• Jainee Dial

HUMILIATION


When I was in 5th grade I entered the school race. I’m pretty sure it was called the “Turkey Trot”. I was older and faster than most of my classmates and I was ready to smoke those loser 4th graders. The whistle blew and I tripped and fell flat on my face right out of the gate with the whole school watching from the sidelines. I heard their gasps and then their laughter. I was mortified but I got up and started running like hell anyway. I finished last, with a bloody knee and a busted up ego. I limped across the finish line as dramatically as any 11-year-old little kid would, the crushing weight of humiliation heavy and searing. I was secretly thankful that at least I had blood dripping down my leg to signify the pain. The truth is, my knee didn’t hurt that much. I just hoped sympathy might outweigh cruelty. ⠀⠀ My backyard fence was adjacent to the school and unbeknownst to me, my mom had seen it all go down. She watched me fall. She watched my greatest moment of humiliation. She probably laughed a little bit because, I mean, it’s funny when kids fall as long as they get up, right? When I walked in the door after school, she handed me a cookie and sat down next to me on the couch. ⠀⠀ “Did you see?”, I asked. ⠀⠀ “Yes.” ⠀⠀ We didn’t talk again. We watched cartoons for an hour or so and I remember feeling so torn up and embarrassed but so completely and utterly safe on that couch. ⠀⠀ . In hindsight, I can see so clearly what my mom was doing. She didn’t coddle me and tell me I was a winner or try to make it better by babying me. She made a batch of “humiliation sucks cookies” and let me feel it. She let me sit in it for awhile, roll around in the gross reality of failing publicly, but she didn’t leave my side. ⠀⠀ . I guess the point in all this is that I hope to be the kind of human that allows the people I love to make mistakes and be humiliated. I hope they know I will hold it and be on standby and make space when it happens to them. I will also make cookies because that helps too.



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