I feel attacked, therefore I am... anonymous
What on earth have I been through in my life that could have prepared me for attending what they call empathy hubs which can contain such pathologically malfunctioning bullshit squabbling and misinterpreted filigrees...I think I'm in a Monty Python sketch.
Here insert Fictional Dialogue, edited for privacy and for clarity because there was little to begin with. The ideas remain intriguing as long as you can stay focused and not click LEAVE MEETING.
(Jack) Welcome everybody! Let's get into to today, I think everybody is here.
[Everyone wiggles fingers onscreen]
(Jack) As always our main topic for this hub, What does an empathy hub look like for you?
(Jack) Or you can talk about what is fermenting for you today, that's also fine. We'll briefly check in and then go into breakout rooms to continue. I'll unmute everybody now. Bob, you want to go first?
(Bob) Hi, I'm Bob and I'm from the San Francisco Bay Area and, well, I'm doing okay, I've been thinking a lot about what it means to...
(Harold) Why does Bob get to go first?
(Greta) Oh, here we go
(Harold) No need to get snarky, all I said was...
(Bob) I don't have to go first...
(Harold) Thank you. At least somebody is listening.
(Jack) Okay, I'm going to mute everyone for now. Harold, that's not quite how we'd like to start things off, but I get your point. As facilitator, I like to think I don't favor anyone, but it is easier for me just to look at the screen and go down the row.
(Harold) [glowering and pouting]
(Jack) So, Bob, I've unmuted you; want to take a minute or so, and then we'll get to Harold.
(Bob) Well, I'm doing okay, but I'd like to see...
(Greta) [on Chat] This was not right, Jack, and I think we need to fix this. It is an ongoing problem for me that Harold feels the rules are not for him.
(Jack) Okay, I see that message from Greta and let's table that for a moment.
(Harold) [on Chat] Yeah, let's TABLE that
(Jack) Remember that we're going to go deeper when we've completed check-in, so let's have Bob...
(Bob) I think I'm done.
(Jack) Okay, um. So, Harold?
(Harold) I've had a crappy week, no, a fucked up week, fucked up beyond all reason.
(Terri) [on Chat] You haven't introduced yourself
(Harold) Fuck. Sorry, I'm Harold, like nobody knew, and I'm from Chicago, and yeah everything's fucked.
(Jack) Um, okay. Angela, you're up.
(Angela) [sighing] Hi, I'm Angela, from Vancouver. I've been involved in so many crises in the last few months, I think I'm looking forward to our groups more and more, since I've come to cherish these moments to connect and get feedback which is so important these days and I think the empathy that we practice is central to the healing that we all wish we could do for the Earth, because I truly think that She is suffering from our neglect and abuse. [does Namaste]
(Jack) Thanks, Angela. Sonia?
(Jack) Sonia? We can't hear you. You're muted. You can unmute yourself now,.
(Sonia) Sorry! I keep forgetting that. Okay, I'm Sonia from Portugal. This is my first time here and I have felt the isolation so much [begins to cry] that I hoped I could [unintelligible] sorry to be upset, but it is so difficult.
(Jack) That's okay, Sonia, thank you so much for your courage. Um, Lucia?
(Lucia) Hi, I'm Lucia, also from the SF Bay Area. Well, what can I say? I still miss my mother who died in January; we certainly had our problems, but I can't even argue with her anymore. I haven't been outside, have the house fans running all the time and working on music as best I can, but when you can't really breathe, how can you sing? So, yeah, it's great to be here and see new faces.
(Jack) Okay, Lucia, thanks. Terri?
(Terri) I'm Terri, sorry for using Chat, but sometimes...oh, oops. I forgot. I'm from San Diego, California, and I've been having these ongoing things with my co-workers and that's been really hard, and so, when I look into my heart, I realize, you know? There's so much. [rapidly pats heart several times] There's just. So. Much. So, yeah. Sorry, guys. It's. Just so hard.
(Jack) Appreciate you being here, Terri. Don't worry about chat. But we try not to use it, so we can honor our voices, you know. It's a thing we established early on. Greta?
(Greta) Hi, I'm Greta, from Denmark. I'm very tired and didn't sleep at all so I'm very fuzzy at the moment. I'm feeling like Harold is not honoring our agreements and that is very upsetting and I don't agree with Jack on the fundamentals of the hub. I'm feeling very triggered and it takes me a long time to get my focus back.
(Harold) [muted, but visibly laughing]
(Jack) Okay, thanks everybody. We'll go into breakout rooms now. There are eight of us, so I'll lead one and Angela, can you lead the other?
Jack, Bob, Harold, Terri disappear into Breakout 1 for ~1.5 hrs
Angela, Greta, Sonia, Lucia go to Breakout 2
(Angela) Okay, well here we are. We all I think know the basic form: one person speaks for, let's say 5 minutes I have my [laughing] little timer here, but I want to make sure it works [laughing] Yes! I think it works! So, one person goes and chooses someone to listen, and then I'll try to indicate when the time is up. [laughing] And then the listener becomes the speaker, and so forth. Remember, we're here to listen...
(Greta) Can I just say though that I'm feeling annoyed that we're all women?
(Angela) Oh? [laughing] That's true! We are!
(Lucia) I love that! I like the nurturing potential, I gotta say, I don't think I need to be in a room with Harold.
(Greta)[thumbs up agreeing,makes disgusted face]
(Angela) Well, if we all know how this goes, who'd like to go first?
(Greta) I'll go. Um, Lucia, will you listen?
(Lucia) Sure, go for it.
(Greta) Well, I'm feeling angry that we're all women in the room. I think I get along much better with men in general. Women have betrayed me and they're so mean and vicious. I never felt close to my mother. She is very mean and cold. So is my father, but not so much.
(Lucia) It's hard for you to be close to women; they seem to be out to get you, and that's painful. And the relationships with your parents have been difficult.
(Greta) Yeah,and I get along so much better with men, I mean, even Harold has been hard to deal with but when I'm with women I get depressed and I think I go back to my childhood and it's exhausting to be guarding myself not to get hurt from them, but I don't want to talk about my mother. I'm very tired of that subject and so when I heard you say you missed your mother, I thought oh no so that's not something I want to get into.
(Lucia) Men aren't so fraught as women in a group; they don't bring up as much of the old history of betrayal by women, especially your mother. That subject is not where you want to go.
(Greta) Well, I felt like I was going to be overwhelmed by those feelings and I'm already tired, so, no [unintelligible] to me.
(Lucia) I'm sorry I didn't hear that last part...?
(Greta) My English is not so good with some things, I have to think in Danish.
(Greta) I'm getting anxious over talking about things I don't want to talk about.
(Lucia) Not the greatest subject matter for you.
(Greta) I think I'm getting over being angry. I feel heard.
(Lucia) [does Namaste] Thanks, Greta. [pauses]
(Lucia) I certainly can relate to what Greta was...
(Greta) You have to pick somebody.
(Angela) A listener.
(Lucia) Of course, you're right, sorry. Got carried away, sorry. Sonia?
(Sonia) Yes, I will listen.
(Lucia) Whooo. This is a great solace to me to be here and sort of unburden myself when I know I won't be judged. Because I'm surrounded by men, always have been, no sisters, I don't really feel like I connect enough with the value that women provide. And this is great even if I've just met these women. When Greta said she was annoyed that we were all women...
(Greta) That's not what I said. I said I was angry.
(Angela) Greta, um, can you hold your...
(Greta) I become triggered when I am misunderstood. This makes me want to...I am very triggered and my blood pressure goes up.
(Angela) Greta, let's hold on to that thought for now, please.
(Lucia) Thanks. Where was I? Oh, uh, no sisters...although it is very painful to remember that my mother lost a late term little girl when I was 6 years old.
(Sonia) So you feel comfort and solace for your loss in the company of females, even if they're strangers.
[continues...until it is Sonia's turn. She picks Angela to listen]
(Sonia) It fills me with such grief to talk about motherhood. I am having such a difficult time with my daughter, when Lucia said she did not have any sisters or daughters, and I thought I love my daughter so much and she will not talk to me now that she has left home for University.
(Angela) Talking about motherhood fills you with grief for losing contact with your daughter.
(Sonia) [weeping openly] when I left my work after 15 years because I couldn't keep the voices quiet in my head, I looked at myself and I saw a stranger. I wanted and needed something and one day I decided that the outside was the place to start. I cut off much of my hair and everyone laughed, saying that my daughter and I looked like sisters [stops to wipe away tears] My daughter was furious, disgusted with me. And so I made the decision to shave my entire head. That is when she withdrew entirely from me. Every attempt to contact her was rejected. Others told me that she was doing okay, but it was like I had never given birth; the young woman was no longer a part of me. I let my hair grow back, as you can see, but the act of so forcefully changing myself was at that time exactly what I required. I know that words could never explain this to my
daughter and so I have let it go. But it is a source of grief to this day although I can feel safe expressing it here and that is of some comfort.
I gotta be honest here; I can't really continue this in the vein of parody. As often happens when I start to write, I haven't a clue where it will go and if I write for three days running, taking breaks, and then it seems like I walk out and the World just spits in my eye...well.
Not unlike a fantasy trip to the store, with no idea for a menu, just wanna cruise the aisles for a bit of inspiration, and it turns out my Trader Joe's is actually the Bastille: no yogurt and chocolate, only knitting and guillotines.