was not worth a nod goodbye.

No, I don’t know this person well. We had talked a few times earlier at the party, and I had reached out and started a conversation when they arrived. We don’t share a past, or an argument or anything that I understand to merit such a demonstrated lack of acknowledgement. But we do share friends.

And just a few days later, I saw them again at another gathering and once again I saw that same look on their face, offering the same gaze that was possibly seeing some interesting air in my general direction. It’s strange because as much as I know that there is a lack of acknowledgement being communicated here, I also think I see that they are aware that I am in the room. So maybe I should feel important that I am deserving of such non-attentive attention. It makes me a little nervous, though. We were in the same space long enough that I begin to feel like I am in cahoots with this behavior, as if I am also choosing to ignore this other person. But I’m not. I see where they are, but I couldn’t really find a way to break the silence then. ..maybe I didn’t want to, suspecting an unfriendly response.

This story has another “3” because just a couple days later I saw them again, a third time within a week. This time they arrived with a friend I thought I was meeting at the bar. And this time the silence was broken at two interesting times. The first was almost right away. I had greeted my friend at the bar when they were getting a drink. It was crowded and I didn’t yet know that they had arrived with the one who is not acknowledging me. But then, back at the table, suddenly my friend has to go get another drink for the quiet one, apparently because they had lost theirs. When they left to get the drink, after a pause, the silent one gestured to a drink on the table and said something like, “this might be my drink,” and a half smile started to grow on their face. And then somewhat later after we had all had other adventures like dancing and talking to others, we were all back at the table again, and there was a pause before this person said, “Hello…,” directly to me, and I proceeded to ask questions about their art, seeing it as an opening to talk, and why not? But then, with an unfinished sentence this person turned to focus on our mutual friend. And that was it for our talking.

I think that if this pattern continues I may choose to just ask this person, “what’s up?” or something… When I consider what I’ve written, I wonder why I was so passive in my recollection, as if the world is just happening to me, and meanness just happens to me. When another way to see it is that I, too, am happening to the world, and I, too, seek to assert demonstrations of what I am seeing.

The picture in this post is of a black box with hearts that were spray painted on it. I chose it because I’d like to think that if I am holding a placeholder in someone’s mind I’d prefer to be thought of as a space that contains love. Whatever negative projections I might hold occasionally for others are just that, projections. To know something about me, you have to know me. This is a process that takes time, kind regard, communication and an open mind.

5 comments:

Eco Yogini said...

hmmm interesting experiences. asking directly can always be fruitful- sometimes the reasons why people act can be surprising. that said, i tend to react pretty aggressively- i have the urge to approach and specifically talk to people who seem to be ignoring me.... which isn't always the best solution. :)

Brooks Hall said...

Yes, Eco Lisa Awesomeness! So true... I'm thinking about bullying this morning, as in a bully silent-treatment tactic which I've experienced before (the bully refuses to communicate and avoids eye contact (always an indicator of an abusive relationship)) Bullying was also a cornerstone of my upbringing for a significant part of my childhood, and how I seem to draw bully-behavior to myself as an adult, 'cause I expect to be mown down. As a child I tried to appease the gods that kept a parental unit away from their anger. It was very treacherous terrain...especially with drugs and alcohol involved.

Thank you for commenting!! This is something that contributed to another story, and because of that it also became it's own part.

Anonymous said...

Hey Brooks,
What an awesome essay! You found words for something I never could have described. You are definitely in charge of your words! Your writing gets more beautiful and deeper every day. Mary Oliver would be proud.

Brooks Hall said...

Thank you!! That's the reason I might share something like this! ...because I think that others might relate to it! Your feedback means a lot!!

Brooks Hall said...

Thanks for the feedback and comments! I seem to be understanding this much better. I welcome other thoughts, and am happy because—for the moment at least—I've discovered, once again, compassion for myself and the others involved!! :)