I open myself up to TMI

Get ready for this.

Fake rape marriage proposal, free gatorade, incoherent iconographers, and Allie, who is okay.

The Free Listening Experience: Sunday Sept 23rd

“Has anyone ever told you intimate things?”

There was something in the tone of the woman’s voice, that suggested she wasn’t talking about long long walks on the beach.

I was getting subtle looks of amusement from the brooding crew of tattooed men, one in particular, that stood a few feet away from her, but close enough to hear everything she was saying.

“People tell me personal and revealing things, but no, not in the stereotypical use of the word,” like to mean sexual,” I said in response to her question.

“Can I tell you something that happened to me two nights ago?”

“Sure.” I said. I thought to myself, “here we go.”

You know when someone starts a story and does not give any context and you make assumptions. Well, I thought this woman was about to tell me how she had been raped.

If it wasn’t for one very crucial detail that she left until the LAST second to tell me, which was that the person doing the things she was about to tell me was her soon to be husband, there would have been no other conclusion to be had.

In this case it turns out this couple had a consensual agreement going into experiences like this and that anything was acceptable as long as their “safe word” was not uttered, which in this case it was not.

It reminded of a scene from the office when Michael Scott, the callous and self-amusing boss, comes barging into the office, places his hand defeatingly on the reception desk and starts a sentence using this phrasing, “Meredith [one of the office members] has been in an accident and the doctor’s did all they can..”

After assumptions are had, gasps of sorrow are exchanged, and “oh my god!'” is said multiple times, Michael then goes on to conclude his thought by saying…

“and she’s going to be fine.”

This woman goes on to tell me how she was abducted from the street near her home, thrown in the backseat of a car, bound at the wrist, her faced covered with a bag.

It was the night of her proposal. But she didn’t know that.. yet.

I don’t even know how she was convinced the whole scenario was fake, which she would later figure out for sure was.

She said a pair of hands began to “violate her.”

Maybe she could tell that the man doing the violating was the man that would propose to her, by his smell...the feel of his arm against her leg, or perhaps by a familiar hand stroke used in the act of. . .

Rationalizing. I'm rationalizing because to me, there was no scenario in which this would be okay with a woman, but I could by the way she was telling this story that it was at worst a memorable-yet-not-to-be repeated-experience, and at best, an enjoyable if slightly terrifying experience.

What I'm trying to say is that it didn't appear from her body language that what she experienced was unwanted or out of her comfort zone.

But why used the word “violate” particularly when telling the story out of context. . .

Maybe and hopefully the man had hinted days prior the there would be a strange occurrence in the next few days, which would have prompted her to be ready for anything. I guess. that. would. include…fake rape marriage proposals?

This definitely fell in the realm of “anything.”

She proceeded to tell me everything in detail that happened between then until she was unmasked at a place she recognized to be her friend’s apartment, when her eyes, after at least an hour of dark pleasure began to adjust to the light, as a room full of her friends began to come into focus.

Soon thereafter, the fake rapist, was on his knees, in the pinnacle of romance (maybe they have a different definition) presenting a symbol of eternal union, a ring, that as soon as it was slipped on the victim's finger, would commence the next chapter of their lives together.

Usually a victim and perpetrator would not have much contact after an event like this, at least outside of a court room. In this case, they characters in this weird, kind-of-fucked-up-but-i-guess okay-if consensual would end up in a courtroom, but for a much different reason.

You’re probably curious to know more about how, just how...and why?

I too would have loved to pick each member of this couple’s brains.

But it was time for them to move on. And I didn’t get any more information than that.

I did get some information from the next listening participant, and again it was way too much information, but I guess I open myself up to TMI, it’s kind of…built into what I do.

You ever talk to someone, or rather, have someone “talk to you,” and not make all that much sense. Again, this was fine, because my role as a listener is to hear people out to the completion of their thought. Only, when I can follow someone’s train of thought, I can anticipate when it's going to reach climaxes or come to a standstill, and therefore I could be prepared for any drastic shifts. In this case, I could not follow whatsoever, so I was left just enjoying the endless train ride.

I was like riding a roller coaster with a blind fold on.

And it was pretty fun, actually.

I got to hear about this man’s dreams to become an iconographer, whatever that means, he never told me! Turns out he wanted to have a stand in the art plaza at Balboa Park, San Diego’s cultural center.

Usually when I respond or when I’m asked to give my thoughts, I respond with a open-ended affirmation which both confirms I accurately assessed what they were saying and gives them an opportunity to expand or clarify.

“I can’t wait to get a better idea of the work you do when I see it at the art plaza some day soon!

He then began listing all the reasons why it was implausible he would ever get there.

And I listened, because it’s important, at least in my eyes (and ears) to let people be in their train of thought just long enough before it de-rails. Usually I only intervene if I’m positive it’s about to de-rail.

Because even though I’m there to allow a safe space to express, I use the word “safe” because it’s not necessarily safe to allow someone to de-rail into self-deprecation if their body language makes it clear that it’s not coming from a place of acceptance and humor but instead of doubt, fear, and self-loathing.

So that’s where I draw the line. And did in this case.

I don’t remember exactly what I said but I hope at least I veared him back in the direction of self-belief, that he can accomplish anything he can believe.

I wished him well as he ventured off into the night, and he did the same for me.

After several sets of people-watching and rounds of cloud appreciation, there was Allie.

“Am I okay. My family thinks I should have kids and a husband by now. “I mean, I’m 25 and I’m Mexican,” she said, beginning to laugh rather boisterously.

"in that order," I teased ?

We giggled, "so it’s because you’re Mexican that you’re expected to have kids and a husband, I asked. “You don’t think that’s a common expectation among most cultures?

Is having a family important to you, “I asked” “no.” Well there you go.

“Okay, so I’m okay.”

Yea, you’re okay.”

“SHE”S OKAY” I said in a light-hearted tone, as I hollered to her family standing nearby, after which smiles and giggles were returned.

Maybe they weren’t as pressuring as she thought.

Maybe there’s not as much pressure to do the things we think we’re supposed to.

Maybe when we stop holding onto expectations, others will lessen their grip.

We’re human after all, monkeys seeing and monkeys doing.

What do you see. What are you doing?

I was left, as I was packing up my orange backpack filled with the supplies that I needed for Free Listening, that we can hold ourselves to whatever standard we want, and that others will stand behind us, allowing us to be our greatest and most expansive expression of ourselves, if we learn to embody our truth.

See, I go out and listen in service of others but I’m finding that I get the most out of life, I get the greatest, most impactful insights, when I’m out there in service of others. Makes me think there is some tangible truth to the idea that “we’re all one.” When I’m serving others, I’m best serving myself?

How else would that be possible if we were not all one.

We’re all one, ONE full heart, and never apart.

Until next time.