I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve been humiliated. I’m sure others may have had more experiences than I have and probably to a degree of greater severity. What I can express is how much I loathe enduring the emotions that transpire while being humiliated. The shock that happens during this time all but paralyzes your vocal cords rendering you speechless. The anxiety and embarrassment overwhelms your sensory. The anger, my goodness the anger makes you want to vindicate yourself “by any means necessary” as Malcolm X would say. However as with anything I’ve encountered in this stage of my life, I actively seek out the opportunity for self-improvement. This is a tough one though; I mean how do you turn an experience that crushes your spirit in the presence of others into an empowering lesson?
Humiliation involves an event that demonstrates unequal power in an encounter where you are in the inferior position and unjustly diminished. I understand that there are multiple ways a person can experience being humiliated so for the sake of clarity I’m speaking to being placed in a position where someone is misusing their power/authority over you. Often the painful experience of being humiliated can be vividly remembered for a long time, if the individual allows it to consume every aspect of their thought process. It’s difficult to reach a point beyond being humiliated but it can be done. Now I haven’t quite figured out a magic remedy or ran across a fabulous five step plan to give you; I’m just sharing my personal perspective and opinion. I took a rigorous self-inventory, you know really just thought about every facet of what happened. What did I do? What didn’t I do? What could I have done better? I wasn’t looking to excuse the other person’s behavior however I understand how we can become our own worst enemies if we aren’t extremely honest with self about our role and what if possible, could have been done differently.
The “inspiration” for today’s writing stems from a recent experience I had three days ago. I don’t really want to go into many details however I should at least inform you all of the following to assist you should your mind starts to prejudge;
- This isn’t a situation that needed a judgment
- This was only a hearing of inquiry for information
- I’m not now nor have I ever been a criminal.
Ok with that being said here’s the short version of what happen. Being the custodial parent with physical and legal custody of my kids, I scheduled some time to meet with the judge that recently made a ruling over my daughter’s trust. I was not notified that there was a petition made to withdraw a substantial amount of money by the EX conservator of my daughter’s trust. The ex conservator was granted the money despite being prosecuted and convicted, by this very same judge for basically stealing and gambling some of the trust money. The day of the hearing (side note: which I had to request after finding out) I patiently waited to be heard on three main concerns; to have the conservator officially removed, request to be notified should any other petition for withdrawals be made and inquire about having the trust being changed to a college fund. I was called to the front, and asked “What are you here for?” before I could get a complete sentence out I was berated and ridiculed by the judge in front of others. It was as if he blamed me for his poor decision making. I paused due to being stunned mostly and waited for the opportunity to speak. After I sheepishly attempted to state that his initial assumptions were false he then proceeded to interrupt me again to make another unfounded assumption louder and in a more belittling tone. I thought to myself “hey you should probably leave”. It was all becoming a bit too excruciating to stand there.
“Thank you for your time Judge ---, but I can see this isn’t getting me anywhere”, with that statement I grabbed my purse and made a beeline for the door. There was no desire to battle him with words or counter in a disrespectful manner. I cried as I shared my awful encounter with my guy. Its tough going into a courthouse, I mean seriously you are already feeling anxious about being there. Or is that just be me? It didn’t help that I was addressing a judge known to have a haughty attitude and consistently gets the lowest ratings from the state’s bar association due to his unfair rulings.
In an effort to adhere to one of my goals “aspire to inspire”, I thought about how could I turn this horrible experience around, what could i glean from this? I decided to do a few things.
First, I accepted that it happened and allowed myself to be idle while I processed through my emotions. Life can be a persistent teacher and learning a lesson the first time helps to hinder a reoccurrence. It was an unfortunate and hurtful situation but it wasn’t going to consume another day of my life. What happen was more about his inability to accept his fault and poor judgment than it was about me, so there was no need for me to hold on to that negativity he spewed.
Secondly, one of the actions I took to affirm that my feelings were valid was researching what measures that could be taken to be heard, helped mentally. I know that my status as a divorce middle class working mom isn’t viewed by society as prestigious as a sitting judge but in my heart I know no one has the right to abuse their position of authority. There is a Commission on Judicial Qualifications that according to the law of this state review complaints of misconduct by a judge. Yes it sounds like the “police policing the police” however doing something was better than doing nothing no matter the outcome.
Lastly, I’ve decided to be proactive in moving beyond the whole incident. I mailed the letter off the other day, and decided to write about humiliation as part of my plan of “letting go”. This doesn’t mean I’m discounting the way I felt or what happen but what I am doing is choosing to grow and when you are growing you are moving away from one place to the next.
This was a difficult situation but I’ve got through tougher situations. Being proactive in practicing to face your emotions without running away and shrinking when they manifest, helps you in processing through those feelings that may arise inside of you. Again I ask, how do you turn an experience that crushes your spirit in the presence of others into an empowering lesson? Accept it! Take Action! Advance ahead!