Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Judge, Jury, and... Executioner?

I spent a day this week doing my civic duty as part of the American justice system - a potential juror.

As sold by

Dead boring, most of it, of course, and they even made me take my teensey, fold-up embroidery scissors back to the car - who knows what nefarious harm could have been carried out with those?!! 

But there were interesting bits.  The twenty-something bailiff was great eye-candy, if you appreciate handsome, well-muscled young men in police uniforms  (and really, who doesn't?)

Judgey-Wudgey was also very appealing, and except for the silver swan's wings at his temples, looked remarkably like this guy.

(This head-banging music has absolutely nothing to do with anything, but I kind of liked it.)

The potential jurors - there were about 40 of us - were a real mixed bag.  White, Hispanic, Asian, African-American, young, old, students and professional people and stay-at-home moms.  At the beginning in the juror assembly room, there was a minister, but he put in for a postponement of his service.  Something about being real busy this time of year.

Anyway, it occurred to me that the trial by jury system is a lot like what happens on some of the chat and support boards I belong to.  We never know, really, who will be reading our posts.  It could be, however unlikely, that the person who posts as "Married-Father-of-Three-Kids" is actually a single, 77-year-old woman, posting for kicks.  (Although any poseur who joins a mental disorder support board for the entertainment value is truly scraping the bottom of the barrel.)  Our "jurors" are definitely a mixed bag of personalities.  Some of the "verdicts" that get passed back, when we make our case by posting, are dead on the money, and some of them are...  OJ Simpson verdicts.

Lemon Genoise cake from
foonus' photostream on Flickr
All of us, even identical twins, have a unique viewpoint on life and every time we make a statement, write a sentence, or post something online, we do it with our own particular flavor.  (Oooh, lemony!)  Some people "taste" more appealing than others.  So we may better like what one person has to say than another.   And some people, frankly, seem a bit half-baked.

Much of the verdict, too, depends on what "evidence" is presented.  I've seen a lot of chat-boarders present an incomplete "case," and then be very disappointed, even crushed by how others responded.  "But you didn't have all the facts!"  they wail.  Well, d'uh, whose fault is that?

Or, they'll opinion-shop.  If they get a bunch of feedback on one site they don't like, they'll look for another.  Present their case in a different way.  Eventually, if they hold back certain facts and emphasize others, they'll probably get somebody who gives them the "verdict" they want.  But is that truly helpful?

One of the hardest things in life is to be honest with ourselves.  Honesty can be painful.  We may pass a store window and wonder who that fat old woman is, in that blouse that looks just like the one we...  oh.  We may write a blog that simply sang to us as we typed in each word, and then realize later, that, in fact, it was far from our best work.

Or we may describe a situation that's occurred with someone we love, expecting validation and "atta-boys!" and hear, instead, that others think we could or should have handled it differently.  What?!  That hurts!!

And yet, do we really want people to tell us soothing lies?  Isn't one of the biggest problems in our lives, when we live with or love someone with a PD, the cognitive distortion, the Alice-in-Wonderland sense of not being sure what's real, and what isn't real?   How helpful is an "Amen chorus" when we're trying to find our way out of the fog?

Maybe we don't want to post every dirty detail of our lives on the Internet (and even if we did want to, not a good plan, Stan.  There is such a thing as TMI.)  But, if we want true feedback, not just soothing noises, we've got to be honest with ourselves, and in what we post.

When we do get feedback - whether we like the "verdict" or not, we still have choices.  (Remember Boundaries?)  We don't have to accept every opinion someone posts on a chat board as the Ultimate Truth, but can let it wait outside, breathe, think about whether it's really applicable to us.  We can appeal it - posting more facts, clarifications, explanations.  We can ignore the feedback.  Or, we can act as executioner.

I'm using executioner here in its second definition, as the person who executes an act, will, judgment, etc.   Not this guy.  So if somebody says we were JADEing, for example, and gives us examples of how not to JADE, next time we can work on that.  Or on our boundaries.  Pretty much, many problems occur because we've allowed someone to invade our boundaries, or because we invaded theirs, in an attempt to "help" them, in our nice, co-dependent way.

Although... it might be an interesting idea, to think of the executioner as that part of our psyche whose job it is to kill off bad habits, harmful thought patterns, and other emotional evildoers.  Just chop their naughty heads right off.

Besides, he's kind of cute.  In a court Bailiff kind of way.

Have you ever gotten a bad verdict?  How did you deal with it?