Mama Kat Thursday: Punch You Out

The Mama Kat topic for today is, "Share a time you wanted to punch someone in the face."

Maybe it wasn't so much that I wanted to punch her as throw a glass of water in her face.

 A few years ago, while we were at large missions conference at a hotel in St. Louis, we had breakfast with a slightly older couple who are part of the same missions organization. We were just loosely acquainted, but since we both live in Florida, it was supposed to be just friendly connecting.
 Now the wife of that couple, whom I'll call Sue for story purposes, is a professional, clinical counselor. Now I happen to know that one of the rules of counseling is the "3rd party rule," which means you keep conversation focused on the person in front of you; not on someone else who isn't physically present.
I would expect a trained counselor to know that.
Apparently not.

I'm an introvert. The first conference mini-meeting we attended began with an ice-breaker that involved filling in trivia squares on paper by interviewing people in the room for answers. Another guy there, who we know well and I know is also fairly introverted, remarked as he passed my seat, "Ice-breakers are torture for introverts," he said, which I found a hugely amusing observation, considering it's generally true. Forced socialization is seldom "fun" for an introvert. 

Unwittingly I shared this amusing bit with Sue and her husband over breakfast several days later.
 How was I to know Sue's best friend had designed that ice-breaker? 
Unfortunately, Sue didn't hear I was just repeating someone else's amusing remark.
She thought I'd said it, 
therefore I was the one belittling her friend's hard work on that ice-breaker!
(No one ever said it wasn't a good ice-breaker!)
She became immediately defensive on her friend's behalf, a friend not even at the table.
Worse, she turned her counseling skills on me like a weapon, shooting question after question at me, drilling me about my personal history and introversion, as if me not liking ice-breakers was some kind of deficiency.
At first, I tried to answer, but she was just turning my replies back on me, twisting them so I was just digging myself into a hole.
So I quickly got angry and defensive back.

nger is a challenge for me. I freeze up. It's like my throat closes up and all I can do is sputter, but I was determined, this time, to speak-up and stop this assault.
 Making my jaws work, I managed to say, "I am NOT answering any more questions!"
At this point Sue paused glaringly, then pronounced her
 "You're isolated," she asserted.
It was a knife in my heart.
 Certainly this would've been the appropriate moment to throw water in her face, but I'm not a physically violent person. Besides, I could barely speak, much less move.
I felt her using her counseling skills to punish me for allegedly "insulting" her friends ice-breaker was not only a misuse of those skills, but also completely unwarranted.

This all happened so very fast. My husband recognized her shift to attack mode, but never had a chance to respond before it was all over, though I think he spoke up to help clear the air once I refused to speak further. Sue's husband never spoke at all.
Gradually, it dawned on Sue that she'd misunderstood and that it wasn't me who'd said the thing about the ice-breaker. 
She back-peddled then, but the damage was done and
 breakfast was definitely over.


Unknown said…
Don't you just hate it when people take things the wrong way? I've been an introvert most of my life, too. It's usually a glass of wine or two that helps to loosen me up when I'm socializing. Then before the function ends, I end up exchanging numbers with people I know I'll never call because when the wine wears off, I'm just introverted me again.
Karin said…
Wow. It sounds like she could have used her counseling skills to make sure she fully understood the situation before jumping to conclusions. I'm angry on your behalf!
Donetta Sifford said…
You definitely showed restraint on not throwing the glass of water in her face. The statement about 'ice breakers being torture for introverts' wasn't a poor reflection on the 'ice breaker' itself. For 'Sue' to have not understood the comment, nor whom it came from, and then to act aggressive on her friend's behalf is frankly childish. What strikes me the most about these types of situations, is the fact that the friend that designed the ice breaker, probably wouldn't have taken offense to the comment at all. I'm glad she realized her mistake and feel anger on your behalf for the way she acted.
KatBouska said…
Oh my gosh I would have been stunned. That remark about ice breakers being uncomfortable for introverts IS true and it's funny!I'm shocked she wasn't able to see the humor in that and instead chose to make the conversation extremely awkward. I want to toss a drink her way too, take it easy lady! And I love that you changed this to "throw water" instead of punch. I'm not violent either, I like your version!
Jerralea said…
How unfortunate! You could have become friends, but now I'm sure that if you saw her at a conference again, you'd head the other direction!

I'm like you, I freeze up when being attacked. Then later, I have a fine time thinking about all the things I could have said ...

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